When dining at a fancy Japanese restaurant, it seems almost instinctive to immortalise your beautifully-curated sashimi platter in an Instagram-worthy picture, posting it on your feed for the world to see. Whether you’re using a digital camera or your trusty smartphone, photography has become so easily available to the masses that we snap photos without a second thought.
Which makes us wonder: How did photography come about? And what would the world’s first photographer (Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, by the way) think about his invention being used (and abused) for repetitive photos of the Nasi Lemak burger, as well as “artistic” selfies taken by the likes of Kylie Jenner?
Before smartphone photography came into existence, photography was a form of art practised by skilled shutterbugs, photojournalists and artists alike. Their weapons of choice? Only the best cameras from leading companies of that era. One of the big names is Nikon, which celebrated its 100th anniversary just last week. Founded in Tokyo on 25 July 1917 by Koyata Iwasaki as Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha, the iconic brand proceeded to introduce many of its early cameras to the market, including the legendary Nikon F — which has revolutionised SLR (single-lens reflex) photography.
And while Nikon has some of the most iconic cameras of all time, it shares the throne with other illustrious names. From Pentax to Leica and Hasselblad, these are the cameras that have set the path for some of the most premium cameras of today — including our beloved iPhone cameras.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most significant cameras in history — which have been used by some of the world’s most notable photographers, journalists, musicians and royals alike.