Vintage Photos Of Photographers Show Just How Far Our Gear Has Come

Vintage Photos Of Photographers Show Just How Far Our Gear Has Come

I just got off a plane from a job in London a few days ago. It necessitated bringing some gear, and while I made every effort to travel light, it still felt like a huge amount of weight to carry. As soon as I saw these vintage photographer photos, however, I realized I had almost no grounds to complain about the imposition of the size or weight of my gear ever again.

With the pace of technological change, and our desire for camera manufacturers to produce products that are better and simultaneously smaller and lighter, it’s all too easy to forget just how far gear development has come in even the last decade alone.

What about if we look back a little further, say, over the last 100 years or more? These vintage images of photographers and their gear show the incredible leaps that we’ve made in what amounts to a pretty short amount of time in the history of photography.

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What’s fascinating (at least to me) is that these images don’t just provide entertainment value in terms of looking back at how cumbersome some of this gear must have been to transport and use. It also shows how quickly gear has developed, and as the rate of change is exponentially faster thanks to Moore’s Law, it’s exciting to think about what advances the near term future might bring.

Via [CreativeLive Blog]

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13 Comments

It all comes down to "best tool" for the specific shot & required/ desired output size. Sometimes that means using a digital 24x36mm camera, other times MF, and even LF film for certain images. Just like digital continues progressing, film has advanced at well (ex..Ektar & New Portra released within the last several years).

I'm not so sure about film advancement. I think most of that is change for the sake of sales. I doubt you're going to see much difference. While you may still have Ektar & Portra, gone is Ektachrome, Velvia 50, and of course, Kodachrome. Not exactly seeing that as progress. Understandable of course, but slim pickins'. ;-)

Those cameras at the polo grounds were probably relatively light for their size and medium. I wonder how long before we can effectively use something like carbon fiber mirrorless systems.

All i get when i see these pictures is... "Darn it i want one of those cameras" =)

Here is the Navy's first attempt at a bullet time rig.

From what I've read (I think in Capa's Autobiography: Slightly Out of Focus) These sort of big box cameras were still being used during 2nd World War. It was only the photographers that could afford them who could buy the new, smaller 35mm cameras such as Leica's.

Capa used one on D-day, in fact, as well as the famous picture of the marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima.

Just for the record, every time I see anything to do with technological advancement people quote moore's law.... and while I've no doubt there is an indirect correlation... it still isn't correct.

"Moore's law is the observation that, over the history of computing
hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit
doubles approximately every two years."

Moore's law is also been obsolete for some time even in it's intended context. The very laws of physics at the [sub] atomic level are giving us trouble in making smaller transistors.

LOL, love the tripod third picture down! It's awesome what these photographers had to deal with to get the shot.

Mike Pomazal's picture

Some things haven't changed at all.

conclusion: cameras were much smaller

I love the 3rd photo. This is totally what the assistants are for!