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Photography

What is the history of the camera up until 2007?

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March 01, 2008 12:27PM

Pre-Sixteenth Century: Although it wasn't until the sixteenth century that our modern day concept of the camera was created (that utilizing a lens), there was a very basic version of the camera that worked on the same basis; this was called the camera obscura. The camera obscura is essentially, a large and dark room with a tiny pinhole in one wall. The camera obscura works because light rays that pass through a small enough hole are able to focus into a point, thus making a projection of the scene on the opposite wall to the pinhole. The principals behind the camera obscura were first described by Mozi, a Chinese philosopher in 470BCE - 390BCE; however, the first camera obscura was only actually made in 1000AD by Alhazan, a great expert on optics in the Middle Ages. 1609: Johannes Kepler, 1571 - 1630, first suggested the use of a lens in the camera obscura to improve the image. This permanently improved the camera obscura and was the first step to the camera with a lens we know so well today. 1666: Isaac Newton, 1643 - 1727, split white light by use of a prism and showed that the light coming through the lens in the camera was responsible for the colour in the projected image. This was a key step in photography, as people now had a clear idea of the source of colour. 1727: Johann Schulze discovered that silver nitrate reacts to light and darkens where touched by light. This allowed the idea of a permanent picture to be developed upon. 1827: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, universally credited as the maker of the first proper photograph, created the first fixed image after much previous experimentation. His image was produced using the camera obscura method and silver nitrate solutions, which have the remarkable property of darkening where exposed to light, however it was impractical as it required an eight hour exposure time. Also, the image later faded or was destroyed as, when the image was taken out to look at, the areas unexposed to the light soon turned black and thus made the whole image black. 1839: Louis Daguerre created the first permanent images by using an incredibly complicated process; he named the images after himself, calling them daguerreotypes. Basically, a silver plated copper plate was polished until reflective as a mirror, and then it was treated with a very special mixture of chemicals to make the surface light sensitive and exposed in a camera. Once exposed, the image had to be treated with more special solutions to fix the image and prevent fading. William Talbot also created a method of making permanent images by a completely different process almost immediately after Daguerre. His method is much closer to the film development method we used only a decade or two back. He basically soaked sheets of paper in silver nitrate salt solutions and then exposed them in a camera and treated them to fix the image. This produced a negative image, so he shone a light through the exposed image onto another sheet of paper, thus making the image positive, as the black blocked the light and the white let the light through. As the image was much fuzzier than the daguerreotype images, the talbotype (he named it after himself), or later renamed the calotype, images became unpopular and the daguerreotypes stole the scene. These two methods were to be outdated though… they were, despite being much more practical than the first eight hour exposure times, still impractical as the exposure time of three to twelve minutes did not allow for good portraiture shots (the main use of cameras). 1847: The next development in cameras and photography made methods much easier and also opened a door to paper printing methods. It was called the colloidal method, or wet plate photography, and was developed by Frederick Archer. This method used a coating of colloidian to keep the silver nitrate on the surface of a glass plate. The use of clear glass made the images much sharper and only required two or three seconds of exposure and so provided good competition to the calotype, eventually proving more popular. 1860-1900: Through these forty years many developments in paper based photography were made. Though unpopular, they were to pave the way for film photography. Many different solutions and methods of impregnating different papers with silver nitrate and other solutions were created, however most proved cumbersome in comparison to the hugely popular colloidal method of wet glass exposures. 1888: George Eastman finds a way of producing and developing film to be quickly exposed in cameras and then turned into clear images. He set up the Kodak company and made Kodak cameras available, for the first time, to untrained photographers. Each camera, utilizing the pinhole method, came preloaded with enough film to take one hundred exposures. Once these hundred shots were taken, the film was sent back to Kodak and they developed it and returned it. 1900: The first camera, the Brownie, developed for the masses by Kodak marked the advancement to the hugely popular film cameras. It's simple, box camera design and basic controls made it a camera designed for everyone - something the company hoped anyone could use. 1927: The first flash bulb for quick bursts of light was produced by General Electrics. 1932: The first light meter, to detect the light in a specific area, is produced by use of photoelectric cells. 1948: Edwin Land markets the first Polaroid cameras. They are able to produce almost instant photos, fully developed. 1960: The first 'point and shoot', autofocus cameras are developed and marketed by Kodak. It was a revolutionary step in technology to digital cameras today. 1980: Sony produced the first camcorders for the public. They were a storm, offering the ability to record to tape etc. 1984/5: Canon demonstrates the very fist digital still picture camera. A year later, Pixar introduce a digital imaging processor. 1990: CD's become a mode of storage for photographic images, now well and truly into the digital age. Improvements have been made since to various aspects of digital photography, such as processors, sensors etc.