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Camera Lucida from The Camera Lucida Company

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Using a camera lucida from The Camera Lucida Company

Using a camera lucida from The Camera Lucida Company.

Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Bottom Line

A camera lucida won't teach you how to draw or paint, but it will enable you to get accurate perspective in a jiffy, which means you can spend your time concentrating on how you capture and convey a subject. The model from The Camera Lucida Company has the advantage that it packs away flat very easily, so storage and transportation are easy.

Pros

  • Easy to set up, use and it's great fun
  • Makes getting accurate perspective easy
  • Lets you concentrate on drawing or sketching, not perspective
  • Folds flat for easy storage and transportation

Cons

  • Wobbles if you work too vigorously
  • Posture takes getting used to
  • Lighting can be tricky: too bright or dark

Description

  • A3 size drawing board with hinged aluminum bar holding the 'eyepiece' or viewer.
  • Viewing lens consists of two polycarbonate mirrors in a molded plastic housing about 12 x 6 x 5cm.
  • You see the subject the right way up because it gets reflected twice before it reaches your eye.
  • Available in left- and right-handed versions.
  • Comes with two detachable supports and a piece of card to use when copying photos.
  • Very well packaged so it won't break in the mail.

Guide Review - Camera Lucida from The Camera Lucida Company

Imagine if you could see a subject as if reflected on your piece of paper; that’s what a camera lucida does. It will enable you to practice your skills without the stress of getting the perspective 'right'.

The upright posture required to see through the camera lucida made by The Camera Lucida Company takes a bit of getting used to, and you can’t work too vigorously or it'll wobble, but if you start by marking some key points on your subject you can always reposition it again. To set it up you rest the drawing board at an angle of about 40 degrees (on the edge of a table), lift up the eyepiece until it's directly over the drawing board, turn it until the logo is towards you, then look through the hole at the top down onto the paper, where you'll see your subject reflected. Sounds like magic, but it's just done with mirrors.

Review updated August 2009: Newer versions of this camera lucida have improvements to the model I tried, including legs to slant the board, height-adjustable lens, and a non-reflective base.

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