How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 1027

How does a picture camera work? — HW, Ypsilanti, MI
A picture camera uses a lens to form a real image of a distant scene on the surface of a sheet of film. The lens bends rays of light so that all the light from a certain spot on the scene that passes through the lens comes together to a single point on the film. You can see this real image formation process with a magnifying glass. Just go into a darkened room with one window on a sunny day and hold the magnifying glass a few inches away from the wall opposite the window. You should see an inverted image of the window and the scene outside it projected on the wall. If you don't move the lens toward or away from the wall until that image forms. Everything else about a camera is just helping that lens form its image on the film in a controlled fashion. The camera's shutter limits the amount of time that light has to form this image. The focus controls make sure that light from the object you are interested in forms a sharp image on the film and doesn't appear blurry.

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