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How Biology inspired Cameras: Essay

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Many inventions were inspired by biology. There is no need to invent something invented by nature and improved by thousands of years of evolution. Thus, people often research different biological processes and different animals in order to create something new. Nature, animals, and the human body inspired numerous materials and technologies. Obviously, the most popular invention inspired by biology is the camera. It uses similar principles to receive and save images. According to Yahya, “Whenever a new discovery about the eye is made, a new camera or optical system based on it is released very soon afterwards” (p. 92). Though there are different types of cameras, the principles of receiving images are the same.

How does a camera works to develop an image compared to a human eye?

It is necessary to note that eye properties may significantly vary from organism to organism. For example, “some amphibian species have eyes which accommodate by moving a lens closer or further to retina” (Bar-Cohen, p, 292). The human eye adjusts the lens curvature to accomplish the same tasks. However, different eyes have different structures and may function differently; they share the same principle of work. Every eye is able to receive an image and send it to the brain, where this image is interpreted. It is also interesting that the pupil may become wider or smaller depending on the amount of light. If there is a low amount of light, then the pupil is wide; otherwise, it shrinks. So the human eye is automatically adjusted, while the camera is adjusted manually.

The eye transmits light through the cornea and pupil. It also has an iris, which adapts to the different brightness. In addition, there is a lens, which helps to be focused and see everything sharp and clear. Finally, there is a light-sensitive image-receiving area called the retina. Obviously, “the eye’s method of image transmission is many times superior to that of even the most advanced modern camera” (p. 94).

The camera contains the same mechanisms, protective glass, optics, aperture, shutter mechanism, light-sensitive area in the form of the image sensor (the matrix), the same nerves in the form of cables, and the processor, instead of the brain. However, the processes in the camera are slower than the processes in our eyes. The camera receives light through the aperture of the lens, which is regulated by a diaphragm; it has a glass lens and a light-sensitive film. The lens can focus at different distances and create inverted images of the objects. It is also important to note that there are different types of lenses. They are classified as normal, wide-angle, telephoto, zoom, etc. (Verma, p.265). Normal lenses have a wide aperture to reduce exposure time and produce a clear, undistorted image. A telephoto lens gives a large image of a distant object. A wide-angle lens gives a small image but a wide-angle view. Zoom lens consists of several lenses allowing and allowing seeing small objects and even microorganisms.

The Differences In How Eye and Camera Functions

Of course, there are also differences between the eye and the camera. The camera brings the three-dimensional world to a two-dimensional image. The image that is projected in the depths of the eyes is also two-dimensional, but we see it in three dimensions. This is partly because we have two eyes, and the world around us we see from slightly different perspectives. It is also necessary to note that “the camera is not able to discriminate among certain gradations of shadow and illumination so finely as can the human eye.” (Sobchack, p. 183). Another difference is that the focal length of the eye can be changed by the action of ciliary muscles, while the camera’s focal length is fixed and cannot be changed. In addition, the focusing of the eye is done by changing the focal length of the eye lens, while the focusing in the camera is done by changing the distance between the lens and film. (Verma, p. 261).

It is also important to note that there is no film in most cameras nowadays. Digital storage devices like hard disk drives replaced it. Images are now saved in a digital form but not in the form of visual print of the light-sensitive film. This technology provides the possibility to store a huge amount of visual information and see everything which was filmed in detail at any moment. Human memory does not allow people to recall visual information as detailed as it can be recalled with the help of digital devices.

To sum up, the human eye highly influenced the camera’s creation. However, creating a camera with the same quality as a human eye is still impossible. Moreover, even the best processor can’t interpret visual information as well as the human brain. In the future, cameras will become better and better, and one day they will be much more functional than the human eye. Nowadays, cameras are better than the human eye only in certain aspects. They can store more detailed visual information than the human brain. In addition, they allow seeing small objects which couldn’t be seen with a human eye. All these aspects clearly show that cameras have a huge potential for improvement and development.


Bar-Cohen, Y. (2005). Biomimetics: Biologically Inspired Technologies: CRC Press.

Sobchack, V. C. (1992). The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience: Princeton University Press.

Yahya, H. (n.d) Miracle In The Eye: A9 GROUP.

Verma, R. K. (2006). Ray Optics: Discovery Publishing House Pvt. Limited.

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