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An Intriguing Look at Photography’s History: Part 2

Posted by Fujifilm Australia

In our previous post, we introduced how the idea of photography came to be. Today, we will see how the world’s view of photography changes, and see how manufacturers innovated to be a part of that change. Read on!

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The First Commercially Produced Camera

Photography was once only for professionals or the rich; however, this all changed when George Eastman started a company called Kodak in the 1880s. Eastman created a flexible roll film that did not require the constant changing of solid plates, allowing him to develop a self contained box camera that held 100 exposures of film. This camera had a small single lens with no focusing adjustment, but it allowed consumers to capture photos and then send the camera back to the factory so that the film could be developed.

This was the first commercially produced camera inexpensive enough for the average person to afford.

Capturing Life and War—Changing the Way We Use Photography

In the 1930s, Henri-Cartier Bresson and other photographers began to capture images of life as it occurred, rather than staged portrait shots using small 35mm cameras. When World War II started in 1939, many photojournalists adopted Bresson’s style and brought home true images and realities of war across the ocean, shaping the face of photography forever. Photography was no longer about capturing posed images for the home; it had become a way of capturing fleeting moments of life.

Instant Images

As 35mm cameras were becoming more and more popular; Polaroid introduced a new product to the market – the Model 95. The Model 95 used a chemical process to develop film inside the camera in less than a minute, producing instant images, which eliminated the waiting time between taking a photo and having it developed. This new camera was fairly expensive, however, the novelty and speed of instant images caught the public‘s attention. By the mid 1960s, Polaroid offered a variety of different models and prices started to drop, making the Polaroid camera more affordable.

The Camera as We Know It – The Introduction of SLR Cameras

In the 1950s photographers were given more control of their images when Asahi (later Pentax) introduced the Asahiflex and Nikon introduced its Nikon F Camera. Both of these SLR-type cameras allowed for interchangeable lenses and other accessories that were not being offered previously. The next 30 years saw SLR cameras become the camera of choice and improvements were made constantly to both the cameras and the film itself.

Early Point and Shoot Cameras

In the late 1970s and early 1980s camera technology improved dramatically, and new compact cameras were capable of making image control decisions on their own. These early “point and shoot” cameras calculated shutter speed, focus and aperture, meaning all the photographer had to do was find something to capture. These cameras become immensely popular as the opened up the world of photography to amateurs as well as professionals.

Mirrorless Cameras

In the 1980s and 1990s, technology continued to develop in leaps and bounds, and numerous manufacturers worked on cameras that stored digital images electronically. The first of these were point and shoot cameras, which recorded photos using digital media rather than film. Kodak produced the first commercially available digital camera in 1991. Other manufacturers soon followed, and today almost all manufacturers offer advanced mirrorless cameras.

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Today, Everyone’s a Photographer

Today, just about everyone has the ability to capture an image – and the world of photography has changed dramatically. We have cameras on our phones, we can use cameras to protect our homes and workspaces from intruders, we can see friends and family even when they’re thousands of kilometers away and we can share images with the click of a button. We’ve gone from big bulky cameras to cameras with lenses smaller than your fingertip, and technological advancements have allowed us to capture fleeting moments of life and cherish them forever.

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