Did any film camera show glimpses into the digital era?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by brian_m.|1, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. Was there a film camera that looking back now started showing signs of things to come, i.e. features that we now associate with digital cameras. The reason I am asking is that Randall in another thread mentioned three film cameras that had a very rudimentary form of EXIF capability.
  2. It's not as easy a question as you might think, since there are so many threads leading into the modern digital camera in different areas of the technology.
    In a sense, the backs that printed time and other info onto the picture (or into the margin) were ancestoral to the EXIF data recording, but there are lots of other "modern" features that ended up in digital, especially in those cameras that fall into the "Modern Film Cameras" forum territory.
    In both Nikon and Canon, there was pretty much a seamless transition from their AF film cameras into the early digital cameras (like the Kodak digital versions of each).
    One of earliest precursors was the futuristic Colani inspired Canon T-90 camera, and then there was the 1940 "camera of the future" that I posted on some time back.
  3. Minolta Dynax 7, with its very large rear LCD?
    As here: http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00ZfJs?start=0
  4. Possibly the Nikon F6.
  5. The Minolta 600si showed a bold redesign of the menu system which called attention to how much the menus count in making a camera useable. And in some ways, the hated APS cameras were an attempt to make the film, collapsed safely into its cassette feel like some kind of electronic storage mechanism. Didn't really catch on though.
    In many ways 35mm scanners, causing us to almost treat the film like an electronic medium showed what all digital might look like.
  6. I always felt that the EOS 1v was at the edge of digital as it allowed you to store in-camera and then download all of your shooting data, everything but the actual photo itself. Another camera that really seemed to bridge the gap between film and digital was the Kodak Preview APS camera which let you review the pictures you shot. That was an idea that I thought would catch on, but the digital onslaught was much greater than it seemed at first.
  7. The 1990s era Olympus ZLR (and comparable Chinion) influenced the typical
    "bridge" type digital camera with non-interchangeable zoom, viewfinder
    smoothly melded into the top plate, hand grip, rear LCD panel, etc.
  8. +1 what JDMvW said.
    The Canon T-90 has been likened to an EOS camera that still took manual focus FD lenses. It had pretty much full electronic control in one integrated body, and got away from the idea of a tinkerable 'system' camera, like the F-1. It even allowed a primitive data download through a computer interface, although that interface is arcane and hopelessly outdated.
    Still a good film camera, although they're a bit fiddly IMHO. But maybe that's just me.
  9. Polaroid?
  10. Nikon F6 is probably unique - it is really a film camera in a digital body. In essence the film transport and shutter from the F5 in the D2 body. The T90 is a classic not only bringing in the modern DSLR shape but the control interfaces. Indeed I think it is probably still the best handling SLR camera out there - a great balance between simple intuitive controls and electronic sophistication. I still miss the fact that the multi-spot system has been removed from Canons line up except for 1 series bodies. The Nikon FA also deserves a mention for bringing in Matrix metering. Finally the Contax G series perhaps link to the modern Mirrorless bodies. AF, data backs and lots of automation in a compact but well made mirrorless body.
  11. Make that +2 for what JDM said.
    I didn't know that one could download data from the T90. If I recall correctly, the Nikon N90/F90 allowed one to download shooting data (shutter speed, aperture, metering mode, flash and exposure modes and probably more) from the camera using a Sharp brand "electronic organizer" called the Wizard or something like that. A not-trivially-cheap special cable was needed to allow the camera's 10-pin connector to the Wizard.
  12. Kodak Advanix Preview. Nothing was closer to digital.
  13. Michael Canon made two data backs for the T90. The command back 90 and the Data Memory Back 90. The latter
    allowed up to 16 types of camera settings to be stored and could be linked to a MSX computer. This was a Microsoft
    standard but mainly used in Japan by Sony, Atari, Sharp and others. I think MSX meant it ran Microsoft Extended Basic
    and that they were 8 bit machines.
  14. Kodak Advantix Preview it has to be; most of the other cameras mentioned in this thread were just the ultimate sophistication in film camera technology. The Advantix Preview was truly a step further. See my post:
  15. We really should distinguish between features that have nothing to do with the mode of capture, and that mode of capture as a feature itself.<br><br>Besides the mode of capture, digital cameras do not have typical features. Except one: being computer driven, they use their preview screens not just for preview, but also as a way to present the user with (far too) many 'options' regarding how to set the three technical photographical parameters and (and this is the uniquely digital feature) the innumerable ways in which the built-in computer can process whatever the sensor captured.<br>That computer itself isn't something that only appeared with digital cameras. There already were, for instance, cameras (and i can't remember off hand which) that took cards that programmed the camera to any of the many exposure-modes ('landscape', portrait', 'sports', etc.) .<br>Most of the 'modern' features were already there or in the making before the capture-mode changed from film to electronic, and continued to be developed across and after the change from film to electronic capture. I.e. as a separate way in which cameras developed, that happened to span the changeover in capture method. The things the OP's question alludes to as 'glimpses into the digital era', while perhaps still 'under development' before, will indeed have been glimpses into a new era, but it's not quite right to characterize that new era as digital. It's coincidental that the changeover occured during and concurrent with the development of 'modern day camera ergonomics'. What that changeover brought as an 'extra' was the in-camera image processing.<br><br>The mode of capture as a feature itself - electronic vs film - was pioneered by the Sony Mavicas (before the above mentioned Advantix preview, though initially not yet digital).
  16. Certainly the Chinon CP-9AF should bear some mention. It was planned with an option to have a digital back which could be exchanged with a conventional film back, although apparently only a prototype digital back was produced. From butkus.org:

    "Now for the interchangeable electronic still imaging back, which changes the camera from a 35mm auto focus SLR using regular silver-halide film into an auto focusing electronic still camera.
    The back has a -inch CCD image sensor with 380,000-pixel resolution. which captures 50 field-frame video pictures on a standard 2-inch video disk.
    Shutter speeds range from 1/8 to 1/2,000 second with an effective maximum aperture of f/4. The CCD's sensitivity is equal to an ISO film speed of 160
    The back offers single or continuous picture taking at 3 frames per second, automatic and manual white balance, and data recording. A 6-volt 2CR5 lithium battery supplies the power."
  17. In one way of looking at it, the original data back for the Nikon F might qualify, as an early example of looking at a photograph as a collection of data rather than simply as a picture. That also may not be the first instance of this, but I think perhaps the technology of what you can do where is less important than the idea that a photograph is a document that contains information other than what comes through the lens.
    As mentioned above, the idea of accessory cards for different shooting modes, now so common, came, I think, in the second generation of Minolta Maxxums. I don't know whether they were first, but that's certainly an early example.
    I would have thought video technology would be the bridge between film and digital, in a way, since from the start it uses an electronic sensor to collect visual information, and in the process allows a different sort of manipulation as well as other information to be superimposed on the image.
  18. APS generally was a curtain-raiser, though who knew at the time? Much smaller cameras than 35mm p&s models--so small that Canon ELPHs went MIA in household clutter or under sofa cushions. Film cassettes really worked as proto-SD cards at the lab(or with APS-capable home scanners) with no user access to negatives. Multiple, variable in-camera image formats. Film contained a magnetic surface where exposure info was recorded. The Nikon Pronea and Canon EOS IX system SLRs weren't half bad and now look like the ancestors of the MILC M4/3 bodies.
  19. The Canon AE-1 was the first camera, AFAIK, with a computer chip. Ergo, it pointed the way for the type of photography
    we use. I was associated weather satellites, classified and unclassified, and spy satellites, for most of my Air Force career. The
    first spy satellites used film (www.nro.gov) and film canisters were ejected near Hawaii, deployed a parachute, and would
    be snatched in mid-air by specially configured C-130s. They had a lifetime in orbit of 3-4 weeks. I was debriefed in 1977.
    Today's spy satellites have lifetimes of years. I am fairly certain they don't use film.

    Perhaps that technology migrated into today's digital cameras. I would love to know how they handle exposure. The film
    spy satellites had one significant advantage. The high resolution Gambit satellite had a perigee of about 60 miles, and a
    huge apogee to provide the energy to get it through the earth's atmosphere at such a low perigee, but that is not
    conducive to a long life.

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