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Leonardo DaVinci gave the ﬁrst detailed description of
the ‘camera obscura,’a dark box with a pinhole at one
end and a glass screen at the other. When light shines
through the pinhole an image appears on the screen
(Canadian Georaphic, 2008).
16th and 17th Century
Giovanni Battista della Porta describes in his 1558
book, Natural Magic, the use of a lens instead of a
pinhole in the camera obscura to make images appear
sharper (Canadian Geographics, 2008).
Early 19th Century
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce produces the ﬁrst
permanent image by treating the plates with oil
of lavender, post-exposure. This process takes
eight hours to get a proper exposure.
Later, Charles Chevalier constructs the ﬁrst
folding camera, which is sleeker, more portable
and it houses a ﬁlm process in which highly
polished silver-plated copper sheets are
treated with light-sensitive silver-iodide.
The wet collodion ﬁlm process becomes very inﬂuential
in camera design. Since the ﬁlm needs to stay moist
while making the exposure, the camera has to be ﬁtted
with draining channels for the negative material.
Bellowed cameras are introduced to allow for
movement and ﬂexibility that the rigid designs did not
allow. Advancements in the construction of the bellows
allow for lenses with greater focal length and the ability
for close-up photography, since the bellows adds
distance to the camera.
Thomas Sutton, a University of London photography
lecturer, designs the ﬁrst single lens reﬂex (SLR)
camera. Through the use of mirrors inside the camera,
the photographer can now get an accurate view of
what will appear in the photograph.
Late 19th Century
The construction of ﬁlm evolves
Dry-plate and roll-ﬁlm versions of the
SLR camera are created
Around this time, detective cameras,
designed to be hidden in hats,
watches and books, become popular
but the fad doesn’t last long since the
small photos are not practical and the
image quality is very poor.
Late 19th Century
Thomas Bolas constructs of one of
the earliest twin lens reﬂex
cameras. The camera uses one
lens for the viewﬁnder and the
other for taking the photograph
The Eastman Company
manufactures the Kodak, the ﬁrst
built-in roll-ﬁlm box camera, that is
lighter and easier to use, helping to
make the art of photography more
readily available to the masses.
Early 20th Century
Oskar Barnack invents the UR- Leica, the prototype of the ﬁrst 35-
mm Leica camera
The George Eastman Company produces the ﬁrst autographic roll-
ﬁlm camera. Autographic ﬁlm has two layers, the front layer for
recording the image and the back layer for writing information. This
is the ﬁrst form of photographic data collecting.
The Leica A is introduced and is the ﬁrst 35-mm camera to gain
commercial success because of its portability, superior
construction and advanced lens quality.
Mid 20th Century
Johannes Ostermeier patents ﬁrst commercially
Kine introduces the world’s ﬁrst 35 mm SLR.
Edwin H. Land creates the Polaroid camera.
It is the ﬁrst camera to produce a positive
image in 60 seconds.
The Nikon F is introduced and is said to be
the ﬁrst real professional 35-mm SLR and is
used by photojournalists.
Kodak introduces a camera that is fully
automatic. All the user has to do is load the
Late 20th Century
Sony introduces the ﬁrst commercially
available electronic still camera that records
images onto a minidisk, which can then be
connected to a computer for viewing. While
this camera is not digital, its technology is
the precursor to the digital revolution.
Konica Minolta releases the Maxxum 700 AF
SLR, the world's ﬁrst true autofocus SLR. A
variety of autofocus lenses are built for the
Fuji introduces the ﬁrst disposable camera
which can take about 20 pictures on 35-mm
Late 20th Century
The ﬁrst camera of the popular Canon EOS series is developed.
The camera includes full electronic control throughout as well as
an all-electronic lens mount.
Kodak introduces the ﬁrst digital camera. It is an updated version
of the Nikon F-3 with a Kodak 1.3-megapixel image sensor. This
camera is targeted at photojournalists, not mass-market
The ﬁrst digital camera for consumer use is the Apple QuickTake
100. This camera can be connected to a computer using a serial
Digital cameras continue to increase in quality and
capacity as technology advances.
A range of professional digital SLRs, point-and-shoot
digital cameras, and models in between, are being
Cameras in the Classroom
Cameras are great tools for students to use for
assignments and projects
Students can be more creative with their assignments,
express things they might not be able to express with
words, and have fun being in or taking the pictures
Canadian Geographic Online. 2009. http://