Apple QuickTake 100: 1994 Digital Camera Experience

Greetings and welcome to an LGR thing!
And this one right here is the Apple QuickTake 100 digital camera, developed in conjunction with Kodak and sold by Apple Computer beginning in February of
1994. And it was initially sold at a price of $749 US Dollars and was the
first color fully-digital camera to hit retail at less than $1000 on launch. And
even though there were later releases that connected to both Windows and Mac
OS, this original 100 model I have here only came with software to use with
Macintosh computers. It was also specifically geared towards taking
advantage of Power Macintosh hardware as this vibrant sticker on the front so
boldly proclaims. “The freedom to bring the world directly into your computer.”
Wow, all of the world just, right in there! This was immeasurably exciting in 1994!
No need to wait a week or two to get your roll of film developed, now you can
enjoy your photos the very same day. And not only that but it did so in 24-bit
color, which was still a notable accomplishment. Its nearest-priced
competitor the Logitech Fotoman Plus shot in black and white only, and the
color Dycam Model 4 cost nearly twice as much as the QuickTake 100. Yeah
that’s right, an Apple product that was both technically impressive *and* lower in
price than the competition! My how times change. I got this particular QuickTake
100 at a local Goodwill a while back, as seen on LGR Thrifts episode 30. I considered it quite a lucky find because coming across these original model 100s
can be a bit tough, especially complete in box and as lightly-used as this one
appeared to be. Speaking of that box let’s go ahead and get this thing open!
And starting right off here with some floppy disks, two of them that are just the
normal program to work with pretty much any Mac and then a third one to use if
you have a Power Mac. You also get a bit of Apple company paper work here: the
warranty and their software license agreement. As well as a 70 page user’s
guide for the Macintosh version of the QuickTake 100 here. All sorts of useful
information on how to set it up and use this thing which, again, was kind of a new
deal at this point in time. Most people didn’t even know digital cameras were a
thing, this is all pretty uncharted territory for everything from the
software itself to how to use the functions of the camera. New problems
like “oh no my camera won’t take pictures why might that be?” Well maybe it’s cuz
the memory is full. “What, a camera has memory, you have to erase it, that’s wild.”
And then in the bottom of the box tucked away in this little formed package are a
few different things. Starting with the wall charger for the nickel cadmium
batteries, well that was nice of them to include. You can just use normal AA
batteries of course, but it came with an official QuickTake charger as well as
some rechargeable batteries right here. Which I would have attempted to use, just
out of curiosity, had they not been leaking. You also get a cable to connect
to the computer and work with the camera and get your images and such. This is a
GeoPort serial data cable. And then of course there is the QuickTake 100
camera itself. And yeah it’s kind of a charmingly ugly beast, in my opinion. It’s
about the size and shape of a pair of small binoculars. It weighs 18.5 ounces with batteries installed, so just over one pound or half
a kilogram. On the front of it here with this little sliding cover that you move
to turn it on you have an 8mm fixed focus lens, the
equivalent of a 50mm lens on a 35 mil camera. With an aperture ranging
from f/2.8 to 16 and a focus range of four feet to infinity. As
well as shutter speeds between 1/30 and 1/175 of a second and
an ISO of approximately 85. Yeah this used a cut-down version of the CCD that was
used in the earlier Kodak DCS 200 digital camera back. That thing was an
$8,000 monster so having that kind of capability in something this size and
so relatively cheap was pretty neat! And your pictures were stored on one
megabyte of internal EPROM flash memory. It’s not removable, it’s just in there
all the time, but the nice part was that your photos were saved even if you
didn’t have any batteries installed. Unlike certain contemporaries like the
Fotoman that used volatile RAM, so you’d lose your pictures if the
batteries ran out or they were taken out or whatever. With a whole megabyte you
could get 32 pictures stored at 320×240 resolution or 8 pictures at 640×480.
Yes, a whopping 0.31 megapixel is what you get with this $750 camera from 1994.
Oh but hey, they threw in a free carrying strap, that’s nice. And before we get to
start taking some pictures, let’s take a look at a couple of the other little
things that are on here. Including this little pop-open side panel which
provides the serial connection as well as a place for the optional external DC
power supply. Along the bottom you have a standard tripod screw mount and these
two spots at the bottom are for hooking up the strap. And around the back is
where we have our viewfinder as well as an LCD panel. There are four different
functions here, the first one letting you change the flash functionality —
whether you want it on, off, or auto. A button for letting you switch between
the high and low-res image capturing modes. A button for enabling the timer
shutter release so that you, you know, can do timer-y things. And a recessed
button here to let you delete all of the images that are stored on the camera. Yep
all of them at once, only press that if you’re sure that nothing you’ve taken is
good. And finally when you’re ready to take yourself a photo you slide open the
front panel and the shutter release button is on the top. Just this awkward
plastic button that you smoosh inwards and there you go! *quick and quiet shutter sound* It quietly and rather
quickly takes and saves a photo, it’s a little quicker than some other digital
cameras I’ve used from this time period. Gets a full resolution image saved in
just a couple seconds! And of course to take a look at the photos we need a
computer, and for that I have chosen this lovely Power Macintosh
7300/200. *classic Mac startup chime* First things first you’ll need that
serial cable plugged into the back of the computer, and it’s going to be
plugged into either the printer or the modem port. And then the other end just
plugs into that little opening panel on the side of the QuickTake itself. And
that’s really it, just make sure it’s turned on and you’re ready to go! Just
stick those floppy disks in there and you’ll be installed and ready to go in
no time. So the QuickTake 1.0 software is what this comes with and well, it is
the most bare-bones of image retrieval and editing tools. In fact there’s not
much here in terms of editing, it really is mostly just for getting the camera
images off of the camera itself and onto your computer in the file format that
you choose. Anyway you can view them directly or you can choose to move all
of the images to your hard disk. And it does it pretty quickly, only taking about
a minute for the full one megabyte transfer. And then it’ll ask you if you
want to erase all of the images from the camera, “yes or no.” And if you say yes
it’ll bring up this little camera control panel and delete the images
straight away. And if you stick around in that camera controls area after that
then you can do pretty much everything that you could with the camera. Like
switching around the options for flash, resolution, and timer and deletion. But
you can also take a picture. You won’t be able to see a live image but you will
immediately see it quote-unquote “developed” and show up on your desktop.
And your results may vary. But yeah at this point you can view your images
within QuickTake — and you do need QuickTake. It actually shoots in its own
version of PICT images, that’s P-I-C-T. You can save in TIFF or uncompressed
PICT formats as well if you’d like, but those are gonna take up more disk space.
And yeah just check out some of these shots! As usual I like using older
digital cameras and just older cameras in general to take pictures of things
where you really wouldn’t be able to tell when it was taken. Stuff that’s
era-appropriate, like buildings and old electronics. Especially technology I just
like taking pictures of, with old technology. There’s something poetic
about that, especially cars. Oh my goodness, cars and appropriate
surroundings just make for some really convincing new/old pictures in my
opinion. And I did not actually notice until after I had already developed my
first set of pictures that a lot of my images were shifted to the left.
Like I was trying to center up these coffee mugs and then try to get a shot
through this chain-link fence at this cool background going on. But it ended up
with other stuff being in the way of the lens, it just wasn’t centered. And that is because — I didn’t actually think about
this when shooting — so, you have the flash over here and then you have the little
hole for the viewfinder to look through and a couple sensors right there. And the
actual lens isn’t where you would naturally expect it to be in the center
or close to it: it’s off to the right, when you’re shooting that is. So you have
to keep that in mind and compensate when you’re framing your photos through that
little slightly unhelpful viewfinder, just forcing you to get into the habit
of moving everything to the left when you’re trying to center up images or
frame them in a certain way. And let’s also talk about the color reproduction
because they were so boastful about that 24-bit color. And you know, a lot of these
early CCDs like this had very washed out kind of blown out colors, and this
one is no exception. I talked about all those specs before with the ISO and the
shutter speed being very limited, and indeed it is. But also just the colors
that it picks up are really strange. Like this ridiculous scene right here, that’s
not supposed to be anything pink there. That’s like reds and oranges and blues
and tans, and it just comes across as bizarre. Anything that’s red looks a
little more pink and anything that’s pink is ridiculously pink. And also you
have to keep in mind that this is not good at doing any kind of close-up
imagery, like this right here was shot about one foot away from this camera. And
of course it’s blurry, the minimum distance that it can photograph things
sharply is four feet. Which means that unless you have arms that are over four
feet long every single selfie you take is going to be a bit blurry. Or just
completely washed out because the flash goes crazy and does not know what to do
with things that are up-close and blown out by the flash. But hey, instant beauty
filter! Also worth noting that that file format that it saves things in by default,
you cannot open that in Photoshop or pretty much any modern image editor
without a plugin like UFRaw. And this one will take that raw image that’s been
compressed and you can save it as something else in GIMP or whatever you
want to do. Still that QuickTake format does a reasonable job of compression. It
makes every image about 116 kilobytes, whereas if you were saving
it as TIFF it’d be like 900K per picture. Certainly something that would
have been handy back in the days when floppy disks were your primary way of
transferring files like this. And really that is it for the Apple QuickTake 100!
I think it’s a pretty darn neat little camera. It’s interesting, if nothing else,
because it was so early to the party and really its results aren’t that bad for
1994. But at the same time I can absolutely see why it did not become
this massive success for Apple, because it just was too far ahead of its time
and nobody really knew what to do with it. Granted it still was followed up with a factory updated Plus version, and then two
follow-up models the 150 and the 200. But it was still only on the market three
years, being discontinued in 1997 when Steve Jobs returned to Apple and
drastically simplified their product line. Still, while the QuickTake wasn’t a
bastion of market success, I don’t exactly agree with all of the hyperbole
I see online retroactively branding it “an unmitigated disaster” and “one of the
single worst Apple products ever made.” Yes, it was expensive and low on features,
but that’s what you get when you’re an early entry in a new product category.
And if you actually look it up, critics at the time when this was released were
praising the QuickTake for being as affordable and capable as it was,
compared to the few other competing digital cameras back then. I know
pointing out Apple’s failures gets clicks, but I don’t think the QuickTake is
truly the worst. It was, however, absolutely early to the party and
expensive, costing more than a good 35mm SLR at the time. It is no wonder that it didn’t exactly fly off the shelves but you know, that is
exciting and unproven technology for you! No one knew where it was going,
photographers were debating whether or not digital could ever replace film. And
yeah, cameras like the QuickTake definitely wouldn’t replace film, but it
was an important step along the way to getting to that point. And if you enjoyed this episode of LGR
perhaps you would like to see some of my others! I like talking about old tech and
digital cameras, or computers, software, and oddware, all sorts of things every
Monday and Friday. So stick around if you like this kind of stuff. And as always
thank you very much for watching!

Posts created 3637

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top