Evolution of the Camera | The Science Behind Photogrammetry

Evolution of the Camera | Photogrammetry Basics

The term photogrammetry simply means the use of photography in surveying and mapping fields in order to determine measurements between objects. It is the art and science of obtaining reliable information about the properties of surfaces and objects without physical contact with the objects, and of measuring and considering this information. It is derived from the three Greek words viz,  Photos-light,  Gramma– letter or something drawn and  Metrein– to measure

Camera Classification based on Film Size

Here’s the classification based on the film size. Usually, there are three types of formats:

Large Format Cameras

Large Format Camera

Imaging format with 4*5(102×127 mm) or larger, can be considered a large format. A 4×5 inch image has about 16 times the area, and thus 16× the total resolution of a 35 mm frame. Large format 4×5 and 8×10 devices are popular among serious professional photographers for their high optical quality, even though it requires a tripod, longer exposure times, and much more expense.

Many photographers prefer the image quality of large format but the portability of 35 mm. Graflex and Linhof are notable large format brands. The main advantage of a large format, film or digital, is higher resolution at the same pixel pitch, or the same resolution with larger pixels or grain.

Medium Format Cameras

Medium Format Camera

Medium format is generally with 120 films or a larger medium format sensor gathering more information and detail. Medium format is higher quality because of the larger negative or sensor size, but also more expensive and less portable. Medium formats require a longer focal length lens to capture the same view as a 35 mm format. To illustrate this, a “normal” lens on a 35 mm camera has a focal length of approximately 50 mm, while a lens with a focal length of approximately 100 mm is needed for the same image taken on 120 films (6 cm x 7 cm format).

Since the depth of field decreases as focal length increases, a medium format has a shallower depth of field at the same f-stop as a 35 mm cam. Mamiya (now Phase One), Hasselblad and Pentax are notable medium format brands.

The main benefit of a such format is the larger size of the film or digital sensor (two to six times larger than 35 mm), and images of much higher resolution can be produced.

Small format Cameras

Small format
Small Format

The 35 mm format is very popularly known as miniature format or small format, ranging from 24*24mm of rapid film to 40*40mm on 127 films, the latter can also be attributed as medium format, but 4*4cm slides can be displayed with small format projectors. Devices that produce negatives smaller than 35mm are considered small-format.

Small-format are preferable when you need maximum freedom of movement and a large number of negatives without reloading the camera. The primary disadvantage of such formats is they produce small negatives. The smaller the negative, the more it must be enlarged in printing.

Evolution of the Camera: 1500 AD to Present

The development of photogrammetry started with the pinhole camera, they continue the generations including Daguerreo type, Calo type, dry plates, films and digital photos devices.

The timeline depicting the evolution in the field of photography is shown below:

  • 1500 Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura

The earliest recorded mention of the pinhole was as early as the fifth century, however, it was also called the Camera Obscura. The pinhole camera is the simplest kind of the camera invented by the Arabian scientist Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytham) and does not have any lens inside.

Light from an object passes through a pine hole, which shows up in the camera on Obscurs’s other side as an inverted image. It was a projector actually and thus couldn’t store images, it just projects. The simple image formed using a such device is always inverted and AlhazenIbn AI-Haytham had already explained this far in the 1500s.

  • 1839 Daguerreotype 

The Daguerreotype was announced by the French Academy of Sciences. One of these inventions is now the most expensive in the world. The Daguerreotype was very useful from the 1840s to 1850s. The Daguerreotype camera was invented by Louis Daguerre in 1939 AD. It captures the light from the image using a special cup plate. This camera was almost completely replaced in 1860 with new, less expensive processes, such as ambrotype, that yield more readily viewable images.


  • 1865 Photogoniometer

Italian geodesist, Porro designed the photogoniometer. It used to be an instrument for measuring angles indirectly from photographs of an area or a surface. This development was significant in photogrammetry because of its application in remote lens distortion.

  • 1888 Kodak Roll-film
Kodak roll-film camera

The next invention is George Eastman’s patent Kodak roll-film camera. Eastman was a pioneer in photographic film usage. He also started manufacturing paper films in 1885. His first Kodak box camera was very simple and very cheap. Also, he started the slogan called, “you press the button, we do the rest,” which became a well-known phrase within a year.

  • 1900 The Brownie
First mass-marketed camera – the Brownie

In 1900, Eastman Kodak introduce the concept of the snapshot. The first mass-marketed camera, the Brownie was presented by Eastman. This camera helped to put picture taking into the hands of beginners and make it possible for the middle class to take their own “shots” as well. It was on sale until the 1960s. The Brownie  Eastman also introduced the new Brownie dollar box in 1900.



  • 1913/1914 Ur-Leica
35 mm Format Camera

The first 35mm still camera popularly known as the candid camera, was invented by Oskar Barnack of the German, Leica. This 35 mm camera was invented by converting a small instrument used for taking exposure samples for cinema film, which was then called the Ur-Leica. Later on, this device became the standard for all film cameras.

  • 1948 Polaroid Cam

Polaroid Camera was invented by American scientist and inventor Edwin Land who could take a picture and print it in about 60 seconds. Scientist Land also invented highly economic filters to polarize light, an advanced system of in-camera instantaneous image capturing, and the Retinex theory of colour vision.

  • 1960 EG&G Camera

The three colleagues Harold Edgerton, Kenneth Germeshausen, and Herbert Grier, commonly known as EG&G were United States national defence contractors who developed extreme depth underwater cameras for the U.S. Navyin1960s.

  • 1978 35 mm C35 EF

The C35 EF was launched in 1975, it was the first 35mm compact camera as the first point and shoot with a built-in flash and was named ‘Pikkari’ in Japan. It has an equally configured four-element Hexanon 38mm F2. 8 lenses. This particular C35 model was later replaced by the fixed focus C35 EFP and autofocus C35 AF models. Konica introduced the first point-and-shoot, autofocus Konica C35 AF.

  • 1981 Sony Mavica

    Sony Mavica

Sony demonstrates the Sony Mavica, the world’s first digital electronic still photo device. Digital photography and television images are related to the same technology, so, it recorded images into a mini disk and then put them into a video reader. Images could be displayed on a television monitor or colour printer.

  • 1986 Fuji Single-Use Cam

The inventors also call this device “single-use cameras”. Fuji introduced the disposable camera where every Fujifilm disposable came up with 100 pre-loaded exposures.



  • 1991 Digital Camera System (DCS)

Kodak released the first professional DCS which was highly preferred by journalists. It was a modified Nikon F-3 with a 1.3-megapixel sensor.


  • 1994-1996 Digital Camera

The arrival of the digital  Fuji DS-1p in 1988 was the first truly portable photo device that records images as a computerized file, recorded to 2MB SRAM memory. Further development took place by increasing the MP sensors and then even was used to record video clips was Ricon RDC-1 in 1995.

They can delete ugly shots and take another. They do not use film but capture images and save them on the digital memory card or internal memory.

Such devices used for the consumer-level market that worked with a home computer via a serial cable were the Apple QuickTake 100 (February 17, 1994), the Kodak DC40 (March 28, 1995), the Casio QV-11 (with LCD monitor, late 1995), and Sony’s Cyber-Shot (1996). 

  • 2000 J-SH04


Sharp’s J-SH04 introduced the world’s first camera phone in Japan. The J-SH04 was a mobile phone made by Sharp Corporation and released by J-Phone (SoftBank Mobile). Japan was the only country to have this phone and released it in November 2000 and had a built-in, back-facing camera, a 110,000-pixel CMOS sensor and a 256-colour display and has a weight of 74g, and its dimensions are 127 × 39 × 17 mm. It was succeeded by the J-SH05, which got released just 30 days later.

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