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Vintage Stereo Cameras

A vintage stereo camera has two or more lenses and a separate film frame, or image sensor, for each lens. These sensors can simulate the binocular vision a person has to be able to capture 3D images. This process is known as stereo photography and stereo cameras can be used for both 3D film pictures and range imaging alike.

The intra-axial distance between the two lenses is approximately the same as in a person's eye and has 3-dimensionality. Stereo cameras from the 1950s used 135mm film in order to produce stereo slides. Stereo cameras can be mounted in cars to show how close an object is on the road, or to a lane's width.

The majority of stereo cameras are no longer manufactured, so many are now regarded as sought after collectors' items.

Features of vintage stereo cameras

The Loreo 3D Lens in a Cap stereo camera from Hong Kong features a pair of closely spaced lenses with a mirror box attachment for modern SLR digital cameras . The latest version has 25mm wider angle lenses and there is a cross-view 35mm film model that has a wider mirror system and a folding print viewer.

Although it has now been discontinued, the Nimslo 3D compact stereo camera was designed to take 3D photos that were viewable without glasses or a specialist technique. The RBT camera built in Germany rebuilt two 35mm high end cameras into a unitised, integrated stereo camera but production was stopped in 2011.

About vintage stereo cameras

A vintage stereo camera could take 69 pairs of photos on a 35mm film of 36 exposures using a 'lens shift' mechanism that allows the lower half of the film to be exposed while the film is wound out, and the top half being exposed when the film is wound back in. Focusing was fixed but shutter speeds and aperture settings were variable.

The aperture and shutter speeds are continuously adjustable and there is an exposure indicator that can be adjusted, according to the film speed you need. This setting rotates when the aperture or shutter speed is changed so that the correct exposure is set depending on the conditions. Later versions of stereo camera were designed to produce photos for viewing on View-Master reels.

In recent years, the use of stereo cameras has increased as plenoptic camera techniques and the development of stereo digital camera products has grown in popularity.

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