Beginner's Guide to Photography
Cameras
From antiques to modern digitals, the purpose of a camera
is to take photographs. Find out more about the photographer's best friend.
Brief history of the Camera:

The Box - approx 500 BCE
In ancient times, Greek and Chinese philosophers discovered a curious optical effect, and it worked like this:

Inside a completely dark room, a tiny hole is created in one wall. Through the hole light is focused, and the outside scene is projected (upside down) on the opposite wall.


early diagram of the camera obscura

The effect came to be known as the "camera obscura" which is Latin for "dark room". This was the first camera. The hole acted like a lens, focusing and projecting light onto the wall of the dark chamber.

Lenses and Optics - 17th century
In the 17th century, the modern camera came one step closer when Isaac Newton and Christian Huygens perfected the understanding of optics and the process of making high quality glass lenses.


Issac Newton (left) and Christian Huygens(right) with early lens

 

Film - 19th century
Soon there were small, portable camera obscuras, but an important piece was missing..

Then in 1827 Joseph Nicéphore Niépce added the final touch. He added *film* to create the first successful photograph, and the modern camera was born:

A glass lens, a dark box, and film.

 

 


by Niépce, this is considered to be the world's first
photograph and took over 8 hours to expose. 1827.


Modern film and digital cameras:
New cameras are very easy to use, just point and shoot. The camera's built-in computer handles focus and exposure so you don't have to.

A camera is still a camera
It's comforting to know that even the latest digital cameras work the same way as their ancestors:

Light passes through the lens, into the camera, and exposes the film. And guess what? The end result is still a photograph.

cutaway
of the Canon
Powershot Pro 1

 

Digital Film
So what has changed? The most recent revolution in photography is the invention of digital film.

Replacing old-fashioned plastic film, digital cameras capture the images with an electronic sensor called a CCD. Photographs are stored on reusable computer memory devices.

The result is that modern photography is cheaper (and more environmentally friendly) than it has ever been before.

A digital camera is still composed of a lens, a dark box, and film.