Nowadays, there are many types of high quality cameras and accessories that work altogether to make your photos amazing. Back in the days, cameras were heavy instruments, very expensive and few people had access. Helping to capture the moment, cameras have a major impact in our lives, so before getting deep into the evolution of the camera let’s define what a camera is!
Camera is a device used for recording or capturing images. The images may be individual still photographs or sequences of images constituting videos or movies.
The first cameras were based on the principle of the darkroom (Camera Obscura). Quite simply, a dark room with a small hole in one wall. On the wall opposite the hole, an image is formed of whatever is outside. This image is upside-down (inverted) and back to front (laterally transposed).
The size of the hole has a great effect on the picture that is being projected. A small hole produces a sharp image, which is dim, while a larger hole produces a brighter picture which is less well focused.
Pic. 1 and 2 – Illustration of the camera obscura principle and an artist using an 18th-century camera obscura to trace an image.
The very first camera had two objective lenses with interconnected focus lenses was manufactured from 1880 by R. & J. Beck. Two years later, George Hare built a prototype of a bellows camera. Then followed the years of improvement that were heavily dependent on the development of lenses and photographic film.
Pic. 2 and 3 – Camera of two objective lens with interconnected focus lenses and a Prototype of a bellows camera.
In 1888, S. McKellen patented the first “reflex” camera. In this device, the mirror is moved automatically during the exhibition, being connected to a shutter curtain. In the same year, on December 4th, George Eastman, in the US, registered the famous Kodak Camera, which already contained a photographic roll of 6,35 cm wide, achieving 100 exposures in a circle shape. When the roll ended, the camera had to be taken to the manufacturer, who opened and then would do the revelation. At the end, the roll was recharged, sealed and returned to the client.
In 1900, Eastman Kodak introduced Brownie – the first camera that anyone could access. The photographs had some decent quality, with 6x6cm format.
From then on, the invention was practically finalized, very similar to what we know today, though with some refinements. The lenses have become more stringent and the ease of revealing rollers made them more appealing. Some examples of this evolution:
Zeiss Ikon – 1934-1941 – Germany
Reflex-Korelle – Franz Kochmann – 1935 – Germany
Anniversary Speed Graphic (1940-46) Folmer & Schwing Mfg. Co – USA
Pacemaker Speed Graphic (1947-73) – Folmer & Schwing Mfg. Co – USA
Rolleiflex Automat (1937-1949)– Framke & Heidecke – Germany
Rolleiflex 3.5 F (1969-80) – Framke & Heidecke – Germany
Minolta 110 Zoom SLR – Minolta – 1976 – Japan
Canon AE 1 Program – Canon – 1981 – Japan
Nikon D80 – 2006 – Japan
Canon EOS 400D – 2006 – Japan
Sony Alpha DSLR-A 100 – 2006 – Japan
The revivalists have been recovering some of these cameras to give photos a less digital air. Now it has become almost chic to have photos with “grain”, altered colors and half blurred effect. The Lomography Cameras, for example, have been gaining new charm among younger artists.
The Polaroid Cameras had some success back in the time, but quickly became obsolete because they needed too costly rolls. Lately we note a very interesting return to this format photographs of dull color but always the same frame. The internet has also found some programs that mimic the original format of the machine, without spending a penny on rolls.
The evolution of cameras has come so far that the cameras are now incorporated on smartphones and some cameras such as the Nikon D500 or Canon EOS 6D have Wifi!
What a time to be alive!