Canon Ion RC-251 Still Video camera


The RC-250, known as the Q-PIC, was designed to make electronic photography simple, fun, and affordable. It was an easy-to-use, compact, lightweight, all-in-one recording and playback still video camera, with excellent handling and operation. The designers produced a smart, leading edge design while breaking the 100,000-yen barrier.

The Still video cameras are no real digital camera's as we know them now but they make use of a video chip and write frames to a output device comparable to the pause on a video recorder. The output of the camera is a video signal.

The 786 pixel (horizontal) CCD image sensor, Electronic Still Camera Standardization Committee optional "Hi-band" specification, ultra-compact integral flash and "intelligent auto white balance" giving excellent color regardless of lighting made full color electronic photography as easy and affordable as contemporary 35mm compact cameras.
With its built-in playback capacity, the RC-250 could be instantly connected to any television to view the images.

The RC-251 camera is based on the RC-250 (Q-PIC), the RC-251 (ION) was a PAL format model marketed mainly in Europe. With Action Grip and Tele converter attached

Canon made a number of these kind of camera's but not for all countries. Canon divided the world market in three parts; Japan, the Americas and Europe, Asia, Oceania. Not all countries had the same model or model number.

July 1986 the RC 701 the first still video camera for Japan and the Americas sold in Japan for 390.000 Yen
February 1988 the RC760 for Japan and the Americas sold in Japan for 590.000 Yen
November 1988 the RC 470 for Japan and the Americas Sold in Japan for 238.000 Yen
November 1988 the RC250 (Qpic) for Japan and the Americas, the RC251 for Europe sold in Japan for 98.000 Yen
April 1992 The RC 570 for Japan and the Americas the RC560 for Europe sold in Japan for 357.000 Yen
October 1992 the RC 360 for Japan and the Americas sold in Japan for 168.000 Yen. This is the last model of still video camera produced by Canon.

Canon: SV (Still Video) Cameras Accessible to the General User

Since the process of developing film was not required, the still video (SV) camera advantage over the conventional cameras was that its shots were available instantaneously. Yet, the disadvantage of the SV camera was its price. For example, the "RC-701" camera body alone ran around 380,000 yen. The price of the "RC-760" introduced in 1987 was around 600,000 yen. These expensive models were mainly used by media professionals. In order to provide an affordable SV camera for general users, Canon set the price target that would not exceed 100,000 yen. The target was met by the release of the "RC-250 (Q-PIC)" in September 1989, whose price was 99,800 yen. The two previous models, "RC-701" and "RC-760," were released together with printers, transmitters, and many other systems, but the "RC-250 (Q-PIC)" had a built-in playback function. Connecting the camera to a television set with a video terminal, the user could easily view the pictures that had been taken. The camera with both "shooting" and "viewing" functions received much attention widely. The "RC-250" was a particular hit on the European market under the name of "ION." RC-250 (Q-PIC)," SV camera, with a price below one hundred thousand yen


Development of Still Video (SV) Camera

Although the silver-halide based camera with nearly 160 years of history had been dominant through that time, the development of an electronic technology based magnetic recording still camera had been quietly under way for quite some time. A magnetic recording still camera would not require the film developing process, because it would not use conventional film. In addition to the easy image processing, it would also have the merit of easy transmission of images. Although Canon was involved in the development of the magnetic recording technology, the possibility of its commercialization was considered low as the stringent standards of image quality that a camera manufacturer needed to follow was not satisfactory yet.

Sony launched the "Mavica" still camera with magnetic recording system in 1981. In anticipation of the arrival of the magnetic recording still camera era, Canon formed a task force to develop a magnetic recording color still camera in October 1981.

In the course of developing the magnetic recording still camera, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games provided an excellent opportunity for experimental use of image transmission. At the request of the Japanese newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, Canon was involved in the image transmission experiments. The time given for the entire process was only 10 months. After conducting field test, training for photographers, preparation of export documents, and taking other necessary procedures in Japan, only 5 months were left to develop and design the electronic transceiver and the playback machine, and complete the prototypes. Without question, the schedule was very tight. During the broadcasting of the men’s marathon, the automobile telephone attached to the electronic transmitter failed to work, and the information had to be transmitted over a public telephone. Anyway, the experiment proved successful, giving invaluable know-how in the development of magnetic recording still cameras.

Based on data and experience from the tests at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, Canon started to produce a magnetic recording still camera. The still video (SV) camera "RC-701" and a group of system components were introduced in 1986. Since the release of the "Mavica" by Sony, several electronics appliance manufacturers and camera manufacturers had developed prototypes, but Canon’s "RC-701" was the world’s first commercialized product.

The magnetic recording still camera used the analog recording system, but the know-how and technology gained through the research and development of the SV camera laid the groundwork for today’s digital cameras.


RT-971 RC-701
  Color Video Printer "RP-601 Still Video Transceiver "RT-971  RC-701, the world's first commercial magnetic recording still camera
  Technical data:


Model name:
Original Price
Image Sensor
Image Sensor Size
Recording Format
Recording media
Shutter Speed
Resolution [Horizontal]
Video Signal
Power Supply

RC-250 (Q-pic)
November 1988
98,000 yen
Lens Shutter Still Video Camera
CCD Image Sensor
786 pixels [Horizontal] 6.4(H)X4.8(V)mm (1/2")
Still Video Format (High-band)
Still Video Floppy Disk
11mm F2.8
Lens Shutter
1/500 - 1/30 [sec]
Recording and Play = 300 TV-lines Play = 400 TV-lines
Dedicated Battery Pack BP-4P
420g(without battery) 485g(with battery)