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The Pinhole Camera History

in Technology by

The pinhole camera is one of the earliest cameras used in photography. It is an-odd looking thing because, unlike other cameras, a pinhole camera does not use lenses to take pictures. To explain, images are projected into the pinhole camera when light passes through a tiny hole in its box-like frame. According to, the small hole of the pinhole camera can focus light by directing it through a single point. This article will talk about the pinhole camera history.

Early Discoveries of The Ancient Greeks

Pinhole camera history in says that pinhole cameras were already used by the Greeks as early as 500 B.C. It was a common belief that people were able to see because the light rays were bouncing from the human eye. adds that, later on, they found out that seeing was actually an effect of light rays entering into the eye, rather than bouncing from it. This important realization led to a better understanding of how the pinhole camera works.

Ancient china

Mo Jing, a Mohist philosopher in 5th century-China, was said to have studied and experimented with phenomenona of images projected via a very small hole. Because of this, the Mohist philosopher was able to contribute to the development of the pinhole camera and the Burning Mirrors used by the ancient Mohists. Much of the pinhole camera history revolves around key events in Ancient China. In fact, also states that Shen Huo, a Chinese scientist during the Song Dynasty, was able to establish the key geometrical and quantitative concepts vital to the development of the pinhole camera.

1000 to 1600 A.D.

The 10th century Muslim mathematician Ibn al-haytam is credited for inventing the first modern pinhole camera. Further advancements were made to the pinhole camera when the Muslim mathematician realized that a smaller hole produced a more sharper image.

In addition, more ideas and studies were done by the brilliant minds of Gemma Frisuis and Giambattista della Porta. These two published a paper explaining why images projected into the pinhole camera appeared upside down. Lynn Bryant, writing for a video surveillance website, said that the studies made by Gemma Frisuis’ of a solar ecplipse projected into a dark room was the first documented use of a pinhole camera in history.

1800s and Beyond

Lynn Bryant also says that Sir David Brewster, a Scottish scientist, was the first one to take pictures with the pinhole camera back in the 1850s. Lynn Bryant also says that pinhole camera was not regarded as a popular medium of photography, not until the 1960s. It may be owing to the fact that the photographers during the period preferred to take pictures using a conventional camera, as opposed to the pinhole camera.

The pinhole camera history can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks, with advancements contributed by the Ancient Chinese and by brilliant scientists and philosophers in the late 20th century. The pinhole camera history, like the histories of all things ingenious, is colorful, interesting, and absolutely eventful.

Stella Lee Peterson, PhD. An award-winning author of four books of science essays, and prediction in future. Previous research experience in Harvard University and NASA.

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