What Is a Camera?


A camera is a device that is used to transfer an image onto either a sheet of film or a space on a digital hard drive. It does this by collecting light that is reflected off an object and then creating a copy of the image on whatever storage device the particular camera uses. There a number of different of different types of cameras, some of which capture still images while others focus on moving images.


  • The precursor to the modern camera is known as the camera obscura, which was described in the 11th century in the "Book of Optics," written by Ibn al-Haytham. This was able to focus light and emit an image of what is outside of the device. In 1685, a portable camera obscura was created. In 1826, the first camera that was able to create a permanent photograph on film was created. Since then, cameras and camera technology have developed in amazing leaps and bounds. Video cameras were created, as were digital cameras, which made taking pictures cheaper and more efficient.


  • The most common type of camera today is the traditional film camera. These use rolls of black and white or color film and expose a single image onto a piece of film screen that can later be developed. Digital cameras are a more recent invention that increases the number of pictures that can be taken by uploading images onto a memory card rather than onto film. Video cameras are able to take multiple still shots at high speeds in order to create a moving picture. These also come in film and digital varieties.


  • While the shape, size, and color of cameras vary greatly, they can all be identified by the same components. A viewing lens is seen on one end that may or may not have padding over it, depending on the size of the camera. On the opposite end is a wider lens that collects light to form an image on film or through digital technology located inside the body of the camera. A flash is found on the front of camera or extending above it. Most cameras also have a shutter button on the top right of the camera body; this is used to take the photos.


  • Cameras have an aperture lens on their front end with a convex lens that collects light bounced off and created by objects in front of it. This light creates an image in much the same way as a telescope allows people to view objects. When the shutter button on a camera is pressed, the image of a single moment is taken and then transferred onto a sheet of film or onto a digital card. Video cameras take thousands of stills as long as they are on, which create a moving picture, so no shutter is needed. The lens of a camera can be shortened or extended to zoom in on images and turned to focus on them.


  • Cameras are very significant inventions that have allowed people to capture images for personal and professional use. They are important in the preservation of memories for friends and families and have led to the widespread use of photo albums as a family tradition. In the professional world, they are used for documentation purposes and they have also been used by artists to create creative images for display in galleries and photo books.

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