3D And Me – A Caution To Thee


As a new photographer in my teens I read all the American photo magazines I could get. Popular Photography, Modern Photography, and as many of the older ones that had vanished by that time. I also ran through the advertisements in all the National Geographic magazines that I could find. They all had something that I earnestly desired – 3D cameras.

Stereo Realist, View master, TDC, Kodak, and a raft of others. Even Wollensack I think. And as I was looking at 1950’s magazines in 1966 I was out of luck. All that temptation and no satisfaction.

I jumped when I saw an ad in the small classifieds for an attachment that would go on the front of the 55mm lens of my Pentax Sv – it promised 3D stereo true-to-life colour slides with one exposure by stacking two images on one slide in landscape orientation. The hidden catch was that it did exactly as it said and did it well, but the only way to see the end result was to pop the Kodachrome into a hand-held unlighted viewer. No projection, no extra viewers available, and the camera held in the world’s most awkward position for every exposure. I know these things because I sent my money away and received one in the post.

Then the company and the ad vanished. And my desire abated for a while.

It returned when I found a Pentax 3D adapter that could screw onto the front of the lens. This time the orientation was portrait and again two images went on one slide and you looked through an unlighted plastic viewer. The images were unsatisfactory – tantalising but artistically limited by the vertical orientation.

When I discovered one of the old Kodak Stereo cameras I was in heaven. Square images at last and…and…a very limited range of shutter speeds, a bastard flash synch connection and dodgy Kodak mechanics. The style was glorious but that could also have been said about the Brewster Buccaneer. At least the viewer was lighted.

The main problem was the slides needed special mounts, masks, and seals to make up each view – and these had to be ordered in the dark of the moon from a company in the US. You could do it about 20 times before you collapsed from brain fatigue.

SO…the desire is still there. Will there be a real digital solution for it? I await the day.


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