Cameras are arguably the most popular form of image recording today. In the modern era, they are available in a wide range of styles, shapes, and sizes, and offer a variety of features. In the past, cameras gave rise to an entire industry of photography that is largely responsible for enabling us to capture, record, and share moments.
The history of cameras can be traced back to as early as the 17th century. A widely accepted version of the first-ever camera can be found in the works of German inventor and scientist Johann Zahn. In 1685, Zahn developed a camera that was capable of providing an image onto paper or glass plate covered with silver chloride, which darkened where it was exposed to light.
Since then, significant advancements have been made in the field of camera technology and digital photography. Although the major functioning of the camera has remained more or less the same over centuries, the improvement in its size, resolution, and efficiency has been a result of the continuous research and innovations made by manufacturers over the years.
As the world continues to rapidly evolve and become increasingly photo-centric, innovation in camera technology is more urgent than ever. The history and evolution of cameras is an important part of understanding the importance of capturing images and why it’s here to stay.
Early Camera Devices
Before the introduction of modern camera devices, early camera devices have been utilized for centuries to capture images. The earliest device was the camera obscura, which was a darkened box with a hole on one side. Images were projected through the hole onto a wall or piece of paper. While the images were not able to be preserved, they were used by Renaissance painters and others to trace images in order to create realistic paintings.
In the 19th century, cameras were invented that used chemicals and paper to capture images. The earliest camera of this type was the daguerreotype, which was invented by Louis Daguerre in 1839. The daguerreotypes required long exposure times, but they produced sharp and clear images on metal plates.
By the late 19th century, photography began to move into the mainstream. New camera designs, such as the Kodak and Brownie cameras, were created for the mass market. These cameras made photography more accessible and helped to popularize it.
Although camera designs have changed a lot since these early days, the principles and ideas are the same. Today’s digital cameras allow us to capture incredibly detailed images quickly and conveniently, but the history of camera devices traces back hundreds of years.
Development of Light Sensitive Film
Light sensitive film was integral to the development of cameras. During the first part of the 19th century, Thomas Wedgwood and Humphry Davy developed the first photography techniques using silver nitrate and paper coated with it, However, the images created with this technique came out fully or partially darkened and thus the technique was not widely adopted.
In 1826, Nicéphore Niépce developed the first photosensitive material that could be used for camera photography with a helper, Louis Daguerre. Daguerre perfected the reign of photography and called it the Daguerreotype. The daguerreotype was the first successful photographic process, requiring only minutes of exposure in the camera and yielding a clear and crisp image. This process could not be used for negatives, only positive images.
Later, in 1851, Hermann Vogel discovered the polysulfide dye, which is a compound that is highly sensitive to light. This dye was used in film emulsions and was the first modern emulsion that could actually be used in camera photography. After Vogel's discovery,modern photography could be created using specially treated and light sensitive photographic plates. Those plates (known today as dry plates) were first manufactured commercially in around 1879.
By the end of the 19th century, George Eastman had developed cellulose nitrate-based photographic film which was the most commonly used film for camera photography before color film was produced. This film was far easier to use than any of its predecessors and changed the way cameras were used.
By the early 20th century, the motion picture camera had been developed and film was now being used as the ideal medium for recording special events or telling stories. The development of colour film in the 1930s only expanded the possibilities of what could be recorded and explored with the camera.
The invention of the digital camera arrived in the 1990s, and since then digital photography has sky-rocketed in popularity. Digital cameras employ the use of digital image sensors, which are set to the recording image quality, shutter speed and color properties of each shot. Digital photography also offers a much greater level of image manipulation, and you can now see the results instantly.
Digital cameras have become a standard for modern day photography, with almost all cameras now being digital. It's also much easier for enthusiasts to capture stunning images, with a wide range of features and settings available. We can also now store our images digitally, providing for maximum quality and convenience.
Digital cameras are present in the form of point-and-click cameras, sophisticated DSLRs and the prosumer bridge camera. Point-and-click cameras are the most basic in design, while DSLR allow the user a greater level of control. Prosumer cameras are a mixture of both, therefor providing mid-level control over the picture taken.
Since their initial invention, digital cameras have become an essential part of the photography industry. The advancements in technology have allowed for stunning images to be taken in any field, and for upload time to be minimal.
Cell Phone Cameras
Cell phone cameras have made its impact on the world of photography and image capture. It started with the first camera phone in the year 2000 by Sharp. With simple features such as 640x480 pixel resolution, a battery life of up to two hours, and 8MB of internal storage, it was far from what smartphone cameras offer today.
In the years after, phone cameras continued to develop and improve. It wasn't until 2007 that camera phones started to reach the level of quality found on digital cameras. With the introduction of the iPhone, camera phones began replacing digital cameras with its higher resolution, improved lens quality, and easy access to share photos online.
Today, camera phones are incredibly powerful. With features like optical image stabilization, adjustable shutter speed, and digital zoom, people can take high quality photos without the use of expensive equipment. Many phones even come with manual mode which allow users to control things like ISO, exposure, and focus.
This evolution of camera phones is revolutionizing the way we capture and store images. Now, anyone can take amazing photos with just the device in their pocket. Cell phone cameras have tremendously broadened the field of photography and image capture and are here to stay.
The history of cameras and photography shows us how complex and interesting the process of capturing a photograph can be. From the earliest camera obscuras to the digital cameras of today, they have changed both our ability to capture images and our appreciation of the art of photography. We have gone from capturing only 2-dimensional images to capturing entire scenes in three dimensions. We have also seen the cameras evolve and become better at capturing details, giving us the ability to share and appreciate beauty in ways that have never been possible before.
The advances in technology have been quite remarkable and have helped us reach the point we’re at today with photography. We can now take amazing photographs with our phones, cameras, and even drones. As the world of photography evolves, we can look forward to even more advancements that are sure to surprise and delight us.