Olympus Digital Camera

The History of the Olympus Digital Camera

The Olympus digital camera is the brainchild of the engineers and designers from the Olympus Corporation that was founded in Tokyo in 1919. The company has a long history in both camera and lens design, even though its very first camera, the Semi-Olympus I, was only released in 1936. Having competed against both Nikon and Canon's 35 mm single lens reflex (SLR) cameras for many years, since the first Olympus digital camera was first released, the company has remained a leading manufacturer of cameras, including the world-class Olympus digital camera.

The company has celebrated many milestones in the past 70-odd years, not least of which was producing the Chrome Six II, which was the world's first camera that had a film surface stabiliser. Then in 1953 they produced the 35 Iva, which was the world's first camera that had a film pressure plate that was made of glass. Their Wide camera, launched in 1955 was the world's first 35 mm lens shutter model that was designed specifically for wide-angle photography, while their 1958 Ace was the world's first lens shutter model that had support for exchangeable lenses.

In 1960, the company released their Auto Eye, which was the world's first 35 mm model that had a genuine shutter-priority EE (or electronic eye) system. The highly successful Pen EES was fitted with the world's first programme EE shutter.

And that's not all; in 1963 they released the Pen F F1.8 which was the world's first half-size SLR model that had an exchangeable lens capability, as well as a rotary, metal shutter, and was the very first focal plane shutter camera that had a full-speed flash synchronisation.

While their 1964 Pen W was a model designed specifically for wide-angle photography, the 1965 Pen EM was the world's first all-electric model and it had power winding and rewinding. Their 35LE, also launched in 1965, was fitted with a programme electronic shutter, and it was the first camera in the world to have a "flashmatic" mechanism. The Pen FT, launched a year later, was the world's first half-size SLR camera with a T-number exposure control. It also had an F1.2 large-aperture lens and a built-in TTL exposure meter.

Not all the milestones were world firsts, but in 1972 another world first was the Olympus M-1, the world's smallest and lightest SLR camera with all the normal SLR features. It was capable of taking pictures of everything from stars to bacteria and is said to have triggered an SLR "miniaturisation war".

Still breaking world records, in 1975 the company produced the world's first SLR model that had an automatic exposure system based on TTL direct metering of light in front of the shutter and on the film surface. It also had a revolutionary auto-flash system that was linked to TTL direct metering.

In 1979 they came up with the world's first barrier-type ultra-compact 35 mm model that also had a coupled rangefinder and a detachable flash. This was a highly specified model that had an aperture-preferred EE and other amazing features.

Their 1983 AFL model was another world first because it had a lithium battery that was capable of rapid flash charging at approximately every 1.5 seconds.

The 1985 AF-1 Quartzdate was the world's first weatherproof compact camera, and the OM-4Ti was the first 35 mm focal plane shutter camera with all-speed flash synchronisation. The OM707 was the world's first system AF SLR that had a built-in flash, and the AF-10 Quartzdate was the first fully automatic compact model that was compatible with both lithium 123A and AAA batteries.

Yet another world first came in 1988 when they launched the IZM300, which was the first lens shutter model with a high-power zoom lens over 105 mm that was equipped with a zoom viewfinder capable of showing true images.

The IZM200 Quartzdate launched in 1989 was the very first 2x zoom model that had a red-eye reduction mode based on what they called "preliminary flash firing".

It took the company a while to achieve another world first, but in 1997 they released the Camedia C-410L which had support for direct high-resolution printing to 16-sticker sheets. In the same year, they also released the Camedia C-820L which was the world's very first model with a function mode. Two years after this, they released the world's first camera with a visual finder that also had a 38 mm to 80 mm zoom as well as the Camedia C-21 which was at that stage the world's smallest and lightest single-focus digital camera in the two megapixel (2 MP) class, as well as the first digital camera with a wide-field liquid crystal display (LCD) monitor.

So before the turn of the century they had broken the barrier into digital high class technology.

The Camedia C-40 Zoom released in 2001 had the world's smallest and lightest ultra-compact body at the time, and the μ-10 Digital was the first metal-body camera that had weatherproofing.

Getting really classy, the company also claims fame to the fact that their Ferrari digital Model 2003 was the first d-camera in the world to be officially approved by Ferrari - only 10 000 were produced worldwide, 1000 in Japan. Another 10 000 were released as the 2004 model a year later.

In 2004 they came out with another world first, this time a 4.0 MP model that had an enhanced movie function based on the MPEG-4 format.

With operations centres now established in both the USA and in Germany, it seems that Olympus is unstoppable.

Most of the information in this article was sourced from the company's global website, www.olympus-global.com, where you can find out lots more about the Olympus digital camera.

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