Introduction What is photography? The history of photography What this site will do for you Light: The most important element Why light is important to a photograph The many types of light Controlling light in your pictures The camera The basic function Types of cameras Choosing the right camera Putting the image together: the Lens How the lens bends light: a tutorial A brief introduction to apertures The variety of lenses Choosing a lens Exposure: a film tutorial How film records an image Understanding film speed Print vs. Slide film Film recommendations Taking Pictures Depth-of-field Apertures and shutter speeds Composition and experimentation: the basics Metering: when you can't guess The many types of picture-taking Photography with a point-and-shoot Accessories Tripods: for when you can't stay still Lens filters Post-processing: after development Scanning photos The digital darkroom Photo and equipment storage
These cameras, used mainly by professional photographers and students, are very flexible, due to the fact that bellows are placed in the middle of the film and lens. While their design remains unchanged for over a century, the most famous photos were taken with View Cameras. Have you seen all of the photos taken from famous photographers, such as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams? Their pictures were taken with view cameras. Many advertisements of food are taken with view cameras.
Unlike most other cameras, view cameras take sheets of film, instead of rolls of film. You load film by sliding a sheet of film into the back of the camera. However, with a view camera you canít just snap a picture like that. Setting up a huge view camera can take a matter of minutes, not seconds. Remember, view cameras donít weigh 2 pounds!
View cameras are almost as simple as pinhole cameras, with one exception; you can focus. Focusing is done by looking at an inverted image on a ground glass, and then taking a picture by activating the shutter via a cable release.
Film size: 4x5 or 8x10 sheets
Manufacturers: Calumet, Sinar Bron, Hasselblad
Advantages: Lens can be shifted to correct perspective, supports 4x5 or 8x10 film, so you can make huge enlargements
Disadvantages: Can take forever to set up, extremely bulky, a good tripod must be used to take a picture.
35mm Single lens reflex(SLR) cameras
These are by far the most used cameras by professionals and serious amateurs. When looking through the viewfinder of these cameras, you are seeing through the same exact lens used for taking the picture. Because of this, you view an almost-exact duplicate of the final image.
SLRs are also the most complex cameras, consisting of microprocessor-controlled meters, and completely electronic operation. Despite their complexity, all SLRs work basically the same way. When the user presses the shutter release button, a mirror (used for showing you the final image) flips up, and a focal-plane shutter opens and exposes one frame of film.
Film size: 35mm
Manufacturers: Canon (EOS series), Nikon (F and N series), Minolta(Maxxum series), Pentax, Vivitar, Ricoh
Advantages: Through-the-lens viewing, reliable computerized control for most new SLRs
Disadvantages: Can get to be heavy, mirror makes a rather noisy sound at exposure time.
Medium-Format Single lens reflex(SLR)
These are most likely the most expensive of all camera systems (sometimes the price can go up to $20,000!). Most have almost the same design as the 35mm SLRs, except that they support 120 and/or 220 film, commonly called roll film. These are widely used cameras for magazines, and are sort of a midway point between the view camera and 35mm SLR. They support a large film format, so pictures look clear and sharp. They are also about the same size as a 35mm SLR, so they are also compact.
Film: 120 or 220 roll film
Manufacturers: Rollei, Pentax, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Bronica
Advantages: Has the compactness of a 35mm SLR, and the image quality of a view camera.
Disadvantages: Can be hard to use for beginning photographers, can get to be very expensive.
35mm point-and-shoot camera
These cameras are of the most popular cameras in production today. They fit in your shirt pocket. They make barely no sound. All you have to do is snap the shutter and boom, you take a picture. But everything is not without its disadvantages. These cameras do not allow you to change lenses. You cannot control the aperture and shutter. You do not see through the same lens that the picture is taken on. Should you even bother to get one? I would say so, as I explain in Choosing the right camera.
Film: 35mm, sometimes 120/220
Manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Vivitar, Kodak, Fuji, Rollei, Yashica, Samsung, Contax, Olympus
Advantages: Pocket-sized, simple to use, inexpensive
Disadvantages: Lenses cannot be changed, SLRís flexibility is lost
Note: A recent innovation, the Advanced Photo System (APS) has gained much popularity recently. This film is half the size of 35mm film, and has three picture-taking settings. Though they are fun cameras for family photo albums, I would not recommend them for serious photography, since you never see the negative, there is not a very wide variety of film available, and the pictures are only 24mm, so they cannot be enlarged very well. Perhaps in a few years the APS will evolve into a more sophisticated, flexible camera, but for now, stick to 35mm, medium-format, or large format. If you want more information on APS, then please check our links to other web sites.
This camera is a filmless camera. While digital cameras have only been around for 2-3 years, they have gained a huge amount of popularity by both amateurs and professional photographers. Unlike film cameras, when the user presses the shutter-release button a CCD(light-sensitive computer chip) is exposed to light, which then saves the captured image in the cameraís RAM or on a floppy disk. These cameras can also have a color LCD monitor on them, so you can view exactly what your image will look like. The only catch is that you will need an reasonably good printer to match the digital cameraís photo with a film cameraís photo.
Film: None; all pictures are stored on RAM or on a floppy disk
Manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Hewlett-Packard, Casio, Polaroid, Olympus, Fuji, Kodak, Ricoh, Epson, Agfa, Vivitar
Advantages: No film is needed, no need for developing, connects to your computer, so it is more convenient than a scanned photo. If the resolution is high (over 1000x1000 pixels), the quality can be many times better than a scanned photo.
Disadvantages: Quality can be noticeably lower than a film cameraís picture (if lower than 640x480 pixels resolution), are twice as expensive as 35mm cameras