Drawing Camera Obscuras with Lens at the top
Most drawing camera obscuras project the image from a lens at the front onto a mirror which reflects it up onto the drawing surface. There are however box and tent insterments with the lens and mirror or a prisim lens at the top that directs the image down only the drawing paper. The artist would sit inside or place his head and arms into openings in the side.

On the left is a 6 1/2" tall, 19th century brass lens for a portable tent camera or box obscura that uses a prism lens to direct the image outside down onto a drawing board inside the tent or box.

The illustration on the right shows a typical drawing tent in the landscape with a lens of this type on the top. This is an illustration from an 1889 physics book by Steele.


The black instrument below is a Dean's Solar Sketchette. The wooden box has an opening to view the drawing paper inside and a cloth sleeves into which you insert your hand for drawing. The picture below center shows the top of the mirror and lens assembly which sports a wonderful paper label under glass with the name of the instrument and a cartoon sun. This item as well as other versions of Dean's Sketchettes were offered in the 1897 Sears catalogue. The price of this model was $1.75. Oh for a time machine!

Other "lens in the top drawing cameras are seen below in three illustrations from our collection.

First is a 1755 encyclopedia page showing three cabinet type camera obscuras with prism or lens arrangements at the top.

The second is a detail from an 1817 encyclopedia page.

The third is from an 1838 article in the English publication. Saturday Magazine.

Magic Mirror of Life Home Page and Site Map

What is a camera obscura?

Why we created this site

Frequently Asked Questions about the Camera Obscura (please check this page before sending email questions)

Links and a Bibliography about the camera obscura

Map and illustrated diary of
our visits to
US camera obscuras

Map and illustrated diary of
our 1996 trip to
Great Britain camera obscuras

Images of camera obscuras from our collection.

Some Images from our collection
The Camera Obscura at War
Advertising flyer for a Camera Obscura
Trade Cards with Camera Obscuras
Lost UK Seaside Camera Obscuras
Other Lost UK Camera Obscuras
Lost US Seaside Camera Obscura
Lost US Park Camera Obscuras
Melville Garden Camera Obscura
Other Lost US Camera Obscuras
Lost European Camera Obscuras
No, it's not a camera obscura

Portable and box camera obscuras from our collection.
Wooden Camera Obscuras
Metal Camera Obscuras
Cameras with the Lens at the Top < You are here
Cardboard Camera Obscuras
A French Artist's Camera with supplies
Vermeer's Camera, a 1934 teaching camera
Camera Obscura Publications

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Modified 8/2004