Camera History

Photography is a word that is derived from a combination of two Greek words photos which means light and graphein which means to draw. The word photography was first used by Sir John F.W Herschel, a renowned scientist, in 1839. It simply means recording images using light or radiation on a sensitive material.

Camera Obscura

The prehistoric Greeks and the Chinese used an optical gadget known as the camera obscura to project a picture of the surroundings on to a screen. It was the first invention that led to the development of cameras and photography. The Camera obscura also known as the pinhole camera was invented by Alhazen.

Early Images

The first images were upside down. The first photograph was made by Nicephore Niepce in 1827 using a tiny camera which he developed. The camera was covered by a silver chloride paper. The paper was used to darken the areas that were exposed to light. Unfortunately the images captured were never permanent. After a few minutes the images would be darkened by light making it hard to view the images.

Daguerreotypes and Calotypes

Nicephore partnered with Louis Daguerre to continue developing his idea. And after the death of Niepce in 183, Louis continued with experiments and in 1837 he created the first practical photographic process and named it the daguerreotype which was unveiled to the public in 1839.

The Kodak Camera

In 1885, George Eastman pioneered the use of photographic film. He named his first camera Kodak and offered it for sale in 1888. The camera was fixed-focused lens box camera which had a single shutter speed. The Kodak camera was preloaded with a film that could allow up to 100 exposures. Unfortunately, this film was to be sent back to the factory to be processed for one to view the images. This could only happen when the entire roll was finished.

Later in 1900, George Eastman, introduced the Brownie, which was a simple and affordable box camera which brought in the snapshot concept. This camera was very popular and remained on the market until the 1960s.

TLRs and SLRs

In 1928, the first reflex camera the Frankie and Heidecke Rolleiflex TLR was introduced. Although these cameras were bulky, they gained popularity because they were available as high end cameras as well as low end camera.

Instant Cameras

A new type of camera (the instant picture camera) was introduced into the market in the 1948. The Polaroid Model 95 Land camera was the first instant camera to be released to the market for sale. It was developed by Edwin Land. It used copyright protected chemical process to produce positive prints from the exposed negatives in less than a minute.

Digital Cameras

Willard S Boyle in partnership with George E Smith made the first ever successful imaging technology using a digital sensor in 1969. However, despite the technology being in existence since 1969, the first commercial digital single lens reflex (DSLR) was launched in 1991 by Kodak. The use of digital cameras increased in 2000s as the technology improved and everyone embraced the use of digital cameras.


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