The Daguerreotyp-Apparat zum Portraitiren (daguerreotype apparatus for portraying) was the first camera made of metal. Maybe it was the first camera series ever with a scientifically calculated lens. The Hungarian (native Slovakian) Professor Jozef Maximilián Petzval designed the lens for Voigtländer in Vienna. It was the fastest camera lens of its time, with an aperture of f3.6- allowing exposures as short as one minute[1].

The lens was mounted in a tube which could be moved using a screw mechanism for focusing; the lens tube was mounted on to a conical body, with a ground-glass focusing screen at the widest point. Another conical section was fitted over the focusing screen, with a magnifying eyepiece at the end to help with focus. Once the image was focused, the lens cap was put on and the camera was taken off the stand and into the dark room, where the viewing cone* and the focus screen were replaced by a Daguerreotype plate. The camera could then be returned to the stand, which located it back into the same position to maintain the focus and composition. Exposure was then made by removing the lens cap. After exposure, the camera had to be returned to the dark to remove and process the plate[2].


  1. Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 1969 edition, Focal Press
  2. Coe, Brian, Cameras, from Daguerreotypes to Instant Pictures, Marshal Cavendish, 1978

* actually a frustum, not a whole cone