Photography seems so easy nowadays with the inclusion of electronics in digital click and shoot cameras that offer you an option to view the image instantaneously and click another photograph if the first snap did not satisfy you. There is no need to set the aperture, set shutter speed depending on the film speed (in ISOs) and the movement speed of the subject, focus on the image, turn on the flash, and much more. Cameras have evolved a lot since Johann Zahn first designed it in 1685. However, more nearly 129 years passed since then before Joseph Nicephore Niepce clicked the first photograph in 1814. Let us take a walk down history lane and understand the evolution of cameras from the bellow cameras to the modern generation digital models. You will also learn about the different types of materials used to capture the images.
History of cameras
The first generation cameras consisted of a lightproof wooden box, with or without bellows, set on a three-legged stand (tripod). During those days, photographers used glass plates coated with a light-sensitive chemical compound, housed in a lightproof wooden container. The photographer used to push a lightproof container made of wood inside a receptacle at the back of the camera, pressed on a knob to release the glass plate inside the camera, and pull out the container. The front of the camera contained a lens covered with a black colored cap. Once the subject was ready, the photographer used to remove the cap for a second or two, allowing light to pass through the lens and focus on the glass plate containing a photosensitive chemical compound, and cover the lens with the cap. He then used to insert the lightproof wooden container inside the rear of the camera. This action used to grab the exposed plate, allowing the photographer to take it to the developing room, and process the photograph. He used to first dip the plate in a special alkaline chemical compound (developer), then put the plate in a solution of acetic acid to remove traces of the developer, fix the image by dipping the glass plate in a solution of sodium thiosulfate (commonly referred to as hypo), dry the plate(s), and hand it to the customer. This was a long and tedious process and required perfect lighting, the distance between the subject and the camera, and the number of seconds for exposing the image on the plate.
Celluloid film cameras arrives
The first camera using celluloid based films arrived in 1888. George Eastman, who named it Kodak, developed it. He also invented the first portable camera during this period. This used a 620 size roll film… a roll of celluloid coated with a light sensitive monochromatic chemical compound wound on a plastic reel. A layer of opaque paper covered the entire roll to prevent light leaking into the same during inserting it in the camera and while extracting the exposed roll from the camera. The user needed to open the back cover of the camera, place the roll on the left-hand side of the camera designed to hold the roll. He then had to pull a bit of the film and insert it into the slot of the plastic spool on the other side and wind the film using the winder button at the top of the camera to ensure that the blank plastic reel thoroughly gripped the film. The user also had to ensure that the slots on the sides of the film sat firmly on the film advancing gear. After shooting was completed, the user had to advance the film until it transferred on the take-up reel, take out the same, seal it, and hand it over to the developer. He then had to transfer the empty reel on the left to the right-hand side. It was not long before films of different sizes appeared on the market. They included 120 mm, 110 mm, and 35 mm, with the last being the most popular as one could take a minimum of 35 photographs on a single reel. All films sold during this period were monochromatic (black and white). Polychromatic (color) films first appeared on the market in 1935.
The year 1947 saw the arrival of the Polaroid camera. This used a self-contained pack of photosensitive layer along with developer chemical compounds. Once the photo was taken, the camera moved the pack through a set of rollers that activated the dyes and other compounds inside the pack and provided the photographer with the developed photo in a couple of minutes.
Automatic and digital cameras
The arrival of single lens reflex (SLR) cameras and digital cameras changed the way people used to take photographs. The SLR boasted of many advantages over the normal cameras such as:
• Rotating an inbuilt camera by 45 degrees to display the image on the viewfinder, thereby, eliminating parallax error.
• Single stroke film advance
• Shutter speed selector
• ISO selector
• Hot shoe (for attaching flashgun units)
• Rewind lever
• Focus ring
• Ability to change the main lens with zoom, wide angle, and telephoto lenses
The biggest drawback of the mechanical automatic cameras is that they require 35 mm films.
Digital cameras boast of all features of the SLR. They also allow storage of photographs in digital format in SD cards, designed to provide high capacity memory in a small size card. There are various camera options available, including manual SLRs, in different price ranges. Select one that meets your budget and will serve your requirements for many years. Here is a simple list of accessories you can purchase for your camera.
• Telephoto lens (for zooming into distant objects, magnifying them, and take their photographs)
• Wide angle lens (allows you to cover a wider area than the normal lens)
• Micro lens (allows you to take close-ups of tiny objects)
• Filters (these lenses allow you to improve your photography dramatically)
• Carry bag (helps protect your camera from the elements and allows you to carry all accessories too)
• Slave flash (required for illuminating nooks and crannies in interior shots)
You will find thousands of makes of cameras, available in different configurations. The camera options provided above will help you select a model perfect for you.