Real and virtual images

The images formed by a lens can be:

  • upright or inverted (upside down compared to the object);
  • enlarged or diminished (smaller than the object);
  • real or virtual.

A real image is an image that can be projected onto a screen.

Rays of light actually pass through the image.

A virtual image cannot be projected onto a screen.

It appears to come from behind the lens and can only be seen by looking through the lens.

Rays of light appear to come from a virtual image, rather than pass through it.