This particular camera is known for its exclusively negative function, in which it alters the future to a bad occurrence, incorporating elements its flash exposes into this new event. On occasions, it creates an event which kills one or more humans (so far it has only been humans) and absorbs their souls.
The camera did not always cause fear, harm and fatalities. After its structure was completed, its inventor (who is never named, nor confirmed to be alive) added finishing touches that he felt necessary to the camera (these aren't specified). Potentially, the inventor intended it to be the new fill for the role of best photograph technology, for as long a period of time as possible. Before he could unveil his invention, his lab partner, Dr. Fritz Fredericks (a.k.a. Spidey), stole the camera to take credit for the invention, with an aspiration to enjoy the fame and riches that he believed would come his way. The inventor ruined Dr. Fredericks' plan by somehow cursing the camera for all eternity.
In Say Cheese — and Die Screaming!, the camera's origin is different. It was a one of a kind prop camera that was built for a 1950s horror movie called Say Cheese — and Die Screaming! However, when it was used during production, strange accidents continued to happen on set eventually leading to the film being cancelled. The camera disappeared, eventually finding its way to a garage sale where Julie Martin ended up taking it.
The camera has the power to steal souls and is completely indestructible. When a picture is taken, the image that develops does not show what is in the present, but what will happen to the person/object in the image in the future. For example, when Greg takes a picture of his family's new car, the image develops as the car completely wrecked (indicating that a car accident will occur). In later installments, the pictures taken can also affect one's physical appearance. Be it making them fat or thin, turning their skin into scaly reptile skin, or giving them a bumblebee head. If a picture of someone gets caught in its mechanism, it can cause the victim to suffer the painful sensation akin to their torso being cut in half.
It remains to be determined as to what becomes of the souls the camera captures. Of particular interest is whether or not souls increase its power.
Strengths and weaknesses
The Camera cannot move on its own and cannot force anyone to find it and use it. As long as it is well hidden, its powers are useless. If a picture is taken of itself, it will create another camera. If the photo taken by the camera is destroyed or changed into a negative, the effects of the camera will be prevented. Should one prevent the events of a photo from happening, the events of the photo and other photos taken by the camera will be nullified.
Photographs taken and victims
This section lists photographs taken with the camera as well as victims of its evil.
- Michael Warner: Photo taken of him shows him falling down from the railing of the Coffman House basement staircase.
- Mr. Banks' new Ford Taurus: Photo shows the car completely destroyed. Mr. Banks gets into a nasty accident later.
- Terry Banks: Photo taken of him shows him outside with a worried expression on his face.
- Douglas "Bird" Arthur: Photo taken of him laying unconscious on the baseball field after being struck head-first with a baseball, body in an uncomfortable position.
- The Banks Family (Dream): Photo Greg takes of them at their backyard picnic shows Greg's mom, dad and brother Terry as skeletons.
- Shari Walker: Photo taken of her doesn't show her, causing her to vanish from existence later at her birthday party. Nullified after Greg ripped the photo in half.
- Greg Banks: Photo shows Greg and Shari on the playground, trembling in fear from a shadowy figure.
- Dr. Fritz Fredericks Photo taken shows him dead on the floor of the Coffman House basement after Shari takes his picture, causing him to die of fright.
- Joey Ferris and Mickey Ward: It is never revealed what the photo was or what befell them.
- Jonathan: Photo taken of him on the ground in pain, cluching his foot after stepping on a giant carpenter's nail.
- Shari Walker: Photo taken of her comes out as a negative. This causes her to rapidly lose weight. Nuillified after Terry changed it into a positive.
- Greg Banks: Photo taken of him being over 300 pounds. This causes him to rapidly gain weight. Nullified after Terry turned it into a negative.
- Greg Banks: Photo taken of him with scaly reptile skin. His flesh begins to fall off, being replaced by scales. Nullified after Terry turned it into a negative.
- Greg and his class: It's never revealed what the photo was or what befell them.
- Reena Jacobs: Photo taken of her shows her eyes red. She instantly suffers an intense burning sensation from her eyes and a redness that stays permanent until the camera is defeated.
- Karla Mayer: Photo taken of her shows just her arm. She then seriously injures her arm in a basketball game.
- Julie Martin: Photo taken of her gets caught in the camera mechanism, which causes her to have a sharp pain in her torso, as if she's being cut in half.
- Twin Forks Middle School (dream): Photo shows the entire school as skeletons after Julie takes a picture of them.
- Becka and Greta: Photo taken of them shows them with green alligator skin, which immediately befalls them.
- Sammy Martin: Photo taken of him has the bee that was flying around the house in front of the camera, covering Sammy's head. Sammy's head immediately starts growing yellow fuzz and he can only speak in buzzing sounds.
- Julie Martin: Photo taken of her shows her falling off the school diving board to her death. She manages to stop the prediction from happening. This in turn, nullified all the other photos taken by the camera.
- The Camera: Photo taken of the camera in the mirror manages to create a second camera.
"Say Cheese and Die" (television)
- Douglas "Bird" Arthur: Instead of Michael (due to not being in the episode adaptation), the photo is taken of Bird falling from the railing of the Coffman House basement staircase.
- Mr. Banks' new car: Photo shows the car completely destroyed.
- The Banks family (dream): Photo taken of them at their backyard picnic shows them as skeletons.
- Shari Walker: Photo doesn't show her, causing her to vanish from existence. Nullified after Greg rips the photo later on.
- Dr. Fritz Fredericks: When Shari uses the camera on Fredericks it causes him to be sucked inside the camera. He screams to be released until he's eventually freed by Joey Ferris and Mickey Ward.
"Say Cheese and Die... Again" (television)
- Unnamed man: Photo taken of him shows him unconscious. As he chases Greg, the stairs break underneath him, causing him to fall through the basement floor of the remains of the Coffman House, knocking him out.
- Shari Walker: Photo taken of her comes out as a negative. This causes her to rapidly lose weight.
- Greg Banks: Photo taken of him being over 300 pounds. This causes him to rapidly gain weight. Both Greg and Shari's photos are nullified after having Terry reverse the photos at the photo-mart.
- Mr. Saur: Photo taken of him shows him bald. His hair immediately begins to fall out.
- Despite the brand never being mentioned, the camera is described as looking similar to an old Polaroid brand camera. However in the television adaptation, it is given a bizarre, almost spaceship-like design.
- It is unclear if the camera from Say Cheese — and Die Screaming! is the same camera as the one from the other two books due to a difference in origin.