Virtual vs. Real Images

Difference between virtual images and real images

The reproduction of real object by a mirror or a lens is called images. Images are of two types: real images and virtual images. Mirror or lenses utilizes the reflection, refraction or diffracted rays to create image. Both of these types of images are marked by differences. For instance, real image are formed because of the focused light rays. It is visible on a screen or surface such as sheet of paper.  The most common example of real images is projector lens’ images and images clicked by camera lens.

Virtual images, on the other hand, are made from the rays that do not come from the image.  Images in real mirror are a type of virtual images because the images are situated at some distance and not where these seem to be.

When light rays originate from a point on one side of the lens and then, refracted only to focus on the other side of lens, a real image is formed.  Real images are formed by lenses when the object is at greater distance than the lens’ focal length. It can be said that real image is on the other or opposite side of the object.  The real images lie in front of the mirror.

On the contrary, virtual images are on the similar side of the object. Virtual images are formed by light rays originating from lens’ one side and refracted to diverge on lens’ other side. The distance of an object should be lesser than the focal length of lens.  These lie behind the mirror.

To see an image in the mirror, rays should focus on the screen. Since in virtual images there are no rays forming images, one cannot see a virtual image on screen.