JVC GC-S1 (1998)

JVC, the Victor Company of Japan, more known for its video cameras and camcorders, demonstrated the GC-S1 digital camera as a prototype at the 1998 International Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and PMA '98. To keep it in line with other digital camera releases, JVC decided to adopt the swivel lens, built-in flash and LCD display. Because JVC had so much experience in video cameras it was no surprise that this model was equipped with a 10x optical zoom because the technology was derived from their video technology. But even with the 10x optical zoom and the display, the camera was still very compact. It also featured IrTran-P infrared port for wireless printing of images. Still all was not well, on the downside there was the so-so LCD display and the poor image quality when the zoom was used to it's full extend. The batteries also tend to drain quickly. The camera was completely designed and built by JVC, the image processor chip came from Mitsubishi.
 
The recording time of images was about 5 seconds which was a bit too long in the VGA class. Recording the best image could often be difficult because the display would freeze when the shutter was half way pressed, making it impossible to alter the composition of the scene. Last but not least this camera also had the famous strobe/swivel lens compatibility problem which means that the flash would only illuminate the scene when the swivel lens was in a straight position, facing forward. By turning the swivel lens to another position, the flash would fire but the scene would not be illuminated. (Nikon later solved this problem with the accliamed  Coolpix 950)
 
The camera was marketed worldwide with one minor difference. In Japan the camera was of course labeled "Victor" on the front and in the rest of the world "JVC". JVC also demonstrated a miniature pocket color video printer along with the camera called "GV-HT1". At the time of the demonstration it was the smallest digital camera printer in the world. By investigating my GC-S1 I found a little cover when you turn the lens 90° so it faces forward. I first thought this cover was to keep a CR battery in place but it turned out to be a hidden port of some sort, maybe a service port? I have never seen such a thing on a digital camera before. Does anyone know what this connector was for? See picture for details.
 
Here are some catch phrases from JVC at the time of the announcement:
 
- Industry's highest standard optical 10x zoom and the industry's brightest F1.6 lens
- the zoom allows you to shoot distant subjects without deteriorating image quality
- Infrared data communication function (IrTran-P) for realizing cordless printing
- Built-in flash memory can record at least 100 images
 
To get rid of some more internet errors. The camera was marketed as model GC-S1 in Japan and as model GC-S1U in the rest of the world. That's company policy and not two different models as many amateur websites claim. Need proof? Look at the labels of both the japanese and 'western' edition of the GC-S1.
 
All images © digicammuseum.com

Specifications

  • Brand: JVC
  • Model: GC-S1
  • First mentioned: 1998
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $699.95
  • Imager Type: 0.35MP 1/4" CCD
  • Resolution: 640x480
  • Internal Storage: 4MB
  • External Storage: Compact Flash
  • Lens: f=4.5 - 45mm /F1.6
  • Shutter: 1/8s - 1/1000s
  • Aperture Range: F1.6
  • LCD screen size: 1.8" LCD
  • Size: 129.4 x 73.5 x 39.4mm
  • Weight: 260 gr.
  • Remarks: -

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