Digital Photography in 1993 = Big, Ugly, and Awesome… and boy did we think we were cool. Before the digital camera was the norm, it was enormous!
Take a Hasselblad, attach a HUGE digital back, and add cooling fans, a dehumidifying unit, and a large filter wheel, then you can start to imagine our first digital camera. The digital back was a Scitex Leaf DCB, it was 4 megapixels, and it cost $36,000. All of this was attached to a computer slower than molasses, packing a whopping 8 megabytes of RAM.
To take a picture, you would trigger the camera at the computer. The filter would rotate in front of lens to red and shoot. Then green and shoot. Then blue and shoot. One million years later, you would see the image come up on the computer. By aligning the three layers in the camera software, you got to finally see the finished photograph. Piece of cake, really.
This software really was sophisticated. The early versions had a button that was labeled “Guess”… we didn’t like to click that, but it worked. Later versions changed the label to “Auto,” a little easier to stomach.
The thing they must have hidden in the fine print was how much the lenses would be used. Every time you took a shot, it was actually three shots. Due to the fact that our equipment was being used three times as often we had a lot of lenses going in for repair and rebuild. The local shop got to know us pretty well and would give us the heads up when it were time to retire a lens.
This was the beginning of digital photography in the commercial world. It was a huge investment for the studio, and we where the first to take the plunge. It brings back a lot of fun and crazy memories, not to mention the price! $2000.00 for a 2gig hard drive… and that was a Deal!
What a ride it has been.
- David Bell, Photographer, Digital Pioneer.