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Difference between Concave and Convex Mirror

We have heard terms like inertia, gravity, concave mirror, convex mirror, etc., in our physics classes. Concave and convex mirror are broadly classified terms that are widely used in physics experiments and research works. Now, you must be wondering what a concave and convex mirror is.


The concave mirror is also known as the converging mirror, having a reflecting surface that is away from the incident rays. The light is reflected inwardly in a concave mirror. The light is reflected to one focal point in this mirror.

Concave mirrors are widely seen in motor vehicles and automobiles. These mirrors are also used in trains as reflective lights. It is interesting to note that concave mirrors are called converging mirrors because they are curved in shape.

Concave vs Convex Mirror


On the other hand, a convex mirror is called a diverging mirror. In this mirror, the light is reflected outwardly. Therefore, there is no focal point, i.e., the light is not reflected on any focal point. The image formed is very small or minor by the convex mirror. The image becomes larger when the object comes nearer to the mirror. Convex mirrors are widely seen in cars as rearview mirrors. They are used for several other purposes like calling bell, etc. There are several points of contrast between a concave and convex mirror. The difference between them is given below.

1. A concave mirror is defined as the mirror in which the light is reflected in an inward direction. The light reflected by the concave mirror is inwardly curved. On the other hand, a convex mirror is defined as the mirror in which the light is reflected outwardly. The reflecting surface is outwardly curved.
2. A concave mirror is also called as a converging mirror. A convex mirror is also called as the diverging mirror.
3. The light that falls on the mirror converges at a particular point after reflection. The light which falls on the mirror diverges from a particular point after reflection.
4. The concave mirror has a real focus. A convex mirror has a virtual focus.
5. The extent to which a concave mirror can be magnified is greater, equal to, or less than one. The convex mirror can only be magnified to the extent that it is less than one.
6. Concave mirrors are used in projectors, lighthouses, etc., as reflectors. Convex mirrors are used as rearview mirrors in cars and other vehicles. These mirrors help the drivers to have a clear view of the vehicles behind them.
7. Concave mirrors are round/ hollow as the interior of a circle. Convex mirrors are round/ curved as the exterior of the circle.
8. The focus of concave mirrors lies in front of the mirror. The focus point is positive. The focus of the convex mirror is beyond the mirror. The focal point is negative.
9. The image formed is inverted, enlarged, and real. The image formed is erect, diminished, and virtual.
10. The images formed by concave mirrors are reflected on the screen. Convex mirror forms an image that is not reflected on the screen.
11. The image in a concave mirror is magnified. On the other hand, the image in a convex mirror is diminished.

So, these are some points of contrast between concave and convex mirrors. The significant contrast between them is the image formed by them. Concave mirrors form an enlarged image, while convex mirrors form a small or diminished image. Concave and convex mirrors possess some characteristics. So, let us discuss about them in detail.

Characteristics of Concave Mirror

  1. The light in the concave mirror converges at a particular point. The light then reflects back from the mirror. That is why the other name of concave mirrors is converging mirrors.
  2. Concave mirrors give magnified images because the mirror is placed very close to the object.
  3. A real is obtained when the distance between the object and the mirror is increased.
  4. A concave mirror forms images that are small, virtual, or real.

Characteristics of Convex Mirrors

  1. Convex mirrors diverge the light at a particular point when they reflect on a reflecting surface.
  2. The image formed by the convex mirror is always erect, virtual, and diminished irrespective of the distance between the mirror and object.

So, these are some functions of convex and concave mirrors. These mirrors are widely used in vehicles to give a clear view in front of and behind the vehicle. These mirrors have several uses. Some of them are discussed below.

Uses of Concave Mirror

  1. Shaving Mirrors: Concave mirrors are used in salons for cutting and shaving because they have curved surfaces. During cutting and shaving, an enlarged imaged is formed by the mirror that helps in fulfilling the purpose.
  2. Ophthalmoscope: Concave mirrors are used by eye specialists. The optical instruments have these concave mirrors along with a hole. The light is directed into the patient's eye through the hole, and the doctors are able to focus through the same. In this way, the retina becomes visible, and the doctors are able to diagnose the problems related to the eyes.
  3. Astronomical Telescopes: Concave mirrors are present in astronomical telescopes. The diameter of the concave mirror is five meters. Through this mirror, one can easily focus on the astral bodies.
  4. Headlights: As already stated above, concave mirrors are used as reflectors in headlights, torches, railway engines, etc. The light reflected by these mirrors covers large distances.

Uses of Convex Mirror

  1. Buildings: Offices, cabins, and several other buildings have convex mirrors built in them so that people are able to see each other and avoid running into each other.
  2. Vehicles: As stated above, convex mirrors are used as rearview mirrors in several motor vehicles and automobiles. These mirrors help in creating a virtual image by diverging the light.
  3. Magnifying Glass: Convex mirrors are used as a magnifying glass. In such glasses, two mirrors are placed to get a clear and a virtual image.
  4. Security: Convex mirrors are used in ATMs and other security purposes.

So, these are some of the uses of convex and concave mirrors. Concave and convex mirrors are used in vehicles for different purposes. There are various differences between them that are given above. Thus, both concave and convex mirrors are essential for research and experiment in physics.

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