When was photography invented? You may say that it was in the 1800’s with the first actual photograph taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce, but the concepts of the camera obscura can be dated back to Chinese and Greek philosophers around 4AD. The first camera obscuras, in Latin meaning “dark room or chamber,” were, in fact, large rooms where light passed through a small pinhole, and an upside down image was produced that the photographer could then trace.

Cameras have come a long way since then, moving from the large room size to a small, easily pocketable device. The images became much more accurate as the need to actually trace the image was replaced with a film process known as daguerreotype in the 19th century. In 1885, George Eastman created the rolled film and began using them in Kodak’s “advanced pinhole cameras” and in 1916, Kodak marketed the first coupled rangefinder camera.

In 1925, Leica released the first commercially successful 35mm camera in the Leica A. 70+ years later, Leica is truly a respected and sought after brand, a favorite amongst many photographers.

The Evolution of the 35mm Rangefinder

See how the 35mm Rangefinder evolved over the years in this GIF.


The Evolution of the 35mm Single-Lens Reflex

The first patent for the single-lens reflex (SLR) camera was granted in 1861 and a hundred years later, the SLR was a preferred design among photographers of the high-end market. In 1959, Nikon introduced its F line of cameras, which has since evolved into the F6.  Watch this camera evolution below.


The Evolution of the Instant Camera

Shake it like a Polaroid picture…Polaroid came in and dominated the instant camera market in 1948 after Edwin H. Land created the Model 95 when his young daughter asked for an instant picture. Though Polaroid stopped making the film for their iconic camera, many are still nostalgic of the camera and its produce. Fujifilm picked up where Polaroid left off with its party favorite, the hipster Instax.

The Evolution of the Point-and-Shoot Camera

In 1977, Konica (Minolta) released the first point-and-shoot camera and changed the way vacationers took photos forever. In 1991, Olympus debuted their Stylus I, which came in a stylish design and with an impressive 100-point autofocus. See how this camera has evolved below.


The Evolution of the Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR)

The first Canon DSLR, the EOS D30, had a whopping 3 megapixels which has nothing on the monster 5Ds announced they announced a few months ago. Still the preferred form for most photographers, the DSLR, is slowly giving way to the new kids in town, the mirrorless. Watch this camera evolution below.




As you can see, photography and its tools have evolved quite a bit through time. Though the look of cameras may be heading back to the more “retro” SLR and rangefinders of old, the technology in them continue to expand exponentially as camera makers keep striving to surpass its competitors and predecessors.