Digital  –  Vintage Camera Format

Digital Format Specifications

Introduced: 1975
Type: digital sensor
Typical Frame Sizes: 4.54 x 3.42 mm
  6.17 x 4.55 mm
  17.3 x 13 mm
  22.2 x 14.8 mm
  36 x 24 mm
Currently: in production

Digital Format Overview

Although predated by a number of crucial technological breakthroughs, digital photography as we now know it was first invented in 1975 by Eastman Kodak engineer Steven Sasson when he created the world’s first portable digital camera: a hulking beast that took 23 seconds to capture a 100×100 pixel black and white image.

Like many groundbreaking concepts, digital cameras took quite a while to catch on. In 1984, a prototype of the Canon RC-701 “Still Video Camera” was used to photograph the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles but the hefty price tag (over $45,000 in today’s money) kept it from success when it went on sale two years later. It wasn’t until 1991 that the Kodak DCS (Digital Camera System), a hybrid setup that combined a film body with an electronic sensor, that digital cameras became a somewhat viable alternative for professional photographers.

The first commercially successful consumer models like the Casio QV-10, the Sony DSC-F1, and the Apple QuickTake appeared during the mid 1990s but abysmal image quality and relatively high cost meant that they functioned more as novelties than practical cameras. However, as technology progressed with companies like Sony and Canon at the helm, more and more amateur photographers abandoned 35mm film for compact digital cameras. By the mid 2000s, compact digital cameras were firmly in the mainstream and digital SLRs like the Canon Digital Rebel and Nikon D70 weren’t too far behind.

Mobile phone manufacturers also began including cameras in their products and, as time went on, consumers slowly shifted away from compact digital cameras in favor of the devices already in their pockets. Smaller interchangeable lens camera systems like the ones built around the Micro Four Thirds standard and Sony E-Mount also began wrestling away market share from DSLRs. The majority of professional photographers still persist with DSLRs and high end mirrorless cameras although a new generation of medium format digital cameras like the Hasselblad X1D and the Fujifilm GFX 50S are now gaining traction.

With the progression of digital technology, the possibilities are virtually limitless. In 2006, Kodak debuted the twin lens EasyShare V570 which allowed the user to switch between wide angle and telephoto views. The intriguing Light L16 features 16 small lenses and sensors; when the shutter is pressed, ten or more smaller photographs are simultaneously taken and then automatically combined into one high quality image. If you’re not quite sure what you need, the super flexible Ricoh GXR takes adaptability one step further by having interchangeable sensor and lens/lens mount modules. Don’t have time to focus? “Light field” cameras like the Lytro allow you to focus the image after you’ve taken it.

Interested in digital cameras?
Check eBay to see what’s available.

“RC-701,” Canon Camera Museum,

“GXR,” Ricoh Imaging Company, LTD.

“The Light L16 Camera,” Light,

“The iCamera: A look back at Apple’s first digital camera,” CNET,

“Casio QV-10, the first consumer LCD digital camera, lauded as ‘essential’ to tech history,” The Verge,

“Digital photography,” Wikipedia,

“History of the camera: Digital cameras,” Wikipedia,

“Lytro,” Wikipedia,

Vintage Camera Lab