The History of the Camera

Published: 26th October 2009
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Have you ever thought about how the tiny, one click, instant-picture-delivery camera in your hand started out? The history of the camera travels back through the centuries to the 4th century BC, when Greek philosophers began developing the basic principles of optics.

Aristotle (and in the 5th century BC, Chinese philosopher Mo Ti), became curious, as all philosophers do. He started asking questions like, "Why does sunlight, when passing through quadrilaterals like wickerwork holes, make a round image? Why not an angled image instead?" These questions, which had no answer at the time, led to studying optics. The study of optics down through the years eventually led to the pinhole camera.

Leonardo da Vinci, using it to study perspective, gave a detailed description of the pinhole camera in 1485. The earliest known depiction of the pinhole camera was published in 1545 by Gemma Frisius, a known German physicist and mathematician. Later, in the 17th century, Johannes Kepler watched sunspots through the pinhole camera. While describing his experience, he coined the term "camera obscura".

The first camera obscura, grandfather of all cameras, was nothing more than a room with a hole in it. The sun shown through the hole and an image was projected onto the wall, with the size of the image depending on how far away the hole was from the opposite wall. This marvel of past technology grew to become a portable instrument with a converging lens, used as a drawing aid.

In 1827, while enjoying a nice summer day, Joseph Nicephore Niepce took the first photographic image. He coated a metal plate with bitumen, placed an engraving on it and exposed it to light. An image appeared once he placed the plate in a solvent. It took eight hours of exposure and the picture faded away soon after, but it was a beginning. A dozen years later, Louis Daguerre managed to reduce the exposure to less than half an hour and keep the image.

Putting two and two together, Niepce and Daguerre became partners, working to improve this fantastic process. In 1839, after Niepce's death, Daguerre created a more effective method, the daguerreotype, which quickly rose in popularity. In fact, over seventy daguerreotype studios emerged in the Big Apple alone within the first ten years.

Shortly after the daguerreotype, the camera's history reached an overwhelming "Age of Invention".

- Henry Fox Talbot, Daguerre's contemporary, perfected the calotype process in 1841.

- Fredrick Scoff Archer offered the world the wet plate negative in 1851.

- In 1856, Hamilton Smith patented the tintype.

- 1879 brought the dry plate, a process that no longer required portable darkrooms, making hand-held cameras possible.

By 1883, less than fifty years after the invention of the daguerreotype, cameras had evolved into hand-held boxes and technicians were doing the developing. Only one thing was left to really invent - film.

George Eastman, an avid photographer, invented photographic film, announcing the invention in 1883. In 1888, he founded the Eastman Kodak company and sent out the first Kodak camera able to use his film. Mass production of the box camera became a reality.

Between 1888 and 1948, inventors began working on various ways to expose photographs to light. Flashlight powder, or Blitzlictpulver, was invented in 1887 by Adolf Miethe and Johannes Gaedicke in Germany. An Austrian, paul Vierkotter, invented the first modern flashbulb while Frederick Charles Luther Wratten was busy founding the first photographic supply business and inventing the first panchromatic plates in England. His photographic filters, the Wratten Filters, are his most well known invention.

During this time, the development of photographs was a long, tedious process. It took time; shortening the development process became the aim of many inventors. However, it was Edwin Herbert Land, an American inventor and physicist, who invented instant photography. His creation developed and printed photos in one step. In 1948, the first of many Polaroid cameras became a public commodity.

The first digital camera was demonstrated by Canon in 1984, Pixar introduced the digital imaging processor in 1985, and Fuji brought us the disposable camera in 1986. Finally, the photo CD by Eastman Kodak came out in 1990.

Since then, cameras have only gotten more compact and more versatile. There are cameras so small they can fit in your hand and cameras that turn into video recorders at the push of a button.

So, the next time you pick up one of those tiny cameras, take a moment to remember its history, the inventors, and everything that went into making our photographs as instant as they are. The sheer amount of history might even make that camera weigh just a little more!Creating the history of your life together begins with a destination wedding photographer offering professional excellence and that is driven to creating a masterpiece that will be enjoyed for decades to come. Visit online today.

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