One of Canon’s main sponsorship activities in South Africa literally ‘marries magic and science’. Canon South Africa sponsors the Canon Camera Oscura, situated at the MTN ScienCentre at Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Cape Town. The Canon Camera Obscura is one of only twenty that are operational in the world today and is fast becoming a major attraction for visitors to Cape Town.

Since Canon’s Camera Obscura opened at the MTN ScienCentre in Cape Town in February 2001, visitors to the camera obscura have been held in awe of its capabilities. Using technology, which is centuries old, the Canon Camera Obscura at the science centre provides a crystal clear image of Cape Town and its surrounding areas.

The Canon Camera Obscura is a dome shaped room and has a lens in the roof pointing up, with a mirror above it angled at 45 degrees, in a weatherproof housing. The mirror reflects the outside scene down into the lens, which focuses the resulting image onto a round white table below. The lens/mirror assembly can be rotated 360 degrees and the table can be raised or lowered to focus on near or distant objects captured by the lens.

The term “camera obscura” is Latin for ‘darkened chamber’ and is simply a darkened space with a small opening admitting light in a concentrated beam. The camera obscura works due to the fact that light travels in straight lines, a phenomenon documented as early as 300BC by the Greek mathematician Euclid. By placing a white surface a certain distance from the opening, an inverted, reversed image of the scene outside will be caught and focused. The image is inverted and reversed because light continues on its straight path through the opening. By adding a mirror and lens to the light path, the image is improved and corrected.

The facility is the third and the most modern to be contructed in South Africa. One was built by Harry Galpin in Grahamstown in 1882 and is still working, the other is at Pretoria University.

In addition to sponsoring the Canon Camera Obscura, Canon further sponsors several other exhibits at the MTN ScienCentre that explore the development of digital imaging. A giant operational Canon Digital Ixus allows visitors to take digital pictures of themselves to be printed or e-mailed. Several Canon Image Stabilising Binoculars are available for visitors to take in the sights around the science centre and an extensive display, which maps the history of Canon Cameras can also be found in the Canon Tower at the science centre.

Canon’s sponsorship activity at the MTN ScienCentre further extends to include the IN REACH programme. The IN REACH programme gives disadvantaged children an opportunity to visit the centre and learn about science in an entertaining and exciting way. Canon considers such an activity important in that it can generate an interest in science and technology for tomorrow’s leaders.