History of Photography Part 2: Types of Cameras, Films and Prints

This is the second part of the three-part discussion on the history of photography. In the first part, we learned about the definition of photography and the invention of the camera. To continue with the discussion, this second part intends to inform you of the types of cameras, films and prints.

If ever you haven’t read the first part yet, you may want to check this out, http://www.scancorner.co.uk/blog/history-of-photography-part-i-definition-of-photography-and-the-invention-of-the-camera/

So, what are the types of cameras that were invented ever since the art of photography started? Here is the list:

a.     Pinhole Camera is also known as Camera Obscura. It was developed by Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytam) {this was thoroughly discussed in part 1}.

b.     Daguerreoty Camera is a type of camera that utilizes a sliding-box design.

c.     Box camera was developed by George Eastman. He was dry plate manufacturer from Rochester, New York. The first simple camera was made in 1888. It was a wooden, light-tight box with a simple lens and shutter that was factory-filled with film.

d.     The first 35mm camera was called ‘Ur-Leica’. It was invented by Oskar Barnack in 1905. He was a development manager at Leica.

e.     In 1984, Canon demonstrated the first digital electronic still camera.

f.        In 1986, Fuji introduced the first disposable camera.

Invention of Photographic Films

The first flexible roll film dates back to 1889 and they were made of cellulose nitrate, which is chemically similar to guncotton. It is highly flammable and special storage was required.

Later came, the Triacetate film. It was more stable, flexible and fireproof. Most films produced up to the 1970s were based on this technology.

Today, technology has produced film with T-grain emulsions. These films use light-sensitive silver halides or grains that are T-shaped, which renders a much finer grain pattern. Films like this offer greater detail and higher resolution, thus producing sharper images.

Types of films or negatives:

  • Calotype (Greek for beautiful picture) – in 1841, Henry Fox Talbot, an English Botanist and Mathematician invented the first negative from which multiple positive prints.
  • Tintypes – was patented by Hamilton Smith in 1856. It is another medium that heralded the birth of photography.
  • Wet Plate Negatives – was invented by Frederick Scoff Archer, an English sculptor in 1851. Using a viscous solution of collodion, he coated glass with light-sensitive silver salts. Because it was glass and not paper, this wet plate created a more stable and detailed negative.
  • Dry Plate Negatives and Hand-held Cameras – In 1879, dry plate was invented. It is a glass negative plate with a dried gelatine emulsion. Dry plates could be stored for a period of time.
  • Flexible Roll Film – was invented by George Eastman in 1889. It has a base that was flexible, unbreakable, and could be rolled. Emulsions coated on a cellulose nitrate film base, such as Eastman’s, made the mass-produced box camera a reality.

Photographic Prints

Monochrome Process

  • Around the year 1800, Thomas Wedgwood made the first known attempt to capture the image in a camera obscura by means of a light-sensitive substance. He used a paper or white leather treated with silver nitrate.
  • The oldest surviving permanent photograph of the image formed in a camera was created in 1826 or 1827 by the French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce. The photograph was produced on a polished pewter plate.
  • In partnership, Niepce (in Chalon-sur-Saone) and Louis Daguerre (in Paris) refined the bitumen process, substituting a more sensitive resin and a very different post-exposure treatment that yielded higher-quality and more easily viewed images. Exposure times in the camera, although somewhat reduced, were still measured in hours.
  • In 1833, Daguerre experimented with photographing camera images directly onto a silver-surfaced plate that had been fumed with iodine vapour, which reacted with the silver to form a coating of silver iodide.
  • On January 7, 1839, Daguerre announced this first complete practical photographic process to the FrenchAcademy of Sciences. Complete instructions were published on August 19, 1839.
  • William Henry Fox Talbot, in early 1839 he acquired a key improvement, an effective fixer, from John Herschel, the astronomer, who had previously shown that hyposulfite of soda (commonly called ‘Hypo” and now known formally as sodium thiosulfate) would dissolve silver salts.
  • In 1840, Talbot invented the calotype process, which used the principle of chemical development of a faint or invisible “latent” image to reduce the exposure time to a few minutes.
  • George Eastman later refined Talbot’s process, which is the basic technology used by chemical film camera today.
  • Hippolyte Bayard had also developed a method of photography but delayed announcing it, and so was not recognized as its inventor.
  • In 1839, John Herschel made the first glass negative, but his process was difficult to reproduce.
  • In 1841, Slovene Janez Puhar invented a process for making photographs on glass.  It was recognized on June 17, 1852 in Paris by the Academie Nationale Agricole, Manufacturiere et Commerciale.
  • In 1847, the chemist Niepce St. Victor, published his invention of a process for making glass plates with an albumen emulsion.
  • In the mid-1840, the Langenheim brothers of Philadelphia and John Whipple and William Breed Jones of Boston also invented workable negative-on-glass processes.
  • In 1851, Frederick Scott Archer invented the collodion process. Photographer and children’s author Lewis Carroll used this process.
  • Herbert Bowyer Berkeley experimented with his own version of collodian emulsions.
  • In 1881, Berkeley published his discovery. Berkeley’s formula contained pyrogallol, sulfite and citric acid. Ammonia was added just before use to make the formula alkaline. The new formula was sold by the Platinotype Company in London as Sulpho-Pyrogallol Developer.

Color Process

  • As early as 1848, a practical means of color photography has been sought, but exposures that lasted for hours or days were required and the colors were so light-sensitive they would only bear very brief inspection in dim light.
  • In 1861, Thomas Sutton took the first durable color photograph was a set of three black-and-white photographs taken through red, green and blue color filters and shown superimposed by using three projectors with similar filters. He used the photo in a lecture by the Scottish Physicist James Clerk Maxwell, who had proposed the method in 1855.
  • In the early 20th century, Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii used Maxwell’s method in his work.
  • It was made practical by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel’s 1873 discovery of a way to make emulsions sensitive to the rest of the spectrum, gradually introduced into commercial use beginning in the mid-1880s.
  • Two French inventors, Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros, working unknown to each other during the 1860s, famously unveiled their nearly identical ideas on the same day in 1869. Included were methods for viewing a set of three color filtered black-and-white photographs in color without having to project them, and for using them to make full-color prints on paper.
  • The first widely used method of color photography was the Autochrome plate, commercially introduced in 1907. It was  based on one of Louis Ducos du Hauron’s ideas.
  • A new era in color photography began with the introduction of Kodachrome film, available for 16mm home movies in 1935 and 35mm slides in 1936. It captured the red, green and blue color components in three layers of emulsion.
  • Maxwell’s method of taking three separate filtered black-and-white photographs continued to serve special purposes into the 1950s and beyond, and Polachrome, an “instant” slide film that used the Autochrome’s additive principle, was available until 2003.

Watch out for the third part of this discussion to learn more about the modern development of photography.