Test Drive Tech #1: Point and Shoot Digital

We’re going to start a weekly series where we take a dive in to some of the technology that we have sitting around here, and if it works, we’re going to give it a test drive. Starting this series off is the Kodak DC220.

Branded as the “Digital Science” model of camera, they were considered one of the first consumer digital cameras, with an SRP below $1000. When scrounging this bad boy out of it’s hidden corner, we actually found some fantastic old photos that are complete gems… while those aren’t the photos that we’re showing, we couldn’t get the 15 year old watermark to go away as every time we fiddled with the settings, the device would crash, so that’s there to stay for the time being. Also, this one may have caught the ole’ Y2K bug, as every time we went to change the year to 2020, it would lock up and shut down… either Y2K bug, or it’s just realizing what the year 2020 is all about. – all kidding aside, the menus are a struggle for real, but given we were just doing a demo, it wasn’t worth fiddling too much!

This Camera was powered by four AA batteries, and utilized a Compact Flash (CF) memory card for storage. It provided no onboard amount of storage, therefore it was non-functional without a memory card – something that’s still common today, however some modern digital “point and shoot” cameras provide about 16mb of storage. CF cards are still used, however they are nowhere near as common since the advent of the SD, and Micro SD Card.

For interfacing to a computer this used a 7-pin serial cable to an RS-232 connection – while the 7-pin is still found every now and again, it’s often complemented with a USB (Universal Serial Bus) connection that has replaced just about every other type of consumer used connector in the tech world. Additionally it had an A/V out option for displaying images on a TV, and a DC power port for any extended duration of usage it could be plugged in to an external power source and not drain the batteries.

Side note: those four AA batteries lasted about an hour of usage before they were completely drained, so rechargeable batteries would have been the right investment for any type of sustained use of this camera.

The 1MP Quality branding sure does show it’s age – just think about how much more camera power you hold in your pocket than you would have lugging this around 25 years ago! Your prints would have likely looked okay up to a 5×7 image size, but anything more than that, and the pixels would have shown drastically. We took a photo of the owner’s dog for this test drive – the first two photos are with the DC220, the third is with the standard camera settings on the iPhone 11, and the fourth is with an iPhone 11 using portrait mode.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come with digital photography since the launch of this camera! Both of these shots were using the exact same lighting environment, that being said – I promise we’re better photographers than this, however it was a pretty low light environment at the time, so even the iPhone shots are a little iffy.


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