When Was The Camera Invented?

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When Was the Camera Invented? – Overview

Multiple people have developed the camera throughout history. However, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a

French inventor developed the camera that has become overly popular today in around 1816. Niépce took the inaugural photo on a basic using silver chloride-coated paper.

Niépce’s first photo that he took between 1826 and 1827 was partly successful but he remains the inventor with the first existing photo.

For this reason, he is generally recognized as the person who invented the camera. The photo is in the Austin University of Texas’s permanent collection.

Other People Who Played a Role in Developing the Camera

Johann Zahn, a German author, has been acknowledged for being part of the team that invented the camera. He wrote extensively about camera lenses, obscuras, and telescopes.

In 1685, Johann designed the first portable reflex camera. The design would become a reality 150 years later.

The invention of the Camera Obscura

The first cameras were not used to take images. Instead, the inventors used them to analyze optics. Camera obscuras help users understand how to use light to project a picture on a flat surface.

This idea is founded on the fact that light penetrating a small hole in a wall projects a picture to the opposite wall, resulting in a reverse image.

Ibn Al-Haytham, an Arab scholar, is believed to have developed the Obscura camera. However, the first citations of this concept were found around 330 BC in Aristotle’s writings and 400 BC in Chinese texts.

The Obscura camera is similar to the pinhole camera, with the only difference being that the former uses a lens while the latter comes with an open hole.

The popularity of this technology rose between the 17th and 18th centuries when creators used the two project drawings that they could later trace.

Still, they lacked a method of preserving the picture and this is where Niépce’s idea became viable. He started his camera invention process in 1816 by capturing photos for the first time through the heliography process.

Cameras that Capture Lasting Images

Louis Daguerre was in 1829 recognized for inventing practical photography, a technology that the French government would later invest in. Alexander Wolcott developed the first camera that captured long-lasting images that hardly faded.

The Evolution of Photography

Daguerreotypes, wet plates, and emulsion plates were introduced into the industry in the late 1800s. Photographers evaluated different chemicals and techniques with every emulsion type.

The three emulsions were vital in the development and evolution of modern photography as it has become popular today.

Understanding Daguerreotypes

Niépce collaborated with Louis Daguerre after he attempted to design the daguerreotype, a form of advanced film. They coated a copper plate with silver before exposing it to iodine vapor and then light.

The first daguerreotypes would be exposed to light for fifteen minutes to generate a picture on the plate. The emulsion plate would replace this method in the late 1850s.

Emulsion Plates

Also referred to as wet plates, emulsion plates were ideal for portrait photography, which was popular then. First, they were cheaper than daguerreotypes and they only needed between two to three seconds of exposure.

The collodion process replaced the plate coating process. Around this time, inventors integrated cameras with bellows to generate better focus. There were different types of wet plates:

  • Tintypes that used tin plates. These were developed quickly and were more sensitive to light.
  • Ambrotypes, which used glass plates instead of copper

A large percentage of pictures that were taken during the Civil War were captured on wet plates.


George Eastman started Kodak in the 1880s. He designed a small box camera with one lens but it lacked focusing adjustments.

It came with a roll of film that he could rewind and produce 100 exposures from a dark room. This advancement enabled the public to purchase the film, capture its images, and present them to the store for development.

These cameras were more cost-friendly, meaning that any interested parties could finally afford them.

Dry Plates

In the late 1870s, Richard Maddox developed dry gelatin plates. Apart from their ability to be stored, they were small and portable.

They featured a mechanical shutter to keep up with the rising advancements.

Point and Shoots, and SLR

Many point and shoots and SLR cameras were developed from the 1950s onwards. Every advancement gave the camera more control in terms of interchangeable lenses and settings.

Instant Cameras

The first instant camera was Model 95, which could execute in-camera development with ease. Polaroid had multiple instant camera models in the market by the mid-1960s. However, they stopped the production of instant cameras.


Today, cameras are getting more advanced as technology advances and consumer needs increase. There are numerous camera models and brands to choose from, whether you are a professional photographer or not.

See Also

How Does a Camera Work

Best Underwater Digital Cameras

iPhone vs Samsung Cameras

Mirrorless Vs DSLR Cameras

Mirrorless vs Full Frame Cameras

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