Dissecting an $18 Digital Camera to Show How They Work

Here’s a dissection video for those of you who like photography better than biology. It’s a Khan Academy lesson that offers a glimpse into how digital cameras work on the inside. The camera being dissected is a Vivitar V25, a 2.1 megapixel camera that you can pick up for around $18 from places like Walmart. Although it’s basically the digital equivalent of a disposable camera, the camera still shares some things in common with higher-end digital cameras. You might be able to learn an interesting thing or two about how your own camera works.

After shooting the video above, the Khan Academy instructor needed to buy another copy of the camera. When he opened the new one up, he was surprised to find that it was a different revision/design of the same digital camera model. He then created a Part 2 of this dissection series comparing and contrasting the two revisions to see what Vivitar changed.

If you’d like a glimpse into the inner workings of more-serious cameras, you should check out iFixit’s collection of camera manuals and step-by-step teardowns.

  • Paul Voth

    Very interesting, thanks!

  • sierrarobba

    i want my time back!!!!!!

  • OmniMode

    If you do this with any camera that has a built in flash, take care – the voltage lurking in the capacitors (even if the battery is out) can knock you on your butt.
    (I speak from hard won experience…) XO

  • muddyclouds

    I saw my friend learn this lesson several years ago, it was a pretty scary moment. His whole body went spasmodic. Flashes aren’t to be played with lightly.

  • JJ

    Seconded them capacitors are shockers for the size of them.

  • Chris Popely

    I VERY nearly tore down my 580 EX II seconds after pulling the batteries out only to look online on a whim to see how I could do it neatly, I stumbled upon a guy that left his with the batts out for two weeks and still got a shock from the capacitor!

  • OmniMode

    I got tased pulling the circuit board out of a disposable film camera I got at Walmart…my arm was cramped for an hour. :’-(

  • Photographie en fran├žais

    I won’t buy a camrera to see what’s in it. Thank you do it for us.