History and development of photography

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From a technical point of view, the history and development of photography is characterized by the (re) discovery of the principle of the camera obscura and the magic lantern , the invention of the camera lucida , the physionotrace as well as the panorama and the diorama . The word "photography" is borrowed from the ancient Greek language and is composed of: φάος, zsgz. φῶς, phōs , ( Gen. φωτος, phōtos ), "light" and γράφειν, gráphein , "write, draw" and means transferred: "draw with light".

Among photography refers to the technical process in which by means of optical systems a light image on a photosensitive medium projected and can be stored directly in the longer term; it is an analogous procedure . In the course of the development of electronic systems , through which analog data could be converted into electronic data, which could then be stored on appropriate storage media , the digital process emerged .

For a purely chronological overview see Chronology of Photography

From the camera obscura to the photograph

Camera obscura

The forerunner: the camera obscura

The camera obscura ( Latin for dark chamber ) was originally a darkened room with a hole in the wall. With a sufficiently small hole diameter , the incident light projected an upside-down image of the outside world onto the opposite wall.

This principle was already recognized by Aristotle (384 to 322 BC) in the 4th century BC, and the Jewish scholar Levi ben Gershon mentioned it in 1321 in his major mathematical work Maaseh Hoshev ( Practical Art of the Calculator ).

Ultimately, however, Leonardo da Vinci (1452 to 1519) was the first to correctly interpret the functioning of the camera obscura. The original camera obscura was further developed into a portable box in the 17th century.

The chemistry

The physicist Johann Heinrich Schulze (1687–1744) was already familiar with the coloring of chemical substances by sunlight. In 1717 he mixed chalk with a silver solution and noticed the change in the light with the nitric acid. Charles-François Tiphaigne de la Roche took up these discoveries in his novel Giphantie (the title is an anagram of his name) in 1760/61 in order to describe them as a way of doing photography.

The chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742–1786) from Stralsund experimented with silver salts, in which he discovered that the blackening was caused by metallic silver.

The first demonstrable experiments to fix the photographic image come from the last years of the 18th century by Claude Niépce and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (around 1798) and Thomas Wedgwood (1799).

JN Niepce: View from the study 1826. The oldest surviving photograph, on an asphalt-coated tin plate

The first photograph

From around 1815, the wealthy lawyer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce began to deal with lithography . With what he himself called heliography , in 1822 he succeeded in making a direct copy of a lithographic portrait on an asphalt- coated tin plate , which, after dissolving the unexposed asphalt areas, was engraved with lavender oil and thus reproduced. At the same time, he had been trying to produce positive images on various materials with the camera obscura since 1816.

In 1829 he and Daguerre used a copper plate coated with asphalt, iodine and silver . The oldest surviving heliography (again on pewter), which was probably made between 1826 and 1827 and only found again in 1952, required an exposure time of several hours. It shows the view from the study in the part of the Niépce country estate in Le Gras. Today the picture belongs to the Gernsheim collection of the University of Texas at Austin .

First practical procedures

Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1844, photo by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot)

In 1829 Niépce, probably for lack of money, wrote a letter with Louis Daguerre to further develop the invention. Niépce died four years later, and after Niépce's death it was not until 1837 that Daguerre succeeded in developing an exposed silver plate coated with silver iodide in mercury vapor and then fixing it in warm saline solution . He improved the process until 1839 and François Arago , head of the Paris Observatory , finally presented it to the Paris Academy of Sciences on August 19, 1839 and thus presented it to the public as a daguerreotype .

Daguerre's process only required an exposure time of a fraction of an hour, but only created a unique specimen . The still relatively long exposure time could already be reduced considerably from 15 minutes under favorable lighting conditions to 45 seconds at the beginning of 1840, when the Viennese company Voigtländer, known for its opera glasses and existing since 1756, presented the first analytically calculated lens , the Petzval lens .

Since 1834, William Henry Fox Talbot also worked on a photographic process using photosensitive paper; he called it a photogenic drawing . In 1840 he presented the first negative process , which he called calotype (also called talbotype , talbototype or chartotype ). Talbot's process also required long exposure times, but his paper negative could be reproduced as often as desired.

Various other competing photographic processes are known from that fictitious year of publication of photography, 1839; Hippolyte Bayard , for example, had probably also developed a direct positive process .

Improvement of procedures

Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum: Photo studio around 1900 with various devices

After 1839, countless researchers worked to improve photographic processes. Other light-sensitive silver salts were discovered, the lenses for the camera obscura were improved, and the first high- speed lenses were built ( Petzval - light intensity 3.7 for the Voigtländer metal camera ). This made it possible to shorten the exposure times.

Process improvements include the use of:

The exposure times could already be reduced to about 20 seconds with the albumin method. Albumin photo paper was used in particular for the Carte-de-Visite (visit format ), which became very popular from 1860 onwards . The collodion wet plate further shortened the exposure time to a few seconds.

However, these methods still had a number of disadvantages:

The panels had to be prepared on site and developed immediately; that was very time-consuming and restricted the mobility of photography. For example, due to the wet collodion process, a travel photographer always had to carry a darkroom tent with them. The photo layers were differently sensitive to the different proportions of light ( colors ) and predominantly sensitized to blue. This means that the photographs were only partially true to the image and not accurate in tone. Working with large-format photo plates prevented image sequences and serial shots.

From the second half of the 19th century, these problems were also gradually solved, for example by Louis-Alphonse Poitevin , who invented rubber printing and pigment printing in 1855 . It developed several dry plates (English dry plates ), with tannins , albumin or gelatin coated (from 1856), particularly the gelatin dry plate ( Richard Leach Maddox , 1871). Industrial production began in 1879.

Louis Ducos du Hauron published the first investigations into a color photographic process in 1862. In 1868 he presented the first color pigment prints and patented various color processes.

In 1869, Edward Muybridge invented one of the first closures . A few years later, this enabled the first serial recordings of moving subjects (ders, renamed Eadweard Muybridge , 1877). He used up to 30 cameras for this.

In 1883, Étienne-Jules Marey constructed the photographic rifle with which he could capture a whole series of exposures on a plate. The chronophotograph with a fixed plate and rotating focal plane shutter could - depending on the exposure time - produce up to a hundred images per second. In 1888, Ottomar Anschütz constructed a camera with a focal plane shutter for extremely short exposure times.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries , the prerequisites for panchromatic tonal value reproduction and color photography were in place. At this point in time, however, the term panchromatic sensitization still referred exclusively to black and white halftone originals. Panchromatic plates were available from 1906; With them, the photographic materials are sensitized to all colors of the light spectrum, which is the prerequisite for a correct tonal reproduction in gray values and for color photography.

The drying process and the downsizing of amateur cameras at the end of the 19th century made photography mobile; In addition, industrial production of the photographic recording material became possible, since the photographic plates could now also be stored.


Image formats

Lens development

In the mid-1860s, photographic lenses began to be further developed and optimized. CA Steinheil & Sons invented the Aplanaten and John Henry Dallmeyer the Rapid Rectlinear , which due to their symmetrical design with four lenses show practically no distortion .

Photographic studios

The portrait photography contributed strongly to the rapid spread in the beginning. She found i. d. Usually held in rooms that met certain requirements. In the beginning, daylight was used, which is why many studios had translucent glass roofs. Different backgrounds that had been painted, tables, chairs, balustrades, curtains and pedestals were part of the inventory and were used to design the picture. The introduction of artificial light made it possible to take photos regardless of the time and light of the day.

Photography exhibitions

Prizes and awards for outstanding achievements that were presented at the exhibitions played an important role. In the period from 1855 to 1915, images of these awards often adorned the back of photographs and the letterhead of companies in the optical and chemical industries.


Handy camera for instant photos, used by street photographers who could serve their customers while waiting. This Almond Photo Postcard Machine was produced between 1911 and 1930; there were comparable machines from other manufacturers.

The industrialization of photography requires at least a minimum of standardization; this development began around 1888 with the first industrially manufactured roll film camera , the Kodak No. 1 . It was small, light, but comparatively expensive at $ 25; The photographs were initially taken on the paper-based stripping film and later on the celluloid-based American film , each with a hundred round pictures.

The first handheld cameras were not only more manageable and cheaper than the folding , folding and bellows cameras that had previously been used as travel cameras , they also required a processing chain. In addition to the market penetration of roll film, the development service is an important invention that Eastman brought to photography.

True to the motto “You press the button, we do the rest” , with this concept the photographer had to do nothing more than look for motifs, press the shutter release and later look at the finished paper images: Eastman offered a development service for in the USA $ 10 for sending the camera with the film removed; After processing in the laboratory, the camera with developed paper prints was returned after about a month, and a new film had already been inserted into the camera by the laboratory. The paper images were not enlarged, but their dimensions corresponded to the size of the negative. Local photo dealers in Europe provided a comparable or even better service, in which the processing was also significantly faster and in some cases also cheaper; in Germany it was around 1890 for the price of one Kodak no. (120 dollars) a plate camera as Dr. Acquire R. Krügener 's pocket book camera from Haake & Albers in Frankfurt am Main (60 marks) and a simply equipped but complete home photo laboratory (also around 60 marks). 100 drying plates cost about 5 marks.

The Kodak No. 1 was by no means the first handheld camera; As early as 1881, for example, the so-called detective camera was designed by Thomas Bolas and a patent has been applied for.

Mass market

Eastman began with the Kodak No. 1 and the simplified processing technique, but mostly through aggressive marketing , to open up a mass market for photography . His development service was the first step in making photography accessible to everyone. The milestones in this process were:


As early as the 1930s, exposure measurement was occasionally integrated into the cameras. This made the external hand-held exposure meter or estimating the aperture / aperture combination unnecessary. In 1935, the Exakta B was the first camera with built-in flash synchronization (for Osram Vacublitz flash bulbs ). In 1938, Kodak launched the Super Kodak Six-20, the first camera with automatic exposure, in the USA. It was a folding camera with a built-in selenium light meter and automatic shutter .

From the 1950s, electrical elements found their way into photo cameras. For the Nikon SP model, Nikon supplied the first battery-powered S-36 electric motor ( motor drive ) that can be fitted in series .

With the penetration of camera manufacturers from the Far East, the still predominantly mechanically functioning devices were increasingly automated and electronic elements for camera control were integrated. From the mid-1960s, the first cameras with exposure measurement through the lens ( through-the-lens , TTL) such as the Canon FX appeared. The first cameras with an electronically controlled central shutter appeared ( e.g. Minolta Electro-Shot, 1965). Minolta introduced the first SLR system camera with multiple exposure automatic in 1978 with the XD-7 ; a cybernetic system with computer circuits made up of monolithic LS-ICs and hybrid ICs controlled numerous camera functions.

Also, the focusing was automated; In 1971 Nikon showed the prototype of an interchangeable lens with autofocus , but the Nikkor 85 mm f / 4.5 never went on sale. In 1977 Konica presented the C35-AF, the first 35mm viewfinder camera with passive autofocus. Canon marketed the first active autofocus system based on infrared distance measurement from 1979 with the AF35M, which is also known as the Autoboy .

The SCA adapter system from Metz tried to counteract the increasing proprietorship of accessory products ; it made it possible to use an SCA flash with various proprietary control information via a camera-specific adapter system on cameras from different manufacturers.

In 1985 Minolta landed a first-rate coup when, with the Minolta 7000 and 9000, the first 35mm SLR cameras with autofocus could be presented, years before the competition had comparable systems ready for the market; Nikon licensed the autofocus technology and launched the Nikon F-501 a year later , while Canon relied on an in-house development and was not able to present the first AF models until 1987 (Canon EOS 650 and EOS 620) . One year later followed with the Minolta Dynax 7000i , the second generation of Minolta AF cameras with "predictive" autofocus, three AF ​​sensors and the ability to detect movement.

In 1990, Kodak developed the Kodak DCS - an extended Nikon F3 - the first fully digital camera system in which the analog image information from the CCD sensor is immediately fed to an analog-to-digital converter , stored in digital form and then processed further using EBV could (rotate, mirror, scale, alienate etc.).

In August 2008, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G1, the first digital system camera with live view without a oscillating mirror, was presented.

Color photography

This tartan ribbon depiction, shown by James Clerk Maxwell in 1861, is believed to be the first color photograph.

The color photography based on experiments from the early days of photography. As early as 1860 Niépce de Saint-Victor was working on a method to record all colors on a single light-sensitive layer (heliochromy). In 1861, the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell published the first color photograph as evidence of the additive color mixing theory , which is based on the Young-Helmholtz color theory. The demonstration of additive color mixing (addition method) was based on three slides that had been photographed through three color filters (red, green and blue) and projected congruently through the appropriate filters . Corresponding color photographic processes were developed in parallel by Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros from around 1862 and presented simultaneously in 1868. However, only du Hauron was able to demonstrate a patented and practicable process. Du Hauron's method was based on bromide silver collodion plates and produced pigment slides. However, both processes are based on the principle of three colors (trichromy).

The orthochromatic sensitization of the negative material was first achieved by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel in 1873; In the process, the recording material was sensitized not only to blue but also to the green and yellow components of the light.

Gabriel Lippmann developed another interference method , which he published in 1891 under the name Method of photography in color using the interference method . For this discovery, Lippman received the Nobel Prize in 1908 . In 1904 the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière presented the Autochrom plates, which worked with orange-red, green and purple colored starch granules made from potatoes and a bromide-silver gelatine emulsion; the starch granules acted as a grid-like filter. The first three-layer films were released by Agfa and Kodak in 1936 . In principle , color films still function according to this process today.

Competition from the Far East

In the 1920s, the first camera manufacturers were founded in Japan , such as Minolta (1928, then still Nichidoku Shashinki Shōten , "Japanese-German camera business"). The manufacturers initially only built German branded products and produced them at extremely low prices. Initially, this mainly affected the high-priced medium format cameras, but soon also the high-quality 35mm cameras.

While the cheap competition from the Far East was initially not taken seriously, the quality of the products made in Japan rose from the 1950s with increasing manufacturing know-how and cutthroat competition set in, in the course of which many traditional German companies such as Voigtländer went bankrupt.

Box camera

Agfa Synchro Box

The amateur photography from the late 19th century is characterized by the so-called box cameras . The concept was originally developed in the USA: a camera that was as easy to use and inexpensive to manufacture as possible that worked with roll film .

Early boxing cameras include the Eastman Company's Brownie No. 2 from 1901; she took pictures in the format 6 × 9, a classic medium format .

In Germany it was possible to produce competitive roll films from around 1915. German boxing forerunners such as Ernemann's Film-K models appeared around 1916 . The triumphant advance of boxing cameras began in Germany about ten years later when Ica introduced the Onix in 1924 . In the years that followed, a flood of boxing cameras hit the market; most of the manufacturers are now only known to collectors and photo historians. Their names: Goerz , ESPI, Balda , Eho, Beier , Certo, Bilora and others.

Agfa produced inexpensive boxes and, in connection with a spectacular marketing campaign, sold around 900,000 of the so-called price boxes within a few months . The campaign, in which cameras were sold for four marks, was actually supposed to boost sales of in-house films, but the competitors were soon also offering comparably inexpensive products. It is still unclear how dumping production could pay off for the Agfa competition without cross-subsidization.

With the incorporation of Goerz in 1926, Zeiss Ikon took over their Tengor Box (1924–1926) and thus served a higher-priced market segment of high-quality box cameras with an achromatic lens ("Goerz Frontar", 2 cemented lenses), later models had three focus areas by pivoting Additional lenses in front of this Fixfoxus lens.

During the Second World War , the photo industry was converted to armaments products, and the local photo economy largely collapsed. Only after the war was production resumed from around 1948. Old and new manufacturers (such as Vredeborch, Carl Braun, Friedrich Linden and Adox ) ushered in a spring of boxing cameras that lasted into the 1960s; afterwards the box cameras were replaced by compact cameras for 35mm film and new designs such as Instamatic and pocket cameras .

Medium format photography

The medium format cameras based on roll film have their roots in the comparatively compact cameras of the 1870s.

Paper as a flexible substrate was used as early as 1816 in the early photographic experiments of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce , and in 1840 William Henry Fox Talbot used paper negatives to make his salt paper positives. The paper film is therefore not an invention of George Eastman or William Walker , although they applied for a patent for the so-called stripping film in 1884 .

The first cellulose film was made by John Wesley Hyatt in 1868 and patented in the United States. An improved celluloid film was developed and patented by Hannibal Goodwin for Thomas Alva Edison in 1887 . George Eastman ignored the existing patents and led a lawsuit until 1898, at the conclusion of which he was sentenced to pay high damages to Goodwin. Eastman's aggressive approach, however, enabled his company to build a dominant market position by the end of the 19th century and to favor untruthful historiography.

Medium format photography with its now familiar designs began in 1928 when the Braunschweig company Franke & Heidecke presented the Rolleiflex ; it was a two- lens reflex camera for the classic medium format 6 × 6 cm. Cheaper versions appeared in 1933 with the Rolleicord and at the end of the 1950s with a Rolleiflex for the 4 × 4 cm format.

From around 1940 Victor Hasselblad appeared in the history of the medium format: In Gothenburg on behalf of the Swedish government he designed the HK 7 with the recording format 7 × 9 cm on 80 mm film and in 1941 the SKa 4 for the Swedish Air Force. Between 1941 and 1945, Hasselblad supplied a total of 342 cameras to the military. He used the manufacturing know-how acquired in this way to manufacture single-lens reflex cameras for private customers from 1948 onwards. The classic Hasselblad 1600F with a metal focal plane shutter and interchangeable magazines for the 6 × 6 cm format was created back then. It was replaced in 1952 by the improved model 1000F , which founded the "photo legend" Hasselblad .

35mm photography

In the long development period of the photographic camera, the misshapen photo boxes weighing several kilograms became ever smaller, lighter and more comfortable cameras.

There were three decisive influences for this development:

  • With the introduction of roll film (from 1848 on paper-based, from 1888 on celluloid-based ), the recording material became more compact and, above all, more flexible.
  • With the introduction of photosensitive film emulsions , it became possible to enlarge the negative; this enabled smaller recording formats and thus also on more compact cameras.
  • The tremendous success of amateur photography prompted the camera industry to build simpler and handier cameras in order to reach ever larger markets.

Forerunners of the 35mm cameras were the so-called handheld cameras such as the detective camera by Thomas Bolas (1881) and the Kodak by George Eastman (1888).

As the first 35mm camera according to today's definition, Oskar Barnack , an employee of the Ernst Leitz Optical Works in Wetzlar, developed the legendary Leica (Leitz Camera) . Barnack had developed the camera since 1913 and presented it to the public for the first time at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1925. The original purpose of the device was to expose short film strips independently of the large film camera in order to be able to check the illumination of a scene before shooting (still photos). The 35 mm format of 24 × 36 mm resulted from doubling the silent film cinema format (18 × 24 mm). In photography , it is the most widely used film format, both for viewfinder cameras and for single-lens reflex cameras .

The Contax I from Carl Zeiss , presented in 1933, has a retractable lens and exposes 36 pictures on 35mm film; The Contax 2 follows in 1936 .

In 1933 construction of the first single-lens reflex camera for 35mm format began; the Kine-Exakta from Ihagee from Dresden comes onto the market in 1936.

A similar model appears in the Soviet Union, which was presented in 1934 and manufactured from 1936 under the name GELVETA . This model was later renamed SPORT . By the time the German Wehrmacht marched in in 1941, around 16,000 copies of these cameras are said to have been delivered.

The Japanese company Canon also introduced 35mm cameras from 1934 onwards. The first Japanese 35mm SLR camera was the Asahiflex from Pentax in 1952 .

Infacolor 35mm color negative film, 12 images

The film cartridges, which are also still in use today, were developed by IG Farben in 1936 .

Initially ridiculed, the 35 mm camera enabled fast, mobile photography. That founded modern reportage and travel photography . One of the photographers who worked exclusively with Leicas and 35mm film was Gisèle Freund .

35mm photography reached its peak in 1971, when 800,000 35mm SLR cameras were sold in Germany alone.

Small picture photography

Modern miniature photography began in 1936 with the development of the first camera for the 8x11 mm format: the original Minox by Walter Zapp in Riga, Latvia. The MINOX 'Riga' goes into series production in 1938. From 1948, the MINOX A was manufactured by Minox in Wetzlar as the first miniature camera "Made in Germany" .

However, Carl August von Steinheil had already used the 8 × 11 mm format for his miniature camera in 1839 .

Kodak Instamatic and Agfa Rapid

The Instamatic system was introduced in the 1960s; it was based on a cassette film from Kodak and 126er film used. It lasted until the 1980s. Today there are no more films for this system on the market.

As a competitive system, Agfa tried to establish the karat cartridge . This came onto the market with the Agfa Karat camera in 1937 and was marketed under the new name Rapid-Cartridge . The system was technically superior to the Instamatic film, but it was not very successful; it disappeared from the market in the 1970s.

Later attempts to establish cassette-based systems were the Pocket , Kodak Disc (from 1982) and the APS system (from 1996).

Pocket cameras

The historical forerunners of the pocket camera are the first portable cameras, the so-called handheld cameras from the 1870s; functionally related designs were also the box cameras , the pocket cameras , the magazine cameras and cassettes cameras as well as in the 20th century the Instamatic cameras .

Another close relative of the modern pocket cameras comes from Kodak ; George Eastman had acquired a license for a cartridge film system from Samuel N. Turner in 1894 ; Building on this, Eastman brought out the cameras of the Pocket Kodak series from 1895 ; these were some of the first cameras that made it possible to change the daylight of the film.

The pocket format itself was introduced in 1972 with the Pocket Instamatic 110 from Kodak .

Today pocket cameras are largely forgotten; that's enough to the point where compact digital cameras as pocket camera dubs them, although these, of course, no pocket film.

Kodak Disc

Opened disc film ("negative")

The Kodak Disc System, introduced in 1982, was an attempt to replace 35mm film as the standard recording material and to boost sales of photographic products.

Disc movies are encased in a plastic sleeve resembling a 3.5 "floppy disk; unlike Instamatic- , Pocket or Minox - subminiature film but there is neither a filmstrip still a coil, as the film base is circular applied to a plastic core .

The system was only on the market for a few years and completely disappeared in the late 1980s. Disc films are no longer commercially available today.

Advanced Photo System

The Advanced Photo System (APS) was an attempt to comprehensively modernize photo technology . The hybrid technology of the APS was officially introduced on April 22, 1996 by camera and film manufacturers Canon , Fujifilm , Kodak , Minolta and Nikon .

APS is not just a new film format , attempts have been made to introduce innovations in photo technology in three main areas: new film material, new types of cameras and optimized laboratory processing.

The APS format was unable to establish itself on the market and has practically no longer been of any importance in the consumer segment since digital cameras dominated ; most camera manufacturers discontinued their APS model series between 2001 and 2002 or are discontinuing them. Kodak, one of the initiators of APS, also stopped producing APS cameras at the end of 2004.

Various innovations introduced with APS, however, have been adopted in newer 35mm cameras , such as the option of conveniently replacing a partially exposed film ( mid-roll change or mid-reload ) and index print .

Various design features of the compact APS cameras can also be found in digital cameras, and the Exif file format records the same information that could also be saved with the PQI data at APS.

Digital photography

The first CCD chip was developed by Bell Laboratories in 1970 . Fairchild Imaging introduced the first commercial CCD sensor in 1973; it had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels (100 × 100 pixels).

Sony Mavica with 90 mm floppy disk as storage medium and VGA resolution (around 1998)

From the mid-1980s, the first commercially available digital cameras appeared, which are still referred to as still video cameras ; the first model is a camera invented by Steve Sasson for Kodak , the first commercial product is the Fairchild MV-101, which came on the market in 1976.

From 1991 digital photography gained increasing importance with the introduction of the first professional cameras ( Digital Camera System or DCS, a joint development of Kodak and Nikon). The first professional 35mm SLR camera from Minolta followed in 1995 with the Minolta RD-175 in 3-CCD technology and a resolution of 1.75 megapixels.

In 1992, Kodak introduced the Kodak Photo CD, a hybrid system in which pictures are generated with conventional cameras, but the pictures are then digitized and delivered on CD-R .

In the following years the image resolution of digital cameras was continuously increased; In 2004, five megapixels were the standard, high-quality devices provided resolutions between six and 39 megapixels, which also made it possible to print in poster sizes .

The technology of digital photography also revolutionized the possibilities of digital art , especially through the technique of photo manipulation .

As a result of the introduction of digital recording and editing techniques, various file formats such as JPEG and TIFF have been developed for storing image files. The image size of digital images could be reduced considerably by means of compression processes in particular ; It was only through compression that the integration of images on the Internet became attractive.

The beginning of the 21st century is characterized by the displacement of analog photo technology in favor of digital processes and by a convergence of computer technology , video technology and digital photography.

In the home user sector, digital cameras became established around 2003; This year, for the first time, more digital cameras were sold than analog devices. At the same time, a wide range of corresponding products was launched: In 2003, a total of 1,463 new camera models had been presented by the end of the year. A few years later, digital devices also became popular in the area of single-lens reflex cameras . In autumn 2008, Panasonic presented the first system camera for home users with an electronic viewfinder and without oscillating mirror , the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G1 and with interchangeable lenses, and launched it on the market.

Digital cameras have also been increasingly integrated into other devices since the beginning of the 21st century:

  • Many cell phones have had built-in digital cameras (smartphones) since 2005.
  • External cell phone modules are available for personal digital assistants , or a simple digital camera is integrated into the PDA.
  • Video camcorders have photo functions that work similarly to digital cameras and, conversely, digital cameras are increasingly able to record video sequences (movies, videos) of good quality.

Conversely, the video function of digital cameras has also continued to develop, so that in September 2012 a system camera with the capabilities of a digital cinema camera was presented with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 .

Analog photography


To distinguish it from the new photographic processes of digital photography , the term analog photography or instead the already outdated spelling photography reappeared at the beginning of the 21st century .


A photograph can neither be analog nor digital . Only the image information can be determined selectively by means of physical , analog measurable signals ( densitometry , spectroscopy ) and, if necessary, subsequently digitized.

After the film has been exposed, the image information is initially only latent . This information is not stored in the analog camera , but only when the development of the film by chemical reaction in a three-dimensional gelatin layer ( film has a plurality of superposed sensitizing layers ). The image information is then immediately available on the original recording medium (slide or negative). It is visible without any further aids as a photograph ( unique specimen ) in the form of developed silver halides or color couplers . If necessary, a paper image can be generated from such photographs in a second chemical process in the photo laboratory, or this can now also be done by scanning and printing.

With digital storage, the analog signals from the camera sensor are digitized in a second stage and can thus be interpreted and processed electronically. The digital image storage by means of an analog-to-digital converter after reading out from the chip of the digital camera works (simplified) with a digital interpretation of the analog image information generated only two-dimensionally and generates a file that can be copied as often as required (practically loss-free) in the form of differentially determined digital absolute values. These files are stored in memory cards in the camera immediately after the recording . Using suitable image processing software, these files can then be read out, further processed and output as a visible photograph on a monitor or printer.

A photograph is subjectively perceived as good , interesting or impressive , but never digital or analog . The image impression when looking at a photograph is largely determined by cultural and physiological factors and not by the storage technology used .

For the viewer this hardly matters anymore because the difference is hardly noticeable. In terms of cultural studies , however, the two techniques are treated differently:

  • For the creator of the image, it can very well play a role whether he is holding a unique original (the slide / negative) in his hands or whether he has digitally stored a description of what still needs to be restored as an image.
  • The cognitively perceivable information of the image is immediately available in an 'analogue' manner in photography. A photograph that is found regardless of the situational context immediately shows that it is a photograph. You hold the developed slide / negative against the candlelight and recognize a photograph.
  • Image information stored digitally on a DVD (or older storage form) requires at least one compatible digital decoding structure for basic interpretation , which must be available as hardware , at least as far as reading the storage medium is concerned .

Analog photography is experiencing a renaissance in the area of black and white photography , especially art .

Applications of photography

The areas of application are extremely varied and are referred to as the genre of photography. Some genres are continuations of painting, some like environmental photography only emerged through photographic development.

Landscape photography

Ansel Adams : The Tetons and the Snake River

The landscape photography is the continuation of landscape painting with other technical tools. Since its inception, landscape photography has dealt with the image of nature and the human environment. Together with classic portrait photography, it is one of the first and essential genres of professional photography. Landscape photography also played a special role in connection with expeditions from the 19th and 20th centuries to the present day when it comes to capturing largely unknown or remote landscape motifs.

Hermann Krone is one of the first pioneers. As early as the 1850s, he was photographing landscapes in Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland. Together with his son Johannes Krone, he took part as a photographer on a German expedition to the Auckland Islands in 1874, which served to observe the transit of Venus on December 9, 1874. He wrote a report about this expedition entitled Father and Son on a World Tour .

An American pioneer of landscape photography was the expedition photographer Timothy H. O'Sullivan , who had already photographed the first icons of the genre in Canyon de Chelly in 1873 . Other work included recordings in the Rocky Montains and the American West on behalf of the US War Department and railroad companies, as well as expeditions z. B. to Panama.

In the spring of 1941, Ansel Adams received a letter from the then US Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickes, requesting that they photograph the national parks in the United States . He traveled to Carlsbad Caverns National Park to begin taking photos for the US Department of the Interior. During the trip he recorded from the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi in Mesa Verde National Park or from the Adobe - Pueblos of Acoma , also felt Adams in his own way the historical photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan after which this already in 1873 in Canyon de Chelly had made. In the summer of 1942, the photographer continued his extensive photo excursion for the government through various national parks : He photographed the geysers of Yellowstone National Park and stopped in Rocky Mountain National Park in Glacier National Park and finally in Mount McKinley National Park (today Denali National Park ). However, due to the war, the Ministry's project was discontinued. These photos became icons of environmental photography in later exhibitions because they showed the Americans in the cities what the national parks in the deserted western United States looked like.

The National Geographic Society presented during the 20th century landscape photography in the center of its publishing work, true to the motto: "... to increase the geographical knowledge and spread."

Artistic photography

Black and white image created with an infrared film

The first art photography was made in the middle of the 19th century with an effort to imitate painting with the camera, although the technical possibilities were very limited. The early pioneers included the photographers of the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring (1892–1909), who wanted to convey an artistic claim to photography.

Conversely, photography had a fruitful effect on Impressionist painting . Random-looking compositions with cut people, wagons and animals found their way into the world. Robert Demachy had modeled the ballet scenes by Edgar Degas . Edgar Degas, for his part, used the snapshot effect , the deliberate randomness of image detail and composition, as a stylistic device in his paintings. Gustave Caillebotte , who showed his paintings for the first time at an Impressionist exhibition in 1876, accused his critics of reproducing reality "photographically" too realistically. He anticipated techniques and topics that only established themselves in photography as " New Seeing " in the 1920s . Photographers such as André Kertész , Wols and László Moholy-Nagy are particularly close to Caillebotte's work. Some of your pictures take up the same motifs or show a section from the same perspective. There are, for example, shots of streets and squares in a steep top view, as can already be found in Caillebotte's paintings.

Even the pictorialism , an art photographic style , provided contributions to photography as an art form. The aim of the style was not just to create a mere image of the motif that captured a moment in reality, but to achieve a symbolic representation of states of mind or fundamental values. Pictorialism found its heyday between the end of the 19th century and the First World War , in Japan until around 1925; However, some pictorialist photographs were still being made until the end of the 1950s.

August Sander's famous project "People of the 20th Century", in its encyclopedic structure, is at the same time a forerunner of conceptual photography.

Artistic photography, however, quickly broke away from dogmas and was divided into numerous styles and genres, mainly because it makes little sense to divide into "schools" as in painting. Susan Sontag therefore speaks more of movements, like Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession , Edward Weston and F / 64 , Albert Renger-Patzsch and the New Objectivity , Walker Evans and the Farm Security Administration project or to Henri Cartier-Bresson and Magnum Photos . The Düsseldorf Photo School is one of these movements .

Parallel to this development, the interface between the media, which were largely separate at that time, in the narrow understanding of the concept of art, between painting and photography became art-historically relevant through the work of the photo artists Pierre Cordier ( chimigrams ), Paolo Monti ( chemigrams ) and Josef H. . Neumann ( chemograms ) closed. In 1974, Josef H. Neumann's chemograms closed the separation of the painterly ground and the photographic layer, in that, in a symbiosis that was unprecedented up to that point in time, they were unmistakably unique in simultaneous painterly and real photographic perspective within a photographic layer in colors and Forms united.

The reception of artistic photography in museums and exhibitions and the numerous competitions clearly show that photography can be an art form. Susan Sontag aptly commented: "The true extent of the thriumph of photography as art and over art" is only gradually being grasped.

Portrait photography

Hermann Biow was one of the first in Germany to use the daguerreotype technique (daguerreotyping). In 1841 he opened a studio in Hamburg. He is known for his portraits of numerous members of the Frankfurt National Assembly and some famous and less famous citizens such as Franz Liszt , Alexander von Humboldt and Friedrich Wilhelm IV . From the 1860s onwards, the idea of ​​a carte de visite developed by the French photographer André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri contributed to the great popularity of portrait photography and photography in general . The reasons for this were the downsizing of the format and lowering of the production costs. In the period that followed, larger formats such as Carte cabinet , Oblong or Promenade, Boudoir etc. emerged again , but they were not distributed in a comparable quantity. Portrait photography was also of great importance for early photography. The main problem, long exposure times, was mastered with special fixation and holding devices such as Saronny's universal head holder and a lot of patience with the person being portrayed. The pioneers of this genre include Franz Hanfstaengl , Nadar , Courbet and Étienne Carjat .

Nude and erotic photography

From around 1847 the genre of nude and erotic photography developed, which found widespread use in particular through stereophotography and were distributed, for example, as stereodaguerreotypes .

Eugène Delacroix had Eugène Durieu make nude studies around 1850 , after which he later made paintings.

Travel and reportage photography

The Secundra Bagh in
Lucknow , which was stormed by the British as part of the Sepoy uprising (photo by Felice Beato , March 1858)

A few travel reports and pictorial war reports are known from the early days of photography ; The Englishman Roger Fenton recorded his travel impressions from Kiev , Saint Petersburg and Moscow in his first travel photographs in 1852 . In 1855, during the Crimean War , Fenton also made the first war photo reportage with 360 photos. His work was continued by James Robertson and Felice Beato . The latter was also one of the first to travel extensively in Asia and document life in Asia with photographs.

Mathew Brady made with his camera team, which among other things, Alexander Gardner , Timothy H. O'Sullivan and George N. Barnard included in the American wars of secession 7,000 wet plates - Negative on of which were digitized over thousands and the website of the Library of Congress are available.

The brothers Auguste Rosalie and Louis-Auguste Bisson took photos on an ascent of Mont Blanc in 1860 .

The photographs of this time did not appear in newspapers because the necessary reproduction methods were not yet available. Maxime Du Camp also wrote early travel reports on an expedition to Egypt in 1850 .

Photo reporting

Hermann Biow and Carl Ferdinand Stelzner produced what was probably the first current photo report to be photographically implemented in 1842 on the "Great Fire" of Hamburg. In the illustrated weekly newspapers, photos could only be printed via wood engraving or zincography (Charles Gillot 1872) until the 1880s . This means that the photographs were either made by engravers using photographic templates as wood engravings or later photographically copied onto light-sensitive layers on boxwood and re-engraved manually. Direct mechanical reproduction , called an autotype , was then first used in a newspaper in 1877.

The current picture reporting and press photography developed from around 1880, when the first photos appeared as illustrations in newspapers: Stephen H. Horgan published a halftone halftone photo in the New York Daily Graphic . In 1883 the first photo appears in a German newspaper: Georg Meisenbach publishes a screened photograph in the Leipziger Illustrirten Zeitung . In German-speaking countries, photography (autotype) printed in newspapers only gradually gained acceptance in the 1890s. Photography was still in competition with other media, such as drawing or lithography . After the turn of the century , photography became generally accepted in the illustrated weekly press. Around 1910, the major illustrated weekly newspapers switched to rotogravure printing . The sheets were now printed by modern rotary printing machines . The majority of the daily press published little or no photos before the First World War . The illustration did not start until the interwar period , sometimes not until after 1945.

The illustrated press flourished in the 1920s. The leading paper, the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung (BIZ) sold almost 2 million copies in 1929. New impulses for press photography came at the end of the 1920s when new, innovative photo agencies appeared, such as the German Photo Service (Dephot). founded by Simon Guttmann or the Weltrundschau , founded by Rudolf Birnbach . They offered the newspapers partly finished reports. Important press photographers in Germany in those years were Marianne Breslauer , Felix H. Man , Martin Munkácsi , Erich Salomon , Umbo (Otto Umbehr), Stefan Weber and others.

The year 1933 meant escape and expulsion for Jewish and politically left-wing photographers. Many of them went into exile in Prague , Vienna , Switzerland , Paris , England or the USA . In Germany, the situation of press photographers changed fundamentally. Gradually, the magazines were taken to Nazi course by the press into line was. Some politically adapted photographers, such as Harald Lechenperg , who took over the management of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung (BIZ) in 1937 , made great careers after 1933. Others, such as the Jewish photographer Erich Salomon, were murdered in the concentration camp .

After 1945, no magazines published before 1945 could continue their publication in Germany. The Allied powers tried in their area of ​​influence by compulsory licensing to prevent National Socialist papers from being produced again and Nazis from continuing their careers. Nevertheless, a number of photographers who were already successful during the Nazi era have made careers in the illustrated magazines of post-war Germany , such as Hilmar Pabel and Harald Lechenperg . The well-known Austrian sports photographer Lothar Rübelt , who had a close relationship with National Socialism and had published a lot in Nazi-oriented papers, continued to work after 1945 without any problems. Only gradually did some of the expelled Jewish photographers come back, others stayed where they had made a new professional home, especially in the USA.

Architectural photography

Amateur photographer in
architectural photography

The architectural photography is one of the oldest genres of photography.

Amateur photography

The time of amateur photography began around 1870 with the development of easily movable and / or portable handheld cameras and the associated simplification of the photographic process. For example, the Kodak from George Eastman's Eastman Company from 1888 is well known, which, however, by no means - as Kodak historiography has repeatedly asserted - founded amateur photography. " Clippers " begin to document their private life and their environment with the camera. These recordings have an inestimable sociological and historiographical value.

Documentary photography

Documentary photography also began to develop towards the end of the 19th century ; Edward S. Curtis , for example, began his twenty-volume photographic work on the Indian tribes of North America in 1896 , which produced 40,000 negatives by 1930.

Special forms


Another early area of ​​application was chronophotography , that is, sequential shots and image sequences that deliberately went beyond the limits of the human perception apparatus. A pioneer in this area is Eadweard Muybridge (actually Edward Muggeridge ), who in 1877 made the first serial recordings of moving subjects with up to 30 cameras. He published the results of his work in the 1887 illustrated books Animals in Motion and The Human Figure in Motion , which contain approximately 800 photographs.

Improvements to this process were introduced by the Frenchman Étienne-Jules Marey , who in 1883 designed the photographic rifle with which he could record a whole series of exposures on a plate ; this made it possible to depict the stages of a movement sequence within a single image by means of a kind of multiple exposure . This chopping up of a sequence of movements into discrete phases very specifically anticipates the later cinematographic image decomposition.

The German Ottomar Anschütz followed a similar approach , who in 1888 constructed a camera with a focal plane shutter for extremely short exposure times; He gets snapshots of flying storks , running horses and other animals in motion.


The photomontage could already have a longer tradition, because it was already used in the middle of the 19th century for complicated scenic motifs that could not easily be photographed according to the state of the art at the time. The exposure time of such photos was usually quite normal: purely technical reasons for the photo montage were only given in a few exceptional cases, mainly the bridging of large differences in contrast and the achievement of an unusually large depth of field . A montage was necessary, for example, when a picture was to be taken of an interior with a window in which a landscape could be seen; For this purpose, two images were then assembled by partially covering the negatives with masking paint and then laying them on top of each other so that they fit properly. Only a professional could tell from the finished picture that it was created this way.

In other montages of this type, clouds were copied into a landscape photograph afterwards, or silhouette-like parts of the image were painted into the photo. In contrast to these images, which were ultimately supposed to represent completely normal recordings, there were the photomontages, which do not deny their assembly-like manufacturing process. As Otto Croÿ aptly explained, in this way the rigidity of the motif was removed. The photomontage suggested that, with its help, the photographer was not only able to build up the picture formally, but that he could also let his imagination run wild in order to express certain ideas in the pictures. These photomontage concepts could be technically achieved using three different methods: The simplest method was a collage technique with the help of scissors and glue, whereby the assembly produced in this way could finally be photographed and thus reproduced as desired.

The “montage” by multiple exposures on the same image field was also fairly simple , which only required a practiced ability to judge how the images in the camera were to fit on top of each other. The advantages of working with a black background - which resulted in a transparent, smooth surface on the negative - or with alternating coverage of certain parts of the image field were soon recognized.

Ultimately, the most challenging method was to mount two or more negatives while enlarging (a so-called "sandwich"), copying them one after the other onto the same positive paper. In the final phase after the positive development, the photographer mostly had to treat the transitions between the individual parts of the image with the attenuator or the brush.

Photography magazines

A good 15 years after the patent for the daguerreotype was published in 1839, the first journals appeared that reported on the latest inventions, developments and people in photography and appeared regularly. There was also extensive coverage of what happened in photographic associations, which is why some magazines can also be viewed as association journals.

Photographic associations

Photography associations brought together lay people interested in photography, manufacturers of articles for photography and photographers. Photographic associations were interest groups.

See also


Other early photography techniques


Literature (chronological)


  • Wolfgang Autenrieth: New and old techniques of etching and fine printing processes - An alchemistic workshop book for erasers: From 'witch's meal and dragon's blood' to the photopolymer layer. Tips, tricks, instructions and recipes from five centuries. An alchemical workshop book for erasers. 232 pages, 7th edition, Krauchenwies 2020, ISBN 978-3-9821765-0-5 ( → excerpts and table of contents online )
  • Annette Vowinckel , Michael Wildt, Jan-Holger Kirsch (eds.): Photography in dictatorships , Zeithistorische Forschungen 12 (2015), issue 2
  • Boris von Brauchitsch: Small history of photography, Reclam 2012, ISBN 978-3-15-020270-8
  • Anton Holzer (ed.): Introduction to the photo story. Research, methods, theory . Photo history magazine , issue 124, 2012
  • Willfried Baatz: History of Photography (crash course). Dumont Literature and Art Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-8321-3616-9 . (recommended and inexpensive brief description)
  • Hans-Dieter Götz: Box cameras made in Germany. How the Germans learned to take pictures . vfv Verlag, Gilching 2002, ISBN 3-88955-131-9 . (a standard work on the history of boxing cameras)
  • Michel Frizot (ed.): New history of photography. Könemann, 2001, ISBN 3-8290-1327-2 . (extensive and lavishly illustrated photo history, 775 pages)
  • Ludwig Hoerner : The photographic trade in Germany 1839-1914 . GFW-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1989, ISBN 3-87258-000-0 . The work is considered an "outstanding representation of the origin and development of the early photo market"
  • Wolfgang Baier: Source representations for the history of photography . 5th edition. Fotokinoverlag, Leipzig 1980
  • Peter Pollack: The world of photography from its beginnings to the present . Econ-Verlag, Vienna / Düsseldorf 1962


Web links

Wikisource: Photography  - Sources and Full Texts
Commons : History of Photography  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
  • History of Photography. In: kefk.net. Archived from the original on December 28, 2009 ; accessed on December 24, 2018 (extensive presentation with detailed chronology and excursions on the technical history of photography).

Individual evidence

  1. Heinrich Gobrecht: Chapter I ray optics , Section I, 2 The rectilinear propagation of light; Shadow; Pinhole camera. In: Bergmann-Schaefer: Textbook of Experimental Physics , Volume III - Optics . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1978, ISBN 3-11-007457-5
  2. ^ Johann Heinrich Schulze: Scotophorus pro phosphoro inventus: seu experimentum curiosum de effectu radiorum solarium. From: Bibliotheca Novissima observationum et recensionum. Ed. J. Chr. Franck, Sectio V, No. VII. Halae Magdeburgicae 1719, pp. 234–240 ( digitized version), edited, translated and commented by Peter Roth, Philip Egetenmeier and Jens Soentgen , January 2015
  3. Charles-François Tiphaigne de la Roche in 1761 in the published in German translation in Ulm Edition: Giphantie or Erdbeschauung - for his ingenious content's sake . In the collection of digitized texts in the Bavarian State Library
  4. Michel Frizot (ed.): New history of photography. Könemann-Verlagsgesellschaft, 1998, pp. 19-21
  5. ^ Walter Koschatzky: The art of photography . dtv, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-7017-0386-8 , p. 52 ff.
  6. photograph (dictionary entry). In: Pierer's Universal Lexicon of the Past and Present. 4th edition, publishing house by HA Pierer , Altenburg 1857–1865. 1865, Retrieved July 4, 2018 .
  7. Klaus Beneke: Thomas Wedgwood (May 14, 1771 Etruria (Staffordshire) - July 10, 1805 Eastbury (Dorset)) and John Frederick William Herschel (March 7, 1792 Slough near Windsor - May 11, 1871 Hawkhurst / Kent) and history of photography, especially the fixation of images from 1800 to 1850. In: Klaus Beneke: Biographies and scientific résumés of colloid scientists, whose résumés are related to 1996 (= contributions to the history of colloid sciences. Vol. 8) R. Knof, Nehmten 1999 , ISBN 3-934413-01-3 , pp. 60 ff. (PDF; 2 MB)
  8. ^ Rudolf Kingslake: A History of the Photographic Lens , Academic Press, 1989, ISBN 978-0-12-408640-1 , accessed September 7, 2016
  9. ^ The Dallmeyer Archive - Rectilinear Settings , thedallmeyerarchive.com, accessed September 7, 2016
  10. Ludwig cabinet : The principles of lighting and the studio construction . In: Photographische Korrespondenz , V. Bd., Vienna 1868, pp. 197–203
  11. Jürgen Osterhammel: The transformation of the world. A nineteenth century story. CH Beck. 2nd edition of the special edition 2016. ISBN 978-3-406-61481-1 . P. 77
  12. George Eastman Haouse: 75 years - The Super Kodak Six-20 ( Memento from December 27, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  13. Photonews 10/04, p. 3
  14. Philip Bloom : New short film “Genesis” shot on pre-production Panasonic GH3. Retrieved online on September 27, 2012
  15. Wolfgang Baier: Source representations for the history of photography. 2nd edition, Schirmer / Mosel, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-921375-60-6 , p. 501
  16. ^ American Experience - Ansel Adams. PBS , 2002, accessed June 17, 2008 .
  17. ^ Adams: Autobiography , p. 253
  18. a b Karin Sagner, Ulrich Pohlmann, Claude Ghez, Gilles Chardeau, Milan Chlumsky and Kristin Schrader: Gustave Caillebotte - An Impressionist and Photography . Ed .: Karin Sagner, Max Hollein. Hirmer Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7774-5411-5 , p. Publishing information .
  19. PC Bunnell: For a Modern Photography - The Renewal of Pictorialism. From: Michel Frizot: New History of Photography . Könneman, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-8290-1327-2 , p. 311 f.
  20. Susan Sontag: About Photography . 17th edition. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 2006, ISBN 978-3-596-23022-8 , pp. 139 f .
  21. Hannes Schmidt: Comments on the chemograms by Josef Neumann. Exhibition in the photography studio gallery of Prof. Pan Walther. In: Photo press. Issue 22, 1976, p. 6.
  22. Susan Sontag: About Photography . 17th edition. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 2006, ISBN 978-3-596-23022-8 , pp. 140 .
  23. http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/print/
  24. Portrait of the polar explorer Nordenskjöld, in Le Monde illustré, March 10, 1877. Quoted in: Frizot, Michel: 'New History of Photography'. Könemann, 1998, p. 361
  25. Herbert Molderings: A School of Modern Photo Reportage. The photo agency Dephot (German Photo Service) 1928 to 1933 . In: Photo History, Issue 107, 2007 (online)
  26. Baatz 1997: 64
  27. ^ Werner Faulstich : Media Studies . Verlag UTB, 2004 (= Uni-Taschenbücher basics M , Vol. 2492), ISBN 3-8252-2494-5 , p. 108