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camera lucidacam lucida prism This instrument which comes in its own fitted hardwood case is made of lacquered brass. The instrument attaches to a table with a C clamp. The telescoping support has one draw. The support for the camera fits into a hole in the draw with cork providing a friction support. The quadrangular prism has a brass eyeguide than can be adjusted forward or backward or swung out of the way. It helps the user center his pupil properly half over the prism and half over the drawing surface. In practice this early example must be attached to the table in front of the observer, and not to the side, as the angle of the lucida at the top of the telescoping rod cannot be adjusted. camera lucida camera lucida



camera lucidaThe camera lucida is an optical device which allows one to see both an object, and a drawing surface located on the table in front of the observer, superimposed in one field of view. Although originally described by Kepler in 1611, it was apparently not actually constructed until the beginning of the nineteenth century. William Hyde Wollaston developed the first widely available version which he patented in 1807. It makes use of a quadrangular prism as shown in the illustration above. These camera lucidas were often suspended from a telescopic rod with a C-clamp to hold it to a table. In the camera shown in the illustration to the left, the illustrated camera allowed more flexible positioning than the one at the top of this web page; note the capability to angle the support for the prism, not a feature of the early example shown here above. The camera lucida is generally used for subjects close to the user. Cornelius Varley invented a 'Graphic Telescope' for similar use with distant subjects. Although Wollaston's invention was at first used by artists, it was quickly adapted to the microscope; its use made drawing what was seen through the microscope much easier and of appropriate proportions. See the microscope camera lucida page for more about the Camera Lucidas for the microscope. For a more modern version of the camera lucida see the page dedicated to an early twentieth century example from France.