Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

First Camera Patent 8th May 1840

The patent number was 1582 and surprisingly was taken out by Alexander S. Wolcott a man from New York. I am sure if asked without the aid of google I would have said George Eastman of Kodak fame.The camera used the a daguerreotype process with a concave reflector.

“Louis Daguerre (Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre) was born near Paris, France on November 18, 1789. A professional scene painter for the opera with an interest in lighting effects, Daguerre began experimenting with the effects of light upon translucent paintings in the 1820s.

Louis Daguerre regularly used a camera obscura as an aid to painting in perspective, and this led him think about ways to keep the image still. In 1826, he discovered the work of Joseph Niepce, and in 1829 began a partnership with him.

He formed a partnership with Joseph Niepce to improve upon the photography process Niepce had invented. Niepce, who died in 1833, produced the first photographic image, however, Niepce’s photographs quickly faded.

After several years of experimentation, Louis Daguerre developed a more convenient and effective method of photography, naming it after himself – the daguerreotype.”…….The daguerreotype is a direct-positive process, creating a highly detailed image on a sheet of copper plated with a thin coat of silver without the use of a negative. The process required great care. The silver-plated copper plate had first to be cleaned and polished until the surface looked like a mirror. Next, the plate was sensitized in a closed box over iodine until it took on a yellow-rose appearance. The plate, held in a lightproof holder, was then transferred to the camera. After exposure to light, the plate was developed over hot mercury until an image appeared. To fix the image, the plate was immersed in a solution of sodium thiosulfate or salt and then toned with gold chloride.

Exposure times for the earliest daguerreotypes ranged from three to fifteen minutes, making the process nearly impractical for portraiture. Modifications to the sensitization process coupled with the improvement of photographic lenses soon reduced the exposure time to less than a minute.

Although daguerreotypes are unique images, they could be copied by redaguerreotyping the original.”..…MORE

Daguerreotype Photograph 1839 John Plumbe Photographer

Negative to Postive Process

The inventor of the first negative from which multiple postive prints were made was Henry Fox Talbot, an English botanist and mathematician and a contemporary of Daguerre.

Talbot sensitized paper to light with a silver salt solution. He then exposed the paper to light. The background became black, and the subject was rendered in gradations of grey. This was a negative image, and from the paper negative, Talbot made contact prints, reversing the light and shadows to create a detailed picture. In 1841, he perfected this paper-negative process and called it a calotype, Greek for beautiful picture.

George Eastman of Kodak made great strides with the introduction of photography to the mass market.

“In 1888, George Eastman invented dry, transparent, and flexible, photographic film (or rolled photography film) and the Kodak cameras that could use the new film.

George Eastman was an avid photographer and became the founder of the Eastman Kodak company.

George Eastman and the Kodak Camera

“You press the button, we do the rest” promised George Eastman in 1888 with this advertising slogan for his Kodak camera.

George Eastman wanted to simplify photography and make it available to everyone, not just trained photographers. In 1883, Eastman announced the invention of photographic film in rolls. Kodak the company was born in 1888 when the first Kodak camera entered the market. Pre-loaded with enough film for 100 exposures, the Kodak camera could easily be carried and handheld during its operation. After the film was exposed (all the shots taken), the whole camera was returned to the Kodak company in Rochester, New York, where the film was developed, prints were made, new photographic film was inserted, and then the camera and prints were returned to the customer.”….….More

Photograph Taken With Kodak Camera – Circa 1909

Wet Plate Negatives

In 1851, Frederick Scoff Archer, an English sculptor, invented the wet plate negative. Using a viscous solution of collodion, he coated glass with light-sensitive silver salts. Because it was glass and not paper, this wet plate created a more stable and detailed negative.

Photography advanced considerably when sensitized materials could be coated on plate glass. However, wet plates had to be developed quickly before the emulsion dried. In the field this meant carrying along a portable darkroom.

 Dry Plate Negatives & Hand-held Cameras

In 1879, the dry platewas invented, a glass negative plate with a dried gelatin emulsion. Dry plates could be stored for a period of time. Photographers no longer needed portable darkrooms and could now hire technicians to develop their photographs. Dry processes absorbed light quickly so rapidly that the hand-held camera was now possible.

 Flexible Roll Film

In 1889, George Eastman invented film with a base that was flexible, unbreakable, and could be rolled. Emulsions coated on a cellulose nitratefilm base, such as Eastman’s, made the mass-produced box camera a reality.

Color Photographs

In the early 1940s, commercially viable color films (except Kodachrome, introduced in 1935) were brought to the market. These films used the modern technology of dye-coupled colors in which a chemical process connects the three dye layers together to create an apparent color image.

Strip of Negative FilmStrip of Negative Film”

Photographic Films

The first flexible roll films, dating to 1889, were made of cellulose nitrate, which is chemically similar to guncotton. A nitrate-based film will deteriorate over time, releasing oxidants and acidic gasses. It is also highly flammable. Special storage for this film is required.

Nitrate film is historically important because it allowed for the development of roll films. The first flexible movie films measured 35-mm wide and came in long rolls on a spool. In the mid-1920s, using this technology, 35-mm roll film was developed for the camera. By the late 1920s, medium-format roll film was created. It measured six centimeters wide and had a paper backing making it easy to handle in daylight. This led to the development of the twin-lens-reflex camera in 1929. Nitrate film was produced in sheets (4 x 5-inches) ending the need for fragile glass plates.

Triacetate film came later and was more stable, flexible, and fireproof. Most films produced up to the 1970s were based on this technology. Since the 1960s, polyester polymers have been used for gelatin base films. The plastic film base is far more stable than cellulose and is not a fire hazard.

Today, technology has produced film with T-grain emulsions. These films use light-sensitive silver halides (grains) that are T-shaped, thus rendering a much finer grain pattern. Films like this offer greater detail and higher resolution, meaning sharper images.

Digital Cameras

Texas Instruments patented a film-less electronic camera in 1972, the first to do so. In August, 1981, Sony released the Sony Mavica electronic still camera, the camera which was the first commercial electronic camera. Images were recorded onto a mini disc and then put into a video reader that was connected to a television monitor or color printer. However, the early Mavica cannot be considered a true digital camera even though it started the digital camera revolution. It was a video camera that took video freeze-frames.

Since the mid-1970s, Kodak has invented several solid-state image sensors that “converted light to digital pictures” for professional and home consumer use. In 1986, Kodak scientists invented the world’s first megapixel sensor, capable of recording 1.4 million pixels that could produce a 5×7-inch digital photo-quality print. In 1987, Kodak released seven products for recording, storing, manipulating, transmitting and printing electronic still video images. In 1990, Kodak developed the Photo CD system and proposed “the first worldwide standard for defining color in the digital environment of computers and computer peripherals.” In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS), aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor.

The first digital cameras for the consumer-level market that worked with a home computer via a serial cable were the Apple QuickTake 100 camera (February 17 , 1994), the Kodak DC40 camera (March 28, 1995), the Casio QV-11 (with LCD monitor, late 1995), and Sony’s Cyber-Shot Digital Still Camera (1996).

Kodak DC40

The rest is history!

 

One response to “First Camera Patent 8th May 1840

  1. Pingback: First Camera Patent 8th May 1840 « Oxford School of Photography | Digital Camera Analysis

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