Nikon's First Consumer Digital Camera
By James Grahame
RT reader Chris Zorn recently brought the Nikon Coolpix 100 to our attention. He remarked, "It was built around a PCMCIA card, which (in the days before USB) was the best way of getting pics on and off. Picture quality was not great, but fine for the websites of the day..."
This futuristic camera was Nikon's first foray into the world of consumer digital photography. Announced in 1996, it was more a novelty than a serious photographic tool.
The Coolpix 100 offered crude 0.3 megapixel resolution and stored only 19 photos at its highest resolution. The camera was powered by four AA batteries and featured a clever pull-apart case that opened to reveal a PCMCIA card which could be slipped into a laptop to transfer images. You had to rely on the viewfinder to frame your shots - there was no color LCD display.
In an October 1997 review, PC Pro Magazine naievely declared, "Digital cameras may seem like a bit of a fad, given that they tend to be fairly low resolution or ridiculously expensive."
It's easy to see how a reviewer could have so completely underestimated the digital revolution that was just around the corner - the handful of digital cameras available in the late 1990s were targeted at realtors and insurance adjusters who needed instant digital snapshots that could be emailed and posted to the web.
Even though digital photography was in its infancy in 1997, it took a mere decade for it to all but obliterate the consumer film market. High-end film cameras now sell for a fraction of their cost when new, and I suspect they'll continue to lose value - at least in the short term. In other words, now might be the perfect time to pick up a classic medium format or 35mm SLR film camera.
More about the Nikon Coolpix 100 [NikonWeb.com]