Pour One Out for Casio: Pioneering Digital Camera Maker Pulls Out of Market

Pour One Out for Casio: Pioneering Digital Camera Maker Pulls Out of Market

Casio, known today for rather pedestrian point-and-shoot compact cameras, wasn’t always that way. In the late 1990s, they were at the forefront of digital imaging, but now, that’s no more.

A report on Nikkei indicates that the electronics giant will drop its compact cameras and leave the market. A translation of the page pointed to a declining compact camera market as the reason.

Indeed that seems to be the case with Casio in the U.S.A. A quick trip to their website doesn’t even show cameras under their “products” menu and B&H Photo doesn’t list any of their cameras.

My First Digital Camera

This is a moment where I indulge in a little nostalgia. My first digital camera was a Casio QV-10. As president of my high school’s science club, I basically had it perma-loaned to me by the teacher who ran the club. Back then, digital photography wasn't about dynamic range and megapixels. Indeed it wasn't mega at all: the camera shot images at 320x240 resolution. The sensor was a 1/5-inch CCD unit, so much smaller than the current crop of 1-inch units that play in the same $800 space that this camera did back in 1995.

This was about what you could expect out of the camera. These images below at actual size. Yes, that’s me holding a wooden bridge for a contest. High school was a rough time.

Actual output from the Casio QV-10. Amazing in 1996, not so great today.

Actual output from the Casio QV-10. Amazing in 1996, not so great today.

The whole thing was more a science experiment than art. You can get pictures straight into your computer, man, this is crazy! That is, you can do that after you plug into the serial port using a special kit and software that you purchase separately. USB wasn’t a thing, so plug-and-play definitely was not an option.

In the 1990s, it was so weird to frame up an image using an LCD screen. It just wasn’t a thing. In fact, this was the first consumer digital camera to offer up a screen for composing and viewing photos, a fact that they even tout in the instruction manual. There was room for 96 images on the camera’s built-in memory. The terminology wasn’t even invented to describe using this whole process. Casio had to tell people to “think of camera memory like a 96-page album of the images you record,” which sounds quaint today. The main way the manual suggested to save your images was to hook up to a TV and record the images onto a video tape.

So, while no Casio has sparked quite the same fire in me that the QV-10 did (mostly by way of being first), there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the company’s foray into cameras.

Do you have a Casio memory to share? Post in the comments below.

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2 Comments

I have an original QV-10. Bought it at my first job after college. I had to make websites for a recognition program and this was the perfect tool. Images looked decent in Netscape Navigator :-)

I used my film camera for the print catalogue images, but I could check all the lighting and upload an image right from the camera. I was shooting crystal and jewellery, which was difficult to light on film since we had no way of previewing film images. QV-10 made my life a lot easier.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Netscape Navigator! My nostalgia senses are tingling.