AskDefine | Define camera

Dictionary Definition



1 equipment for taking photographs (usually consisting of a lightproof box with a lens at one end and light-sensitive film at the other) [syn: photographic camera]
2 television equipment consisting of a lens system that focuses an image on a photosensitive mosaic that is scanned by an electron beam [syn: television camera, tv camera] [also: camerae (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From camera obscura, dark chamber, because the first cameras used a pinhole and a dark room; from Latin camera, chamber or bedchamber, from cama, bed.


  • a UK /ˈkæm.ɹə/|/ˈkæm.ə(ɹ).ə /"k

Extensive Definition

A camera is a device used to capture images, either as still photographs or as sequences of moving images (movies or videos). The term comes from the Latin camera obscura for "dark chamber" for an early mechanism of projecting images where an entire room functioned as a real-time imaging system; the modern camera evolved from the camera obscura.
Cameras may work with the light of the visible spectrum or with other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. A camera generally consists of an enclosed hollow with an opening (aperture) at one end for light to enter, and a recording or viewing surface for capturing the light at the other end. Most cameras have a lens positioned in front of the camera's opening to gather the incoming light and focus all or part of the image on the recording surface. The diameter of the aperture is often controlled by a diaphragm mechanism, but some cameras have a fixed-size aperture.


The forerunner to the camera was the camera obscura. The camera obscura is an instrument consisting of a darkened chamber or box, into which light is admitted through a convex lens, forming an image of external objects on a surface of paper or glass, etc., placed at the focus of the lens. The camera obscura was first invented by the Iraqi scientist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) as described in his Book of Optics (1015-1021). English scientist Robert Boyle and his assistant Robert Hooke later developed a portable camera obscura in the 1660s.
The first camera that was small and portable enough to be practical for photography was built by Johann Zahn in 1685, though it would be almost 150 years before technology caught up to the point where this was practical. Early photographic cameras were essentially similar to Zahn's model, though usually with the addition of sliding boxes for focusing. Before each exposure, a sensitized plate would be inserted in front of the viewing screen to record the image. Jacques Daguerre's popular daguerreotype process utilized copper plates, while the calotype process invented by William Fox Talbot recorded images on paper. The first permanent photograph was made in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce using a sliding wooden box camera made by Charles and Vincent Chevalier in Paris. Niépce built on a discovery by Johann Heinrich Schultz (1724): a silver and chalk mixture darkens under exposure to light. However, while this was the birth of photography, the camera itself can be traced back much further. Before the invention of photography, there was no way to preserve the images produced by these cameras apart from manually tracing them.
The development of the collodion wet plate process by Frederick Scott Archer in 1850 cut exposure times dramatically, but required photographers to prepare and develop their glass plates on the spot, usually in a mobile darkroom. Despite their complexity, the wet-plate ambrotype and tintype processes were in widespread use in the latter half of the 19th century. Wet plate cameras were little different from previous designs, though there were some models, such as the sophisticated Dubroni of 1864, where the sensitizing and developing of the plates could be carried out inside the camera itself rather than in a separate darkroom. Other cameras were fitted with multiple lenses for making cartes de visite. It was during the wet plate era that the use of bellows for focusing became widespread.
The first colour photograph was made by James Clerk Maxwell, with the help of Thomas Sutton, in 1861


Image capture

Traditional cameras capture light onto photographic film or photographic plate. Video and digital cameras use electronics, usually a charge coupled device (CCD) or sometimes a CMOS sensor to capture images which can be transferred or stored in tape or computer memory inside the camera for later playback or processing.
Cameras that capture many images in sequence are known as movie cameras or as ciné cameras in Europe; those designed for single images are still cameras. However these categories overlap, as still cameras are often used to capture moving images in special effects work and modern digital cameras are often able to trivially switch between still and motion recording modes. A video camera is a category of movie camera that captures images electronically (either using analogue or digital technology).
A Stereo camera can take photographs that appear "three-dimensional" by taking two different photographs that can be combined to create the illusion of depth in the composite image. Stereo cameras for making 3D prints or slides have two lenses side by side. Stereo cameras for making lenticular prints have 3, 4, 5, or even more lenses. Some film cameras feature date imprinting devices that can print a date on the negative itself.


Due to the optical properties of photographic lenses, only objects within an exact range of distances from the camera will be reproduced clearly. The process of adjusting this range is known as changing the camera's focus. There are various ways of focusing a camera accurately. The simplest cameras have fixed focus and use a small aperture and wide-angle lens to ensure that everything within a certain range of distance from the lens, usually around 3 metres (10 ft) to infinity, is in reasonable focus. Fixed focus cameras are usually inexpensive types, such as single-use cameras. The camera can also have a limited focusing range or scale-focus that is indicated on the camera body. The user will guess or calculate the distance to the subject and adjust the focus accordingly. On some cameras this is indicated by symbols (head-and-shoulders; two people standing upright; one tree; mountains).
Rangefinder cameras allow the distance to objects to be measured by means of a coupled parallax unit on top of the camera, allowing the focus to be set with accuracy. Single-lens reflex cameras allow the photographer to determine the focus and composition visually using the objective lens and a moving mirror to project the image onto a ground glass or plastic micro-prism screen. Twin-lens reflex cameras use an objective lens and a focusing lens unit (usually identical to the objective lens) in a parallel body for composition and focusing. View cameras use a ground glass screen which is removed and replaced by either a photographic plate or a reusable holder containing sheet film before exposure. Modern cameras often offer autofocus systems to focus the camera automatically by a variety of methods.

Exposure control

The size of the aperture and the brightness of the scene controls the amount of light that enters the camera during a period of time, and the shutter controls the length of time that the light hits the recording surface. Equivalent exposures can be made with a larger aperture and a faster shutter speed or a corresponding smaller aperture and with the shutter speed slowed down.

Image gallery

See also




External links

camera in Arabic: كاميرا
camera in Azerbaijani: Fotoaparat
camera in Bulgarian: Фотоапарат
camera in Catalan: Càmera fotogràfica
camera in Czech: Fotoaparát
camera in Danish: Kamera
camera in German: Fotoapparat
camera in Estonian: Fotoaparaat
camera in Modern Greek (1453-): Φωτογραφική μηχανή
camera in Spanish: Cámara fotográfica
camera in Esperanto: Fotilo
camera in French: Appareil photographique
camera in Galician: Cámara fotográfica
camera in Hindi: कैमरा
camera in Korean: 사진기
camera in Ido: Kamero
camera in Indonesian: Kamera
camera in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Camera photographic
camera in Icelandic: Ljósmyndavél
camera in Italian: Macchina fotografica
camera in Hebrew: מצלמה
camera in Luxembourgish: Fotoapparat
camera in Hungarian: Kamera
camera in Macedonian: Камера
camera in Malayalam: ഛായാഗ്രാഹി
camera in Malay (macrolanguage): Kamera
camera in Dutch: Fotocamera
camera in Japanese: カメラ
camera in Norwegian: Kamera
camera in Polish: Aparat fotograficzny
camera in Portuguese: Câmera
camera in Romanian: Aparat fotografic
camera in Russian: Фотоаппарат
camera in Simple English: Camera
camera in Slovenian: Fotoaparat
camera in Finnish: Kamera
camera in Swedish: Kamera
camera in Tamil: படம்பிடிகருவி
camera in Thai: กล้องถ่ายภาพ
camera in Vietnamese: Máy ảnh
camera in Turkish: Fotoğraf makinası
camera in Ukrainian: Фотокамера
camera in Urdu: عکاسہ
camera in Yiddish: קאמערא
camera in Contenese: 相機
camera in Chinese: 照相機

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Iconoscope, Kodak, Photostat, SLR, X-ray machine, achromatic lens, aerial reconnaissance camera, astigmatic lens, astrograph, box camera, burning glass, camera obscura, candid camera, cinematograph, coated lens, color camera, concave lens, concavo-convex lens, condenser, convex lens, eyeglass, eyepiece, glass, hand lens, kinematograph, lens, magnifier, magnifying glass, meniscus, miniature camera, minicam, motion-picture camera, movie camera, object glass, objective, objective prism, ocular, photochronograph, photocopier, photomicroscope, photopitometer, portrait camera, precision camera, press camera, prism, reader, reading glass, reflex camera, spectroscopic camera, stereo camera, still camera, telephoto lens, television camera, toric lens, tripod camera, twin-lens reflex, varifocal lens, vest-pocket camera, zoom lens
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1