CAMERA OBSCURA - 1490. Leonardo da Vinci wrote the first detailed description of camera obscura in his Atlantic Codex, a 1,286 page collection of drawings and writings. The principle of camera obscura involves punching a hole in a dark box and putting a piece of light-sensitive material on the other side thereby providing a photograph. The first picture of a pinhole camera obscura is a drawing by Gemma Frisus' De Radio, an astronomer (above photo on the left). He used the pinhole in his darkened room to study the solar eclipse of 1544.
FIRST PERMANENT CAMERA PHOTOGRAPHS - 1825-26.Photographic history has recently been rewritten following the discovery of what is now considered to be the world's oldest photograph. The image, a reproduction of a 17th century Dutch print, predates by one year Frenchman Nicéphore Niépce's previous heliogravure of the view from his window at Le Gras, regarded until now as the earliest surviving photographic image.
In the early 1800s, Joseph Nicephore Niepce experimented with lithography at his home near Chalon, France. Nicephore explored light-sensitive varnishes, trying to find a coating that would record drawings after exposure to light. In 1816, he took photos using a camera and paper sensitized with silver chloride. He had some success, but was dissatisfied because the images were reversed (negatives) and could not be made permanent. He had tried to produce a positive print, but was unable to do so. He did find that nitric acid helped to preserve images for a while, but would not prevent eventual fading. Niepce's breakthrough came in 1822 when he made a permanent image using a camera obscura. After exposing coated pewter plates to a camera image, he used the vapors from heated iodine crystals to darken the silver and heighten contrast. The method would later inspire Louis Daguerre's successful mercury vapor development process. Within a few years the two inventors would become partners. Niepce was able to produce a copy of an engraving by passing light through the original photo onto a piece of glass coated with bitumen of Judea, a type of asphalt. Light hardens bitumen of Judea, so when Niepce washed the plate with solvent only the unexposed portions were removed, leaving a permanent image on the plate. He named this process “heliography” or sun-writing. He made numerous heliographs during the next several years and continued his attempts to produce a permanent camera image. In 1825, he was successful.
Oldest known photos, 1825 and 1826.
The first image is a reproduction of a 17th century Dutch engraving showing a man leading a horse. The photograph was sold at Sotheby's in Paris on March 21, 2002, to the French National Library for $443,000 (£330,000). The Niépce correspondence that accompanied the print gave a step-by-step account of how Niépce made his discovery. The print is the only surviving testament to Niépce's achievement in the summer of 1825 using light alone to make a plate from which an image could be printed.
The world's second oldest known permanent camera image, bitumen on pewter, is a view taken from Niepce's second floor window. The exposure took approximately eight hours. The third image was reportedly also made in 1826.
FIRST PRODUCTION CAMERA - 1839.Daguerrotype cameras of 1839 produced by Giroux in Paris. They weighed 120 pounds each and cost 400 Francs (about $50). See the George Eastman Photography Collections Online for much additional information concerning this camera as well as excellent photos and detailed information regarding many other early cameras.
PHOTOGRAPHY – 1850. The complete photographist's kit as found in an 1850 catalog (“Kit” in this case would mean a horse-drawn wagon!). “No. 10.—Estimate for a complete Daguerreotype Apparatus, suitable for the professional photographist, consisting of a large-sized camera and compound lens for large views, portraits, and groups; small size camera, with large aperture and short focus combination of lenses, for taking portraits up to 4 inches by 3 inches in dull weather; polishing lathe, with series of circular buffs; three hand buffs; set of metal plate holders and supports; heating stand; large bromine and iodine apparatus and set of frames; set of plate boxes to hold two dozen each; table stand for camera and rollers; adjusting chair, with head rest; adjusting head rest, with heavy iron foot for full-length portraits, &c.; large mercury box for the different sized plates; lantern, with yellow glass shade; metal still and worm tub for obtaining distilled water; a large and small gilding stand; stoneware barrel and cock for holding distilled water; porcelain dishes; filtering stand; funnels and filtering paper; spirit lamps; set of daguerreotype colours and brushes, and flexible India-rubber bottle; glass measures; two painted back grounds, &c., with a full supply of all the necessary chemicals, polishing materials, &c., complete, £110.” Wills, Camfield and Deirdre. History of Photography: Techniques and Equipment. Exeter Books. New York. 1980. Page 13.
The first digital camera
Digital camera technology is directly related to and evolved from the same technology that recorded television images. In 1951, the first video tape recorder (VTR) captured live images from television cameras by converting the information into electrical impulses (digital) and saving the information onto magnetic tape. Bing Crosby laboratories (the research team funded by Crosby and headed by engineer John Mullin ) created the first early VTR and by 1956, VTR technology was perfected (the VR1000 invented by Charles P. Ginsburg and the Ampex Corporation) and in common use by the television industry. Both television/video cameras and digital cameras use a CCD (Charged Coupled Device) to sense light color and intensity.
During the 1960s, NASA converted from using analog to digital signals with their space probes to map the surface of the moon (sending digital images back to earth). Computer technology was also advancing at this time and NASA used computers to enhance the images that the space probes were sending.
Digital imaging also had another government use at the time that being spy satellites . Government use of digital technology helped advance the science of digital imaging, however, the private sector also made significant contributions. Texas Instruments patented a film-less electronic camera in 1972, the first to do so. In August, 1981, Sony released the Sony Mavica electronic still camera, the camera which was the first commercial electronic camera. Images were recorded onto a mini disc and then put into a video reader that was connected to a television monitor or color printer. However, the early Mavica cannot be considered a true digital camera even though it started the digital camera revolution. It was a video camera that took video freeze-frames.
Since the mid-1970s, Kodak has invented several solid-state image sensors that "converted light to digital pictures" for professional and home consumer use. In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world's first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5x7-inch digital photo-quality print. In 1987, Kodak released seven products for recording, storing, manipulating, transmitting and printing electronic still video images. In 1990, Kodak developed the Photo CD system and proposed "the first worldwide standard for defining color in the digital environment of computers and computer peripherals." In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS), aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor.
The first digital cameras for the consumer-level market that worked with a home computer via a serial cable were the Apple QuickTake 100 camera (February 17 , 1994), the Kodak DC40 camera (March 28, 1995), the Casio QV-11 (with LCD monitor, late 1995), and Sony's Cyber-Shot Digital Still Camera (1996).
However, Kodak entered into an aggressive co-marketing campaign to promote the DC40 and to help introduce the idea of digital photography to the public. Kinko's and Microsoft both collaborated with Kodak to create digital image-making software workstations and kiosks which allowed customers to produce Photo CD Discs and photographs, and add digital images to documents. IBM collaborated with Kodak in making an internet-based network image exchange. Hewlett-Packard was the first company to make color inkjet printers that complemented the new digital camera images.
The marketing worked and today digital cameras are everywhere.
Today digital cameras
Digital camera types
Digital cameras, similar to conventional cameras, are available in point-and-shoot and digital single lens reflex (DSLR) models.
Point-and-shoot cameras: These cameras are small, inexpensive, and easy to use because they contain fixed lenses and a built-in flash. To frame a picture, they typically have a liquid crystal display (LCD)–based viewfinder. If they do have an optical viewfinder, they tend to inaccurately frame the image. The advantage and disadvantage of point-and-shoot models is that they are designed to be simple. Thus, they have limited user control over the camera. Some cameras have the focus and exposure set automatically.
DSLR cameras: In contrast to point-and-shoot cameras, DSLR cameras have optical viewfinders, removable lenses, external flashes, and the ability to focus and to adjust exposure manually when needed. It is a direct replacement of the conventional film–based single lens reflex (SLR) models used by physicians for decades. For these reasons, DSLR cameras tend to be more complicated and expensive than point-and-shoot models. The cost has decreased; a complete DSLR system can be purchased for less than $1000. The early generation DSLR units tended to be more expensive, larger, and bulkier than conventional film-based cameras. This is no longer the case, with today's DSLR cameras becoming cheaper, lighter, and more compact with each successive generation.