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47 votes
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Why is "The Steerage" hailed "one of the greatest photographs of all time"?

Stieglitz and his photo, "The Steerage" are hailed as great not because of its compositional excellence (at least one aspect of the composition is brilliant, and some of the lines in the frame can be ...
Michael C's user avatar
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35 votes
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What is the rationale for having less than 36 frames in a single 35mm film roll?

Before roll film there was sheet film. With sheet film a photographer could select particular films with particular emulsions individually for every shot they took. Applicable characteristics of a ...
Michael C's user avatar
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25 votes

How was photo data processed and transferred back to Earth from satellites before digital photography became commonplace?

Luna 3 did something as complicated as you thought: It took photos on a film, processed it in a kind of onboard minilab, and then scanned and radioed it back home in analog way not unlike an old fax. ...
Agent_L's user avatar
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24 votes
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What do the numbers in film formats reference?

Kodak started making "pocket" cameras in 1895, and each new design used a different film format — different sizes, aspect ratios, cartridge types, and orientations. By 1908, they decided to simplify ...
mattdm's user avatar
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21 votes

How was film developed in the late 1920s?

My antique wooden Kodak™ day-light loader (ca. 1905) was made with a removable spool of thin (now quite brittle) perforated celluloid with raised rubber edges. The film was sandwiched between the ...
Stan's user avatar
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20 votes

How was photo data processed and transferred back to Earth from satellites before digital photography became commonplace?

Amongst the myriad online pages documenting the Viking series, here's one which states clearly The Viking Lander camera design was very different from vidicon framing or CCD array cameras. The ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
18 votes
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What are the benefits of the classic f-number scheme?

What is the purpose ... for the existing convention? Math. It's because in many equations regarding simple optics, the ratio \$N = f/D\$ (where \$N\$ is the f-number, and $D$ is the lens (or more ...
scottbb's user avatar
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17 votes

Why did they ever make smaller than full-frame sensors?

The first mainstream applications for electronic image sensors (be it Image-Orthicons, Vidicons, Plumbicons, or CCDs, or CMOS active pixel sensors, be it analog-electronic or digital workflows) were ...
rackandboneman's user avatar
15 votes
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What is the dented wheel with holes inside the Polaroid Land Camera Model 150

That particular ring, by itself, is the aperture stop. The normal operating mode of the Land Camera (150, at least) was a coordinated exposure system that coupled particular shutter speeds and ...
scottbb's user avatar
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15 votes
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What was the "revolutionary" digital camera with infinite depth of field and focus adjustment in post-processing?

I'm guessing you're referring to the Lytro by Lytro, Inc. It's an example of a light-field or plenoptic camera.
Engineero's user avatar
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14 votes

What is the rationale for having less than 36 frames in a single 35mm film roll?

Just my notions, but some people did not take so many pictures. It might take weeks or months before they would expect to accumulate 36 exposures. Rolls of 24 were a little less expensive, and less to ...
WayneF's user avatar
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14 votes

How were photographs printed in newspapers in 1929?

I was apprenticed to a photoengraving company in 1946. We used the Colodion or Wet plate process to make halftone negatives and a glass cross line screen. Newspapers used a coarse screen with 55 to ...
Del Trayler's user avatar
13 votes

What camera did Ed White use during the first space walk?

I was the one who prepared the camera for this mission, It was a Zeiss-Ikon Contarex Special; everybody could buy this model. Because the Astronaut was wearing a bulky helmet, he could not get his ...
Erwin Störrle's user avatar
13 votes

How was film developed in the late 1920s?

You might look at the Wikipedia Photography Technology timeline. A few key points from that reference: 1909 – Kodak produces 35 mm motion picture film on an acetate (less flammable) base 1913 - Kodak ...
DrMoishe Pippik's user avatar
13 votes

Is space radiation a risk for space film photography, and how is this prevented?

While radiation above the atmosphere is indeed higher than on Earth, it is not so high as to ruin photographic film as quickly as your question would imply. The amounts you reference from NASA are ...
cmason's user avatar
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9 votes

Why were disposable flashes prominent for so long?

First, the real money for Kodak, Agfa, Fuji, Konica etc. was the amateur market. Kodak had built its business on the “Brownie”. This profit channel was the camera itself and its film. Camera sales ...
Alan Marcus's user avatar
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9 votes
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What is the crank on the side of this lens used by David Douglas Duncan?

The crank is for rotating the prisms in front of the lens. Prismatic lenses place prisms in the optical path of the lens. These provide a unique special effect. If you look at the front of the lens in ...
Michael C's user avatar
  • 175k
9 votes

Is space radiation a risk for space film photography, and how is this prevented?

Radiation encounterd during space missions, effect on film was well studied by NASA: The Effects of Space Radiation on Flight Film (pdf) A few days in space is generally the equal of about 150 days ...
Alan Marcus's user avatar
  • 39.4k
9 votes

Why did they ever make smaller than full-frame sensors?

Big sensors cost more than small sensors for more-or-less the same reason that big TVs cost more than small TVs. Compare a 30-inch TV and a 60-inch TV (about 75cm and 150cm, if you prefer). ...
hobbs's user avatar
  • 919
8 votes

What was the Group f.64, and why were they important?

The f.64 group was founded by Ansel Adams and his peers in the early 1930s. The group promoted the art of the "clearness and definition of the photographic image" (quote of their words), with photos ...
WayneF's user avatar
  • 12.9k
8 votes

Would a professional photographer in 1920s Europe have access to an enlarger?

The answer to your question is yes, a pro photog in 1920's Europe would definitely have had access to a darkroom enlarger. In fact, some enlargers available in the early 1920s were amazingly ...
Phil Hopkins's user avatar
8 votes
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Why is the standard f-number system not consistently rounded?

Probably for the same reason exposure times are inconsistently rounded. The difference between the "actual" target f-numbers as powers of √2 and the rounded numbers we use is so trivial as ...
Michael C's user avatar
  • 175k
7 votes
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How can daguerreotypes be both negative and positive?

It's possible because the tonal range of the image is rendered primarily as a range of diffusion of reflectivity. The highly-exposed areas, what we would normally think of as "lighter", are rendered ...
junkyardsparkle's user avatar
7 votes

Why did they ever make smaller than full-frame sensors?

Because you specifically asked about history... I'd suggest: size, weight, & cost. All those considerations were equally true in the pre-digital (ie film) days. A popular film format was the 110 ...
Frank Van Hooft's user avatar
7 votes

Why did they ever make smaller than full-frame sensors?

Long before digital, people sought to produce smaller film formats to address manufacturing, usability, and other cost-benefit issues, which are described in other answers. What is now known as "full ...
xiota's user avatar
  • 27k
7 votes
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Why did early photographs need such long exposure times?

This is due to the low sensitivity of the plate... Around 0.001 ISO for a daguerreotype. Photography chemistry made some progress in two centuries. This said, in the film era, 100ISO (100ASA, ...
xenoid's user avatar
  • 21.6k
6 votes
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Why were disposable flashes prominent for so long?

Electronic flashes existed, but they were bulky and inconvenient to use compared to the disposable flash cubes. To get a reasonable number of flashes per battery or per charge, the battery had to be ...
Olin Lathrop's user avatar
  • 17.4k
6 votes

Why is "The Steerage" hailed "one of the greatest photographs of all time"?

To me, it this picture is a masterpiece because its author basically invented the concept of "telling a story with a photo", while working with a fairly new technology. As (relatively) inexpensive ...
GhislainCote's user avatar

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