In 1998, I was on a hunt for a small, easy-to-use, point-and-shoot-about camera for my first trip to the U.S.; when I came across an unusual looking, unheard of type of camera. This was Casio’s 100 thousand pixel (0.1 Megapixel) camera, displayed amongst the more renowned, reliable branded cameras. Casio – the brand; was popular and best known for its sophisticated, yet easy to use electronic calculators and digital diaries. I remembered buying a digital calculator that sounded a single, different musical note for each digit key pressed. I played (tapped) on the different numerical keys to the tune of “Amazing Grace” at my grandfather’s funeral. Sure did bring a lot of laughs. But Casio producing cameras?
Coming back to this unusual and a bit of a weird type of camera. “What on earth is it?”, I thought to myself. I have not seen anything like it before. I had not read anything about this type of camera either in magazines or newspapers. (We were still not in the “google” era. Computer internet search engines were Alta Vista, Yahoo and their likes). Being interested in gadgets, I asked the shop assistant if I could have a look at the actual camera. The shop assistant told me that I had to buy the camera in order for me to break open the sealed box. It was in the box, sealed; so, I could not have a feel of it. Now, I was not about to buy this with hardly any idea how to use it, and try it out while in the U.S.; with chances of ruining some memorable shots I hope to take.
Looking at this gizmo, it had a Liquid Crystal Display screen at the back of the camera, which is usually the film door cover for most ordinary cameras. Liquid Crystal Display? What’s that? Will the crystals melt and turn into liquid if the camera malfunctioned? The idea of framing your shot on a screen instead of the viewfinder, was strange but cool. Here, the display is much bigger than the viewfinder, brighter and clearer (based on the pictures on the camera box). That I like.
Then, you are able to pivot the lens to the back and take shots of you while you are looking at the display. “Far out!” (as the late country singer, John Denver would always say). What was even more amazing was the ability to record short video clips. A stills and a movie camera as one! Now, this depended on it’s “flash memory” in place of a roll of film. It could shoot up to 96 pictures (less if you took some short movie shots). I could only guess the quality of the shots it produced was ok for a gimmick. I definitely thought this camera as a gimmick. Hang on, hang on… there’s more. Once the flash memory is full, it has to be off-loaded to a computer, then erase the flash memory and you are as good to go again.
The plus is a role of film is up to 36 full-frame (39 if you started with the absolute minimum lead) shots (double that if it was a half-frame camera). There were the 12 frame or 24 frame roll of film available, too; and they were cheaper than the role of 36; the 12 frame being the cheapest.
So, you’ve got an equivalent of about two and a half “rolls of film” on the camera. The downside is that you have to connect to a computer and download the shots from the flash memory. So, it becomes a bit of a problem when you are travelling. At that time, not everyone owned a fairly decent spec-ed laptop that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. And if you did; having to take it along when travelling abroad was cumbersome, mainly due to its size and weight.
This camera was powered by AA batteries, so having spares with you would definitely have been a plus point.
The price of the QV-10A was almost or about double that of a reputable compact full-frame camera.
If I did not have plans to have the camera as my main point-and-shoot for my U.S. trip; I most probably would have purchased this camera, even with a price that was double of a good top brand film camera. I would be closer to a computer to download the shots I took. Plus, I could head back to the camera store for help if I fumbled with he camera settings, etc.
The Casio QV-10A was a camera like no other. It revolutionized what cameras of the future was to become and send film-based cameras to near extinction.
Product Information of the Casio QV-10A
- The CASIO Digital Camera – birth of the Digital Camera Era!: This compact design of the QV-10A makes it just the thing to have at hand for those special moments. It introduces powerful features in this tiny size, making digital image recording easy and fun.
- Brand: Casio
- Model: QV-10A
- Width: 5.12in.
- Height: 2.6in.
- Weight: 6.7 Oz. (I am not sure if this includes batteries)
Additional Product Features
- Exterior Color choice: 3 models – Silver, black or dark grey
- Sensor Resolution: 0.1MP
- Camera Type: Point & Shoot
- Screen Size: 1.8in.
- Maximum Resolution: 0.1MP
Though the Casio QV-10A was tempting; I decided on the tried and tested types of cameras I was familiar with. I saw this Rollei...whoa; “Rollei” – synonymous with top notch quality photography . I was first acquainted with this brand when I was about nine years old. My late Uncle, Jeffrey Surin, had a Rollei camera. It was a 35mm film camera, slightly taller than a roll of film and had a width of two 35mm film boxes, side-by-side. It was black in colour, with all the dial markings in white. It was so small and had turn dials on top of the camera and at the bottom, too. Very sophisticated. Typically German.
Coming back to this Rollei I saw at the camera shop – it was probably one and a half times the size of the camera Uncle Jeff had; but not as sophisticated; didn’t look it. And it didn’t look European. According to the specs, this Rollei model was manufactured in U.S.A..
The Rollei Prego 115 is a compact autofocus 35mm full-frame camera made by Rollei. Why I emphasize “full-frame” is because half-frame cameras were popular at that time. People went for half-frames to get more shots out of a roll of film.
The Prego 115 has an HFT-coated 38-115 mm Vario-Apogon zoom lens. There is a large LCD screen on the top of the camera, and most settings are selected with buttons arranged behind this, along the rear edge of the camera top housing. This screen displays the functions selected and the number of shots taken on the film.
It has infra-red autofocus, with an autofocus lock feature, and a button to force infinity focus. It offers the 13×36 mm panorama format. Film advance and rewind are automatic and motorised. The film speed is set automatically using DX codes, or defaults to ISO 200. The zoom is controlled with a thumb slider rather than the wide and tele buttons of the Prego 90. Also unlike the Prego 90 and 125, the built-in flash retracts into the body. The flash has the functions usual on a compact camera of this type: a red-eye reduction feature, forced fill-in flash, and an option to disable the flash. http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Rollei_Prego_115
The Prego 115 was the first film auto-load camera I had. You just drop the cassette roll in, advance the film lead onto the motorized sprocket’s teeth, close the back of the camera, and it loads up to the first film shot. This was quite unique at that time. It had some hiccups though. There were several times when the film did not advance to the first shot. When I was in a hurry, I would drop the film in, pull the lead film to the sprocket teeth and start shooting away. After a while of taking several pictures or assuming that I had taken several pictures: I’d check to see how many shots I have left from the 36 frames roll film and notice that the film has not advanced forward, much to the chagrin of lost once-in-a-lifetime shots, not to mention the disappointment of the people who were included in those shots.
I took lots of pictures while in the U.S. – Chicago, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Universal Studios, Disney at Anaheim, many parks and sites of interest. Now, over 20 years on; I would have to search where I have stored these hardcopy photos. I know they are somewhere around the house, but the questions is “where?’
So, this leads me back to the QV-10A. If, I had the QV-10A and a portable harddisk back then in 1998, and if I was willing to fork out the asking price; I would have picked the QV-10A. The part of not having to pay for film and developing them into photographs was enticing as these costs were quite expensive, especially when taking many photographs on holiday. I think I used about 10 rolls of 36-frame film on that U.S. trip. I was very conservative with taking photographs unless the scenes or happenings really counted because of the cost of the film and photo development. The total cost of the film and developing the photographs for that U.S. trip came up to about 15% of the price of the QV-10A. If I had the QV-10A, I would have been more photo-snapping enthusiastic than ever before. I would have been snapping away without a care or worry. Of course, I would have had to make sure I always had spare batteries at hand.
Now, I am in the same predicament as I was 23 years ago. Heading to the U.S. What camera should I get?