A camera, with its many components, is a complicated piece of engineering. The process of taking photographs is simple for the user to just aim and click; however, there are many intricate parts working in the camera to produce the picture. Camera technology has improved vastly over the past 50 years, from the use of film to digital photography. However, each part of the camera still must do its part for everything to function.
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The camera lens focuses light on the film. Camera lenses are typically made of glass or plastic to reflect light. When light passes from air to glass, it slows down. This is what happens in the camera lens in a process called refraction. Capturing light in the lens differs with how close the rays are to the film. Focusing the lens allows the light rays to move closer for light that is more concentrated. Bigger lenses have more concentrated light because they can capture more light.
The shutter exposes the film in a 35-millimeter camera to light, or in any film camera. In a digital camera, the shutter exposes the digital sensor to light. The film is no longer protected by the lens when the shutter opens up. The length of time the shutter is open determines the quality of a picture. A faster shutter speed makes clearer pictures. Shutter speed can range anywhere from minute fractions of a second to 30 seconds. Shutter speeds vary depending on the type of camera.
The viewfinder is a part typically found on 35mm cameras. The small device helps photographers frame the object they are trying to shoot. Some cameras have the option to turn off the viewfinder when it is not in use to save battery life. However, most digital cameras do not have a viewfinder because the object framing occurs on the screen itself. Modern cameras are held at arm's length so the entire object can be viewed on the screen.
A prism is a part of the single lens camera that allows it to function. Taking a picture without a prism would result in a mirror image. When light enters the camera it travels to a mirror at the back of the camera. The light then bounces off the camera mirror to the prism, which turns the picture back to the viewfinder. The photographer can then see the picture without a mirrored reflection. This is also how the picture will copy onto the film.
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