The world’s first camera capable of filming in MPEG-4 in 1999 was basically a vlogging camera
When you pick any moment in history at random, if you could go back and talk to the people of the time, they would feel like they were at the pinnacle of technology in almost every way. The latest tech advancements were about as good as ever, save for a few incremental updates. Well, when it comes to camera technology, we couldn’t be further from the truth.
In this video, Gravis (otherwise known as cathode ray man), takes us back to the very end of the 20th century (now don’t you feel old?) with state-of-the-art technology from Sharp – The first video camera capable of filming in what was then an entirely new format, MPEG-4 Compared to today’s cameras, this is absolutely laughable. But in his time, he answered a very real need. The ability to send short video clips over the Internet.
the Sharp VN-EZ1 was released in June or August 1999, depending on where you lived. And as Gravis points out in the video, Sharp still to the product page on their website. It’s quite dated by today’s standards and certainly wasn’t designed for an HD-ready audience. It has a user interface that seems better suited to the often 640×480 VGA resolution monitors of the day, but it tells us everything we need to know about the camera, its specificationsand there are even a few sample video clips!
The main focus of this camera was basically a fusion of two audiences. These are the people who fell into the crowd of camcorder owners as well as savvy internet users who wanted to share their adventures. Basically, it was the first vlogging camera, in a way. Why was such a camera necessary? Well, back then pretty much the only way to share files, short of having your own website, was via email – which had incredibly small attachment size limits due to the fact that most of the world was connected remotely. MPEG-4 allowed you to shoot short clips while keeping file sizes quite small.
Of course, those little MPEG-4 video files meant that was pretty much his only real purpose in life. It certainly wasn’t something you’d want to shoot serious video with and I’d say footage from this camera has probably been shown on TV or in film…oh, about zero times. It was a convenience camera that solved a need at the time that no longer really exists.
With the video technology we have today, not just cameras but the ease with which we can share them via platforms like YouTube or Facebook, the Sharp VN-EZ1 and the reasons why you would want to buy one are extremely primitive . But back then, being able to shoot a video and easily email it to someone over the internet was pretty mind-blowing.
It will be interesting to see which of today’s technologies, especially when it comes to cameras, are looked at 20 years from now with a similar perspective to what we see today with cameras like the Sharp VN-EZ1.
Did you have one at the time?