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Two W H F Talbot 'mousetrap' cameras, c 1835.

Two W H F Talbot 'mousetrap' cameras, c 1835.
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm


Two cameras asociated with the British pioneer of photography W H F Talbot (1800-1877). On the left is a small experimental camera with a lens; on the right a similar camera with no lens, both produced in 1834-1836, making them the oldest surviving cameras made in Britain. The cameras were very small and relatively crude; effectively pinhole cameras with a lens and a piece of photographic paper cut to the appropriate size sealed in the back. Talbot used a series of these cameras as he developed the first negative/positive photographic proces, meaning that any number of positive prints could be made from a single negative image. They gained their name from Talbot's wife, who believed they looked like 'mousetraps'.

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© National Museum of Science & Media / Science & Society Picture Library

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