You could say it’s what’s missing from this camera that now makes it a rarity.
The C-400 was the base-level model of three cameras that marked the entry by Olympus into the consumer digital era in 1996.
They were the first Camedia cameras.
The others were the higher-spec C-400L and the C-800L – the L indicating the presence of an LCD screen.
The C-400 had no screen and a tiny 1mb of internal memory. My guess is that consumers asked themselves “What’s the point of digital if you don’t have a screen?” They gave this orphan a wide berth. Hence not many have survived to become “one of the rarest and first compact digital cameras ever built”, as described by one collector.
Nevertheless, the C-400 produced excellent photographs, with its fast f/2.8 lens and 0.35 megapixel sensor. It’s just that you wouldn’t know that till you’d got your prints back from the photo lab.
Olympus C-900 (1998)
A cute feature of this 1998 consumer pocket camera is the pop-up flash head that helped the C-900 to be the most compact 3x zoom camera of the time (or so it was claimed). It was a popular product even though it sold for a considerable $700 in the USA.
Olympus C-211 Zoom (2000)
The C-211 is an adventurous effort from Olympus.
In the 1990s, it might have seemed obvious to put a Polaroid instant printer into a digital camera. For starters, this would allow you to check your photos in the monitor before deciding which ones to print – and Polaroid prints weren’t cheap. Nevertheless, only Fujifilm and OIympus marketed printing digital cameras in 1999 and 2000 respectively. No other manufacturers followed their brave efforts, although Fujifilm persisted with its Instax camera.
At Olympus, they weren’t sure if such a camera was serious or just for fun, so they aimed it at both business people and party people.
The camera has good digital features for its day – a 2 megapixel sensor, TIFF and JPEG file saving, a 2” colour LCD monitor, USB connection and movie capability. More significant is its trend-setting SmartMedia card storage and a little lid that you opened to allow more light into the LCD when shooting in sunny situations.
The printer uses the now-obsolete Polaroid type 500 film. There were printing options not available on standard Polaroid cameras. You can print a proof sheet, a portion of a photo and even a still from your movie. That’s serious fun!