History of The Camera

Posted Jan 24, 2009
Last Updated Jun 21, 2012
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A History of the Different Types on Cameras Used in Photography

The camera in its basic form is a light proof box with a lens at the front and a film at the back of the box. From the earliest types of camera there have been major developments in both camera and film technology:

1839 - Initially the camera was a simple wooden box of variable focal length with a lens attached to it. The Dauguerrotype, plate camera which gave very lengthy exposures.

Petzval lens Voigtlander camera from Germany - 1841. A portrait camera that gave images about 5cm x 6cm - reduced exposure times by using a larger aperture. Large cameras with small apertures were used for landscape photography giving very slow exposure times. Small cameras with large SET apertures were used for for portraiture, giving faster exposure times.

1888 - the Kodak camera - first process paid paper roll film camera. the camera used a set aperture F9 and a shutter speed of 1/25 sec. The camera's film gave circular photographs.

Oscar Barnack designed the 35mm Leica camera in 1924. It had an aperture of F3.5 and a viewfinder through which the image is composed. It was the first precision, miniature camera that could be used at eye level.

1925 - Ermanox folding plate camera was produced with the worlds fastest lens with an aperture of F1.8. It was a viewfinder camera used at eye level.

1928 - Twin Lens Reflex was designed in Germany and called the Rollieflex. It had an aperture of F3.5 with a ground glass screen on which to focus the image. Camera used roll film.

1937 - German made EXACTA, the worlds first 35mm Single Lens Reflex camera. It had a ground glass focus screen and the camera was used used at waist level.

1950's - SINGLE LENS REFLEX cameras as we know them were developed with advance design, using technical developments happening in Japan. The camera introduced the Pentaprism into the viewfinder which gave an image accurate to what the eye could see, with great ease of use. It could be used at eye level use.

Since the basic development of cameras and lenses since the 1950’s the major advance in equipment design has mainly been involved with technological innovation in micro electronics and advances in Digital Camera technology


The 1960’s also saw a whole new range of lens designs ranging from from fisheye lenses through to extreme telephotos, resultant of new developments in optical glass technology.


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