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Why do movie cameras photograph images upside-down?


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#1 Jim Carlile

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 12:39 AM

Anybody noticed that movie cameras photograph their images upside down?

I was looking at some super 8 film the other day, coming off the top of the reel, emulsion out, and really noticed this for the first time-- the images are captured, and projected, upside down.

Anybody know why?

I have a theory but am not sure it is correct-- because of the inversion properties of the numerous lens elements, and the reversal reflection-property of the screen, it's the only way it will work.

It must have been a bear to figure it all out years ago.

Any ideas?
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#2 Ira Ratner

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 10:39 AM

I agree with your guess:

When you shoot, with either still or cine, it's bounced off a mirror so you can see what the heck you're shooting right-side-up. You're never looking at a straight field of view from the eyepiece/viewfinder to the subject. It has to be bounced off a mirror, which naturally flops the orientation. So I guess the lens apsherics take this into account to flop the image, because it's going to flopped again by the mirror before it gets to your eye, making it look normal to your eye.

In fact, the old still TLRs (twin lens reflexes) actually DO display the image upside down on the viewing screen, without using a special viewfinder.

Edited by Ira Ratner, 31 August 2008 - 10:40 AM.

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