‘So where does the film go?’

So, it’s Sunday morning and you decide to go for a country walk. While walking across the moors you spot a deer and you whip out your mobile phone and take a quick snap before it runs away. Maybe you are a keen amateur photographer and carry your digital SLR with you for anything you think might look good on flickr.

Compared to some of the early photographers it is a completely different way of using photography. Early photography is invaluable in recording Victorian street scenes, especially the fascination on the faces of members of the public. Many wealthy people would keep photo albums with pictures of themselves, their families and noteable people of the day. We have some of these exhibited within the ‘Skill and Labour’ gallery in the museum. As with most things in the last century, they started getting smaller. It became easier to develop your own photos and cameras only needed to be slightly larger than the film which fitted inside.

Then came the digital revolution. Cameras are now incredibly small and can capture images to incredible detail. But in the mid 1990’s, this process was only just beginning. By the mid 1970’s digital cameras were being used by the military and governments for spying satellites. By 1991 Kodak released the first digital camera for professional photo-journalists, and by 1995 the first digital cameras aimed at consumers were released. One of the first cameras to be realeased was the Kodak DC40 on the 28th March 1995, and it is one of these models which sits in the museum collection and is the focus of today’s blog.

One of the Worlds first Digital Cameras for the general public

The camera used 4 lithium batteries and could connect with a mac or pc. For anyone with an interest in the technical specifications it took pictures at 756 x 504 resolution, was in 24bit colour and could hold upto 48 high resolution images. When using the flash a photograph could be taken once every 8 seconds and it needed 6MB of RAM and 10MB of hard disk space on your computer to process the images.

Compared to my mobile phone, which houses a camera, it is a hefty unit

Considering the size of modern cameras it is quite bulky, especially when you consider all mobile phones now have good quality cameras installed in them. But at the time, especially considering many people did not even own a pc, this was a technological breathrough which has changed the way people use photography and share their photos.

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Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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