Thursday, November 27, 2014


Camera is one of the most cherished creations that made us to freeze time in pictures though photography. Our facebook and other social networking profiles would be incompleted or bored without pictures of us, our families, friends, and all other things around us. Let us have a journey of its invention.

Photography is a word derived from the Greek words photos ("light") and graphein ("to draw"). It is a method of recording images by the action of light, or related radiation, on a sensitive material.

The first pinhole camera ‘Camera Obscura’ was invented by Alhazen, a great authority on optics in the middle ages.

Camera Obscura was a device which uses a pinhole or lens to project an image of the scene outside upside-down onto a viewing surface. It was generally used by ancient greeks and chinese. In year 1544, this camera was used by Reiners Gemma Frisius, a mathematician for observing a solar eclipse.
Camera Obscura

This invention rooted up the development of cameras and photography.

At that time, there was no method to preserve the images produced by the cameras. Tracing with hand was the only way to preserve these pictures. People used the camera obscura for viewing or drawing purposes, not for making photographs.

It was Joseph Nicephore Niepce who made the first photographic image with a camera obscura . Joseph Nicephore Niepce's sun prints were the prototype for the modern photograph, by letting light draw the picture.

In 1816, Niepce made a small camera of his own and used a paper coated with silver chloride which get darkened on exposure to light but this was not a permanent method of preserving photographs because the picture gets disappeared or fade away whenever viewed in light.

In 1826, Frenchman Nicephore Niepce produces first permanent photograph of a view from nature using the photosensitivity of bitumen of Judea.

Niepce used a sliding wooden box camera made by Parisian opticians Charles and Vincent Chevalier on metal plate thinly coated with Bitumen of Judea. The bitumen slowly hardened in the brightest areas of the image.

When Niepce placed the metal plate in a solvent, gradually an image, until then invisible, appeared. However, Niepce's photograph required eight hours of light exposure. One of those photographs is still surviving.

Then Louis Daguerre start experimenting with Niepce to improve the existing method of photography. After NiƩpce's death in 1833, Louis Daguerre continued to experiment.

In 1836, Louis Daguerre created practical photographic mechanism known as Daguerreotype. Louis Daguerre creates images on silver-plated copper, coated with silver iodide, a surface that was sensitive to light and "developed" with warmed mercury; that images were long lasting and not changed on exposure to light.
Daguerrotype camera

In 1839, Daguerre and Niepce's son sold the rights for the daguerreotype to the French government and published a booklet describing the process. 
Daguerre is awarded a state pension by the French government in exchange for publication of methods and the rights by other French citizens to use the Daguerreotype process.

Henry Fox Talbot ,an English botanist and mathematician and a contemporary of Daguerre, exposed a paper in silver salt solution to make it light sensitive. He then exposed the paper to light. He observed that the background became black, and the subject was rendered in grey shades. 
Talbot with his Calotype camera
This was a negative image, and from the paper negative, Talbot used contact printing to create a positive image. He then reversed the light and shadows to create a detailed picture. In 1841, he perfected this paper-negative process and called it a calotype,

In 1851, Frederick Scoff Archer, an English sculptor in London, invented the wet plate negative. He spreaded a mixture of collodion (nitrated cotton dissolved in ether and alcoohol) and chemicals on sheets of glass. This improved the photographic resolution. Because it was glass and not paper, this wet plate created a more stable and detailed negative.

Although Wet plate collodion photography was much cheaper than daguerreotype but wet plates had to be developed quickly before the emulsion dried. This process was published but not patented.

In 1855, although collodion dry plates were available but with the introduction of gelatin dry plate in 1871, Richard Leach Maddox gave a tough competition to quality and speed of the wet plates. Photographers no longer needed portable darkrooms and could now hire technicians to develop their photographs.

Dry processes absorbed light so rapidly that the hand-held camera was now possible.This gave birth to cameras small enough to be accommodated in hands

There was a proliferation of various designs, from single- and twin-lens reflexes to large and bulky field cameras, handheld cameras, and even "detective cameras" disguised as pocket watches, hats, or other objects.

George Eastman introduced the paper film in the year 1885 and soon in 1889 switched to celluloid. The ‘Kodak’ camera ,that we all know, was developed by George Eastman and went on sale in 1888, pioneering the use of photographic film.
first Kodak camera in 1888

This was not a flashy camera. It was a simple box camera with fixed focus, same shutter speed but its low price was appealing to the average consumers. This model came with ability having 100 shots with preloaded film and needed to be sent back to the factory for processing and could be reloaded.

Around the year 1913, a German optical engineer named Oskar Barnack, who was in charge of research and development at ‘Leitz’, made a prototype compact camera that used 35 mm film. 
Though further development was delayed for several years due to World War I, Leitz test-marketed the design between 1923 and 1924 and received enough positive feedback that the camera was put into production named as ‘Leica’.
Leica camera

Kodak once again launched into the market in 1934 with ‘Retina I’ introducing 135 cartridge. . Although the Retina was comparatively inexpensive, but roll film was still a popular choice of the mass-market cameras. Surprisingly the choice of masses transitioned to Argus A in 1936 then Argus C3 in 1939.

The fledgling Japanese camera industry began to take off in 1936 with the Canon 35 mm rangefinder, an improved version of the 1933 Kwanon prototype.

Franke & Heidecke Rolleiflex TLR (Twin-Lens Reflex) is known to be one of the initial reflex cameras that came in 1928. Although Bulky single- and twin-lens reflex cameras were available for decades, but those bulky reflex cameras were replaced by this decently compact camera.

Such a revolution was also began in the SLR designs during 1933 with birth of Ihagee Exakta followed by first ever western SLR that used 35mm film called Kine Exakta.

In 1952, first Japanese SLR with 35mm film – Asahiflex introduced by Asahi Optical Company(later became Pentex Cameras). Soon the market was flooded with several other Japanese camera companies – Nikon, Yashica, Canon. With Nikon F line entry into the market, the company secured its position as professional-quality equipment company.
Nikon-F camera

In 1948, Polaroid Model 95, the world's first viable instant-picture camera became popular. It was known as a Land Camera after its inventor, Edwin Land. This Model 95 used a patented chemical process to produce finished positive prints from the exposed negatives in under a minute but it was quite expensive. The first Polaroid camera aimed at the popular market, the Model 20 Swinger of 1965, was a huge success and remains one of the top-selling cameras of all time.

In 1969, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith got success for the first time in imaging technology using a digital sensor . In 2009, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their contributions which paved the way for digital photography.

And by late 1980s, commercially successful digital cameras were introduced like Fuji DS-1P, Fuji DS-X, Dycam, Kodak DCS-100. Digital cameras do not use film, but capture and save photographs on digital memory cards or internal storage instead. Various formats like JPEG, MPEG became popular. Video recording was also made a part of the cameras to match up with growing demand. The first commercial DSLR (digital single lens reflex) was launched by Kodak in 1991.
Digital single lens reflex camera

From pinhole cameras to DSLRs – we surely have come a long way in the world of photography. Now there is a trend of more and more detailed pictures is going on. We can see mobiles with huge number of pixels for the high definition image. Also front cameras are also available in mobile phones. Through Wireless communication, photos can be transferred or shared among friends or relatives very easily using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. And in future we will see technology more and more improving and it will surely add-on new features in cameras and photography.

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