25 cameras that changed the world


We may not have fallen in love with the Lytro’s performance (read our review), but we can’t deny its mould-busting status: it makes “computational photography” a reality, in which you can refocus images, correct distortion and improve exposure after a photo has been taken. It has its issues, but we’re expecting big things from Lytro in the near future.

Siemens electron microscope

Not the sort of camera you find in the average home, sure – but the electron microscope (of which Siemens made the first commercial model) is a hugely important part of optical history. Using a beam of electrons, it can magnify its subject by up to 10,000,000x (compared to 2,000x for an optical microscope). This allows the user to observe cells, microorganisms and even large molecules in insane amounts of detail.

More after the break...

Fujifilm Utsurun-Desu

Before mobile phones meant everyone had a camera in his or her pocket, cheap photography was made possible by the likes of the Utsurun-Desu, Fujifilm’s disposable camera. Translating literally as “it takes pictures”, this range kicked off in 1986 and the idea behind it – a roll of film coupled to a lens and shutter, all of which could be sent off for processing – was quickly copied by rival companies.

Hubble Space Telescope

Lifted into orbit over 20 years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope is responsible for some of the most amazing images of deep space in history. It takes these using its 2.4-metre aperture and an ability to capture visible, near infrared and near ultraviolet light, and its observations have led to advancements in astrophysics. Despite its age, the Hubble is expected to function for another couple of years at least – but a replacement is already in the works.

Panasonic G1

The G1 was the first digital mirrorless interchangeable camera (or “compact system camera” as the product type later came to be known), taking the large sensor and lens-swapping skills of a DSLR and stripping out the pentaprism and viewfinder for a much smaller, more portable package. The G1 introduced the Micro Four Thirds lens system, also used by Olympus’ PEN range of compact system cameras.

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