|Sterocrafters Videon 35mm stereo camera|
Stereo or stereoscopic photography is simply the means of taking pictures that replicate binocular vision, that is the impression of three dimensions achieved by combining the vision from two eyes which see from slightly different viewpoints (it is sometimes, inaccurately, referred to as '3D photography'). The easiest way to replicate this in photography is to have a camera with two lenses, roughly the same distance apart as human eyes, which take two photographs simultaneously. The two photographs then have to be viewed in such a way that the right eye only sees the right side image, and the left eye the left one. Stereo photography was invented just a few years after photography itself, and has experienced periods of popularity since. There was a post-war boom in 35mm stereo photography, from which the Videon dates (1953, according to Massimo Bertacchi's Innovative Camera site). It was made by Stereocrafters of Wisconsin; apart from a Videon II, it appears the company made no other models.
The Videon is simply and cheaply constructed. The body is moulded in two halves from bakelite, with pressed or stamped metal top and bottom plates, and the lenses and shutters housed in a metal surround. The lenses are Ilex "Stereon" f3.5 35mm anastigmats; the shutters are un-named, but perhaps also by Ilex, with a limited range of speeds, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, 1/10 sec., and 'B' and 'T' settings. These are set by rotating a pin, one under each lens. Framing is by a simple viewfinder on the top plate, equidistant between the two lenses. Focus is manual by turning one or the other of the lenses, with a metal arm joining the two, and a V-shaped notch that indicates the focus on the scale.
The Videon takes 35mm film, loaded by sliding off the back and bottom plate. However, the image format, like most 35mm stereo cameras, is a non-standard size, c.24x25mm. After loading the frame counter is set manually; this goes up to 25, which are stereo pairs, i.e. 25 pairs of photographs. The counter is a simple rotating disc directly on the top plate, with nothing to stop it being accidentally turned, meaning it's very easy to lose one's place on the film. There is a release button next to the frame counter, which needs to be pushed forwards before the film is wound on - and also when rewinding the film.
|Videon top plate, showing from left: rewind knob; depth of focus scale; viewfinder;|
frame counter; wind release (shutter release above this); wind on knob.
|The stereo pair are the two outermost frames of the four pictures.|
|Generalife, Alhambra, Spain - anaglyph from the pair on the strip above.|
|Botanical Garden, Potsdam|
|View in Naples|
|A Street in Naples|