I bought a new camera, a Canon PowerShot SD1000, and I was struck by how far digital cameras have come.
I remember over a decade ago seeing the large, bulky equipment that was used in analog applications: Giant film cameras with equally large external flash; they were so large and awkward they came with a shoulder strap. I remember Dad’s old videocamera which took VHS tapes and had to be held with two hands and a shoulder.
I remember my first camera (I still have it), a smaller and much cheaper toy-looking piece of plastic. It was alot easier to carry and use, but it still had all the drawbacks of an analog camera: Film, having to be taken somewhere to pay money to have the photos developed, no easily accessible mechanism to duplicate the pictures. Additionally, it lacked the myriad configuration options you see on high-end analog cameras; though when I got it I would have been too young to appreciate them.
I remember my first digital camera (At least I think it was my first one): A Sony Mavica. Still large and unwieldy, it featured a “4X Floppy Drive” and could take JPG pictures at the whopping two megapixels: 1600×1200. It goes without saying I never used the floppy drive; it came with an SD port so I got a 1GB card. Then I got a smaller, more mobile version, which could take pictures at 3MP and featured a USB port.
This new one is unbelievably compact, measuring only 3.4×2.1×0.7 inches (58 x 53 x 19 mm) and weighing in at a mere 4.4oz (125g), it still manages to sport a 2½” screen. Its bigger brother has a 3″ screen on the same dimensions, but Best Buy was out of stock and refused to sell me the display model.
As seems to be the trend in all digital cameras (and most cell phones) these days, it supports video with audio. I can record 640×480 (Higher than any low-def TV supports) at 30FPS (NTSC standard framerate for video). With the 2GB card I purchased for $25, I can fit approximately 16 minutes of full-quality video (1.9MBps), or 72 minutes at low quality (373KBps). Alternatively, the 2GB card will fit 1000+ full-quality 7.1MP images, or 17,268 tiny but crappy images. If their 4GB card were of a compatible format, I’d be able to sit in a movie theater and TeleSync the whole thing – But that would be wrong, and I’d never do that *wink*
With the Lithium Ion battery, I can keep shooting for hours. Features include: 7.1MP, 3X optical zoom, ISO1600 shutter speed (Varies from 15sec to 1/1500 sec), red-eye correction, “Face detection” (which I believe recognizes flesh tones and adjusts color accordingly), and a whole slew of other stuff I’ll never use; like plugging it directly into a printer.
All this, and it fits in my shirt pocket. So yeah, cameras have come a long way.