Process camera

A process camera is a specialised form of camera used for mass reproduction of graphic materials. The original document was photographed and the negatives (or positive films)produced were used to produce printing plates or other graphic media - usually via some kind of process where the negative was put in intimate contact with a printing plate in a vacuum frame(the printing plate having a U.V light-sensitive coating) and exposed to U.V. light. See offset lithography, silk screen printing, Photozincography and Heliozincography for more information on this process.

Producing printing plates via photographic methods was pioneered by Ordnance Survey in around 1893. This process lasted around 100 years before digital technology made it become obsolete very quickly.

Process cameras were still widely in use until the late 1980s and early 1990s. At that time, computer-to-plate technology became economically viable and had significant advantages over the analogue process cameras. There was no need for staff to operate the cameras or expose the negatives and this also meant that the chemicals and film and subsequent expense required for traditional methods were no longer necessary. In some industries, large production areas were replaced by one relatively compact machine - this also having a significant impact on the buildings used for graphic reproduction. As a result, the process camera has become obsolete very quickly indeed and very few remain in use.

Further reading

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