Difference Between Real Image vs. Virtual Image

Main Difference

The main difference between real image and virtual Image is that real image is the image that is formed when the beams of light after refraction or reflection actually meet at some specific point while the Virtual image is the image that is formed when beams of light after refraction or reflection appears to meet at some particular point.

Real Image vs. Virtual Image

The light rays emerging from an object, after reflection or refraction from a mirror or lens, meet at a specific point and formed a reproduction of the object known as an image. There are two types of images that are formed, i.e. Real Image and Virtual Image. The real image is the image that is formed when the light rays coming from a source after refraction or reflection actually converge at a point whereas virtual image is formed when rays of light seem to diverge from a point. The virtual image appears to be located at the point of divergence. A real image is an image that can be recorded in camera or can be seen on screen while the virtual image cannot be appeared on the screen. The real image is always inverted while the virtual image is erect. A concave mirror or converging lens produces the real image while a convex mirror or diverging lens forms the virtual image. A converging or convex lens and a concave mirror may also be used to form a virtual image if the object is placed between focus and pole.

Comparison Chart

Real ImageVirtual Image
The real image is the image that appears at the point where light coming from the object actually converges after refraction or reflection.The virtual image is the image that appears at the point where light coming from the object seems to converge after refraction or reflection.
Convergence of light
In real image formation light actually converges.During virtual image formation, light seems to converge but not actually converges there.
Lens
A converging lens is used in the formation of a real image.A diverging lens is used in the formation of a virtual image.
Mirror
A concave mirror is used for the formation of a real image.Convex, Concave or plane mirrors may be used for the formation of the virtual image depending upon the position of the object from the mirror.
Image
An inverted image is formed.An upright image is formed.
Appearance
A real image can appear on the screen.A virtual image cannot appear on the screen.
Position of the Image
The real image is formed on the right-hand side of the lens.Virtual Image is formed on the left-hand side of the lens.

What is a Real Image?

In optics, a real image is an image that is formed when rays of light from an object after refraction or reflection directed towards a fixed point. It is the point where rays of lights actually converge. A real image is always inverted and appeared on the right-hand side of the lens. A real image can be recorded in the camera etc. and can be looked on the screen. A converging or convex lens or concave mirror is used to produce a real image.

Examples

Images formed on the retina of the eyeball, on the cinema screen and in the rear of a camera detector are the examples of the real image.

What is a Virtual image?

A virtual image in the real optics is formed at the point where rays of light from an object after refraction or reflection appears to converge. But it is not the point of actual convergence. It is the apparent point of divergence of rays. So, an upright or erect image is formed on the left-hand side of the lens. A virtual image cannot be recorded or appeared on a screen. Mostly a concave or diverging lens or a convex mirror is used to produce a virtual image which seems to be diminished in size as compared to actual object, while a converging or convex lens and a concave mirror may also be used if the object is placed between focus and pole.

Example

An image formed by a plane mirror is an example of a virtual image.

Key Differences

  1. The real image is the image that is appeared at the point where beams of light from an object actually converge after reflection or refraction from a lens or mirror while the virtual image is shaped at the point where beams appear to converge.
  2. The real image is an inverted image while the virtual image as an upright image.
  3. A real image can appear on screen while the virtual image cannot appear on the screen.
  4. Light rays actually converge during the formation of the real image while during virtual image formation, light rays only seem to converge.
  5. A converging lens is used in the formation of the real image while the diverging lens forms the virtual image.
  6. A concave mirror forms a real image whereas plane, concave or convex mirrors can be used for the formation of the virtual image depending upon the position of the object.

Comparison Video

Conclusion

According to the above discussion, it is concluded that real image is an inverted image that is formed at the point of real convergence after reflection or refraction of light rays, whereas the virtual image is an upright or erect image that is formed at the specific point where light rays seem to converge.