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Photography through the years

As long as there is no governmental aproval to show some archeological treasures of the Museum to the public, the vitrines in the entry hall which are meant for these items have been used since 2010 to show old camera's and accessories such as films, flash bulbs and flash guns, light meters, filters, tripods, etc.

The prime goal of this collection is to present and preserve an example of a broad range of cameras and to give a visitor an entertaining and rewarding trip to the world of the photography before bits and bytes.
Ok, it's a very grandiose name for what amounts to a motley collection of old cameras. Most were donated by various people, some were bought at jumbles and ebay and others procured at the going rate.

The whole thing started with just a handful of vintage cameras.  The collection has grown to over 100 cameras along with a lot of accessories. Most of them, are not so called "collectibles". You won't find the exotica in here, the Leicas, Contax and Rolleis are the photographic elite of this world, instead this is the home of the humble, the ordinary and the everyday camera, that brings back a "deja-vu" feeling.

The exhibition covers a wide range of items from early cameras, box camera's, minitiature camera's, modern 35mm SLR, rangefinder and medium format equipment through to a couple of early digital camera's.

As a matter of fact we are very proud to show the first commercially available digital camera, namely the 1990 Dycam Model 1; it was also sold as the Logitech Fotoman, but the Dycam was black, whereas the Logitech was white and turquoise.

Let's talk specs:
  • It had only 320x240 and later 376x284 resolution;  In other words, that's 0.077 megapixels.
  • It produced only black/white photos with 256 gray levels;
  • It had an optical viewfinder only.
  • It had only 1Mb internal RAM; enough to store 32 photos (as TIFF or PICT) on its internal memory. 
  • It had a fixed focus f4.5 lens;
  • It had a built in flash;
  • It had a shutter speed from 1/30 to 1/1000 of a second.

There are a few rather charming things you should know about this camera.  First, it has just one button: the shutter release.  That's it.  No power switch.  And, though the camera has a flash, no button for turning the flash on and off.  Instead, the flash needs to be activated (or deactivated) via the desktop software.  Want the flash on?  Plug the camera into your computer, launch the software, activate the flash, unplug camera, go take your picture.  Want the flash off again?  Back to the computer... 
Second, although the first commercial flash memory chips were introduced in 1988, the camera uses volatile memory.  This means that if the camera battery dies, your pictures disappear.  When new, the battery was good for roughly 24 hours. 
And lastly: the original 1990 list price was $995 (roughly $1775 in 2012 dollars or 1,450 euro).

Until the advent of digital technology, photography used photographic film to create images which could be made visible by photographic processing. This process took place in total darkness or in scarcely illuminated so-called darkroom. By contrast, digital photographs can be displayed, printed, stored, manipulated, transmitted, and archived using digital and computer techniques, without chemical processing and under normal light circumstances.

Darkrooms have been created and used since the inception of photography in the early 19th century. In most darkrooms, an enlarger is used for printmaking. It projects the image of a negative onto a sheet of photographic paper.

Generally black and white photography paper is not responsive to red or orange light and therefore a red or orange light can be used to assist in the development. Color print paper, being sensitive to all parts of the visible spectrum, must be kept in complete darkness until the prints are properly fixed.

New on display in the museum is the history of mass produced waterproof cameras.

This history started from the year 1958 when the huge Healthways Mako Shark was released which cost around $25.
This has been seconded in 1957 by the very important invention for underwater photography history from Belgian inventor Jean de Wouters, who created together with a famous French underwater explorer named  Jacques-Yves Cousteau the CalypsoPhot, which is the first waterproof 35mm range finder camera that can be used either above or under water. His technology led to Nikon’s commercialization of the Nikonos camera series that dominated the underwater film photography market until the digital camera became famous.

This era in underwater photography history started with the release of compact digital still cameras in the late 1990s. This first waterproof digital camera was made by Kodak but the camera was soon recalled as there were customers that reported that this camera shocked them. Nowadays, you can find that there are a lot of waterproof cameras being produced by many manufacturers under the various brands.

However it is the Japanese manufacturers like Canon, Fuji, Olympus, Pentax and Sony who perfected and succeeded in marketing waterproof digital cameras to the mass market.

This brings us finally to the question: now that digital cameras have out sold film cameras and companies like Nikon, Canon and ohers have cut back on the film based cameras, Kodak has stopped making most photo papers and the last lab in the world to process Kodachrome has about shut down its K-14 service forever, what will the future of film be?

My take is this .. there will always be film. When film was invented the oil painters didn't stop painting. Obviously, film is never again going to be the dominant market force in photography (after all the market demands convenience, and film will never be as convenient as digital).  But the large niche market which has been building over the last few years should ensure that we never struggle to find somewhere to buy and process our films.

Anyway, the camera collection has started to collect film brands of all kind to save them for the future.
A part of these films are on display in the vitrines as well as various small, re-recordable memory cards or flash cards to store image data  in many electronic devices, including digital cameras, mobile phones, laptop computers, MP3 players, and video game consoles.

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