Here’s a neat little animation from Harman Technologt, the folks behind the Ilford brand of film, that breaks down exactly how a basic film photography SLR (single lens reflex) camera works.
This video will reveal nothing new or ground breaking for the seasoned photo nerds out there, but it’s one of the simplest and shortest explanations of how a camera works that we’ve seen.
Light reflected by your subject enters through the lens elements, passes through the aperture, and is reflected up through a pentaprism into your eyepiece (often through some kid of focusing screen). When you press the shutter, the mirror quickly flips up and the shutter then opens and closes to expose that particular frame of film to light. And that’s it! You’ve now taken a photograph.
The next time someone asks you how a camera “works,” just shoot them a link to this video (and maybe this Web tool, too).