Digital cameras have certainly come a long way since the early days of digital photography when we were still debating whether they could ever take the place of film cameras.
In this article we take a look at some of the digital cameras that have played a significant role in the evolution of digital photography and that have shaped the cameras that we use today.
Best Digital Cameras of All Time: 01 Sony Mavica, 1981
Sony’s original Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera) was the first commercially available electronic camera and it gave the first vision of photography that was free of film and developing costs.
Strictly speaking the original Mavica was not a digital camera because it produced analogue still video images, but the images were electronic and were saved on to 2-inch floppy disks called Mavipaks.
The Mavica’s 570×490 pixel images were created from freeze-frames of twin-field interlace video images and were viewed on a television screen or after printing.
There were three interchangeable lenses available for the Mavica; a 25mm f/2, a 50mm f/1.4 and a 16-64mm f/1.4 zoom lens.
Best Digital Cameras of All Time: 02 Logitech Fotoman, 1990
The Fotoman, also sold as the Dycam Model 1, was the first commercially available digital camera. It produced black and white images with a now paltry 320×240 pixels.
Images were captured through the fixed focus lens and exposure was entirely automatic. Up to 32 shots could be stored on the 1MB of internal memory.
Considering its position in the digital camera evolution timeline, its price of £499 seems almost reasonable.
Best Digital Cameras of All Time: 03 Kodak DCS 100, 1991
This was the first digital SLR offered for sale to the public and was primarily aimed at photo journalists.
The DCS 100 was essentially a Nikon F3 with a digital back that contained a 1.4-million-pixel Kodak CCD sensor measuring 20.5×16.4mm.
It cost in excess of $30,000 and came with a shoulder-carried Digital Storage Unit (DSU) that contained the camera’s batteries, a file storage system and a monitor to review images.
Its small sensor meant that the DCS 100 had a focal length magnification factor of around 2.86, giving a 28mm lens a similar angle of view to an 80mm on a 35mm camera.
Best Digital Cameras of All Time: 04 Nikon D1, 1999
The Nikon D1 was the first fully-integrated digital SLR. Rather than being created from bolting digital components on to a film camera, it was designed as a digital camera.
Nevertheless, it was very similar to the Nikon F5 film SLR, having a comparable control layout and the same mount – making it compatible with the then current Nikon F-mount lenses.
However, the 2.7 million-pixel 23.7×16.mm CCD sensor meant there was a focal length magnification factor of 1.5x.
The D1 was capable of shooting continuously at up to 4.5fps and had sensitivity settings equivalent to ISO 200, 400, 800 and 1600.