Difference Between Real Image and Virtual Image

Real Image versus Virtual Image: What's the difference?

There are two sorts of pictures: real-world images and virtual images. There is a significant difference between the methods used to produce an accurate picture and the methods used to create a virtual image. Light beams must converge to have a precise picture; nevertheless, light beams must diverge to produce a virtual image. This article will look at some of the other differences and examples of real image and virtual image.

What Is A Real Image?

An optical image is a collection of the focal points at which light rays generated by an object collide. Convergent beams generate a real image, but a virtual image forms by extending divergent rays. When rays converge, a real image forms; a virtual image gets formed when rays seem to diverge. A real image forms using concave mirrors and converging lenses, but it must be situated further from the mirror/lens than the focus point. The image progresses towards infinity as the object approaches the focus point and becomes virtual and upright when the thing passes through the focal point. 

A convex lens produces a realistic picture when an item is placed at or near the focal length. This is similar to a concave mirror, except that the object is placed at a distance equal to or less than the focal point. And it results in an accurate image.

What Is a Virtual Image?

An image that appears to have been formed in front of a mirror but is a reflection of the original image created by the mirror is referred to as a virtual image. A person's actual appearance is not correctly reflected in a mirror, contrary to popular belief. Two light beams diverging create a virtual representation of the world, exploring different aspects of the universe.

Real image and Virtual image - Differences

To give a realistic image, the screen and the light source must be on the same plane. Real pictures may be created in two ways: by using an inverted concave mirror or by using a convergent lens, respectively. The actual image size is determined by where an object is positioned inside the picture.

Because the light beams seem to be diverging, an upright image gets produced. Convex mirrors and divergent lenses are utilised to produce a picture of a physically existent item. It is possible to trace back rays that originate from an optical device to the seen or apparent origins of beam divergences to construct an image using these rays. For a virtual image to be shown on a screen, the rays must never come into contact.


Real Image

Virtual Image


The actual image is the one generated when light rays clash at a certain point on the mirror's surface due to reflections from the mirror.

When light rays seem to converge at a certain point after being reflected by a mirror, a virtual image is created.

Interaction Of Light Rays

It is true that rays come into contact or collide.

Aspects of convergence are taken into consideration.

Image formed

The image that is created is a mirror reflection of the original image.

When the image is finished, it is raised or vertical in orientation.

Lens used

Converging lenses

Diverging lenses

Mirror used

Concave mirrors

Convex, concave, and flat mirrors.

Image reception

When we look at a screen, we may see a real image.

We are unable to show a virtual image on the screen because of technical limitations. Interestingly enough, it seems as though the picture is projected onto the mirrors or the lens.

Following a thorough grasp of the differences between a real image and a virtual one, it is necessary to fully comprehend the differences between a real and its characteristics.

Examples of Real Image and Virtual Image

  • Real Image – How does it work?

A real picture is formed when sunlight is focussed on a precise point on a surface. On a computer display, we can see an accurate representation of the scene. Real pictures may be produced only when the light source and the screen are in perfect alignment. We may be able to capture the image by using a concave mirror or a converging lens.

The location of the item determines the size of the picture. When light rays contact one another at a certain location in both space and time, an image is generated as a result. Because they are genuine, inverted images can be shown on the screen.

A piece of furniture is placed in front of the concave mirror, which is subsequently lighted by the light reflected from the item in question. The laws of reflection dictate that when a large number of light beams strike a mirror, they will all reflect and come to a point in front of the mirror. When light beams are focussed at a particular place on an object, a visual representation of the object is created. It is critical to note here that the rays diverge from a specific position once they have merged.

  • Virtual Image – How does it work?

It is a virtual image that we are dealing with when we cannot see the picture on the screen. In a virtual image, the rays seem to diverge but do not do so, resulting in an upright image that is not genuine. The use of a divergent lens or a convex mirror to produce a virtual image is possible.

A mirror's ability to reflect light on an item is caused by allowing light rays from an object to strike it. It creates the appearance that light is diverging behind the glass. Due to the lack of light behind the mirror, the rays seem to come together. 

With the use of plane mirrors, you may construct images of a virtual landscape. Another vital component of virtual visuals is that they are accurate representations of the actual world. Thus, virtual images have a definite size and shape, making them visible to the human eye or any other optical system that uses light to see.


In the article above, the virtual and real images are compared, along with examples of real and virtual images. These suggestions might assist you in receiving a higher mark on your examinations.

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