The Camera

"No photographer is as good as the simplest camera."

Edward Steichen

If you take photos primarily with your smartphone, you can thank George Eastman (of Eastman Kodak) for that. The man had a dream: put a camera in everyone's hands and he succeeded far beyond his wildest expectations.

In 1884, he created and patented the world's first emulsion film that could be wound onto a spool. Up until then, this light-sensitive emulsion was coated on metal plates and sheets of glass. In 1888, he created an accompanying camera to house this film roll and with that, the world changed.

Kodak's slogan was: "You press the button, we do the rest."

Although George Eastman died in 1932, his dream and company lived on. In 1975, while working at Kodak Labs, Steven Sasson invented the world’s first portable digital camera. What we hold in our hands is a direct result of that.

All cameras are comprised of a body and a lens.

The body contains the analog film or digital sensor (ISO) for light-sensitivity, and a curtain (Shutter-Speed) which controls how long our film/sensor will be exposed to light.

The lens controls the strength of the light (Aperture) passing through the lens barrel AND the clear optical elements inside the lens, determines our angle-of-view (Focal Length).

Don't worry, there are upcoming examples which will explain all this.

A lens can be permanently fixed to the camera or it can be interchangeable. Also, the elements can be locked in one position (prime) or they can move (zoom).

With a mobile device (and point-and-shoot cameras), the body and lens are combined into one convenient package.

Smartphones are a great convenient camera to have with us, but they are limited, although their capabilities continue to improve all the time. To go beyond the simple default settings, we can employ everything from external lens attachments and tripods, to a whole plethora of third-party apps, giving us extra measures of control.

An interchangeable camera system is designed for more hands-on control and is for the person who wants to take things further. We can be in full-manual, partial-automatic or full-automatic, whichever we choose. Also, the digital sensor is larger in size and can capture light with much greater efficiency.

On top of that, lens choices also offer far greater versatility and photo opportunities.

So really, what's the best camera?

The one we have on us.

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