Collection of old digital cameras


Originally published at:


It’s fun to have a thing that’s not in the big collection of things. I have an HP Photosmart C200 1MP camera made in 1999. It takes astoundingly bad photos. I took it to Burning Man for several years, just to get photos that were suitably crappy, and because I didn’t care about it getting clogged with playa dust.


My first camera was a German workhorse:

It only cost me $50, but today the value is probably up to $50!


Me too! I’ve still got a Canon Powershot G1 from 2000 that takes remarkably good pictures at astoundingly low resolution.


It’s kind of interesting/curious how even good digital cameras can become obsolete so fast, whereas a good 35mm SLR retained value when newer models came along.


I just loaned my Nikon F2 and lenses to a photography student who can get some use out of them, after sitting around for 20 years. Serious high-end pro gear, that sells for about $50 these days - I looked. Presumably because there are much better easier to use cameras available these days.


I was thinking the same thing. That Leica is designed to evoke the timeless and pragmatic beauty of the film originals, which have long outlived it and will long outlive the newest Leica digitals – as long as we can get film.


I had an early Leica digital, and it still held some value when it was outdated, just because there are people who collect Leicas. But when I look back at photos I took with it, they do show how limited the resolution was at the time, and are embarrassingly pixelated by today’s standards.


Maybe it’s “romance of analog” BS, but it’s fascinating to me that a hundred-year-old Argus, or a $10, deliberately imperfect Lomo, can take beautiful pictures, but this thing that I bought five years ago looks like crap – if I can find a battery for it that’ll hold a charge, not to mention the proprietary USB cable / memory card / whatever. I guess at some point most cameras will have a resolution where the distinction between film and digital will genuinely no longer be relevant (setting aside the character of the chemical process of exposure, which I suppose could be emulated in software) but even at that point, CCDs and capacitors wear out in a way that a dark box and a clear lens just don’t.


1996? Hardly old. Try this:


I had that one in college. Cost me $300, but taking it to parties was a blast. Being able to take photos and look at them right away was such a novelty.


I had an early Olympus, which, despite its limited 2 MP sensor, took quite good pictures even in low light. I miss it for that, but I don’t miss the delicate, hard-to-get Smart Media cards. SD wasn’t yet a thing at the time.


Maybe because digital very quickly wiped out film as a consumer product but still hasn’t conclusively matched it for overall quality in key pro applications. So digital has amounted to a 20 year market powered by incremental but significant improvements.

Dynamic range and related “color science” matters seem to be the last hurdle and better DR powers a lot of new sales among videographers, especially at the low/accessible end.

35mm film offers about 13 stops of DR. To get this on a digital you’re looking at a $2-$3k DSLR or Blackmagic or whatever. The latest iPhones are reportedly 9 stops.


I was selling camera equipment, and working in a pro photo lab when that Leica came out. It was obsolete on release, and caused a lot of disappointment.


Ah, mem’ries, of the way we were! The first digital camera I used was an Apple QuickTake 100, 1994.

“The camera was capable of storing eight photos at 640×480 resolution, 32 photos at 320×240 resolution, or a mixture of both sizes. All photos were at 24-bit color. The camera had a built-in flash, but no focus or zoom controls. Other than downloading the photos to a computer, there was no way to preview them on the camera, nor was there any way to delete individual photos from the camera”.

They don’t make 'em like they used to.

(One of these days maybe I’ll resurrect an old Mac so I can run the QuickTime plugin needed to decode the QuickTake pictures, so I can rewrite them in some standard format.)



I didn’t see this model in that list. I had one of these tiny Medion MD 41084’s, it worked ok for a while then for some reason it started producing distorted images so i presume something worked loose inside, not sure if it was a lens or the CCD itself but it would produce images that would stretch and warp on the right hand side.


If the camera you bought five years ago is crap, then you bought a crap camera five years ago. I just bought a five year old camera, the Nikon D800, because 36 megapixel full-frame (for my purposes, good photos in low-light conditions) cameras still aren’t cheap. The Nikon D3300 and Nikon D5300 were Nikon’s entry line DSLR in 2014, and they’re not very different from the D3500 and D5600 that are the current models. Proprietary batteries suck, but in these cases the same model of battery used in the current models. These cameras use normal SD cards (plus Compact Flash in the D800’s case) so that’s not a problem.

DxoMark measures the perceptual megapixels of lenses; from their measurements, the Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D gets 22 P-MPix. That’s pretty good, but still means that Nikon’s entire new line up of cameras, when using that lines, are limited by the lens, not the resolution of the camera. No film in the world could do better than a normal DSLR with most lenses.

People appreciate the style of film in a retro way, but let’s not miss the fact that now and five years ago, digital cameras were producing excellent quality pictures, and anywhere that film might still be better is going to be far beyond the noticing of most people, or even the production of most photographers.


Let’s be honest - the early digital cameras weren’t good at the time, and they aren’t any worse or better now. We used them and accepted them because we wanted the tech even though it wasn’t really ready for prime time.

Comparing to a film camera from the same era isn’t fair because the film camera was a mature technology. Heck, a film FM10 from 1995 is identical to a film FM10 from 2019; because they are still selling them as new. (Honestly, not sure if they can still fire up the line to make more if they run out or not. :slight_smile: ) A Pentax K1000 from 1975 feels the same as one from 1997 because they made them the same. After the 70’s, the big things that happened in film cameras was auto focus, metering improvements, and smaller auto drives.


According to Amazon it was actually 7 years ago. A 14.1MP Panasonic Lumix. I’m sure if I’d bought a DSLR it’d have had a longer lifetime. But this thing got a scratched lens from looking at it wrong and then in 2014 or so the CCD just gave up on life. Of course by that time the age of the pocket camera was over except for a very narrow window of the population / market.

Our next camera was a D7100, which has served me well for the ham-fisted uses I put it towards. But I know that some day it will be no longer, regardless of the level of care I give it. Meanwhile my wife’s 60 year old Hasselblad is good as new after an $800 trip to Germany…

Not so much a screed against the terrors of digital media as much as a fondness for the relative straightforwardness of analog technology.