Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Futuristic Cameras of the Past

From Louis Daguerre to George Eastman to Edwin Land, many names in photographic history are synonymous with innovation.  Louis Daguerre helped invent the first practical photographic method, George Eastman was a pioneer in the development of photographic film and Edwin Land created the first modern instant camera.  They, along with many other creative minds, are credited for their role in the advancement of photographic technology.  However, several inventions along the way didn't revolutionize photography in the way they intended.   Here's a brief look at two different cameras that didn't quite make an impact on the future of photographic technology.  


The Canon Sure Shot Del Sol is a compact, fully automatic 35mm point-and-shoot camera introduced in 1995.  It was the world's first camera to use solar energy for its power requirements.  The front has a solar panel that recharges an internal lithium ion battery.  The solar battery and lithium ion battery work in tandem, so the user will never have to replace the battery.  The sun supplies all power required by the auto focus system, shutter, built-in flash and film transport system.  When the camera is fully charged, the battery life allows the user to shoot approximately five rolls of 24 exposure film.  The Del Sol features a red battery check button on the side of the camera that helps the shooter gauge how many rolls of film can be used before the camera needs to be recharged.     


Four cells indicates 5 rolls of film, three cells indicates 4 rolls of film, two cells indicates 3 rolls of film and 1 cell indicates 2 rolls of film.  When sunlight causes the temperature of the camera's internal mechanisms to rise, the solar panel automatically pops open to allow the camera to cool down.  In bright sunlight, the camera will take approximately 8 hours to fully charge.  In overcast conditions or indoors with artificial light, the camera will take approximately 120 hours to fully charge.  The Del Sol features a solar tilt panel that angles the solar panel 30 degrees when charging the camera near a window.  The Canon Sure Shot Del Sol was intended to be an energy saving and ecological camera of the future, but it just didn't catch on.  


Another type of camera that didn't have quite the impact it was aiming for was the development of APS technology.  APS, or Advanced Photo System, is a now defunct film format for still photography that was introduced in 1996.  The format was introduced by Kodak, Nikon, Canon and many other manufacturers at the time of its release.  Eastman Kodak marketed the APS system under the brand name Advantix.  The Kodak Advantix 3700 ix featured here is an example of a typical APS point-and-shoot camera from 1996.  It features three image formats (H for High Definition, C for Classic and P for Panoramic).  The C and P formats were made by cropping the image.  The film was 24mm wide and available in 15, 25 or 40 exposures.  The film was housed in a single spool plastic cartridge with visual indicators that noted the status of the roll (unexposed, partially exposed, fully exposed but not processed or processed). 


The film of an APS camera was unique because it contained information about the image such as the time and date the photo was taken  It could also record shutter speed and aperture settings or store a caption.  The introduction of APS was intended to upgrade photo technology for amateurs, but it was soon overshadowed by digital photography.  APS was never popular with professional photographers due to the significantly smaller film size (56% of the frame size of 35mm film).  While it did have some user friendly features like the ability to change film mid-roll, easy loading, easy film storage (film housed in cartridge) and index prints, the popularity of APS was short lived.  The growing convenience and affordability of digital technology was an attractive alternative to the expensive prices of APS film and photo printing services.  Billed as the "future of photography", APS technology didn't quite revolutionize amateur photography as intended.  
~L.M.     

2 comments:

  1. At the time, I was considering to buy APS, but it died. I the system is to be reencarnaded, I woud get one for me.

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  2. The Del Sol.... Only Canon Cameras (during that period) would design a camera full of temperature sensitive film to be placed out in the sun to recharge.

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