The Camera Lucida is an optical instrument used for drawing Microscopic objects. The camera lucida performs an optical superimposition of the object being viewed upon the drawing paper on which the diagram is drawing.
Through the Camera Lucida it is easy to view both the object and drawing surface simultaneously. This allows us to duplicate key points of the object image on the drawing surface, thus aiding in the accurate rendering of perspective. At times, the we can even trace the outlines of objects.
The name “camera Lucida” is derived from Latin which means “lit room”. The camera Lucida is a light, portable device that does not require special lighting conditions. No image is projected by the camera lucida.
Drawing the Image
In the simplest form of camera lucida, the artist looks down at the drawing surface through a half-silvered mirror tilted at 45 degrees. This superimposes a direct view of the drawing surface beneath, and a reflected view of a scene horizontally in front of the artist. The instrument often includes a weak negative lens, creating a virtual image of the scene at about the same distance as the drawing surface, so that both can be viewed in good focus simultaneously. If white paper is used with the camera lucida, the superimposition of the paper with the scene tends to wash out the scene, making it difficult to view
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