What is a camera?

The basics

Basically, a camera is simply a light-tight box, the famous “camera obscura” from in Italy, but with a lens instead of a simple hole, consisting of one or more glass lenses, allowing the entry and the focusing of the light, and a light control mechanism (shutter and diaphragm).

Please show image: Schematic view of the "camera obscura"

Click to enlarge: Schematic view of the “camera obscura”


Today a camera is a mechanism for capturing still or moving images (video). This mechanism may be independent or it may be integrated within another device, like a smart phone. Stand alone cameras are increasingly being replaced by smart phones, equipped with electronic sensors and lenses, enabling them to capture still or moving images (video) at high resolution.

Digital or film?

Fewer and fewer photographers still use film technology, i.e. using photographic film cameras, in part because of its relative complexity and the high cost of film and developing. In addition, digital technology is more flexible from all points of view. The image is visible immediately, so it is possible to know if the photo is good or not. Also, a color image can very easily be converted to black and white. Or in myriads of ways not possible otherwise. Alss, it can beinstantaneously transmitted to the other side of the world, shared with thousands of people, etc. Personally, I ONLY see advantages to modern digital technology. However, some photographers still prefer the look of silver-based images and traditional processing methods,such as developing films, working in the darkroom, etc.

Boy! So much technical terminology!

Don’t worry! One of this site’s the goals is to help you find your way and understand the technical jargon.


Did you find this article interesting? Or that it is flawed in some way? Please let me know what you think below! Your comments are invaluable to me and will help me improve this site!

© Charles Martel 2015 To Web editors: Please place a link to this article on your site, if you believe that it may be of interest to your readers. If you wish to republish it on your site, please contact me first, via the contact page above. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>