A camera is an optical instrument for recording or capturing images,
which may be stored locally, transmitted to another location, or both.
The images may be individual still photographs or sequences of images
constituting videos or movies. The camera is a remote sensing device
as it senses subjects without any contact . The word camera comes from
camera obscura, which means "dark chamber" and is the
Latin name of
the original device for projecting an image of external reality onto a
flat surface. The modern photographic camera evolved from the camera
obscura. The functioning of the camera is very similar to the
functioning of the human eye. The first permanent photograph was made
in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.
1 Functional description
2.2 Photographic camera
2.3 Digital camera
3.5 Exposure control
3.5.1 Exposure and rendering
Camera design history
6.1 Plate camera
6.2 Folding camera
6.3 Box camera
6.5 Instant picture camera
6.6 Single-lens reflex
6.7 Twin-lens reflex
6.8 Large-format camera
6.10 Subminiature camera
6.11 Movie camera
6.13 Professional video camera
6.14 Digital camera
6.15 Panoramic camera
6.15.1 VR Camera
8 See also
11 External links
Basic elements of a modern still camera
A camera works with the light of the visible spectrum or with other
portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. A still camera is an
optical device which creates a single image of an object or scene and
records it on an electronic sensor or photographic film. All cameras
use the same basic design: light enters an enclosed box through a
converging lens/convex lens and an image is recorded on a
light-sensitive medium(mainly a transition metal-halide). A shutter
mechanism controls the length of time that light can enter the
camera. Most photographic cameras have functions that allow a
person to view the scene to be recorded, allow for a desired part of
the scene to be in focus, and to control the exposure so that it is
not too bright or too dim. A display, often a liquid crystal
display (LCD), permits the user to view the scene to be recorded and
settings such as ISO speed, exposure, and shutter speed.
A movie camera or a video camera operates similarly to a still camera,
except it records a series of static images in rapid succession,
commonly at a rate of 24 frames per second. When the images are
combined and displayed in order, the illusion of motion is
Main article: History of the camera
The forerunner to the photographic camera was the camera obscura.
Camera obscura (
Latin for "dark room") is the natural phenomenon that
occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen (or for
instance a wall) is projected through a small hole in that screen and
forms an inverted image (left to right and upside down) on a surface
opposite to the opening. The oldest known record of this principle is
a description by Han Chinese philosopher
Mozi (ca. 470 to ca. 391 BC).
Mozi correctly asserted the camera obscura image is inverted because
light travels inside the camera straight lines from its source.
In the 11th century, Arab physicist
Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) wrote
very influential essays about the camera obscura, including
experiments with light through a small opening in a darkened room. Ibn
al-Haytam's writings on optics became very influential in Europe
Latin translations, inspiring people such as Witelo, John
Peckham, Roger Bacon, Leonardo Da Vinci,
René Descartes and Johannes
Further information: Hockney–Falco thesis
The use of a lens in the opening of a wall or closed window shutter of
a darkened room to project images used as a drawing aid has been
traced back to circa 1550. Since the late 17th century, portable
camera obscura devices in tents and boxes were used as a drawing aid.
Before the development of the photographic camera, it had been known
for hundreds of years that some substances, such as silver salts,
darkened when exposed to sunlight. In a series of experiments,
published in 1727, the German scientist Johann Heinrich Schulze
demonstrated that the darkening of the salts was due to light alone,
and not influenced by heat or exposure to air. The Swedish chemist
Carl Wilhelm Scheele
Carl Wilhelm Scheele showed in 1777 that silver chloride was
especially susceptible to darkening from light exposure, and that once
darkened, it becomes insoluble in an ammonia solution. The first
person to use this chemistry to create images was Thomas Wedgwood.
To create images, Wedgwood placed items, such as leaves and insect
wings, on ceramic pots coated with silver nitrate, and exposed the
set-up to light. These images weren't permanent, however, as Wedgwood
didn't employ a fixing mechanism. He ultimately failed at his goal of
using the process to create fixed images created by a camera
Light enters a dark box through a small hole and
creates an inverted image on the wall opposite the hole.
View from the Window at Le Gras
View from the Window at Le Gras (1826), the earliest surviving
The Giroux daguerreotype camera, the first to be commercially
The first permanent photograph of a camera image was made in 1826 by
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce using a sliding wooden box camera made by
Charles and Vincent Chevalier in Paris. Niépce had been
experimenting with ways to fix the images of a camera obscura since
1816. The photograph Niépce succeeded in creating shows the view from
his window. It was made using an 8-hour exposure on pewter coated with
bitumen. Niépce called his process "heliography". Niépce
corresponded with the inventor Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre, and the
pair entered into a partnership to improve the heliographic process.
Niépce had experimented further with other chemicals, to improve
contrast in his heliographs. Daguerre contributed an improved camera
obscura design, but the partnership ended when Niépce died in
1833. Daguerre succeeded in developing a high-contrast and
extremely sharp image by exposing on a plate coated with silver
iodide, and exposing this plate again to mercury vapor. By 1837,
he was able to fix the images with a common salt solution. He called
this process Daguerreotype, and tried unsuccessfully for a couple
years to commercialize it. Eventually, with help of the scientist and
politician François Arago, the French government acquired Daguerre's
process for public release. In exchange, pensions were provided to
Daguerre as well as Niépce's son, Isidore.
In the 1830s, the English scientist
Henry Fox Talbot
Henry Fox Talbot independently
invented a process to fix camera images using silver salts.
Although dismayed that Daguerre had beaten him to the announcement of
photography, on January 31, 1839 he submitted a pamphlet to the Royal
Institution entitled Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing,
which was the first published description of photography. Within two
years, Talbot developed a two-step process for creating photographs on
paper, which he called calotypes. The calotyping process was the first
to utilize negative prints, which reverse all values in the photograph
- black shows up as white and vice versa. Negative prints allow,
in principle, unlimited duplicates of the positive print to be
made. Calotyping also introduced the ability for a printmaker to
alter the resulting image through retouching.
Calotypes were never
as popular or widespread as daguerreotypes, owing mainly to the
fact that the latter produced sharper details. However, because
daguerreotypes only produce a direct positive print, no duplicates can
be made. It is the two-step negative/positive process that formed the
basis for modern photography.
The first photographic camera developed for commercial manufacture was
a daguerreotype camera, built by
Alphonse Giroux in 1839. Giroux
signed a contract with Daguerre and Isidore Niépce to produce the
cameras in France, with each device and accessories costing 400
francs. The camera was a double-box design, with a landscape lens
fitted to the outer box, and a holder for a ground glass focusing
screen and image plate on the inner box. By sliding the inner box,
objects at various distances could be brought to as sharp a focus as
desired. After a satisfactory image had been focused on the screen,
the screen was replaced with a sensitized plate. A knurled wheel
controlled a copper flap in front of the lens, which functioned as a
shutter. The early daguerreotype cameras required long exposure times,
which in 1839 could be from 5 to 30 minutes.
After the introduction of the Giroux daguerreotype camera, other
manufacturers quickly produced improved variations. Charles Chevalier,
who had earlier provided Niépce with lenses, created in 1841 a
double-box camera using a half-sized plate for imaging. Chevalier’s
camera had a hinged bed, allowing for half of the bed to fold onto the
back of the nested box. In addition to having increased portability,
the camera had a faster lens, bringing exposure times down to 3
minutes, and a prism at the front of the lens, which allowed the image
to be laterally correct. Another French design emerged in 1841,
created by Marc Antoine Gaudin. The Nouvel Appareil Gaudin camera had
a metal disc with three differently-sized holes mounted on the front
of the lens. Rotating to a different hole effectively provided
variable f-stops, letting in different amount of light into the
camera. Instead of using nested boxes to focus, the Gaudin camera
used nested brass tubes. In Germany, Peter Friedrich Voigtländer
designed an all-metal camera with a conical shape that produced
circular pictures of about 3 inches in diameter. The distinguishing
characteristic of the
Voigtländer camera was its use of a lens
designed by Joseph Petzval. The f/3.5
Petzval lens was nearly 30
times faster than any other lens of the period, and was the first to
be made specifically for portraiture. Its design was the most widely
used for portraits until
Carl Zeiss introduced the anastigmat lens in
Within a decade of being introduced in America, 3 general forms of
camera were in popular use: the American- or chamfered-box camera, the
Robert’s-type camera or “Boston box”, and the Lewis-type camera.
The American-box camera had beveled edges at the front and rear, and
an opening in the rear where the formed image could be viewed on
ground glass. The top of the camera had hinged doors for placing
photographic plates. Inside there was one available slot for distant
objects, and another slot in the back for close-ups. The lens was
focused either by sliding or with a rack and pinion mechanism. The
Robert’s-type cameras were similar to the American-box, except for
having a knob-fronted worm gear on the front of the camera, which
moved the back box for focusing. Many Robert’s-type cameras allowed
focusing directly on the lens mount. The third popular daguerreotype
camera in America was the Lewis-type, introduced in 1851, which
utilized a bellows for focusing. The main body of the Lewis-type
camera was mounted on the front box, but the rear section was slotted
into the bed for easy sliding. Once focused, a set screw was tightened
to hold the rear section in place. Having the bellows in the
middle of the body facilitated making a second, in-camera copy of the
Daguerreotype cameras formed images on silvered copper plates. The
earliest daguerreotype cameras required several minutes to half an
hour to expose images on the plates. By 1840, exposure times were
reduced to just a few seconds owing to improvements in the chemical
preparation and development processes, and to advances in lens
design. American daguerreotypists introduced manufactured plates
in mass production, and plate sizes became internationally
standardized: whole plate (6.5 x 8.5 inches), three-quarter plate (5.5
x 7 1/8 inches), half plate (4.5 x 5.5 inches), quarter plate (3.25 x
4.25 inches), sixth plate (2.75 x 3.25 inches), and ninth plate (2 x
2.5 inches). Plates were often cut to fit cases and jewelry with
circular and oval shapes. Larger plates were produced, with sizes such
as 9 x 13 inches (“double-whole” plate), or 13.5 x 16.5 inches
(Southworth & Hawes’ plate).
The collodion wet plate process that gradually replaced the
daguerreotype during the 1850s required photographers to coat and
sensitize thin glass or iron plates shortly before use and expose them
in the camera while still wet. Early wet plate cameras were very
simple and little different from
Daguerreotype cameras, but more
sophisticated designs eventually appeared. The Dubroni of 1864 allowed
the sensitizing and developing of the plates to be carried out inside
the camera itself rather than in a separate darkroom. Other cameras
were fitted with multiple lenses for photographing several small
portraits on a single larger plate, useful when making cartes de
visite. It was during the wet plate era that the use of bellows for
focusing became widespread, making the bulkier and less easily
adjusted nested box design obsolete.
For many years, exposure times were long enough that the photographer
simply removed the lens cap, counted off the number of seconds (or
minutes) estimated to be required by the lighting conditions, then
replaced the cap. As more sensitive photographic materials became
available, cameras began to incorporate mechanical shutter mechanisms
that allowed very short and accurately timed exposures to be made.
The use of photographic film was pioneered by George Eastman, who
started manufacturing paper film in 1885 before switching to celluloid
in 1889. His first camera, which he called the "Kodak," was first
offered for sale in 1888. It was a very simple box camera with a
fixed-focus lens and single shutter speed, which along with its
relatively low price appealed to the average consumer. The
pre-loaded with enough film for 100 exposures and needed to be sent
back to the factory for processing and reloading when the roll was
finished. By the end of the 19th century Eastman had expanded his
lineup to several models including both box and folding cameras.
Films also made possible capture of motion (cinematography)
establishing the movie industry by end of 19th century.
Further information: Instant return mirror
In photography, the single-lens reflex camera (SLR) is provided with a
mirror to redirect light from the picture taking lens to the
viewfinder prior to releasing the shutter for composing and focusing
an image. When the shutter is released, the mirror swings up and away
allowing the exposure of the photographic medium and instantly returns
after the exposure. No SLR camera before 1954 had this feature,
although the mirror on some early SLR cameras was entirely operated by
the force exerted on the shutter release and only returned when the
finger pressure was released. The
Asahiflex II, released by
Japanese company Asahi (Pentax) in 1954, was the world's first SLR
camera with an instant return mirror.
Further information: Digital camera
The first camera using digital electronics to capture and store images
was developed by
Steven Sasson in 1975. He used a
charge-coupled device (CCD) provided by Fairchild Semiconductor, which
provided only 0.01 megapixels to capture images. Sasson combined the
CCD device with movie camera parts to create a digital camera that
saved black and white images onto a cassette tape. The images were
then read from the cassette and viewed on a TV monitor. Later,
cassette tapes were replaced by flash memory.
In 1986, Japanese company
Nikon introduced the first digital
single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, the
Further information: Full-frame digital SLR
The first full-frame
DSLR cameras were developed in Japan from around
2000 to 2002: the MZ-D by Pentax, the N Digital by Contax's
Japanese R6D team, and the EOS-1Ds by Canon. Gradually in the
DSLR cameras became the dominant type of camera
across consumer, television and movies.
In 2000, Sharp introduced the world's first digital camera phone, the
J-SH04 J-Phone, in Japan. By the mid-2000s, higher-end cell phones
had an integrated digital camera. By the beginning of the 2010s,
almost all smartphones had an integrated digital camera.
In all but certain specialized cameras, the process of obtaining a
usable exposure must involve the use, manually or automatically, of a
few controls to ensure the photograph is clear, sharp and well
illuminated. The controls usually include but are not limited to the
The position of a viewed object or the adjustment of an optical device
necessary to produce a clear image: in focus; out of focus.
Adjustment of the lens opening measured as f-number, which controls
the amount of light passing through the lens.
Aperture also has an
effect on depth of field and diffraction – the higher the
f-number, the smaller the opening, the less light, the greater the
depth of field, and the more the diffraction blur. The focal length
divided by the f-number gives the effective aperture diameter.
Adjustment of the speed (often expressed either as fractions of
seconds or as an angle, with mechanical shutters) of the shutter to
control the amount of time during which the imaging medium is exposed
to light for each exposure.
Shutter speed may be used to control the
amount of light striking the image plane; 'faster' shutter speeds
(that is, those of shorter duration) decrease both the amount of light
and the amount of image blurring from motion of the subject or camera.
The slower shutter speeds allow for long exposure shots that are done
used to photograph images in very low light including the images of
the night sky.
On digital cameras, electronic compensation for the color temperature
associated with a given set of lighting conditions, ensuring that
white light is registered as such on the imaging chip and therefore
that the colors in the frame will appear natural. On mechanical,
film-based cameras, this function is served by the operator's choice
of film stock or with color correction filters. In addition to using
white balance to register natural coloration of the image,
photographers may employ white balance to aesthetic end, for example,
white balancing to a blue object in order to obtain a warm color
Measurement of exposure so that highlights and shadows are exposed
according to the photographer's wishes. Many modern cameras meter and
set exposure automatically. Before automatic exposure, correct
exposure was accomplished with the use of a separate light metering
device or by the photographer's knowledge and experience of gauging
correct settings. To translate the amount of light into a usable
aperture and shutter speed, the meter needs to adjust for the
sensitivity of the film or sensor to light. This is done by setting
the "film speed" or ISO sensitivity into the meter.
Traditionally used to "tell the camera" the film speed of the selected
film on film cameras, film speed numbers are employed on modern
digital cameras as an indication of the system's gain from light to
numerical output and to control the automatic exposure system. Film
speed is usually measured via the ISO system. The higher the film
speed number the greater the film sensitivity to light, whereas with a
lower number, the film is less sensitive to light. A correct
combination of film speed, aperture, and shutter speed leads to an
image that is neither too dark nor too light, hence it is 'correctly
exposed', indicated by a centered meter.
On some cameras, the selection of a point in the imaging frame upon
which the auto-focus system will attempt to focus. Many Single-lens
reflex cameras (SLR) feature multiple auto-focus points in the
Many other elements of the imaging device itself may have a pronounced
effect on the quality and aesthetic effect of a given photograph.
Among them are:
Focal length and type of lens (normal, long focus, wide angle,
telephoto, macro, fisheye, or zoom)
Filters placed between the subject and the light recording material,
either in front of or behind the lens
Inherent sensitivity of the medium to light intensity and
The nature of the light recording material, for example, its
resolution as measured in pixels or grains of silver halide.
Traditional cameras capture light onto photographic plate or
Video and digital cameras use an electronic image
sensor, usually a charge coupled device (CCD) or a
CMOS sensor to
capture images which can be transferred or stored in a memory card or
other storage inside the camera for later playback or processing.
Cameras that capture many images in sequence are known as movie
cameras or as ciné cameras in Europe; those designed for single
images are still cameras.
However these categories overlap as still cameras are often used to
capture moving images in special effects work and many modern cameras
can quickly switch between still and motion recording modes.
Camera lens and
Photographic lens design
The lens of a camera captures the light from the subject and brings it
to a focus on the sensor. The design and manufacture of the lens is
critical to the quality of the photograph being taken. The
technological revolution in camera design in the 19th century
revolutionized optical glass manufacture and lens design with great
benefits for modern lens manufacture in a wide range of optical
instruments from reading glasses to microscopes. Pioneers included
Zeiss and Leitz.
Camera lenses are made in a wide range of focal lengths. They range
from extreme wide angle, and standard, medium telephoto. Each lens is
best suited to a certain type of photography. The extreme wide angle
may be preferred for architecture because it has the capacity to
capture a wide view of a building. The normal lens, because it often
has a wide aperture, is often used for street and documentary
photography. The telephoto lens is useful for sports and wildlife but
it is more susceptible to camera shake.
The distance range in which objects appear clear and sharp, called
depth of field, can be adjusted by many cameras. This allows for a
photographer to control which objects appear in focus, and which do
Due to the optical properties of photographic lenses, only objects
within a limited range of distances from the camera will be reproduced
clearly. The process of adjusting this range is known as changing the
camera's focus. There are various ways of focusing a camera
accurately. The simplest cameras have fixed focus and use a small
aperture and wide-angle lens to ensure that everything within a
certain range of distance from the lens, usually around 3 metres
(10 ft) to infinity, is in reasonable focus. Fixed focus cameras
are usually inexpensive types, such as single-use cameras. The camera
can also have a limited focusing range or scale-focus that is
indicated on the camera body. The user will guess or calculate the
distance to the subject and adjust the focus accordingly. On some
cameras this is indicated by symbols (head-and-shoulders; two people
standing upright; one tree; mountains).
Rangefinder cameras allow the distance to objects to be measured by
means of a coupled parallax unit on top of the camera, allowing the
focus to be set with accuracy. Single-lens reflex cameras allow the
photographer to determine the focus and composition visually using the
objective lens and a moving mirror to project the image onto a ground
glass or plastic micro-prism screen. Twin-lens reflex cameras use an
objective lens and a focusing lens unit (usually identical to the
objective lens.) in a parallel body for composition and focusing. View
cameras use a ground glass screen which is removed and replaced by
either a photographic plate or a reusable holder containing sheet film
before exposure. Modern cameras often offer autofocus systems to focus
the camera automatically by a variety of methods.
Some experimental cameras, for example the planar Fourier capture
array (PFCA), do not require focusing to allow them to take pictures.
In conventional digital photography, lenses or mirrors map all of the
light originating from a single point of an in-focus object to a
single point at the sensor plane. Each pixel thus relates an
independent piece of information about the far-away scene. In
contrast, a PFCA does not have a lens or mirror, but each pixel has an
idiosyncratic pair of diffraction gratings above it, allowing each
pixel to likewise relate an independent piece of information
(specifically, one component of the 2D Fourier transform) about the
far-away scene. Together, complete scene information is captured and
images can be reconstructed by computation.
Some cameras have post focusing. Post focusing means take the pictures
first and then focusing later at the personal computer. The camera
uses many tiny lenses on the sensor to capture light from every camera
angle of a scene and is called plenoptics technology. A current
plenoptic camera design has 40,000 lenses working together to grab the
The size of the aperture and the brightness of the scene controls the
amount of light that enters the camera during a period of time, and
the shutter controls the length of time that the light hits the
recording surface. Equivalent exposures can be made using a large
aperture size with a fast shutter speed and a small aperture with a
Exposure and rendering
Manual shutter control and exposure settings can achieve unusual
Star trails produced by long exposure photography in Chile.
Camera controls are interrelated. The total amount of light reaching
the film plane (the 'exposure') changes with the duration of exposure,
aperture of the lens, and on the effective focal length of the lens
(which in variable focal length lenses, can force a change in aperture
as the lens is zoomed). Changing any of these controls can alter the
exposure. Many cameras may be set to adjust most or all of these
controls automatically. This automatic functionality is useful for
occasional photographers in many situations.
The duration of an exposure is referred to as shutter speed, often
even in cameras that do not have a physical shutter, and is typically
measured in fractions of a second. It is quite possible to have
exposures from one up to several seconds, usually for still-life
subjects, and for night scenes exposure times can be several hours.
However, longer shutter speeds blur motion, and shorter shutter speeds
freeze motion. Therefore, moving subjects require fast shutter
The effective aperture is expressed by an f-number or f-stop (derived
from focal ratio), which is proportional to the ratio of the focal
length to the diameter of the aperture. Longer focal length lenses
will pass less light through the same aperture diameter due to the
greater distance the light has to travel; shorter focal length lenses
will transmit more light through the same diameter of aperture.
The smaller the f/number, the larger the effective aperture. The
present system of f/numbers to give the effective aperture of a lens
was standardized by an international convention in 1963 and is
referred to as the British Standard (BS-1013). Other aperture
measurement scales had been used through the early 20th century,
including the European Scale, Intermediate settings, and the 1881
Uniform System proposed by the Royal Photographic Society, which are
all now largely obsolete.:30 T-stops have been used for color
motion picture lenses, to account for differences in light
transmission through compound lenses, are calculated as T-number =
f/number x √transmittance.:615
If the f-number is decreased by a factor of √2, the aperture
diameter is increased by the same factor, and its area is increased by
a factor of 2. The f-stops that might be found on a typical lens
include 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, where going up "one stop"
(using lower f-stop numbers) doubles the amount of light reaching the
film, and stopping down one stop halves the amount of light.
Image capture can be achieved through various combinations of shutter
speed, aperture, and film or sensor speed. Different (but related)
settings of aperture and shutter speed enable photographs to be taken
under various conditions of film or sensor speed, lighting and motion
of subjects or camera, and desired depth of field. A slower speed film
will exhibit less "grain", and a slower speed setting on an electronic
sensor will exhibit less "noise", while higher film and sensor speeds
allow for a faster shutter speed, which reduces motion blur or allows
the use of a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field.
For example, a wider aperture is used for lower light and a lower
aperture for more light. If a subject is in motion, then a high
shutter speed may be needed. A tripod can also be helpful in that it
enables a slower shutter speed to be used.
For example, f/8 at 8 ms (1/125 of a second) and f/5.6 at 4 ms (1/250
of a second) yield the same amount of light. The chosen combination
affects the final result. The aperture and focal length of the lens
determine the depth of field, which refers to the range of distances
from the lens that will be in focus. A longer lens or a wider aperture
will result in "shallow" depth of field (i.e., only a small plane of
the image will be in sharp focus). This is often useful for isolating
subjects from backgrounds as in individual portraits or macro
Conversely, a shorter lens, or a smaller aperture, will result in more
of the image being in focus. This is generally more desirable when
photographing landscapes or groups of people. With very small
apertures, such as pinholes, a wide range of distance can be brought
into focus, but sharpness is severely degraded by diffraction with
such small apertures. Generally, the highest degree of "sharpness" is
achieved at an aperture near the middle of a lens's range (for
example, f/8 for a lens with available apertures of f/2.8 to f/16).
However, as lens technology improves, lenses are becoming capable of
making increasingly sharp images at wider apertures.
Image capture is only part of the image forming process. Regardless of
material, some process must be employed to render the latent image
captured by the camera into a viewable image. With slide film, the
developed film is just mounted for projection. Print film requires the
developed film negative to be printed onto photographic paper or
transparency. Prior to the advent of laser jet and inkjet printers,
celluloid photographic negative images had to be mounted in an
enlarger which projected the image onto a sheet of light-sensitive
paper for a certain length of time (usually measured in seconds or
fractions of a second). This sheet then was soaked in a chemical bath
of developer (to bring out the image) followed immediately by a stop
bath (to neutralize the progression of development and prevent the
image from changing further once exposed to normal light). After this,
the paper was hung until dry enough to safely handle. This
post-production process allowed the photographer to further manipulate
the final image beyond what had already been captured on the negative,
adjusting the length of time the image was projected by the enlarger
and the duration of both chemical baths to change the image's
intensity, darkness, clarity, etc. This process is still employed by
both amateur and professional photographers, but the advent of digital
imagery means that the vast majority of modern photographic work is
captured digitally and rendered via printing processes that are no
longer dependent on chemical reactions to light. Such digital images
may be uploaded to an image server (e.g., a photo-sharing website),
viewed on a television, or transferred to a computer or digital photo
frame. Every type can then be produced as a hard copy on regular paper
or photographic paper via a printer.
A photographer using a tripod for greater stability during long
Prior to the rendering of a viewable image, modifications can be made
using several controls. Many of these controls are similar to controls
during image capture, while some are exclusive to the rendering
process. Most printing controls have equivalent digital concepts, but
some create different effects. For example, dodging and burning
controls are different between digital and film processes. Other
printing modifications include:
Chemicals and process used during film development
Duration of print exposure – equivalent to shutter speed
Printing aperture – equivalent to aperture, but has no effect
on depth of field
Contrast – changing the visual properties of objects in an
image to make them distinguishable from other objects and the
Dodging – reduces exposure of certain print areas, resulting in
Burning in – increases exposure of certain areas, resulting in
Paper texture – glossy, matte, etc.
Paper type – resin-coated (RC) or fiber-based (FB)
Exposure shape – resulting prints in shapes such as circular,
oval, loupe, etc.
Toners – used to add warm or cold tones to black-and-white
Main article: Shutter (photography)
Although a range of different shutter devices have been used during
the development of the camera only two types have been widely used and
remain in use today.
Leaf shutter or more precisely the in-lens shutter is a shutter
contained within the lens structure, often close to the diaphragm
consisting of a number of metal leaves which are maintained under
spring tension and which are opened and then closed when the shutter
is released. The exposure time is determined by the interval between
opening and closing. In this shutter design, the whole film frame is
exposed at one time. This makes flash synchronisation much simpler as
the flash only needs to fire once the shutter is fully open.
Disadvantages of such shutters are their inability to reliably produce
very fast shutter speeds ( faster than 1/500th second or so) and the
additional cost and weight of having to include a shutter mechanism
for every lens.
The focal-plane shutter operates as close to the film plane as
possible and consists of cloth curtains that are pulled across the
film plane with a carefully determined gap between the two curtains
(typically running horizontally) or consisting of a series of metal
plates (typically moving vertically) just in front of the film plane.
The focal-plane shutter is primarily associated with the single lens
reflex type of cameras, since covering the film rather than blocking
light passing through the lens allows the photographer to view through
the lens at all times except during the exposure itself. Covering the
film also facilitates removing the lens from a loaded camera (many
SLRs have interchangeable lenses).
Professional medium format SLR (single-lens-reflex) cameras (typically
using 120/220 roll film) use a hybrid solution, since such a large
focal-plane shutter would be difficult to make and/or may run slowly.
A manually inserted blade known as a dark slide allows the film to be
covered when changing lenses or film backs. A blind inside the camera
covers the film prior to and after the exposure (but is not designed
to be able to give accurately controlled exposure times) and a leaf
shutter that is normally open is installed in the lens. To take a
picture, the leaf shutter closes, the blind opens, the leaf shutter
opens then closes again, and finally the blind closes and the leaf
shutter re-opens (the last step may only occur when the shutter is
Using a focal-plane shutter, exposing the whole film plane can take
much longer than the exposure time. The exposure time does not depend
on the time taken to make the exposure over all, only on the
difference between the time a specific point on the film is uncovered
and then covered up again. For example, an exposure of 1/1000 second
may be achieved by the shutter curtains moving across the film plane
in 1/50th of a second but with the two curtains only separated by
1/20th of the frame width. In fact in practice the curtains do not run
at a constant speed as they would in an ideal design, obtaining an
even exposure time depends mainly on being able to make the two
curtains accelerate in a similar manner.
When photographing rapidly moving objects, the use of a focal-plane
shutter can produce some unexpected effects, since the film closest to
the start position of the curtains is exposed earlier than the film
closest to the end position. Typically this can result in a moving
object leaving a slanting image. The direction of the slant depends on
the direction the shutter curtains run in (noting also that as in all
cameras the image is inverted and reversed by the lens, i.e.
"top-left" is at the bottom right of the sensor as seen by a
photographer behind the camera).
Focal-plane shutters are also difficult to synchronise with flash
bulbs and electronic flash and it is often only possible to use flash
at shutter speeds where the curtain that opens to reveal the film
completes its run and the film is fully uncovered, before the second
curtain starts to travel and cover it up again. Typically 35mm film
SLRs could sync flash at only up to 1/60th second if the camera has
horizontal run cloth curtains, and 1/125th if using a vertical run
Main article: Film formats
A wide range of film and plate formats have been used by cameras. In
the early history plate sizes were often specific for the make and
model of camera although there quickly developed some standardisation
for the more popular cameras. The introduction of roll film drove the
standardization process still further so that by the 1950s only a few
standard roll films were in use. These included
120 film providing 8,
12 or 16 exposures, 220 film providing 16 or 24 exposures, 127 film
providing 8 or 12 exposures (principally in Brownie cameras) and 135
(35 mm film) providing 12, 20 or 36 exposures – or up to 72
exposures in the half-frame format or in bulk cassettes for the Leica
For cine cameras, film 35 mm wide and perforated with sprocket
holes was established as the standard format in the 1890s. It was used
for nearly all film-based professional motion picture production. For
amateur use, several smaller and therefore less expensive formats were
introduced. 17.5 mm film, created by splitting 35 mm film,
was one early amateur format, but 9.5 mm film, introduced in
1922, and 16 mm film, introduced in the US in 1923, soon became the
standards for "home movies" in their respective hemispheres. In 1932,
the even more economical 8 mm format was created by doubling the
number of perforations in 16 mm film, then splitting it, usually
after exposure and processing. The Super 8 format, still 8 mm
wide but with smaller perforations to make room for substantially
larger film frames, was introduced in 1965.
Accessories for cameras are mainly for care, protection, special
effects and functions.
Lens hood: used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light
source to prevent glare and lens flare (see also matte box).
Lens cap: covers and protects the lens during storage.
Lens adapter: sometimes called a step-ring, adapts the lens to other
Lens filters: allow artificial colors or change light density.
Lens extension tubes allow close focus in macro photography.
Flash equipment: including light diffuser, mount and stand, reflector,
soft box, trigger and cord.
Care and protection: including camera case and cover, maintenance
tools, and screen protector.
Large format cameras use special equipment which includes magnifier
loupe, view finder, angle finder, focusing rail /truck.
Battery and sometimes a charger.
Some professional SLR could be provided with interchangeable finders
for eye-level or waist-level focusing, focusing screens, eye-cup, data
backs, motor-drives for film transportation or external battery packs.
Tripod, microscope adapter, cable release, electric wire release.
Dew shield - Prevents moisture build up on the lens.
UV filter, Can protect the front element of a lens from scratches,
cracks, smudges, dirt, dust and moisture while keeping a minimum
impact on image quality.
Camera design history
Main article: Photographic plate
The earliest cameras produced in significant numbers used sensitised
glass plates were plate cameras.
Light entered a lens mounted on a
lens board which was separated from the plate by an extendible
bellows.There were simple box cameras for glass plates but also
single-lens reflex cameras with interchangeable lenses and even for
color photography (Autochrome Lumière). Many of these cameras had
controls to raise or lower the lens and to tilt it forwards or
backwards to control perspective.
Focussing of these plate cameras was by the use of a ground glass
screen at the point of focus. Because lens design only allowed rather
small aperture lenses, the image on the ground glass screen was faint
and most photographers had a dark cloth to cover their heads to allow
focussing and composition to be carried out more easily. When focus
and composition were satisfactory, the ground glass screen was removed
and a sensitised plate put in its place protected by a dark slide. To
make the exposure, the dark slide was carefully slid out and the
shutter opened and then closed and the dark slide replaced.
Glass plates were later replaced by sheet film in a dark slide for
sheet film; adaptor sleeves were made to allow sheet film to be used
in plate holders. In addition to the ground glass, a simple optical
viewfinder was often fitted. Cameras which take single exposures on
sheet film and are functionally identical to plate cameras were used
for static, high-image-quality work; much longer in 20th century, see
Large-format camera, below.
Main article: Folding camera
The introduction of films enabled the existing designs for plate
cameras to be made much smaller and for the base-plate to be hinged so
that it could be folded up compressing the bellows. These designs were
very compact and small models were dubbed vest pocket cameras. Folding
rollfilm cameras were preceded by folding plate cameras, more compact
than other designs.
Main article: Box camera
Box cameras were introduced as a budget level camera and had few if
any controls. The original box Brownie models had a small reflex
viewfinder mounted on the top of the camera and had no aperture or
focusing controls and just a simple shutter. Later models such as the
Brownie 127 had larger direct view optical viewfinders together with a
curved film path to reduce the impact of deficiencies in the lens.
As camera a lens technology developed and wide aperture lenses became
more common, rangefinder cameras were introduced to make focusing more
precise. Early rangefinders had two separate viewfinder windows, one
of which is linked to the focusing mechanisms and moved right or left
as the focusing ring is turned. The two separate images are brought
together on a ground glass viewing screen. When vertical lines in the
object being photographed meet exactly in the combined image, the
object is in focus. A normal composition viewfinder is also provided.
Later the viewfinder and rangefinder were combined. Many rangefinder
cameras had interchangeable lenses, each lens requiring its own range-
and viewfinder linkages.
Rangefinder cameras were produced in half- and full-frame 35 mm
and rollfilm (medium format).
Instant picture camera
Main article: Instant camera
After exposure every photograph is taken through pinch rollers inside
of the instant camera. Thereby the developer paste contained in the
paper 'sandwich' distributes on the image. After a minute, the cover
sheet just needs to be removed and one gets a single original positive
image with a fixed format. With some systems it was also possible to
create an instant image negative, from which then could be made copies
in the photo lab. The ultimate development was the SX-70 system of
Polaroid, in which a row of ten shots - engine driven - could be made
without having to remove any cover sheets from the picture. There were
instant cameras for a variety of formats, as well as cartridges with
instant film for normal system cameras.
Main article: Single-lens reflex camera
In the single-lens reflex camera, the photographer sees the scene
through the camera lens. This avoids the problem of parallax which
occurs when the viewfinder or viewing lens is separated from the
taking lens. Single-lens reflex cameras have been made in several
formats including sheet film 5x7" and 4x5", roll film 220/120 taking
8,10, 12 or 16 photographs on a 120 roll and twice that number of a
220 film. These correspond to 6x9, 6x7, 6x6 and 6x4.5 respectively
(all dimensions in cm). Notable manufacturers of large format and roll
film SLR cameras include Bronica, Graflex, Hasselblad, Mamiya, and
Pentax. However the most common format of SLR cameras has been
35 mm and subsequently the migration to digital SLR cameras,
using almost identical sized bodies and sometimes using the same lens
Almost all SLR cameras use a front surfaced mirror in the optical path
to direct the light from the lens via a viewing screen and pentaprism
to the eyepiece. At the time of exposure the mirror is flipped up out
of the light path before the shutter opens. Some early cameras
experimented with other methods of providing through-the-lens viewing,
including the use of a semi-transparent pellicle as in the Canon
Pellix and others with a small periscope such as in the Corfield
Main article: Twin-lens reflex camera
Twin-lens reflex cameras used a pair of nearly identical lenses, one
to form the image and one as a viewfinder. The lenses were arranged
with the viewing lens immediately above the taking lens. The viewing
lens projects an image onto a viewing screen which can be seen from
above. Some manufacturers such as
Mamiya also provided a reflex head
to attach to the viewing screen to allow the camera to be held to the
eye when in use. The advantage of a TLR was that it could be easily
focussed using the viewing screen and that under most circumstances
the view seen in the viewing screen was identical to that recorded on
film. At close distances however, parallax errors were encountered and
some cameras also included an indicator to show what part of the
composition would be excluded.
Some TLR had interchangeable lenses but as these had to be paired
lenses they were relatively heavy and did not provide the range of
focal lengths that the SLR could support. Most TLRs used 120 or 220
film; some used the smaller 127 film.
Main article: View camera
The large-format camera, taking sheet film, is a direct successor of
the early plate cameras and remained in use for high quality
photography and for technical, architectural and industrial
photography. There are three common types, the view camera with its
monorail and field camera variants, and the press camera. They have an
extensible bellows with the lens and shutter mounted on a lens plate
at the front. Backs taking rollfilm, and later digital backs are
available in addition to the standard dark slide back. These cameras
have a wide range of movements allowing very close control of focus
and perspective. Composition and focusing is done on view cameras by
viewing a ground-glass screen which is replaced by the film to make
the exposure; they are suitable for static subjects only, and are slow
Main article: Medium-format
Medium-format cameras have a film size between the large-format
cameras and smaller 35mm cameras. Typically these systems use 120 or
220 rollfilm. The most common image sizes are 6×4.5 cm,
6×6 cm and 6×7 cm; the older 6×9 cm is rarely used.
The designs of this kind of camera show greater variation than their
larger brethren, ranging from monorail systems through the classic
Hasselblad model with separate backs, to smaller rangefinder cameras.
There are even compact amateur cameras available in this format.
Main article: Subminiature camera
Cameras taking film significantly smaller than 35 mm were made.
Subminiature cameras were first produced in the nineteenth century.
The expensive 8×11 mm Minox, the only type of camera produced by
the company from 1937 to 1976, became very widely known and was often
used for espionage (the
Minox company later also produced larger
cameras). Later inexpensive subminiatures were made for general use,
some using rewound 16 mm cine film.
Image quality with these
small film sizes was limited.
Main article: Movie camera
A ciné camera or movie camera takes a rapid sequence of photographs
on image sensor or strips of film. In contrast to a still camera,
which captures a single snapshot at a time, the ciné camera takes a
series of images, each called a "frame" through the use of an
The frames are later played back in a ciné projector at a specific
speed, called the "frame rate" (number of frames per second). While
viewing, a person's eyes and brain merge the separate pictures to
create the illusion of motion. The first ciné camera was built around
1888 and by 1890 several types were being manufactured. The standard
film size for ciné cameras was quickly established as
35mm film and
this remained in use until transition to digital cinematography. Other
professional standard formats include
70 mm film
70 mm film and
16mm film whilst
amateurs film makers used 9.5 mm film,
8mm film or Standard 8 and
Super 8 before the move into digital format.
The size and complexity of ciné cameras varies greatly depending on
the uses required of the camera. Some professional equipment is very
large and too heavy to be hand held whilst some amateur cameras were
designed to be very small and light for single-handed operation.
Main article: Camcorders
A camcorder is an electronic device combining a video camera and a
video recorder. Although marketing materials may use the colloquial
term "camcorder", the name on the package and manual is often "video
camera recorder". Most devices capable of recording video are camera
phones and digital cameras primarily intended for still pictures; the
term "camcorder" is used to describe a portable, self-contained
device, with video capture and recording its primary function.
Professional video camera
Main article: Professional video camera
A professional video camera (often called a television camera even
though the use has spread beyond television) is a high-end device for
creating electronic moving images (as opposed to a movie camera, that
earlier recorded the images on film). Originally developed for use in
television studios, they are now also used for music videos,
direct-to-video movies, corporate and educational videos, marriage
These cameras earlier used vacuum tubes and later electronic sensors.
Main article: Digital camera
A digital camera (or digicam) is a camera that encodes digital images
and videos digitally and stores them for later reproduction. Most
cameras sold today are digital, and digital cameras are
incorporated into many devices ranging from mobile phones (called
camera phones) to vehicles.
Digital and film cameras share an optical system, typically using a
lens with a variable diaphragm to focus light onto an image pickup
device. The diaphragm and shutter admit the correct amount of
light to the imager, just as with film but the image pickup device is
electronic rather than chemical. However, unlike film cameras, digital
cameras can display images on a screen immediately after being
recorded, and store and delete images from memory. Most digital
cameras can also record moving videos with sound. Some digital cameras
can crop and stitch pictures and perform other elementary image
Consumers adopted digital cameras in 1990s. Professional video cameras
transitioned to digital around the 2000s-2010s. Finally movie cameras
transitioned to digital in the 2010s.
Main article: Panoramic photography
Panoramic cameras are fixed-lens digital action cameras. They usually
have a single fish-eye lens or multiple lenses, to cover the entire
180° up to 360° in their field of view.
Main article: VR photography
VR cameras are panoramic cameras that also cover the top and bottom in
their field of view. There have also been camera rigs employing
multiple cameras to cover the whole 360° by 360° field of view. The
most famous VR camera rig is known as 'Google Jump'.
The Giroux daguerreotype camera, the first to be commercially
19th century studio camera, with bellows for focusing
Rangefinder camera, Leica c. 1936
Leica M9 with a Summicron-M 28/2 ASPH Lens
Four Thirds single-lens reflex camera
Twin-lens reflex camera
Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France
Front and back of Canon PowerShot A95, a typical pocket-size digital
Digital television camera by Sony
Arri Alexa, a digital movie camera
Zenit-E with Helios 44-2 lens
Smartphone with built-in camera spreads private images globally, c.
Cameras in mobile phones
List of camera types
Timeline of historic inventions
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