It's possible to forget, but Apple used to have their own line of digital cameras. Back in the mid-nineties they launched three cameras under the 'QuickTake' product banner. What we have here is the second of those; say hello to the Apple QuickTake 150.
Launched in 1995, the QuickTake 150 cost new a staggering $700. Granted, this was a time when digital cameras were in the early days, but $700 meant this was not an item for the masses -- much like Apple's computers of the time. So what does an 18 year old camera provide in the way of specs?
The QuickTake 150 has an 8mm fixed focus lens, a flash, and 1MB of flash storage. It's capable of shutter speeds between 1/30 and 1/175 of a second, and produces 24-bit images at 640x480. The on-board storage stores only 8 photographs taken at the full resolution, or 32 taken at 320x240 resolution. Unthinkable today that you would ever take an image so small. The QuickTake 150 also included a separate close up clip on lens as part of the kit.
Battery power comes by way of 3xAA batteries, with support for rechargeable ones with the optional charger that was sold separately.
By modern standards, the QuickTake 150 is a rather unusual shape. It's more akin to a pair of binoculars than a camera, with a large eyepiece at the rear alongside the main controls, with the flash together on the front with the lens. While the shape may be unusual, it's still surprisingly comfortable to hold.
A neckstrap was included in the box too as part of the kit, and it is insanely long. Apple also included their own image software with the camera -- all 4 floppy disks worth of it -- along with the serial cable required to connect the camera to the computer. With the QuickTake 150 Apple added support for Windows 3.1 -- the previous iteration, the QuickTake 100 had been Mac only -- in an effort to widen the market appeal.
The photos taken are stored on the camera in QuickTake file format, but can be converted using the bundled software into more regular and supported file types such as JPEG, BMP and TIFF. So, the bundled QuickTake software and the serial cable are 100% necessary to actually get images from the camera to the computer, and there lies the very reason that sadly I won't be able to use it. For now, at least.
The QuickTake 150 can't be connected directly to a more modern Mac running OS X, because there is a lack of support for the Apple serial protocol used. I simply don't have any hardware old enough to support this camera, an unusual situation to be in. And, because the QuickTake 150 doesn't have any kind of display on it there's no way to preview any of the images taken without taking them off the camera first.
However, thanks to the Internet -- and in this case, Wikipedia -- here is a sample picture taken at maximum resolution with the QuickTake 150. Also thanks to the Internet, the full original user manual for the camera is available to view from Apple.
So, there's a quick look at a piece of vintage Apple. The camera line didn't live for long, with the QuickTake 150 being discontinued in 1997. It was though followed by a much improved model, the QuickTake 200 that looked a lot more like digital cameras of the modern day. It was also cheaper, had removable flash storage, a much wider range of shutter speeds and user-selectable focus and aperture controls.
It also serves as a reminder as to just how far camera technology has advanced. Sat next to my Panasonic Lumix G2 Micro 4/3 camera, the QuickTake 150 strikes an imposing figure.
So, did anyone of you purchase a QuickTake digital camera back in the nineties? What were your memories of it and what made you ultimately decide to purchase one? If you've any stories to share about your experiences with Apple's short-lived range of digital cameras, drop us a line in the comments!