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A particularly common piece of Magitek. A handheld device which captures an image is immensely useful, and so it's not surprising that in a fantastical setting, someone will come up with a way to provide such a device, using the magical means at their disposal. Similarly, magic-users in more modern settings can hardly resist using their powers to soup up the technology around them, and cameras are particularly disposed to this kind of tinkering.

Expect the Magical Camera to have traits far different from those mundane pieces we enjoy, and probably to work by a very different means. Or, it may be just like any other with only a slight twist. But at the end of the day, it is at its core a device which exists to preserve the image of a moment in time.

On a related note: it is a superstition of many Real Life religions and cultures that cameras and photography are harmful, which is a valid argument since being able to produce unlimited copies of an image ruins its specialness, but many believe that being photographed may steal their soul and take great pains to avoid it (This is ostensibly the Soul Jar variant of the Phantom Zone Picture). This is a handy excuse for shy individuals or people wishing to remain anonymous, usually because of some criminality or witness protection system. Nevertheless, the claim that cameras steal souls is a functional form of the Magical Camera, and one you'll occasionally encounter in straight fantasy as a reasonable fear.

Magic employing a photograph itself also counts.

Examples of Magical Camera include:


Anime and Manga

  • The main character in Speed Grapher has a power that lets blow up anything he shoots with his camera, although the magic is in himself rather than the object.
  • In Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, when Joseph Joestar smashes a camera with Hermit Purple, he can capture an image from anywhere he can envision.
  • In Ultra Maniac, there was a camera that would show who the subject of the picture liked.
  • Sailor Moon had one villain who captured people within the pictures she took of them.
    • And in the live action adaption, the magical pens in the original that the heroines used were updated to magic cellphones. One function was the ability to create a disguise based on a photo taken with it.

Film

 Neville Bell: "Oh no, you can't take my photograph."

Sue Charlton: "Oh, I'm sorry, you believe it will take your spirit away."

Neville Bell: "No, you got lens-cap on it."

Literature

  • Iconographs, as they are called on the Discworld, are little more than boxes containing a very tiny imp with a sketchpad and set of paints. Because the imps have no imagination whatsoever, the images they create are accepted as objective. The flash works by frightening a captive Salamander, a magical lizard which absorbs light and can release it suddenly.
    • Also in the Discworld universe, Moist Von Lipwig uses the "steals your soul" argument, but he really has other reasons to avoid being photographed. His avoidance naturally makes authority figures suspicious.
    • A notable example was the use of a different creature as a flash source. It's light caused psychological visages of its subjects thoughts to pop up in the picture.
  • The Goosebumps book Say Cheese And Die is about a camera which causes tragedy to befall any person shot with it.
  • Marginal example: Photographs and paintings alike in Harry Potter are animate and semisentient, due to some kind of special darkroom process. Considering the penchant some wizards have for tinkering, there are probably magical cameras too, but they aren't played up.
  • Early in Anansi Boys, Spider passes into a photograph to travel to the location it shows. He later mentions he can go to any location he's seen, including by picture.

Music Videos

  • In the music video for Amy Grant's "Takes a Little Time," an instant camera reveals snapshots of the subjects' future. For example, a man who steals the camera and snaps himself is horrified to see a photo of himself dead.

Video Games

  • The Pictograph in The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker functions more or less like a normal camera, except that it develops instantly and can only keep three pictures at once, but in order to take colour pictures, you need to capture and use a special kind of fairy that emits prismatic light. So every time you use it, presumably, you're tormenting a fairy somehow.
    • The French version at least states it's a captured firefly. Also, it's a wingless ball of light, in a world where fairies look like actual winged girls (unlike OOT fairies who look like a ball of light with wings)
  • The Camera Obscura in Fatal Frame can take pictures of spirits, which are not normally visible. It can also sap the spiritual energy of hostile ghosts (probably inspired by the aforementioned belief that cameras stole a person's soul).
  • In The World Ends With You, Joshua's cell phone camera can take pictures of the past, and Neku's is later upgraded to be able to do the same.

Web Comics

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