- Olympus Camedia C-2500L (with sample photos)
- Olympus Camedia C-40 Zoom (with sample photos)
- Olympus Mju Mini Digital/Olympus Mju Mini Digital S (with sample photos)
- Olympus Pen E-P1 (with sample photos)
You might well ask is there really such a thing as a classic digital camera?
Digital cameras have been around for a long time now… the first digital camera aimed at consumers came out in 1990 (the Dycam Model 1, relaunched as the rather better known Logitech Fotoman in 1991), which at the time of writing (2023) is 33 years ago. Given the incredible speed of development in the early digital camera market, I'd say that's about 100 in normal camera years . So yes, I think digital photography has been around long enough for "classic digital camera" to be a valid concept.
The first 10-15 years of the digital camera market in particular represents a fascinating period in the development of camera technology. Camera manufacturer's had a gay old time taking advantage of the fact that they no longer all had to all accomodate the same, near universal, 135 film canister (these day more commonly referred to as 35mm film canisters). The result was an incredible proliferation designs that threw all the old rules of camera design right out of the window. What dedicated collector wouldn't want to dip their toe in such colourful waters?! In the mid to late 2000s things settled down again and most camera manufacturers when back to making cameras that looked very much like film cameras of old.
Unfortunately the days of being able to buy formerly expensive digicams from the late 1990s and early 2000s for little more than pennies are now long gone. These things now often cost £50 plus, with the rarest ones sometimes selling for several hundred! So really I've picked the wrong time to start this collection! So I'll start with cameras that are tucked away at the back of my gear cupboard because thay were bought as users, not collectables. For example, I bought my Nikon Coolpix 950 back in 2013 for a mere £10, when digicam prices were at their nadir. I bought it because I'd heard this particular model was sensitive to light at the infrared end of the spectrum and so offered a chance to try out IR photography on a shoe string. I never did get around to testing out the truth of this, but now, 10 years later, you often see these cameras going for anywhere from £50-100. So maybe it was a wise investment after all!
For future additions to my digital camera collection, as with my analogue camera collection, I have pretty broad criteria; basically anything I personally find interesting! But I suppose there are a few additional criteria in the back of my mind; a candidate for this collections should ideally fall into one (or better yet, several) of the following categories:
- Personal connection (like my recently purchased Olympus Camedia C-40 Zoom, which was the first ever good quality digital camera I ever bought)
- Technically unusual and/or interesting
- An important part of the story of photography because it's trend-setting or the first to feature a particular feature or technology.
But what I'm not going to do it limit things by criteria such as age or megapixels (in other words, I'm interested in more than just very early digicams). I already have a number of cameras waiting to be written about, so if you agree that there is such a thing as the classic digital camera, check back soon for more!