Toronto. From the beginning of analogue (a sensitive coating and emulsion) most cameras were the size of their negative (or in some cases the positive) as prints (if needed) were contact printed. Glass Plate and film sizes varied to match the camera.
The media was generally from 16″ x 20″ down. In one case a size of 18″ x 22″ is mentioned. For minicams, the film fell to 2 1/4″ or even 1″ (35mm). When subminiature cameras were introduced the size dropped even further. Prints were also affected. Some tiny positives were inserted into Stanhope jewellery in the 1800s and during WW2, a full page was shrunk to the size of a period on a page making critical information appear quite innoculous.
The odd enlarger emerged in the 19th century allowing photographs taken wth smaller cameras to be enlarged. With the advent of the minicam revolution in the 20th century, enlargers became mandatory so the small negatives could be printed larger and easily viewed.
When digital technology arrived, the ‘film’ was replaced by a sensor and printing was done by computer making the old fashioned enlarger a thing of the past. As time passed sensors increased in resolution, size, and sensitivity while noise continued to decrease.
Note. The post title is a riff on a book by James Herriot, “All Creatures Great and Small“. Years ago, I bought a collection of Herriot’s books which were a charming read. The stories were about rural veterinary practice in England around and before WW2. The author was actually a vet trained in his native Glasgow and practicing in the Yorkshire dales.