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Bull's Spark drum camera, 1903.

Science Museum Photo Studio

Bull's Spark drum camera, 1903.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 23cm x 32cm


This camera, invented by Dr Lucien G Bull in 1903, takes stereoscopic pictures at rates up to 2000 per second and was the first machine to analyse the wing-beats of insects succesfully. Dr Bull imprisoned the insect in a glas tube so that, when it flew out, it lifted up a tiny flap at the exit. This automatically closed the electrical circuit operating the camera shutter. In effect the insect was photographing itself.

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© National Museum of Science & Media / Science & Society Picture Library

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