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.

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.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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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.

Netscape Navigator! My nostalgia senses are tingling.