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Historic Camera
Time Line of Historic Cameras

The People, Photographic Inventions, Cameras and Time Line of Photography


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What makes a camera historically important? The historical significance varies greatly. Typically, the importance is tied to being the first to introduce a new advancement or feature. However, even if the camera was not the first to invent or offer the feature, it may be historically important if it greatly influenced a movement or advancement due to the feature. Cameras can be historically important if they represent a time period like art deco. They can be important if they represent characteristics of a class like novelty or subminiture - spy cameras. Finally cameras can be historic by their provenance relating to the accomplishments of the photographer or because of the uniqueness of the imagery they photographed. Historical significance will be seen in value too, the more historical, the greater the value. I consider most all early cameras, manufactured before the turn of the century, historic in varying degrees, even if the maker is unidentified.

The cameras listed below are just a few of the historic cameras of our history. I hope you enjoy learning about them. If you know of a camera that should be added, Have an image or info to share or would like to talk about the historic cameras, please post on our message board or in our photo share members gallery or Flickr group.


1816 Nicephore Niepce makes a crude wood camera fitted with a microscope lens.
1834 William Henry Fox Talbot’s Mousetrap Cameras make the first Photogenic drawings' on paper sensitized with silver chloride. They are simple wood box cameras with Brass barrel single lens referred to as mouse traps, coined by his wife. It has a sliding wood plate to hold the sensitized paper.
1839 Sliding double box Giroux Daguerreotype Camera, designed by Daguerre himself, and produced by Alphonse Giroux in Paris. This was the very first Commercially manufactured camera. It used a simple 15 inch f/15 achromatic landscape lens manufactured by Charles Chevalier, a Parisian optician and instrument maker. It produced an image 167 x 216 mm.
1839 daguerreotype cameras by N.M.P. Lerebours. The Lerebours camera was similar to the Giroux camera. Daguerre, in his research, used lens from both Charles Chevalier and N.M.P. Lerebours. Lerebours Cameras introduced the usage of adjustable lens with different apertures.
1839 Carl August Von Steinheilm a professor of Physics and Math, develops a miniature 8 x I I mm Daguerreotype camera which goes on to be the basis for the future 8x11mm cameras.