[FOUNTAIN]The use and abuse of camerasThe word “camera” originally referred to a round ceiling or room in Latin. In 15th century Europe, a device called a “camera obscura,” meaning “dark room,” came into widespread use.
A camera obscura is essentially a dark chamber with a small hole in one wall. An outside image is projected onto the wall opposite the hole. This was a useful invention for observing solar eclipses or drawing a rough sketch of a landscape. The camera obscura was a primitive form of camera, with the hole working as a lens and the wall as film.
In the early 20th century, Europeans started using the word “photographic” to indicate a camera shop in order to avoid having people misinterpret a sign saying “camera” as indicating a real- estate agency. The precursor of the modern 35-millimeter film camera is the Ur-Leica model created by Oscar Barnack of Germany in 1913. Barnack, who worked for the Ernest Leitz camera company, which later became Leica, invented an Ur-Leica prototype in order to test movie film speed. Barnack single-handedly created the Ur-Leica, and the timeless masterpiece is still considered the global standard for a film camera.
The Japanese electronics company Sony made a breakthrough in 1981, when it developed a filmless electronic camera. It was still an analog model, but the new technology enabled Japanese newspapers to send pictures of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games’ opening ceremony immediately to their headquarters in Japan to be published in that day’s evening paper.
Digital photography emerged in 1990, but it was only for black-and-white photos at first until Toshiba of Japan expanded the technology to color pictures.
The union of the mobile telephone and digital photography opened a new chapter in the history of photography in 2000 with the introduction of camera phones. Korea is one of the most advanced countries in this technology in the world, and Koreans have rapidly become hooked to the convenient and user-friendly technology.
But some users abuse the technology by secretly filming private moments or stealing technology from others. Critics say the use of camera phones should be restricted, and some companies have banned the item. But it is the users, not the cameras, who take pictures secretly and steal technology. Controlling the development or use of innocent devices will not make a difference.
by Nahm Yoon-ho
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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