What Is a Camera? How To Use Them, History, Types!

When we live an extraordinary experience or a significant moment in our lives, isn’t it true that the first thing we do is capture the moment with a camera?

These devices allow us to save memories when they are all gone. They stand out for their small size and easy and intuitive handling, as virtually all functions are automated.

In addition, some have a fixed lens, so they are ideal for more spontaneous moments.

what is a camera
Image Source: Pixabay.

The thing is, that we haven’t really thought about how important this device really is or what is the process it had to go through to reach the technology that we have now in the stores – or our hands.

So, if you love cameras and you want to know how they work, the time of cameras there are, and more relevant information, this article is for you.

Don’t miss out!

What is a Camera?

The camera is a device designed to create images through a process in which the light coming from some environment and the elements that compose it, are recorded on a film or digital sensor, to finally convert them into a clear image.

The main function of the camera is to capture information – whether it is an environment, a person, documents, etc – and save it into its internal memory so you can review it later.

You may want to take a picture of an important document and share it later. Or maybe, you want to remember a great place where you were so you can go again. It’s up to you.

Currently, there is a wide variety of cameras, with different colors, sizes, features, and formats, which adapt to different functions and objectives, from capturing photographs professionally to feeding a security camera circuit.

History Of Cameras

The origin of photography dates back to 1826, when Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a French inventor and chemistry enthusiast, managed to create the first photograph in history. He named it “Heliograph.” 

This first photograph was achieved by using a wooden darkroom, manufactured by Charles and Jacques Vicent Louis Chevalier in Paris. 

The device consisted of a sealed box with a small hole that allows light to enter.

Shortly thereafter, Louis Daguerre added his experiments with the darkroom to those of Niépce, until in 1839 he created the first photographic camera known as the Daguerreotype, named after its inventor.

This new adaptation of Daguerre’s darkroom generated a negative image that had to be developed with certain chemicals to produce the photograph.

The first models consisted of two large wooden boxes that slid into each other for focus. At one end was the lens and at the other end was a tarnished glass that served as a focusing screen, which was later replaced by the photosensitive plate when the picture was taken. 

The machine was always used on a stand and could not be hand-held until film and shutters fast enough to counteract the vibrations of the pulse were achieved.

In 1888, the Kodak company launched its new photographic camera created by George Eastman, who would also be the creator of the photographic roll, two elements that initiated a new stage in the history of mankind.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the portable box and bellows cameras were very popular because they used roll film of various sizes, which could be used to make small contact copies for the family photo album.

Then, in 1932, the Technicolor trichromic camera made color filming possible, and by 1965 Super 8 arrived with practical features such as zoom and automatic exposure adjustments.

In the 1970s and 1980s, cameras opened up to people. Sony launched the first camcorder, which combined two elements: a camera and a video recorder.

By the 1990s, it was possible to film digitally. 

Today, cameras are everywhere, used as significant elements in communication, entertainment, and everyday activities.

Functions Of Cameras?

Currently, there are many types of cameras, of different shapes and sizes. However, their basic functions are the same: 

Shutter speed: Shutter speed refers to how long the shutter has to be open to allow the sensor and film to be completely exposed to light. The faster it opens, the less light will reach them.
Aperture: Aperture describes the size of the camera lens opening to allow light to pass through the lens. It is also responsible for controlling the depth of field of an image.
Depth: Depth of field describes the front-to-back focus of an image, which is controlled by the aperture and magnification of the lens. Traditionally, a shallow depth of field is used to blur the background in portrait photos, while in landscapes the depth of field is much greater.

The only difference between these 3 concepts among the types of cameras is the degree of control that you can have over these functions.

How Does a Camera Work?

At a very basic level, a camera is a box that works much like the human eye.

The lens is one of the most important parts of the camera. Its function is to form the actual, inverted image on the camera’s background, acting as a cornea and lens.

The lens is accompanied by an adjustable device called a diaphragm, which controls the size of the aperture through which light rays enter the camera.

To achieve the ideal aperture, the diaphragm usually consists of a system of flaps or an adjustable disc. 

The shutter is the mechanism that opens when the release button is pressed as a curtain so that the image is formed in the background of the camera and is recorded. Something similar to what the retina does.

In the past, a film was used, which contained silver salts that generated a photochemical reaction when in contact with light. This film had several cells, each of which was used for a different photo.

Nowadays, the photosensitive element is usually an electronic sensor made up of millions of photodiodes or phototransistors that capture light and convert it into electrical signals that, after being duly processed, can be stored in any digital memory.

The viewfinder is the element through which the photographer can see at all times the image of the photograph to be taken. 

There are also cameras in which this mechanism does not exist, and the viewfinder only shows an image slightly displaced concerning the one that will be taken in the final photograph.

Types Of Cameras

Cameras can be classified according to several things:

The storage of images.
The size of the camera.
Their use.

Below, we explain each type available and its characteristics:

Compact camerasThey are the simplest and most manageable type of camera among digital cameras. 
Bridge camerasThese cameras are an intermediate step between compact cameras and DSLRs. They offer a much higher quality in the images taken by compact cameras.
Reflex or DSLR camerasReflex or DSLR cameras offer a manual and automatic mode for almost all their functions. You can experiment and get very artistic and professional photographs.
Medium format camerasThis type of camera has much larger sensors than DSLR cameras, which allows much higher quality images with a much higher magnification. 
Action camerasAction cameras stand out for their small size and the multiple uses that can be given to them, such as the GoPro.
Instant camerasInstant cameras have become fashionable again in recent years and stand out for having incorporated a mechanism for printing and instant development.
WebcamA webcam is a digital camera specially designed to work connected to a computer that captures images and videos.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

As you may have noticed, technology and the different advances in science have allowed cameras to evolve in a vertiginous and positive way for everyone, going from being relatively large and heavy equipment to small and light devices with high-definition digital images.

When choosing a camera always keep in mind what you need it for and the wide variety of cameras that exist.

Based on this, you can make the best decision on which one best suits your needs.

Share It!
Alberto Araujo
Alberto Araujo

Alberto Araujo is a former tech support professional that had a change of heart and now aims to write top-notch tech content for his readers. Writer, digital nomad, tech-geek and hunger for knowledge, that’s how you can describe him. If you want to learn about technology, building PCs, and software applications to make your life easier, his content is for you.

Articles: 36
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *