The camera obscura, which translates directly to "dark room", is the term for the optical phenomenon of placing a pinhole in a wall and on the opposite wall an image will be created. On this site, you will learn more about what the camera obscura is and how we use it still today. The camera obscura is the basis of all photography. It was discovered around 400 BC, but the box for it was invented by Johann Zahn in 1685. After his invention the race to capture the image it created began.