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A TECHNI CAL HI STORY OF

CAMERA
VOL. 1
IMAGE PROCESSING
2
The camera is now ubiquitous in our daily life as well as in image processing, but do
you know how it was born and how it evolved? This booklet describes the evolutionary
history of the camera from its birth to the current mainstream digital camera.
Structure of camera obscura and pinhole cameras
Fig. 1
Object
Light shield
Lens
Dark box (camera obscura)
Reflector (reflecting mirror)
Ground glass
Put a sheet of paper on
this surface and trace
the formed image with
a pen.
1. Birth of the Camera
The history of camera images dates back to the B.C. era when camera obscura, which means dark
room, was the ancestral device of the current camera. The camera obscura was an optical device that
projects an upside-down image of an object using the light coming into a dark room through a small hole.
It used exactly the same mechanism as pinhole cameras. Eventually, from the 16th century, it was
developed into a device composed of a lens, dark box, and reflecting mirror. This device was used as a
drawing aid when artists made sketches of landscapes and drew portraits.
In 1839 a Frenchman, Daguerre, invented the daguerreotype (silver-plate photography) camera. Then
about 30 years later, Maddox invented the dry plate in Britain. It is said that the oldest photo in Japan was
taken with the daguerreotype camera.
With these inventions, the age when the subject was portrayed by human hands came to an end, and the
age of the camera, in which the captured image is recorded using photosensitive material, began.
3
Full-size Half-size
Twice the number of
photos per roll
36 mm
18 mm
35 mm
24 mm
Perforation
Half the size
of a standard
frame
24 mm
2. Film (Silver Halide) Camera
The photosensitive material, on which captured images are recorded, has been continuously changing for
over 170 years since the camera was born. Starting from the silver plate, the photosensitive material
evolved to the wet plate and then to the dry plate, and eventually film rolls were invented. Film rolls
enabled cameras to record multiple photos on one roll by advancing the film one frame at a time. In
response to this progress, various types of film cameras were developed to accept differently-sized films
such as 16 mm, 4 x 5 cm and 6 x 6 cm. In addition, the half-framed camera, which can double the number
of frames on one roll, was introduced to the market. The reason that film cameras are also known as silver
halide cameras is because the captured image is recorded by exposing compounds like silver halide to
light. The most widespread type of camera film used was the 135 film (better known as 35 mm film), which
was the standard size of films used for movies. Reversal film, which produces vivid colours, was also used
to make slides.
Different sizes of frames on 135 flm
Fig. 2
4
Camera
obscura
1900 1945 2000 2010
Leica
Thin-body + lens barrel type Bellow type Box type
Calotype
Daguerreotype
Wet plate
1839
1851
1878
Industrialised production of dry plates
1888
1925
Dry plate g Sheet film
Roll film
35 mm film
Electronic image
3. Popularisation and Miniaturisation Promoted by the Development of
Electronics
Surprisingly, the application of electronic technologies to cameras started fairly early, dating back to the
1950s when the electronically-controlled automatic exposure metre was developed. This innovation freed
photographers from the troublesome procedure of adjusting shutter speeds and apertures. Further,
spurred by the introduction of the autofocus (automatic focusing) function and automatic strobe lights, the
camera gradually became popular among ordinary people. At the same time, the transistors used for
electronic control circuits were replaced by ICs, which expedited the miniaturisation of the camera. The
trends of popularisation and miniaturisation have been further accelerated with the development of digital
cameras.
Evolution of the camera and the worlds frst autofocus camera
Fig. 3
Year
5
(image processing engine)
DSP
Image processing device A/D converter
(liquid crystal, EL, etc.)
Monitor screen
(temporary storage)
DRAM
Various
memory
cards
lens target
Digital camera example
(
CCD&CMOS
)
Image sensor
4. Digital Camera
When film cameras were in their heyday in the 1980s, the camera world marked another development. It
was the invention of the digital still camera. This newcomer fascinated the public with its convenient
features: the elimination of the DPE steps (development, printing, and enlargement) and the immediate
display of captured images on the LCD monitor for users to check them. Less than 20 years after its
release, it has surpassed the film camera in both production and shipment volumes, taking the lead in the
camera industry.
The captured image is converted into pixels using semiconductor image sensors (image sensing devices)
and photodiodes that detect light. For example, a five megapixel digital camera creates a full array of
image data using five million tiny photodiodes.
Mechanisms of digital cameras
Fig. 4
6
Reproduced
image
Original analogue signals
Original analogue signals
The signals are sampled to a
fine degree.
The analogue signals carry noise
The data is quantised to a
fine degree.
Accurate images can
be obtained, though
processing requires a
longer time because of
the large volume of data.
The noise is mixed into
the image, which causes
blurring.
The signal processing of
image data is simple.
The signals carry noise Original raw signals
Film camera
Digital camera
5. What Is the Difference between a Film Camera and a Digital Camera?
The biggest difference lies in the process to record a captured image. The film used for silver halide
cameras played two roles at a time: capturing the image and recording the image. On the other hand, the
image sensor on a digital camera divides these roles by first capturing the image and then recording the
image in semiconductor memory. This explains how two or more captured images are recorded on one
frame if you forget to advance the film and how recording memory can be repeatedly used by deleting the
image data stored in it. Moreover, the film camera records the captured images as they are, while the
digital camera performs sampling (constant quantisation of the changes in exposure) before recording the
image, which makes it possible to acquire highly stabilised and reproducible image data.
Film camera recording raw images vs. digital camera performing sampling
Fig. 5
Reproduced
image
(Due to inappropriate exposure, the image is out of focus.)
7
3D image display
Left eye
Left Right Left Right Left Right
The 3D image is created by projecting the left and right eye
images sequentially, not simultaneously.
The 3D image appears in this slit zone
Light permeable parts
To create this state, shutters
like a liquid crystal shutter,
are used.
Light impermeable parts
6. CCD Camera
The evolution of the digital camera continues with the development of the CCD (charge-coupled device)
image sensor which increases the photosensitivity of photodiodes. CCDs are used in a variety of cameras
such as compact microscope cameras, camera cell phones, compact digital cameras, and large DSLR
cameras. The CCD provides the functionalities to meet a wide range of application needs including those
for astrophotography and security surveillance, and is also used for the autofocus function and for
exposure control. Furthermore, 3D cameras, which have been recently introduced into the market, capture
a realistic image exactly as the human eye would recognise the object by equipping a CCD camera with
two lenses. On the other hand, the use of the CMOS image sensor, which has often been used for night
vision cameras, is increasing.
Mechanisms of the CCD and 3D cameras
Fig. 6
Right eye
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Copyright (c) 2012 KEYENCE CORPORATION. All rights reserved. TechHistory1-WW-EN0724-GB 1072-1 E 600B22 Printed in Japan
The information in this publication is based on KEYENCEs internal research/evaluation at the time of release and is subject to change without notice.
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