Meaning of camera obscura in English:

camera obscura

Pronunciation /ˌkam(ə)rə(r) ɒbˈskjʊərə/


  • 1A darkened box with a convex lens or aperture for projecting the image of an external object on to a screen inside, a forerunner of the modern camera.

    ‘He was the first to propose adding a convex lens to the camera obscura.’
    • ‘My explanation for this very curious result is that Vermeer had a camera obscura with a lens at the painting's viewpoint.’
    • ‘In the camera obscura the image is always upside-down.’
    • ‘It has been suggested that Vermeer traced the images of a camera obscura in his paintings.’
    • ‘A traditional camera obscura was a dark room with light shining through a lens or tiny hole in the wall.’
    • ‘He will have the windows of a tour bus sealed, except for a few lenses mounted on each side that project passing views on a central screen, creating a rolling camera obscura.’
    • ‘The film does rather off-handedly allude to the fact that scientific innovations were important for the art of that time, particularly the camera obscura and the Galilean telescope.’
    • ‘The topics might range from shopworn hypotheses to stillborn speculations, like the notion that the Haarlem landscapists may have imitated the muted tones of images projected by early models of the camera obscura.’
    • ‘The project focused on the subject of the camera obscura, with works chosen from each artist's oeuvre specifically to construct a dialogue around this theme.’
    • ‘There has long been speculation that Vermeer made use of a camera obscura, an enclosed device that allowed a detailed image of the world to be projected through a lens onto an inner wall.’
    • ‘Scientists in the seventeenth century were fascinated by the workings of the human eye, which fostered the invention of optical devices such as the camera obscura.’
    • ‘While making the case for the camera obscura, Steadman limits his investigation to a particular period and a single painter for whom a fair body of evidence that suggests use of the device has already accumulated.’
    • ‘They are rendered so faithfully that the artist likely used a camera obscura to capture the scenes and then traced the layout of the buildings from images projected on paper, before refining the details by hand.’
    • ‘The camera obscura, or ‘dark chamber,’ was a staple of Martin's business.’
    • ‘As Hockney points out, plenty of artists like Leonardo da Vinci were keenly aware of the camera obscura.’
    • ‘Like his kinsman, he practiced his art with the aid of the portable camera obscura, but his preternatural acuity and immaculate form carried his work to the edge of hallucination.’
    • ‘Gone is the traditional blackboard and chalk and instead there are plasma screens and interactive whiteboards dotted around the walls and floor, while on the other side of the room are webcams and even a camera obscura.’
    • ‘Anyone visiting Edinburgh in Scotland should go to see the camera obscura there near the top of the Royal Mile and marvel at just how effective the camera obscura is in this enjoyable tourist attraction.’
    • ‘A few years before that she had created a walk-in camera obscura to visualize the experience of a slave who spent seven years in hiding in a tiny attic.’
    • ‘During their travels around India, the Daniells employed a camera obscura to produce detailed pencil drawings.’
    1. 1.1A small round building with a rotating angled mirror at the apex of the roof, projecting an image of the landscape on to a horizontal surface inside.
      ‘But the glistening object on the town's market place on Saturday morning turned out to be a mirrored camera obscura.’
      • ‘The party also had a camera obscura to produce topographic images, although they seem never to have used it.’
      • ‘We are looking to put in a camera obscura or a viewing tower in the church steeple as a tourist attraction to complement the Botanic Gardens across the road.’
      • ‘We climb the tower near the castle to see the camera obscura.’
      • ‘Ramps and terraces, mirrors and prisms, kaleidoscopes and a camera obscura all work to fracture, blend, tint, multiply and otherwise defy the spaces and boundaries of the Danish pavilion.’


Early 18th century from Latin, ‘dark chamber’.