These days we take it for granted that we can capture a single moment with the click of a button. Photography hasn’t always been as simple as it is now, but it has arguably always been pretty awesome. To celebrate photography or, more accurately, the devices that make it possible, Pop Chart Lab has designed a stunning new poster that tracks the history of the camera from 1888 to today. The poster, called “A Visual Compendium of Cameras,” features hand-illustrated images of 100 different cameras that can be considered landmarks in the history of photography.
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The poster begins with the original 1888 Kodak camera, concludes with two new 2013 models, and depicts influential cameras from nearly every decade in between. According to Will Prince, Managing Editor at Pop Chart Lab, the selection process for the featured cameras was guided by three “i”s: They sought to include “cameras that were important to the evolution of photography, cameras that were interesting or weird, and finally cameras that have great cultural influence, be it through general iconography or ubiquity," he says.
Some cameras, like Kodak's Brownie and the first SLRs, were included because “they set the standard for new generations of photography and how people captured reality in still images," Prince says. "Certain devices, while not necessarily changing the mold of the medium, were so fun—[like in their] body design and quality of the developed picture—that they achieved almost cult followings in the tech world. This goes especially for plastic 'toy' cameras like the Diana F+ and the Lomography Action Sampler, whose lousy-but-awesome outputs are coveted by vintage-obsessed photography devotees."
The images on this poster can help us appreciate the advances photographic technology has made throughout these generations, to the point where we can now snap photos with our iPhones, a device that also made the list. “It's no secret that most photo-philes cringe when someone shows them an ‘almost professional’ shot taken on someone's phone," Prince says. "But there's also no denying the iPhone's influence—it's the world's most popular camera.”
While many of the cameras on this poster earned their place by being innovative and groundbreaking, a few nabbed their spots by simply being unique. The Minox Spy Camera, for example. "The Minox is evocative of Cold War espionage, all James Bond and pulp spy hero," Prince says. "The camera itself could be taped inside your collared shirt, the little protracted lens placed into one of your button holes. Probably really good for snapping secret documents and contraband."
Another interesting camera was the Graph-Check Sequence Machine. “[It] had eight little lenses and shutters, like the eyes of a bug," Prince says. "The shutters went off in sequence, capturing eight moments in time of a moving object. This would of course prefigure rapid-shot sequencing today, which can be done with a single lens instead of eight.”
If you are at all inclined towards loving photography, you should take the time to check out this assortment of cameras—“the cameras that changed the game, made it fun, and made it everyone's to play,” according to Prince.