It was on June 15, 1999 that Nikon announced the Nikon D1.
It was the best thing since "sliced bread" or maybe " camera obscura ". The D1 was really the DSLR that changed everything. Of course Kodak had ventured with their own 1.5 MP sensors coupled with Nikon N90S bodies in 1995. They were enormous and sold for around $12,000.00 as I recall. That's $8,000.00 per Mega Pixels.
At $5,500.00 for the body only, the Nikon D1 was a breakthrough and a bargain...imagine that!
Its main specifications were: 2.74 MP CCD sensor, ISO equivalent of 200 to 1600, five point auto-focus area, 2" LCD screen, weight of 2.5 pounds without lens or battery, compatible with some (not all) Nikon lenses, 4.5 FPS JPEG files (Fastest in the world then) up to 21 consecutive shots @ 2.74MP or up to 10 RAW files, four exposure modes - P, S, A and M, Approximately 200 pictures per battery charge.
That was a real achievement after 162 years of photographic development since Robert Cornelius' invention of the daguerreotype camera, which utilized a film plate and had a shutter speed of approximately 15 minutes.
The D1 was costing approximately $2,008.00 per mega pixels, in 1999 dollars.
In early 2008, Pentax introduced the K20D, their current flagship DSLR.
Its main specifications are (when comparing with the D1's specifications): 14.6MP CMOS sensor, ISO equivalent of 100 to 6400, eleven point auto-focus area, 2.7" LCD screen, weight of 1.6 pounds without lens or battery, compatible with all Pentax lenses ever made, 2.8 FPS JPEG files up to 38 consecutive shots @ 14.6MP or up to 16 RAW files (21FPS in burst mode @ 1.6MP) , nine exposure modes - Green, Sv, Tv, Av, TAv, M, B and X, Approximately 740 pictures per battery charge and double that with the battery grip. Of course there are new developments such as the Dust and Weather resistance, Dust removal, Dust alert, Live View, Digital Preview, In-Camera processing, Shake Reduction, etc, all non-existent options in 1999.
The K20D at $1,200.00 is costing $82.00 per MP in 2008 dollars! A lot more camera for a lot less money.
That is some notable progress in nine years after the D1 was introduced. We now have a Pentax DSLR that has about six times the amount of pixels and image quality of the D1, surpassing the best film image quality of the SLRs made during the peak of the film era technology. We all know that Canon, Sony, Hasselblad, Leica now have DSLRs reaching up to about 40 MP.
Photography is good!
There is a point to all this.
Are we getting a little spoiled? We are never satisfied with the technology. It took 162 years of photographic technology to arrive to the D1, and now we yearn for as much advancement every single year. If the DSLRs of today keep advancing at the same pace they have in the past nine years, we will soon have computer chips implanted in our eyes, linked to another chip implanted in our brains, capable of reproducing images with infinite resolution, with a shutter controlled by out thoughts, printable at the nearest photo lab with a signal from the chip in our brains via the Internet. Where will the hobby or profession or art of photography go? Okay, I'm probably exaggerating a little, but you get the point!
I think we need to stop complaining about what the current DSLRs don't have and just go out there and take pictures, with the best tools photographers have ever known...the current DSLRs and preferably the Pentax made DSLRs.
Thank you for reading this brain escapade of mine.