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Here's looking at you, IXUS

It's been an interesting few years for photographers and manufacturers alike. We've seen companies come and go, technologies rise and fall, and cameras stuffed to the brim with features.

To celebrate CNET's 5th birthday, we thought we'd take a trip through the best (and worst) of photographic developments over the past five years.

We thought we'd kick celebrations off with a look at how Canon's styling department hasn't changed at all. On the left is an IXUS from 2004 when we launched (the IXUS 430) and on the right, the pocket rocket IXUS 100 IS from 2009. We suppose they're abiding by the "if you're onto a good thing" mantra a little too well.

Back then, 4-megapixel cameras were the norm. How quaint.

Photo by: Canon

We choose, the rest snooze

Here's what we picked for our very first Editors' Choice cameras. On the left, the first compact camera, the Canon PowerShot S80. On the right, the Canon EOS-1D Mark II, which in 2004 would have set you back AU$8399. Nothing's changed in the professional camera price stakes, then.

Keep reading for more milestones (and they're not all Canon either, we promise).

Photo by: Canon

Gobble gobble: camera turkeys — wireless

The world was so much more innocent in 2005. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, and MySpace was just a blip on the horizon. Strangely then, camera manufacturers like Kodak decided to rush out a bunch of cameras with wireless capabilities, allowing you to send and print photos via email straight from your camera. Apparently, pictures travel in curved lines if the image above is anything to go by. No wonder the technology never took off.

To prove just how many people jumped on the bandwagon, we even rounded up a bunch of cameras with Wi-Fi capability. Canon had an IXUS wireless model for a couple of years until it was eventually phased out.

Sony kept trying to flog the proverbial horse even as late as the beginning of this year, when it revealed the Cyber-shot DSC-G3 at CES 2009. Tellingly, it never made it to our shores.

Photo by: Kodak, Sony, Canon

Gobble gobble: camera turkeys — brands that didn't make it

Would you buy a camera made by a cordless phone company? No? We wouldn't either. Spare a thought for the poor few who shelled out for one made by Uniden — the company's one and only attempt at a digital camera (the UDC-7M) wasn't all that bad, but we'd like to see you try and take it for repairs at your local phone store.

Uniden wasn't the only company that dipped its feet in the digital imaging waters in Australia — others like HP and Konica Minolta also had cameras on the market, until they pulled out to concentrate on their core business.

Photo by: Uniden, HP, Konica Minolta

Milestone 1: image stabilisation

Sure, we take it as a given now, but back in the good old days, digital photographers with shaky hands had no help apart from a tripod or flash. Then, the glory days were upon us as more and more cameras started to have image stabilisation built in. This allowed people to take a perfect, pouting portrait with one hand whilst riding a pogo stick, without the picture being blurry.

Image stabilisation started to sneak in on a range of cameras from around mid-2005, usually denoted with prefixes like IS, VR and Steady Shot. Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-T9 was the first camera with a folding lens design to feature image stabilisation.

Photo by: CBS Interactive

Milestone 2: live view

The first company to implement live view was Olympus, way back in 2000, with the fixed lens E-10. The company followed suit with the E-330 in 2006, the world's first dSLR to have live view functionality.

While SLR purists will probably turn their noses up at anyone who uses live view, it's pretty invaluable for users coming straight from a compact camera. It is now common for all new digital SLRs to come with live view — even the professional grade ones.

Photo by: Nikon

Milestone 3: Micro Four Thirds

It took two of the imaging world's underdogs, Panasonic and Olympus, to come up with a radical new format that would change the way we thought about interchangeable lens cameras forever. The system was called Micro Four Thirds, and the first prototype was a gloriously old-school looking camera that conjured up images of martinis, girls and Astons.

The first production model was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, followed by the HD video recording GH1, and just this year, Olympus unleashed the retro killer E-P1 onto the market. Mod girls not included.

Photo by: Olympus

Milestone 4: convergence much?

Nikon, a company not known for its forays into the digital camcorder arena, decided to throw its hat in the ring in August 2008 by being the first company to offer video recording (at 720p) on a digital SLR, the D90. It was only a matter of weeks before other companies followed, the most talked about being Canon with full HD recording on the EOS 5D Mark II.

Before you start wondering what the monstrosity is above, that's a Redrock dSLR rig with the 5D Mark II housed inside. For serious film-makers, of course.

Photo by: Redrock

Gobble gobble: camera turkeys — Canon's ugly-cam

We started off with a look at Canon's timeless design department, so we thought it would be fitting to end it on one of its ugliest. The Canon PowerShot TX1 was a great idea — in theory. Merging a camcorder-style format, with HD video recording (yes, it actually started on compact cameras way back in 2007) and a still camera, the TX1 was supposed to be the converged device to end them all.

Samsung also had a similar idea with its all-in-one device, the i70. Appearing in 2008, it was suddenly hot to put a camera, MP3 player, MPEG4 video and voice recorder, multimedia viewer and text reader in one device. We never saw anyone with it, though.

Photo by: Canon, Samsung


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