Stereo camera recommendations

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by chris00nj, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. chris00nj

    chris00nj Member

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    Anyone use stereo cameras? I'm looking to try it out and was looking for a camera recommendation. In my research attempt, I see three cameras with a decent amount of availability:

    1. Kodak
    2. Stereo realist
    3. Revere 33

    I've looked through stereoscopy.com and while there is a lot of valuable technical information, there isn't much about general discussion on pros and cons or recommendations.
     
  2. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I had the Realist. nice camera, but it was sort of cumbersome because the viewfinder is on the bottom, the focus dial is on the side and the shutter release is on the top.

    You also might want to add the Wirgin stereo camera. But keep in mind that it's a zone-focus camera. That's not as big an issue as you think, because when shooting stereo photos, you should stop down the lens.
     
  3. amuderick

    amuderick Member

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    Try a refurbished Sputnik and do medium format 3D. It isn't much larger than a Realist and the results on chrome film will literally take your breath away. Amazing. There is no point to 35MM 3D once you've seen it in MF. If you aren't looking to tinker try the 3D World MF camera. My 2 cents.

    I spoke about this in detail in a recent Inside Analog Photo podcast if you are interested.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    You can buy a screw on prism for most 35mm lenses that produce 2 stereo images on one 35mm frame. A friend of mine scans them into Jpeg images and projects them on his 3D HDTV. He also prints them and uses an old stereo viewer to see them in full 3D.

    PE
     
  5. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    That's what I have, and I'm pretty happy with it, except that my sample isn't very well light-sealed and I have to supplement with electrical tape. The lenses are triplets (the Steinheil Cassar) at f/3.5, and of course scale focussing with that kind of aperture can be pretty dubious---an external RF helps a lot. My lenses are not quite perfectly aligned---wide open, you can tell that the points of focus are slightly different, but at tighter apertures it's not an issue.

    Interestingly, the stereo image seems to help my brain forgive some of the limitations of the image. A photo that's kinda-sorta-sharp by itself can still look really good in stereo.

    I'd love to have a Sputnik. Fedka occasionally has them in stock, but never when I've had an appropriate instant-gratification budget ready at hand.

    -NT
     
  6. djacobox372

    djacobox372 Member

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    I'll 2nd this recommendation, I bought a sputnik about 6 months ago and it's become my new obsession. Stereo 6x6 slides create the most amazing images I've ever seen.

    [​IMG]

    I didn't expect much out of the optics of an old russian camera, but I've been impressed--very good contrast and sharp at all apertures.

    Sputnik's in great condition sell for around $200 online.

    While I haven't hand any problems with mine, I've heard these cameras can be prone to light leaks, there's an excellent online resource dealing with modifications and improvement to these cameras: http://www.rmm3d.com/3d.encyclopedia/repairs/sputnik.sam/sputnik.html
     
  7. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    I own two Kodak Stereo Cameras, and here are my feelings. Please note that I am a Kodak fan.

    We will start with the down side to these cameras first, not the prints, the camera only. First if you let them sit for any amount of time you have to cycle the shutter about 100 times to get them moving at a usable speed, the shutter speeds will never be right, but they will be usable. Some cameras have shutters that do not have matching shutter speeds so you end up with different exposures on the two slides. The focus is typical Kodak infinite no DOF focus, but for 3D that is really what you want so it is not a real problem. Finally on some of these cameras the wind knob mechanism wears out and can be turned in reverse, if you are careful it isn't a problem, but if you hand the camera to an idiot (read pro photographer at Disney World that never shot film) it could be a problem because if you back wind too far the film comes off the take up spool and must be rewound and you can't use the rest of the roll.

    In the hands of someone that has read the owners manual these are great cameras and easy to use once limbered up, if you can use a light meter or know that Sunny Sixteen guy your almost all set, remember you can not turn the camera 90° (same Disney pro insisted wanted to do that even after I told him twice not to, and he saw that it shoots a square format), there is a level you can see in the viewfinder to help you get level shots as well. It's easy to load and unload the film, and the controls are about where you would expect them to be. The shutter speed and aperture are together and easy to get at. Focus is on both lenses, but I really don't see any change when I adjust it. I leave mine focused in the middle for just about every shot I take and it's fine.

    The photos, there are two ways you can go here and I do both.

    One way, and offers the best quality. You can use slide film and mount the slides yourself, it's a pain to do, but the results are well worth the work. Both Kodak and Stereo Realist make good viewers with lights in them and there are arguments for and against both, guess what one I have. You can also get viewers that you can use if you are in a bright place, they are a few dollars so you can pass them to a friend with a few slides without breaking the bank. These can also be projected in expensive hard to find projectors.

    You can shoot print film and process it but DO NOT CUT IT then scan the negatives and make stereo cards using software like "StereoPhoto Maker" (yes you spell it that way) or something similar, that is what I use, and I like it a lot bonus is that it's free. Print the sinful Digital image onto 5X7 paper as a 3.5 X 7 image, cut the paper to the image size after printing and view in your favorite type of stereo scope. The advantage of this format is that someone that is unwilling to use the scope can still view the prints, or one or more people can look over the shoulder of the person viewing the prints and see them as 2D photos.

    Tips:

    Never cut or allow someone to cut your 3D film unless you are mounting it and then do it slowly, cut, mount, repeat, the only time a film chip should not be in a mount is the time from when it is cut until it is mounted, you should never have two loose chips ever. Failure to do this will result in frustration at best, or on the case of print film one half of your slide being cut in half and unusable. This is where One Hour processing places have send out places beat, they can do process, no cut, no prints in twenty minuets, then they will roll it up, scratch it and put it back in your film can. If you do print film you will need a roll film scanner, I recommend the Wolverine F2D with roll film adapter, it is a crappy scanner, but it does this job better than any other scanner I know of.

    If you are going to do Holms cards (look it up, it is a stereo card format) you may want to pick colors for subjects or locations, it makes it a lot easier to find a print in the archive box.

    One other tip is this, you know those lousy shots with lots of stuff in the foreground like tree branches and stuff, well in 3D those are the best shots, not the worst.

    Have fun with it, 3D is such a gimmicky thing, but it can be a lot of fun, and it's fun to share.

    Here is an example of what I have done using the process described above for making a Holms card.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49211508@N04/4573642028/

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2010
  8. STEREOKODAK

    STEREOKODAK Member

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    Stereo cameras

    I have a Kodak Stereo 35. I like it because I like kodak, but also because it is very user friendly. You almost cannot mess up because of the excellent lenses. People complain about inaccurate shutter speeds and all that, but I guess I got a good one. I have never had a bit of trouble with my camera, and I actually enjoy cutting and mounting the slides. Honestly, I could go through a lot more hassle and it would still be worth it for the results it gives.

    I hear the Realists are heavy, complicated and cumbersome. I have no first hand experience. I hear the Russian jobs have light leaks. Again, I don't know. If I were to start over, I would do it the same.
     
  9. McFortner

    McFortner Member

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    I have one of these that I got from eBay to play around with and have been happy with for what I paid for it. I've taken several pictures with it using expired film and it has worked OK, just problems with the film and not the camera. I'm going to use some of my fresh film in it this time, but it's a wonderful introduction to stereo pictures for the price.

    Michael
     
  10. roboflick

    roboflick Member

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    I would buy a stereo realist from Dr T on bay( george themelis). You will get a rock solid reliable camera with known shutter speeds. And will be able to consult his great users manual for the camera for using with modern film and flash. I love my stereo realists. I have three. 2 f 2.8 and an f 3.5. All great cameras the 3.5 is the sharpest but vignettes at apertures from f 11 -f 22. If vignetting bothers you buy an. F 2.8 and have it serviced by dr t he charges 125 dollars but you get a camera that will last you lifetime with a table of shutter speeds and other info like when it was produced and who serviced it

    I also have. A tl - 120 and an rbt s1. Also great cameras butpricy and cumbersome in some ways. The best all around value is a used stereo realist f 2.8
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The Kodak Stereo How To books were written by Pete Chiesa, one of the all time greats in the field of stereo photography. He took many photos and used his projector to bring stereo to us all. Pete was a very nice person and I was very proud to have worked with him on and off over the years.

    If you get a chance, get one of his books or get copies of some of his photos.

    PE
     
  12. chris00nj

    chris00nj Member

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    Thanks for the info and the views. I seem to be leaning towards the Revere 33 or a TDC Stereo Colorist II. They both have a rangefinder and a top finder. Anyone ever use one?

    I think the Realist's ergonomics may be a bit rough to get use to. While I love Kodak film, internet research says that most Kodak stereo cameras have busted shutters and I have generally found Kodak cameras to be junk (except the Retina). While I love MF, I think I want to dip my toe in with 35mm.

    I'm leaning towards using slide film. Any special tools for mounting?


    Good reference. Thanks!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2010
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Dont forget the View Master.

    There are a lot of VM disks out there.

    :D

    PE
     
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  15. roboflick

    roboflick Member

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    Send an email to Dr T he will set you up with everything you need. I would suggest you start with a film cutter I like the realist model compact and you just cut every 5 perfs. Small light table and realist sorting box you will also need rbt mounts. And a red button viewer. I like astia 100 f for people incredibly grain free and natural color. And velvia 100 for scenery and flowers
     
  16. roboflick

    roboflick Member

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    Don't be put off by the reported complexity of the realist. One gets into a routine after a few rolls and it becomes automatic. Dr t book is helpful in this regard. Plus you get a camera with a reliable shutter and sturdy build. These cameras were extremely overbuilt. I love mine.
     
  17. Andrew K

    Andrew K Subscriber

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    I've played on and off with stereo for years, and have owned most of the cameras mentioned....

    The Stereo Realist is a quirky camera to use, but once you get the hang of them they produce excellent results. For the price I would also recommend talking with George (DR T) on ebay - I would recommend his books on 3D as well (no matter which camera you get) - they are well written, and provide lots of info on how to use the cameras and present 3D photos.

    On the subject of presentation I actually scan my negs/trasperancies, and create blue/red anaglyphs which you can view with "3D" glasses - great for sending to peope - plus you can easily post them on line for people to see in 3D..the software was a free download from the web - if you want to know more PM me..

    But I digress. Kodak stereo's cameras are also excellent - if you get one that has a good working shutter then you will love it - sharp results, easy to use, proper wind and rewind knobs with levers (rewinding a stereo realist is not fun..). They may only have 4 shutter speeds, but they do have a spiriti level in the viewfinder to help you keep things level..

    Sputnik - I love my Sputnik - even though you really need to go over them first before using them: replace the original Russian tractor grease in the focussing helicoids with something that actually lets the lenses focus, recalibrate the focus on the lenses, paint the inside of the camera mat black (or stick some sort of flocking in). The small focussing spot (the small groundglass bit on the middle of the viewfinder) can be difficult to see, but it is accurate...shutter speeds are limited...but you do get 6 big stereo images per roll.....and you can customise them to no end - replace the focus screen, mount a prism, and you have a camera almost as good as the new Chinese 120 TLR (triple lens) stereo camera you can get from Dr T for $1600 (or is it more now??)

    Revere - again a nice camera - full range of shutter speeds, but the viewfinder is tiny andn very hard to see through.....but then again you do get a coupled range/viewfinder - great for action shots..

    If you just want to try a bit of stereo first to see if you enjoy it get a Argus 3D/Loreo 3D camera - it's a compact 35mm with a built in beam splitter that takes 2 side by side photos on standard 35mm print film - when you get the photos back you just pop them in the included viewer and look at them in glorious 3D...

    As people have suggested you will need slow film for shooting stereo - I use Velvia 50 in 35mm and Agfa APX 100 in 120...(and 400 ISO print in the Loreo)

    Any stereo slide viewer will do - I have a brumberg, a realist, a Graflex plus a copuple of others - all light up and seem to work well, although the ones where you can adjust the seperation between the eyepieces are easier for some people to use..

    What I would suggest is when you are starting out get some easy load slide mounts - the kind you slide the film chips into through slots cut out in them - the advantage of these is you can move the chips around to get correct alignment for the best 3D affect...once you get the hang of film mounting you can change over to RBT mounts, or the cheaper fold over mounts that Dr T has (these are the ones I use).

    Also get a film cutter - cutting your slides with square edges makes mounting much easier....

    I don't know where you are, but there may be a local 3D club who can help you - it's surprising how many there are around the world..and they love to talk 3D with anyone who'll listen....and no - I'm not one of them!

    Have fun!
     
  18. Andrew K

    Andrew K Subscriber

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    Forogt to metion - the TDC cameras have a habbit of breaking their take up spools (or maybe it's jsut someting we saw here in Australia??) but most of the ones I've seen have been repaired in some way (not an easy repair).

    The local 3D club here would recommend a Stereo Realist or a Kodak.

    I also forgot to mention the Fed Boy - the Russian 3D camera form the 80's. I have one, and mine works great - sharp photos, great AUTO exposure...and really easy to use...

    You probably won't miss having a rangefinder, as you tend to work at f8 or smaller to get the best 3D results...things look a bit funny ot of focus in 3D :smile:
     
  19. maderik

    maderik Member

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    Well if you want to go cheap, get a Nishika 8000. There are tons of these things around so they sell for less than the Lomos, and the outer pair of lenses have decent stereo separation. The 1/2 frame format will also cause less confusion for processing and you get get mounts compatible with most viewers. Compared to the Lomo, you also get a whopping 3 apertures to choose from and a little light to tell you to use flash. (Yes, that's all the AA batteries do; the "LCD" on the top is just a sticker.) Oh, and a lead weight and psuedo-SLR styling to make it look like a more serious and expensive camera ;-)
     
  20. jimmyp

    jimmyp Member

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    I like the realists, but my favorite is the viewmaster. It must be nostalgia, but I love viewmaster reels and I find everyone knows what they are. Viewmaster is my little wedding trick. If I go to a wedding, the bride gets a viewmaster reel and a viewer.
     
  21. edp

    edp Member

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    I've mentioned my Sputnik before, and now I have a chance to do it again.

    Get a Sputnik! It'll need a complete overhaul, but once it's prepared for use you won't want to stop using it. The slides really are the next-best thing to being there.
     
  22. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    Revere 33

    I have a Revere 33. Here are my thoughts:
    It's a very well built camera. Heavy, but feels great in the hand. It has the density and tactile feel of a precision instrument. The controls seem confusing at a first glance, but when actually shooting they become second nature. Nothing about the camera feels flimsy -- you never feel like a knob might accidentally break or that you could do any harm to the mechanisms (unlike say, a Russian folding camera or a Yashica TLR :wink: )

    The rangefinder and viewfinder are seperate windows. This is not as annoying as I imagined it might be. The rangefinder patch is easy to see and focus with. The viewfinder window could be a bit larger, but it is not the worst I have ever used, and is typical for most non-SLR cameras of the era (stereo or otherwise.)

    The Wollensak lenses are worthy performers -- nice and sharp and contrasty. Wollensak really made some nice glass.

    I think my shutter could use a CLA after all these years. Before loading up a roll of film, I exercise the shutter a bit. (There is a handy double-exposure lever that cocks the shutter only, without advancing the film. It's handy for easily exercising the shutter.)

    I have yet to make any Holmes cards from this camera, so I can't offer a definitive opinion on the results yet. But the individual images look good. The Revere 33 fits my needs for a stereo camera that is self-contained, flexible, portable and high quality. My other stereo photography has been with paired DSLRS with matching 28mm prime lenses (slow, cumbersome, but stunning image quality) or with a primitive 127-film stereo camera with a single shutter speed and meniscus lenses (for positively dreamy, period-like imagery with great stereo presence but using a film format that is hard to find and inconvenient to deal with.)

    I considered the Sputnik, but was warned off by many reports of problems. I may yet give it a try however, because medium format stereo would be fantastic. (The results from my mediumish-format 127 camera convince me that having a larger film area is ALWAYS a good thing, even when the lenses are crude.)
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    What is a good source to learn about projecting stereo photographs?

    Steve
     
  24. chris00nj

    chris00nj Member

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    Continued thanks for the recommendations. This is turning into a good thread as there are no others on the web. Keep 'em coming.

    I've dealt with a seperate RF/VF with my Leica iii, and small squinty viewfinders with my Ikonta. I'm still on the fence between a Colorist II and the Revere 33. Both seem to be equals in original build quality and lenses. I'm not sure how their aggregate relaibilty has been over the years. From what I can tell, the major difference are:

    Revere 33: Has bubble level in viewfinder, but hotshoe won't work with a normal flash.
    Colorist II: Normal hotshoe, but no bubble level.


    Any other thoughts?
     
  25. roboflick

    roboflick Member

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    What did you end up getting? Please reconsider and get a nice stereo realist 2.8, beautiful tessar type lenses, and really sharp even at f2.8. Bulletproof shutter and camera. there is not much that can go wrong with these cameras, plus if something does you have a reliable repairman with a quick turnover time to fix it.(Dr T he also answers questions promptly by email and publishes a great user guide that also covers stereo photography and mounting questions) There are also options to convert it to 7p. I smile everytime i use mine, which is one of the last made with oversized wind and rewind buttons, love it. With some velvia it is like looking at an idealized technicolor world. With stereo photography you wont be using your rangefinder much, except for closeups, you will mostly be using hyperfocal or 8ft for indoor flash pictures, so dont worry too much about that. The stereo realist has a nice bright viewfinder which shows you exactly what will capture on film, you can add a small bubble level if you desire. It is also easy to use with external flash, i use a hotshoe to pc cord adapter and a flash bracket made by hama, on my late model there is a pc plufg on the front of the camera.



    Nik
     
  26. djacobox372

    djacobox372 Member

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    I must have been lucky, the sputnik I bought off ebay worked flawlessly--no overhaul needed.