Tag Archives: camera

The Rise and Fall of Digital and Film

[tweetmeme]This guest post was written by Jason Acar. Jason is currently a content writer for MyCamera.co.za. He has extensive journalism experience and a keen interest in photography.

Many budding photographers still debate whether to buy digital cameras, or opt for older analogue film models. The truth is, technology has advanced so much that digital cameras can achieve just about anything you want when it comes to photography.

To easily display the rise and fall of both digital and film eras, we have compiled this interesting timeline, highlighting some of the most important moments in the history of photography:

1826 - Nicephore Niepce took the first permanent photograph in history. Although there may have been other photographs taken during this time, the photograph of the exterior of his home is the oldest photo on record. He took the image using a camera obscura and a sheet of pewter coated with bitumen of Judea, which hardened permanently when exposed to light. Capturing the image took eight hours.

1839 – William Fox Talbot invents the positive/negative process. Although essentially a negative photograph, which he dubbed as the “photogenic drawing process”, he streamlined the process a year later and renamed it the calotype. This effect remains popular today.

1854- André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri became known for the introduction of the carte de visite (French “visiting card”). Disdéri’s rotating camera could reproduce eight individually exposed images on a single negative.

1861 – Renowned physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell took the first ever first colour photograph. He created the image of a tartan ribbon by photographing it three times through red, yellow and blue filters before combining them into one colour image.

1868 - Louis Arthur Ducos du Hauron of France became a pioneer in the field of colour photography. Using additive (red, green, blue) and subtractive (cyan, magenta, yellow) methods, he turned colour photography into an art form. He would go on to patent some of his methods, while one of his most famous, and earliest, photos is a landscape portrait of Southern France, taken by the subtractive method in 1877.

1887 - Gabriel Jonas Lippmann, a physicist and inventor, landed the Nobel Prize in 1908 for using the phenomenon of interference to reproduce colours on a photographic basis. This later became known as the Lippmann Plate.

1888 – The Kodak No. 1 Box camera was introduced, allowing the mass market to finally try their hand at photography. Once one hundred photos had been taken, owners would ship the camera back to Kodak and have the images printed at a price of $10.

1900 – If the No 1 Box introduced the average Joe, the introduction took things a step further. This camera made low-cost photography popular and introduced the world to the snapshot. This basic cardboard box camera offered simple controls and a price tag of just $1.

1902 - Arthur Korn discovered practical photo-telegraphy technology, meaning that images could be sent via wires. Europe quickly adapted the technology, sending photographs locally by 1910. Eventually inter-continental delivery was done by 1922.

1923 - Doc Harold Edgerton introduced the xenon flash lamp and pioneered strobe photography. This paved the way for improved portrait pictures, as well as photographs in areas with little or no light.

1936 - The world was introduced to the first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. This 35mm SLR camera was named Ihagee Kine-Exakta and made in Germany.

1948 – Edwin Land, who founded the Polaroid Corporation in 1937, released the instant film camera in this year. This device would become their most popular product line for decades to come.

1959 – There was a time when AGFA was close behind Kodak as a leader in the world of photography. It was at this point that the company introduced the first ever fully automatic camera, the Optima.

1972 - The rise of digital happened a lot earlier than many people realise. Texas Willis Adcock, a Texas Instruments engineer, actually created a design for a filmless camera and applied for a patent in 1972. Unfortunately, nobody knows if it ever came into existence.

1973 – Fairchild Semiconductor paved the way for digital imaging, releasing the first integrated circuit, just ahead of Texas Digital.

1975 –Steven Sasson unveiled the first digital camera using CCD image sensor chips. This groundbreaking device took black and white (recorded onto a cassette tape) and offered a resolution of 0.01 megapixels. The first image ever captured on this prototype took 23 seconds to record.

1981 – Sony released the Mavica, the first commercially available digital camera. Although this was a revolutionary product in the photographic industry, it was actually digital video recorder that took freeze frames.

1986 – Leading photographic company, Kodak, brought out the first megapixel sensor, which was able to record 1.4 million pixels. By 1991, the company had created the first professional digital camera system (DCS), a Nikon F-3 which was targeted at photojournalists.

1994 – Only a select few were able to enjoy digital technology up until now. Apple introduced the Apple QuickTake 100 camera in February 1994, a digital camera aimed at the average Joe which was able to work with a home computer. Others soon followed including the Kodak DC40, Casio QV-11 and the Sony Cyber-Shot.

2006 – Digital photography steadily edged out the use of a film camera, so much so that Polaroid announced that it was halting production on all of their instant film products.

2010 – Digital cameras are introduced monthly, if not weekly. Each with more advanced features, better quality picture quality and enough on camera space for thousands of images. To top it off, printing of images is quick, cheap and never wasteful as you select the images you want without have to deal with overexposed or dud images.

This guest post was written by Jason Acar. Jason is currently a content writer for MyCamera.co.za. He has extensive journalism experience and a keen interest in photography.

Link Roundup 09-30-2010

Don’t forget that we have ongoing themes in our Flickr pool and I’ll be selecting my favorites on the topic of “Camera Porn” sometime next week. We only have a few entries in the pool, so be sure to see here for details on participating.

Why Aren’t Cameras More Like Bicycles?

My Baby

[tweetmeme]Mountain biking has been another one of my passionate hobbies (though I’ve drifted away from it in the last few years). But now that I’m back home in north Idaho, I’m anxious to get back in the saddle. In fact, this last weekend, I spent some time building a bike that has been long overdue.

I’m the type of rider who refuses to buy a complete bike. I like to do my research and buy each component individually, thus ending up with a custom bike that meets my wants/needs and falls within my budget. As I was piecing my bike together, I thought “why aren’t cameras more like bicycles?” Meaning, why aren’t more components on a camera interchangeable and replaceable?

Sure, the modern dSLR has interchangeable lenses, flashes, memory cards, and batteries… but that’s about it. You want more megapixels? How about a larger LCD? A different lens mount, perhaps? Your only choice is to buy a completely new camera body. And while you might get most of the features you want in that new body, there always seems to be something you liked better on the old body.

Leaving reality behind for a moment (we’ll come back to it in a second), wouldn’t it be nice to have a truly modular camera? Starting with a frame or skeleton, you could add components to build your camera from the ground up. This sensor, that lens mount, this LCD, that control panel, this processor/computer, that hotshoe, this memory card slot, that viewfinder, etc. Essentially, you could replace only pieces of the camera that are broken or outdated. And if you have some cash to burn, why not go for some upgrades?

Now back to reality. Modern digital cameras are highly complex electro-optical-mechanical systems packed into a very tiny box. Modularizing key components would probably take some extra space and increase overall cost for the camera. Not to mention that interfaces and package dimensions would need to be standardized to allow for the swapping of parts — this would probably be impossible to achieve between different camera manufacturers.

While it may be easy to sit back and compare cameras to bicycles, the truth of the matter is that bicycles are relatively simple mechanical systems in very large packages. It may certainly be possible to create modular cameras, but the general market for such a thing is small.

As a matter of fact, there are a few modular camera systems out there. RED cameras are built on this concept, but they’re very expensive (and intended for shooting cinema rather than stills). The Ricoh GXR is sorta modular, but not entirely. In doing some research, I also found Alpha brand cameras that are built for modular exchange of parts. And of course, many large format film cameras are quite modular (which makes sense based on their size alone).

Does anybody else out there wish that cameras were more modular? Are you the type of photographer that would build something from the ground up rather than buy it off the shelf in final form? What other problems do modular cameras face?

The 10 Second Pre-Shoot Camera Check

[tweetmeme]I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve ruined shots because I failed to check my camera settings before shooting. Haven’t most of us been in that situation? You’re shooting something out of the norm (maybe some manual controls, exposure compensations, ISO settings, etc), and you don’t set your camera back to the “regular” settings. So you pick up the camera again after a few days and start shooting, only to realize that you completely screwed up a bunch of shots because the camera was still set for that last outing.

After doing this a few times, I’ve gotten in the habit of spending 10 or 15 seconds checking my camera settings before I shoot. Of course, all cameras are different (as are shooting styles), so this is just my own personal checklist of things I look at. Yours may be different, but the point is that you should have that habit of checking the settings prior to releasing the shutter. Here’s a rundown of what I look at and how I typically set my camera.

1. PRIORITY MODE

My usual setting is aperture priority mode, but I’ll sometimes switch to shutter priority or full manual. I always make a note to set it back to aperture priority before I start shooting, unless the situation calls for something different.

2. SHUTTER / F-NUMBER

This one varies on the lens attached, but I usually preset my 50mm lens at f/2 or f/2.4 while in aperture priority mode. The reason I do this is because I know that’s fast enough for most lighting situations, and it reflects my personal shooting preferences (I like somewhat shallow DOF most of the time).

3. EXPOSURE COMPENSATION

For me, this setting usually stays at zero, but sometimes I’ll move it around in difficult lighting situations. This one is a big deal — I’ve been burned more than once because I didn’t set it back to zero. If your compensation is way off, you can’t recover a bad shot.

4. ISO SPEED

My usual ISO setting is “auto” — and my auto is allowed to vary between 200 and 1600. In bright situations, I’ll set it to 100. And in dark situations, I’ll set it to 3200 or 6400. I always check that I set it back to auto-ISO so I don’t go out in full afternoon sun shooting at ISO 3200.

5. DRIVE MODE

Most of the time, I’ll leave my drive mode on machine gun mode (or hi-continuous). I don’t use it very often, but it’s nice to have it ready if I do need it (sucks when you need it and it’s turned off). On occasion, I’ll switch over to single shot if I keep firing too many accidental continuous shots.

6. AUTOFOCUS MODE / AREA

For the most part, I like to keep my camera in AF-S (single shot) mode. I find that continuous AF and auto AF slow down my continuous drive when I do need it, and Manual focus is rarely used on my digital camera.

7. METER MODE

I’ve grown to like spot metering, and I rarely change it from that. If I do, I try to make sure to set it back to spot so that my exposures are closer to what I expect.

8. COLOR SPACE

I don’t think I’ve ever changed this setting, but I glance over it to make sure I didn’t change it by accident last time out.

9. WHITE BALANCE

Another setting that I rarely change. Auto white balance usually does an OK job (except for incandescent lighting), and it doesn’t really matter much when shooting in a Raw format.

10. BATTERY POWER

Although this item is near the bottom of my screen and the bottom of my list, it’s probably the most important. ALWAYS check your batter power before you even walk out the door. I messed this up just once… haven’t done it again.

11. FILE FORMAT

Yet another setting that I rarely change, but a good one to double check. I’d be kinda pissed if I spent a whole day shooting only to realize that I shot all JPEG images rather than Raw.

12. REMAINING SHOTS

I usually have the same memory card in the camera and I know that I can get a bit over 400 shots on my card. So if I see less than 400 available photos, I know that I need to format the card and clear out the old photos.

Again, these are just the things I quickly glance over before shooting. Other cameras and other photographers will have different needs and different checklists. But the point is that you should have some sort of camera setting checklist burned into your mind.

What other things do you check before shooting? And what are your typical settings for some of these items?

Link Roundup 07-17-2010

Before we get to the links, I apologize to anybody that visited the site recently and found it to be infected with a malicious redirect exploit. I became aware of the issue this morning (thanks to an email from a reader) and I had it fixed within an hour. These things happen from time to time, and I appreciate folks letting me know when something is wrong with the site. Now for some weekend reading!

Link Roundup 07-02-2010

Link Roundup 06-27-2010

Link Roundup 06-14-2010

I just realized that it’s been a few weeks since I posted some links! So here are a few that I have in my list… I’ve got more, but I don’t like posting more than 10-15 links at a time.

Must-Bring Cameras for Wedding Photography

[tweetmeme]Guest post from Nick Smith, author of Digital Wedding Secrets – a guide solely focused on the wedding photography and its business. If wedding photography is your passion too then Sign Up to its RSS or the FREE Digital wedding newsletter to receive wedding photography tips in your email.

For many, Wedding Photography is the “pays the bills” aspect of photography, and therefore it might get short shrift on the respect meter because of the seemingly lack of “excitement”, but as my friend in the movie business says, “if you take the job, you do the job” and that means no griping. And honestly, there is a compelling aspect to wedding photography, let’s take a look, shall we?

The truly interesting thing about Wedding Photography is that it has an editorial aspect to it as well as a photo-journalistic aspect to it (or at least you should position yourself as a photographer who offers a blend of both). This dual nature enables you to provide a premium product… with a premium price.

While it goes without saying bringing two cameras to a wedding is the minimum ideal way to go. However, the true question is what two cameras to bring? I’m going to suggest a dSLR and a Rangefinder.

dSLR

A wedding
Creative Commons License photo credit: yaili

Canon and Nikon make some extraordinary dSLRs and the higher end Prosumer models can easily handle nearly every situation conceivable for wedding photography. Obviously Pentax and Olympus make quality product, too, but Canon and Nikon are the two heavy weights. dSLRs provide you with so much versatility in lens choice and other accessories. But there are few specifications that you might want to consider (either when renting a second or third camera, or buying a second camera, and possibly trading in one of the cameras that you do have) to ensure that you don’t miss a shot. The camera’s recycle time and burst fps are important factors to weigh, as well as what type of flash units the camera can accommodate (i.e., a High Sync Flash unit). It’s important to use a full-frame dSLR, this is pure an aesthetic bias on my part, but you want to be able to use as many lenses as are available in your camera manufacturer of choice’s line. Sure you could miss out of the fully computer-controlled lenses, but you might have a favorite lens that was for a film camera.

Most people will do well with two dSLRs, one fitted with a wide angle zoom (perhaps a 17mm-35mm), and the other with a telephoto zoom (probably a 85mm-200mm). This combination will enable you to quickly jump back-n-forth for group shots and tighter more intimate shots… without having to swap lenses, and perhaps miss a crucial shot.

A Rangefinder

Leica addict
Creative Commons License photo credit: c-reel.com

Why a rangefinder?, you ask. Simple, these most innocuous of cameras allow you to get extraordinarily candid and intimate shots that you might not otherwise be able to get with a dSLR. The level of intrusion that an dSLR causes can ruin the spontaneity of precious moments; not to mention that some people act a fool when they see a camera in active position.

Now I wouldn’t say that these cameras really fallen out of favor, more like they have become the ultimate niche photographic item. And the granddaddy of them is the Leica M7 or its digital cousin the M9 (Leica’s newest, most state-of-the-art digital camera). The unparalleled image quality that these cameras provide are worth taking the time to learn the unorthodox focusing method.

Leica’s new M9 is an AWESOME digital camera with a full-frame (24mm x 36mm) image sensor and captures images in a high-density RAW format. And because of the full-frame image sensor,you can effectively use any of the Leica lenses from the past 30 years… and those are perhaps the lenses on the planet. Known for their sharpness, incredibly speed, and lack of chromatic aberration, you’ll be awe-struck at the quality of the photos.

Bride
Creative Commons License photo credit: zamario

I had mentioned earlier the photo-journalistic aspect of Wedding Photography, well with a Leica (or any rangefinder for that matter) you can take on the role of photo-essayist. Rangefinders, and the Leica in particular, have supremely quiet shutter releases, so hardly anyone will know that you’ve actually taken the photo. Plus you can focus and fire from the hip so easily that you’ll have an unprecedented ability to grab photos with practically no one noticing. This gives you a lot of creative power as a photography, because you can concentrate on getting the Wedding Party and the guests to behave as naturally as possible.

You might think the Leica is overkill (due to its price), but the images will be well-worth it (and if you rent it, the actual expense is minimal).

So the camera configuration of two dSLRs and a rangefinder can yield you a wider variety of more compelling photographs with different feelings and emotions captured. That’s what the clients ultimately want, images that define the moment, that will spark memories in the future and will stand-out from the standard wedding photography fare (not that you won’t offer those as well, but it’s always about offering more than the standard these days).

About The Author: Nick Smith is author of Digital Wedding Secrets – a guide solely focused on the wedding photography and its business. If wedding photography is your passion too then Sign Up to its RSS or the FREE Digital wedding newsletter to receive wedding photography tips in your email.

Link Roundup 05-23-2010