The first portable camera consisted of a lensboard mounting a lens (which included the shutter assembly), and a backboard which had a piece of ground glass for focusing. These were connected by a lightproof bellows. The ground glass was replaced by film to take a picture. Today, we call this type of camera a field, large-format, or view camera. You can't beat them for flexibility in terms of making an image, and a 4x5 or 8x10 inch negative is tough to top in terms of resolution. On the other hand, it is tough to lug them around and they are slow to set up. Today, these are mainly used for pictures of scenery.

An improvement to the view camera was the addition of rolls of film to replace the single sheets. The film got smaller, cut into strips 220, 120, or 70 mm wide. Many different models used these wide rolls of film; among them were double-lens and single-lens reflex cameras. Today, many of the cameras using this wider type of film are sold as professional cameras or medium format cameras. Makes include Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax, Rollei and Fuji, among others.

There are a wide variety of 35mm camera available today. Basically, these differ in terms of lens interchangeability, viewing and focusing methods, and level of automation and control.

The simplest 35mm cameras available are the "one-use" or disposable cameras. Basically a cardboard box with a plastic film transport mechanism and a plastic lens, these "cameras" depend on forgiving color print film to make their images. Since the lenses don't focus, you don't expect a really clear image, and there is no way to adjust exposure (although some do have a simple flash or some limited shutter speed control). For the imager, the only use of these cameras (particularly the "waterproof" ones is to get a picture in situations you don't want to expose a good camera to.

Slightly above this level are a host of cheap cameras. The main difference with these is that you can load and reload the film yourself.

For flexibility, however, you can't beat the 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) camera. With it, you look through the main lens and see exactly what the film will see. These cameras are available with a huge range of lenses and accessories; they can be mounted on optical instruments from microscopes to telescopes; there is a wide variety of (relatively) inexpensive film available; processing is widely available; the equipment is of reasonable size and weight; and there are many models to choose from at a variety of prices

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