Introduction to the Evolution of Cameras

Opportunities, talents, passion, and hard work bring the best out of people, such is the story of the Evolution of Cameras as well. One Saturday afternoon, as I was rearranging and cleaning my room, I came across an old box that had been at the corner of my wardrobe lost and forgotten. 

Evolution of Cameras

Out of curiosity, I decided to open it. To my amazement, I found a film camera used before the introduction of evolution of digital cameras into the rapidly progressing digital world. It brought back old memories when I had held my first camera and had taken my first photograph. From the very first camera made and used to the present state of the art cameras, we have come a long way. 

As a young kid back in school, history classes were such a bore. I would always wonder what the use of studying history is, but believe me, it has relevance. Every subject for that matter has significance, be it the evolution of humans or evolution of the calculators from the very first difference engines which occupied an entire room, and now we have something so small that we can carry it around with us. Just like the various revolutions, evolution’s, and developments, one such growth is the Evolution of Cameras.  Every action of today has a history followed tomorrow.

So, here I am with an article on the Evolution of Cameras. This article will give us an understanding of the Evolution of Cameras, get us introduced to the Inventor of the Camera, and the Camera Timeline.

What is a Camera?

what is a camera

A camera is an optical instrument that records images. In other words, a camera is a sealed box with a small hole that lets in light to capture an image on a light-sensitive surface.

They have various mechanisms that function in different ways to give you the perfect picture you have always wanted.

Even before cameras came into existence, paintings of people, places have been done with the help of Camera Obscura.

For those of you wondering what Camera Obscura is, it is a pinhole image. It is a natural optical phenomenon that occurs when a picture of a scene on one side, is projected through a small hole as a reversed and inverted image on the surface opposite to the hole. This very phenomenon is a highlight in the second half of the 16th century, used as an aid for paintings and drawings.

Who Invented the First Camera?

kodak camera
Kodak Film Camera 1888

The first camera made, is a small portable box devised by Johann Zahn in the year 1685, using the principles of Camera Obscura.

As time passed by, technology caught up and the first camera, also known as Kodak and Birth of Film invented by George Eastman. 

These film cameras have been operational during the 19th century to the early 21st century. The late 20th century and early 21st century have been most promising as there were rapid changes in the technology, build and simplified the usage of cameras making it user friendly and easy to learn.

Camera Timeline: Evolution of Cameras

camera evolution timeline

From the development of the very first camera to the sophisticated DSLR, Digital cameras, Video cameras, Action cameras, Phone cameras, webcams, and many more, we have come a long way. Here is a brief timeline for the same.

1816: Nicéphore Niepce, using a very small camera of his own making and a piece of paper coated with silver chloride, which darkened when it was exposed to light.

1839-1840: Daguerreotypes and Calotypes. Daguerreotype camera made by Maison Susse Freres in 1839

1857, 1871 Collodion dry plates have been available since 1857, thanks to the work of Désiré van Monckhoven. Still, it was not until the invention of the gelatin dry plate in 1871 by Richard Leach Maddox that the wet plate process could be rivaled in quality and speed.

1888-1889: George Eastman pioneered in the photographic film and developed Kodak, the film camera.

1905-1913: Availability of 35mm cameras.

1928: TLR Camera Developed

1933: SLR Camera Developed

1988: Digital cameras were available. They were compact in size and easy to carry around. That was the stage in the beginning of the evolution of digital cameras. The cameras have since then evolved both in technology and construction.

1991: First commercial DSLR released by Nikon. A DSLR is a Digital SLR. The major advantage was its detachable lens

2000: First camera phones

Why is a Camera Important?

Don’t you think a world without cameras is scary? Yes, indeed, there would not be a single photograph to remind you of your birth, pictures of you growing up, memories with friends, family, celebrations, achievements, and so many more.

Today the very mode of communication, expression, classes, lessons, entertainment, broadcasts are highly dependent on cameras and a few other mediums of transmission.

Change is good! The many developments and changes in the cameras have brought about a change saving a lot of time and benefitting us economically.

An excellent example to talk about would be the present scenario of the Covid-19 virus. The virus has brought the entire world to a standstill. Even after its impact,

  • We stay connected to our curriculum
  • Streaming of videos to enhance our knowledge and skills
  • Discussing business strategies over a video call
  • Hosting and attending webinars
  • Attending live interviews to get admissions to colleges or bag a dream job
  • Practice photography
  • Post photos and videos to raise awareness among family, friends, neighbors, and our social and business circles and many more.
  • Bringing out the artistic talents of individuals.

Applications of a Camera

applications of cameras
  1. Photography- Fashion, Portrait, Landscape, Event, etcetera
  2. Videography- Short films, videos, movies, broadcasting, judgements, etcetera
  3. Security- CCTV and monitoring systems
  4. Traffic- Speed Cameras and traffic monitoring
  5. Research- All branches of science.
  6. Space
  7. Law and Justice

These are some of the significant applications of cameras.

This is my Instagram Feed for those of you wondering where I put up my shots!


Like most essential things in the world, the evolution of cameras has played a crucial role from the very inception of it. 

The more we ponder upon it, the more curious we get.

Curiosity is the root cause of the beginning of great things.

Even the great people today began with a small thought yesterday.

It all starts with a thought. A thought today can be an invention tomorrow.

If you like the above article, check the post on “A Practical Guide on How to Learn Photography and Use a Camera”

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