Panasonic NV-DCF3 (1998)

The Panasonic NV-DCF3 is truly a unique model. Announced 1998-01-20 with an initial production volume of only 3,000 units per month. It is the only release that was not an OEM model. I saw in the manual that US plugs of the power supply were also available. So if there would be a US release of this camera than it should have NV-DCF3PM on the label underneath the camera. Mine says NV-DCF3E which makes it the european release. The NV-DCF3 is a stylish looking camera and has a true point-and-shoot camera design. When wielding it it would look like one was using a 35mm film camera. I guess it is safe to say that this was one of the first models that could operate on only three AA batteries, which is totally weird if you ask me because the operating voltage therefore is 4.5V and the power supply outputs 6V. The top of the camera had a beautiful brushed aluminum bezel giving it a high quality look.
 
The camera had quite some features. For instance a negative mode was activated when the shutter button was pressed twice. The package contained a power supply and three rechargeable batteries which was a nice. The camera had a shutter sound that could be turned off, three compression levels, Albada optical viewfinder, built-in flash, continuous shooting of four frames at 0.3 second intervals (this took 30 seconds(!) to store the images on the card), brightness compensation, self-timer, macro mode, automatic white balance and 15(!) manual white balance settings. It was also possbile to edit images inside the camera and add titles to them. Titles? Great! You know how this was done? By SHOOTING a white paper with dark title letters and then the two images were simply combined inside the camera! Just like the one you can see in the gallery above. The camera had one giant flaw however and that was the missing autofocus feature or any focussing feature! So taking images was more of a 'good luck' experience as you can see in the match box picture above. I did my best to frame it but without any positive result. It's also no good using the flash indoors because it would turn the picture into one bright mess. Actually the macro picture is the best result out of three tests.   
 
Why bother with display brightness, switchable shutter sounds, adding titles feature, continuous shooting when the damn thing does not have any focussing feature? This is a 1998 release we're talking, the year the first 2MP camera came out. Anyway, Panasonic also marketed a matching colour photo printer called NV-MPD1 some months later and the camera could directly connect to it. Here is another thing I don't get, the camera has a digital out port for connecting the device to a PC or MAC but next to the memory card slot there is small interface visible that is not explained in the manual. Is this a service port of some sort? 
 
Now here comes proof that apparently different versions were marketed. Here are the NV-DCF3PM release-only differences according to the manual:
 
1. automatic playback of one image every 5 seconds instead of 7 seconds
2. eliminating unwanted display information in pictures when using the video out port and pressing the DATE/DISPLAY button
3. no clamp filter for the power cord in the package
 
The NV-DCF3 digital camera is the only Panasonic camera where the PM label is applied. So consider yourself lucky owning one version of the NV-DCF3 but I think owning the two versions would seem impossible to me. We wouldn't be a serious digital camera museum if we couldn't supply the world's first picture of all the four major european Panasonic NV-DCF releases!
 
All images (of course) © digicammuseum.com

Specifications

  • Brand: Panasonic
  • Model: NV-DCF3
  • First mentioned: 1998
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $450
  • Imager Type: 0.35MP 1/3" CCD
  • Resolution: 640x480
  • Internal Storage: -
  • External Storage: Compact Flash
  • Lens: f=6mm /F2.8 unifocal Canon lens
  • Shutter: 1/4s - 1/2,000s
  • Aperture Range: F2.8
  • LCD screen size: 2.0" TFT
  • Size: 124 x 63.5 x 50mm
  • Weight: 220 gr.
  • Remarks: -

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