A History of Photography – Part Five

Kodak Instamatic 100 (from Wikipedia)

Kodak Instamatic 100 (from Wikipedia)

Camera Automation

The first fully automatic camera was introduced by Agfa in 1959. Able to calculate an exposure the camera signaled a new era in camera development. By the mid-nineteen sixties the market boasted automatic cameras of many sorts. Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera were expensive. Their popularity among enthusiasts began in the 1970s. The Kodak Instamatic was a different proposition. Aimed at the popular market the Instamatic was easy to load using a film cartridge. The aperture, speed and focus were fixed. The user did not need to know photography to take a successful picture. It followed in the tradition of the Kodak Brownie.

Instamatics were simple and hugely popular. Look-a-likes appeared that created models from the basic, right through to SLR versions. The first Instamatic sold in 1963. From then to 1972 the Kodak brand topped 50 million units sold. Later developments were also popular – with the pocket sized versions of the 1970s a hit. [ Instamatics – more…  ] External link - opens new tab/page

The internal light-metering cameras came to market in 1964. The Pentax Spotmatic    External link - opens new tab/page was one of the first SLRs to provide Through-The-Lens exposure metering (TTL metering). The camera takes a light reading through the lens.The user can then make an exposure decision by matching the meter readouts. The camera was not an automatic camera in its early forms. Pentax continued its development. In 1972 the international release of the Electro-Spotmatic outside of Japan became the Aperture-priority, electronic, automatic SLR. By today’s standard the capability of this automation was limited. Nevertheless it heralded an on-going race toward general automation.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

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Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
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