All Classic Ads Vintage Collection - Cameras
Agfa • Kodak • Nikon • Polaroid
Early cameras of the 16th and 17th century were able to project images onto paper or glass but the study of capturing, processing and printing the images took many more years. Up until the 17th century, scientists believed that light was composed basically of the ‘white’ that is perceived by the human eye. It took the research done by famous physicist Isaac Newton to discover that light is actually composed of a spectrum of colors. While he made a big contribution to the study of optics (that is at the core of camera advances) with this discovery, Newton did not actually have anything to do with camera development per se.
The early camera that first became a phenomenon was a little more than a pinhole camera and can be traced back to 1558. It was called the Camera Obscura. The Camera Obscura was seen as a drawing tool for a clearer and realistic portrayal of objects. It was in the early 19th century that an invention named the Camera Lucida was introduced by Cambridge scientist William Hyde Wollaston that consisted of an optical device that could help an artist view a distant scene or person or object on a paper surface that he or she was using to draw. In other words the artist gets to view a superimposed image of a subject on paper and this image could be effectively used to attempt to draw, trace or paint it. Both the Camera Obscura and the Camera Lucida provided an image that was temporary, which could not be lastingly captured on to paper for later reference.
Studies however continued well into the 1800’s on how to actually capture the image onto material. It was during this time, around 1822 that French researcher Joseph Nicephore Niepce, created the first photograph by using paper that was coated with a chemical. The image would not stay permanently on the paper and would disappear after a short while. Even so, despite the short-lived nature of the image, the concept of photography was born with this experiment and paved the way for further study and development in this field.
Capturing images to retain them longer and permanently became the next big quest for researchers. Another Frenchman Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre partnered with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1829, to develop the process of creating permanent photographs. Joseph Niépce died in 1833 but Daguerre continued with the work and succeeded in 1837 after many long years of experimentation. The process of capturing photographic images that would not fade away, introduced by Daguerre came to be known as the ‘daguerreotype’.
The word ‘photography’ was coined by scientist Sir John F.W. Herschel in 1839 and it is actually is derived from two Greek words ‘photos’ meaning light and ‘graphein’ meaning draw.
A slightly more advanced version of the daguerreotype called the Calotype process that makes multiple copies possible using the negative and positive method became available very soon after. In fact, it was during the 1840’s that the use of photographic images in advertisements first started and cameras made their mark on the power of visual communication. It was not much later, in the 1850’s that photographers first started experimenting with underwater photography of seascapes.
Up until 1850, the process of capturing images was cumbersome requiring upto half an hour of light exposure. The discovery made in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer was a blessing since the new method termed the Collodion process called for just 2-3 seconds of light exposure to capture an image.
Prior to 1871, photographers went through a development process where they had to coat the plate with wet chemical each and every time and process the image immediately. With the invention the gelatin dry plate silver bromide process by Richard Leach Maddox, negatives did not have to be developed immediately. This was an important discovery since up until then the captured image had to be processed instantly.
Kodak created in 1888 by George Eastman has been a modern day pioneer of sorts in cameras and photography for the masses. George Eastman and the scientists who worked with him at Kodak developed the photographic film in 1889 and made it available in rolls for the mass use of consumers. An important milestone in our entertainment and communication history was the development of transparent roll film by Eastman. This development led to another key invention – the motion picture camera by Thomas Edison’s in 1891.
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More than a century of experience in the graphic and healthcare industries, Agfa goes back to the nineteenth century and is a long and illustrous record of innovation and technological leadership. A Belgian 'photo products' business and a German colour dye manufacturer joined forces and grew into an internationally renowned company in the graphic and healthcare industries.
1867 - 1904: The Early Years
Both Agfa and Gevaert were established in the nineteenth century. Business boomed and soon the original premises became too small.
Looking at the high-tech products and solutions delivered by Agfa today, it is hard to believe that it all began way back in the 19th century. But it did. In 1867, a color dye factory was established at the Rummelsburger See near Berlin. In 1873, it was registered as the 'Aktien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation', AGFA
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George Eastman was a high school dropout, judged "not especially gifted" when measured against the academic standards of the day. He was poor, but even as a young man, he took it upon himself to support his widowed mother and two sisters, one of whom was severely handicapped.
He began his business career as a 14-year old office boy in an insurance company and followed that with work as a clerk in a local bank.
He was George Eastman, and his ability to overcome financial adversity, his gift for organization and management, and his lively and inventive mind made him a successful entrepreneur by his mid-twenties, and enabled him to direct his Eastman Kodak Company to the forefront of American industry.
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Nippon Kogaku, K.K., or Japan Optical Co., was formed on July 25, 1917, by the merger of three small optical firms, one of which dated back to 1881. They began with some 200 employees and eight German technicians who were invited in July of 1919 and arrived in January of 1921. They were actually an optical firm and not a camera manufacturer, therefore, their beginnings parallel those of Leitz and Zeiss, who also began as optical manufacturers.
They began to produce a vast array of optical products such as microscopes, telescopes, transits, surveying equipment and optical measuring devices for industry and science. Because of the types of products they made they became well known in the scientific and industrial communities but not to the general consumer.
By the 'thirties they were producing a series of photographic lenses from 50mm to 700mm, mostly for plate back cameras, and the word 'Nikkor' was first used, having derived it from 'Nikko' which was used on their early microscopes. By July and August of 1937 they had completed the design of 50mm f4.5, 3.5 and 2.0 Nikkors which came as original equipment on the famous Hansa Canon of the same year. Nippon Kogaku actually produced all of Canon's lenses up to mid-1947; therefore all prewar and early postwar Canons came with Nikkor lenses. Of course the first were in Canon's own bayonet mount, but later ones were equipped with the Leica thread mount.
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Polaroid Corporation is a multinational consumer electronics and eyewear company, originally founded in 1937 by Edwin H. Land. It is most famous for its instant film cameras, which reached the market in 1948, and continued to be the company's flagship product line until the February 2008 decision to cease all production in favor of digital photography products. The company's original dominant market was in polarized sunglasses, an outgrowth of Land's self-guided research in polarization after leaving Harvard University after his freshman year – he later returned to Harvard to continue his research.
After Polaroid defeated Kodak in a patent battle, Kodak left the instant camera business on January 9, 1986.
Polaroid developed an instant movie system, Polavision, based on the Dufaycolor process. The product arrived on the market when videotape based systems were rapidly gaining popularity. As a result, Polavision was unsuccessful and most of the manufactured product was sold off as a job lot at immense cost to the company.
The company also was one of the early manufacturers of digital cameras, with the PDC-2000 in 1996, however they failed to capture a large marketshare in that segment.
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