Invention of the Photo Camera Essay

Invention of the Photo Camera: The Gradual Origin, Adoption and Gradual Spread Of the Photo Camera


This paper discussed the origin of the photo camera, the adoption that is, the processes the photo cameras went through in order to be accepted and the final stage which was the spread of these photo cameras. All these processes enhanced the development of the film industry.

This paper also viewed questions that were brought ought during the research of this topic. Some of these questions included; when was the first camera invented? Who invented this camera? How was this camera operated? What facilitated the inventory of many other cameras that followed? The objective of the paper was to share the knowledge about the history of the photo camera which went through many phases.

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Many people in the film industry do not understand or do not have the slightest idea about the history of these cameras. For them to understand the film industry better, they had to be informed of the phases the photo camera went through from the first camera to be invented to the modern ones. They have to learn the discoveries made in the past and the achievement of those inventors. The questions raised in the study of this topic were very critical in explaining the history and the development of photography and hence a detailed discussion was provided in the paper. Also included in the paper were the pictorial images of both the ancient and the modern photo cameras with their year of invention. These were cameras that took a gradual process to be invented and that the sole reason we have better ones today. The role played by photography was discussed giving more emphasis on the economic importance of photography showing how people all over the globe have benefited through the use of cameras and other film devices. More studies of the paper showed how these cameras helped promote technology and hence development of the film industry. Photography was started many years ago and the fact that it is still in practice is a positive gesture that its future will be great in the sense that upcoming inventors will use modern technology and the ideas from the past to produce better devices.


The film industry dates back to the 5th century when the first photo camera was invented. The ancient inventors used the idea of light and sound to capture images and make films. A photo camera is a device consisting of a lightproof box with a lens at one end and light-sensitive film at the other. This device is mainly used to capture images including those in motion after which they are printed to produce photographs or produce films. The invention of the photo camera therefore involves the study of the origin of cameras and the phases they went through to be what the film industries use today.

During the time when the first camera was invented by Ibn Alhazen Al-Haytham, the quality of these images was unsatisfactory since the images produced by Alhazen were upside down. This is because he used a pinhole camera which inverted the images that he focussed on. However, due to the fact that Alhazen had an idea about photo cameras which he finally materialised, motivated many other inventors who used his idea to invent better photo cameras. The inventors who came after him had great ideas and they produced quality cameras that were so different from the ancient ones both in size, weight and the quality of the images. This paper will address various questions raised about the topic and also show the significant role played by photography in the film industry.

Invention of the first camera

The first camera to be invented was the camera obscura which was invented by Alhazen in the year 1500. The Obscura was a pinhole camera which produced images upside down. Alhazen who is termed as the ‘Father of Modern Optics’ however explained why the images were upside down. According to Horward, Alhazen made significant contributions to optics and visions. He was among the first people to discover that light passing through a pinhole produces an inverted image on the opposite wall of a darkened room. He therefore made a pinhole camera with lenses and this camera was able to capture images. Though Alhazen was the first person to invent a camera, the first idea for a camera came from China in the fifth century from a man named Johann Heinrich Schulze.

Johann also made a great contribution to the film industry as he discovered a process that would help him produce a camera. This process involved the use of silver nitrate to produce black and white photos. The use of silver nitrate allowed the unexposed part of the film to be white while the exposed part turned black. The unexposed part of his view is what he used to capture images. Alhazen and Johann Heinrich Schulze remain great heroes today in the film industry for their undeniably great ideals and the fact that they actually materialized their ideas. Their cameras had faults that are; Alhazen produced inverted images while Johann’s images all turned black after sometime. They are however celebrated today and remain great legends since the inventors who came after them used their ideas and perfected them.

Development of the Cameras

Alhazen’s invention of the obscura would have remained undeveloped producing upside down images. However a man from France named Joseph Nicephore developed his invention by producing better images /photographs. A photograph is the final product produced by the cameras and capturing images only would not have been enough if the images would not be presented in a form visible to other people.

Joseph therefore used the obscura to capture his images and print them as photographs. His method actually worked but he also faced challenges; the photos that he took only lasted a few hours and they took a very long time to be developed. His invention however helped the film industry as the images captured would be printed and developed. He created a clear way to the other inventors who would only take up from where he had managed to get with his invention.

In 1836, a better photographic camera was invented by Louis-Jacques-Mande. His camera device is believed to have produced better images than any other camera that was invented before his.His invention was clearly better than any other as the quality of his images or rather photographs could never be compared to any other that was developed before. To be precise, Louis-Jacques reduced the exposure time to less than 30 minutes and he was in a position to keep his images from disappearing afterwards. This was an improvement from Johann’s photo camera which was able to capture images but the images all turned black after sometime.

George Eastman also made an important invention in the history of cameras; he perfected ideas that had been used by the earlier inventors. His invention involved the use of paper to develop images. After capturing his images, he would then print them on paper to produce photographs. Later on he used celluloid film that helped him to efficiently capture and hold images. This was a great invention to the industry as the images were captured, printed or produced in a paper and stored. With this invention, images could now be presented in a paper and kept for future industry. George Eastman was successful as he also produced his own cameras known as the Kodak which produced high quality images and photographs. His cameras which have been for years been a household preference, were portable meaning that they could be carried anywhere and take pictures anywhere.

The first negative was made by a French man named Henry Fox, He used this negative to make multiple positive prints. Henry sensitized the papers he used by the use of silver and salt solution. He then exposed this paper to light which turned the background black and focused image grey. After making negative images using the sensitized paper, he made prints reversing the light and shadows to create to create a detailed picture.

In 1940, colour photographs were introduced. This invention involved the use of dyed-coupled colors whereby a chemical process occurred to connect the dye layers to create a colour image. Different dyes would be used together to bring out a colour effect. Afterwards a chemical reaction would occur and bring out the preferred colour image.

The inventory of photo cameras that followed was as a result of a great need to produce better images than what had been produced before.

The inventors went through a series of trials trying to produce a better camera that would meet all their specifications or wants. What most of them did was produce cameras smaller in size to enhance their movement from place to place. They also modified the material used to make these cameras. Most of the ancient cameras were big in size and made out of wood which made them really cumbersome hence difficult to carry around. Today’s cameras are made out of engineering plastic and the material featured in the lenses is fluorite. The engineering plastic is much lighter than wood making today’s photo cameras more portable.

Examples of some photo cameras

The film industry has seen many cameras invented from the large ones to the smallest cameras in the mobile phones. Some examples of the earliest cameras are given below including names of the great inventors who produced them. Also included is a picture of a modern cell phone with a camera.


The first camera was the pinhole camera (obscura) invented by Alhazen. It was big in size and produced inverted images.


The Daguerreotype Camera introduced by the French Academy of sciences. This was a big wooden black camera with small lenses.


American patent given to Alexander Wolcott
This camera was wooden and slightly smaller in size than the previous photo cameras.


The panoramic camera patented by Thomas Sutton. This camera was wooden, had big lenses and was also small in size.


Oliver Wendell. Oliver’s camera was a big wooden one with two lenses. Though this camera was slightly bigger, it was also portable due to its light weight.


By George Eastman


The Raise-camera
This camera was also referred to as the travel camera due to its light weight and small dimensions.


This camera was introduced by Konica. It was a small camera that had a flashlight that enabled images to be taken at dark places. It was very portable.


This cell phone camera was introduced by the Japanese. It’s a modern camera that allows people to capture images through their cell phones. Images captured through the cell phone take a very short time to be produced and are easily stored in the device. Most of these cell phones are made of engineering plastic making them lighter in weight.

Role played by photography in the film industry

Photography for many generations have provided job opportunities to many people who work as photographers while some work in the film industry as editors or producers. These photographers make a living out of taking pictures of individual people or by working in the film industry. Photography to some point is considered an art in anthropology due to its visual works as it involves the use of light and sound.
Cameras today have the capability to take videos and make films out of them. Once they are sold they earn the owner or the production firm income. Actors from all walks of life enhance their abilities and talents from these film industries.

Photography also ensures memorable moments are captured and kept for future reference. During occasions photographers take pictures and videos to keep for future reference. Ancient documentaries can be accessed today thanks to the great invention of cameras which enabled the capturing of such moments.

Photography also earns income to a country. The film industry holds an integral part in the economy of a country as it involves the sale of films inside and outside the country. Films sold outside the country earn the country foreign exchange.

Photo camera was an important invention initiated by Alhazen and other inventors who had great ideas and dreams about the film industry. Their ideals and dreams kept those who came after them going since they had a foundation already. Today’s inventors make better cameras out of what was produced in the earlier years. For example, smart phones with cameras. It is easier to take pictures today with the mobile phones since the action is faster and the images are stored immediately in the same mobile device.


From the information given above, the invention of the photo camera really took a gradual process with each step producing better devices than the previous ones. For example, Alhazen’s obscura which was among the very first photo cameras produced inverted images since it was a pinhole. However inventors who came after him were in a position to produce better devices such as Louis-Jacques Mande whose images were of a higher quality than any other before him.

The images captured over the years were being stored in more efficient methods. George Eastman was in a position to use Alhazen’s obscura to capture better images which he later printed. After sometime he began using celluloid films to capture his images and print them on paper to make photographs. This was his greatest invention as he used it to make his own cameras which are still in the market today.

The cameras being invented over the years were very different from each other in terms of shape and weight. The earliest photo cameras were very big and occupied lots of space. The quality of the images produced by these cameras did not match their big size. The obscura for example was very big and despite trying to make it portable it remained an inconvenient device to use. However the cameras invented later on were smaller in size and they produced quality images. An example is the cell phone which is a very small gadget and it produces quality images. The cell phone can be carried anywhere as they are easily carried around to their small size. Today’s cameras are also lighter in weight compared to the earlier ones which could not be moved around. They were placed in a room and only images of the surrounding could be captured.

The invention of the photo cameras played a great role not only in the film industry but also to people as individuals and the government. In the film industry, the cameras are a vital device used in the day to day activities. The shooting of films and taking of pictures all revolve around cameras. Out of these films the organization or the filming company earns revenue by selling them. At the individual level, the invention of the photo cameras has seen many people explore their skills and talents over the years.

These are people who work around cameras either as photographers or as actors and actresses in the film industry. Some also sell photo cameras to individuals who wish to keep their own cameras. Photography also boosts a country’s economy by earning it foreign exchange as discussed earlier as a result of films sold outside the country. The government also earns revenue from the film industries out of the taxes they pay. This revenue is what enables the government to develop more structures such as theatres which are of great help to the film industry.

Other than in the field industry, photography has made great contributions in other fields for example in science. Cameras and other devices that use lenses are being used to carry out research works that result in great discoveries in the field of science. The ideas used in the making of cameras have also been used to make medical equipment used in hospitals. For example the X-ray equipment which uses light to view the inside part of the human body without necessarily having to operate the person and this is a great discovery in the field of medicine.

The future of the film industry is not yet known since people all over the globe are coming up with different devices using the current technology but according to statistics the future of the film industry will definitely be better than today as more advanced technology is being discovered. This technology helps in the production of cameras. Inventors today are coming up with very unique cameras with great features.

These cameras are portable and the pictures are produced immediately. The focus of this paper was to show the contribution of photography in the film industry and to fill the knowledge gap about the history of photo cameras by giving a detailed overview of the people who initiated this discover and by showing how the current inventors are using this knowledge to produce photo cameras.


In conclusion, it’s evident that the film industry has undergone many phases from the period when the only camera being used was the obscura till today when almost everybody in the population owns a camera. This has seen the film industry develop greatly since it has better devices today that are portable, are of a higher resolution and are cheaper. From the discussion above, it’s also very clear that the ancient inventors who laid a firm foundation in the firm industry really played a major role in ensuring the development of the firm. Their discoveries and ideals are still being used to date in making modern photo cameras. People wishing to come invent their own photo cameras ought to understand the origin of these cameras, learn what the ancient inventors discovered and the challenges they faced while trying to make better cameras. It’s only after doing this they will be in a position to invent a long lasting device that produces quality images.The film industry today is still developing with companies producing different featured photo cameras. The competition in the market is very high and this acts as a motivation for these companies to produce better devices in order to remain competitive. There is a wide range of cameras today that meet the specifications of almost all individual ranging from size, colour, quality of the pictures and the brand name. Most of the camera companies have created a brand name for themselves due to their ability to produce high quality devices. An example is the Kodak founded by George Eastman or the Sony Company.