CLERA, a fully functional transparent camera

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CLERA, a fully functional transparent camera

CLERA is a clever invention from photographer Anton Orlov. It’s short for clear camera and is what Anton believes to be the world’s first camera that’s “both completely transparent and fully functional.”


When originally experimenting with wet plate collodion tintype photography, Orlov noticed that light coming through red windows of his dark box didn’t cause fogging in the developed end-product.


“That’s when it struck me, he said. “Why not make a camera out of red material that would filter out UV and blue light!?”


He set out to make his idea come true — purchasing a 19th-century Petzval lens off of ebay, red sheets of polycarbonate, and a 4×5 camera back.  After many attempts, and chances to “debug” his invention, Orlov finally produced images through the transparent daguerreotype camera with limited-to-no light fogging.


The science behind it is pretty simple, most photographic materials used in the process of exposing an image are not reactive to red light. Much like the red safelights used in the darkroom, the red polycarbonate walls of the camera keep blue and UV lights from interacting with the sensitive materials used in the photographic process.


“These materials include the first photo technique the daguerreotype, tintype, photo paper both positive and negative, lithographic and orthochromatic films, and others that I likely missing right now,” he says. “If it was panchromatic material like regular black and white films we mostly see today they would surely fog to oblivion with that much light around.”

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Custom build CLERA cameras can now be ordered via emailing Orlov directly at They come in sizes 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 ($350, $500, and $700, respectively).