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Kodak No 2 Stereo

Eastman Kodak Co. No. 2 STEREO-KODAK

No 2 Stereo Kodak

Eastman made his fortune on a series of roll film box cameras designed for the amateur market. However, by the turn of the century there were smaller, more practical folding cameras available, and the original box concept was fading. The No. 2 Stereo-Kodak was the only stereo version produced, and then only for a few years. Although a light and simple design, under the skin the quality and finish of the wood still displays old world craftsmanship.

Graflex Triple Lens Stereo Graphic

Folmer & Schwing Triple Lens Stereo Graphic

Say hello to the beast - a camera only its mother could love, or perhaps the men who designed it. Manufactured in a brief window from 1902 until Eastman's takeover of Folmer & Schwing in 1906, the Triple Lens Stereo Graphic is an extremely uncommon camera. Clearly intended as a top of the line stereo camera, today it is best known as the subject of a rare but popular Keystone stereo view. The 5 x 8 format should have produced impressive images, although I have never encountered such an image. This particular example was purchased by the previous owner from Ukraine, via an obscure and mislabeled Ebay auction.

Keystome Triple Lens Stereo Card

More about the camera.

Stereo Auto Graflex

Folmer & Schwing Division, EKC, Stereo Auto Graflex

Graflex, the renouned maker of advanced ammateur and professional press cameras, produced only two SLR stereo models. The first was the Stereo Graflex, and the second was this Stereo Auto Graflex. Differences between the two were minor. Both cameras shot 5 x 7 inch sheet film (I have seen a photo of a smaller format version, but know nothing about it). Today, Stereo Graflex cameras are few and far between. This example has an unsual feature which allows adjustment of the stereo base. I wrote a story about the camera for the Graflex Historic Quarterly. It appears in the 2nd quarter 2003 issue. I've reproduced it here.

Stereo Auto Graflex Case

Additional Photos

Goerz Photo Stereo Binocle

Goerz Photo Stereo Binocle

While "Detective" cameras where all the rage in the late 1890s, I personally don't believe the intent here was to create a detective camera. Rather, the Binocle was merely the first of many attempts (continuing even into the age of digital cameras) to combine a pair of binoculars and a camera into one device. Unlike the Physiographe below, the Binocle does in fact work as binoculars. A turret located behind each eye piece hol ds three lenses, two different magnifications for regular viewing, and one for taking photos. Shutter controls are located between the eyepieces. In viewing mode the shutters are locked open and the device used like regular binoculars. To take photos, the Binocle is turned around, the front lens elements are swung down out of the way and plate holders installed in their place. A newton finder folds up for framing and one essentially holds the device backwards to take photos through the picture taking lenses in the eyepieces. While you could arguably call this stealth, I tend to believe any time you look backwards through binoculars it tends to draw attention, not divert it. For this reason, I'll claim function - even though it probably was considered a detective camera in its day.

Bloch Le Physiographe

Bloch Le Physiographe

The Bloch brothers produced cameras in the form of a book, a cravate, a briefcase, a monocular, and like this example, a pair of binoculars. Was anyone ever fooled by one these devices? Who knows. Le Physiograph was patented in the late 1890s and soldiered on in production until shortly after WWI. Camera controls are located between the objective lenses. The one on the left is fake, and is used as a handle for the plate changing magazine. The right objective looked through a 90 degree finder located in the black rim. Because the natural tendency is to hold a binocular with both hands, I could see many images being ruined by a hand in front of one of the lenses. The difficulty of using the 90 degree finder likely also lead to many angled images. According to McKeowns, early examples were in 5 x 12 format. Later examples, like this one, are in the ubiquitous 45 x 107 format.

Additional Photos

Gaumont Block Notes Stereo

Gaumont Block Notes Stereo 6 x 13

An interesting strut folding design, the Block Notes is extremely compact when folded. The sliding front panel performs multiple functions. As seen here, the view finder is in place and the shutter cocked. Slide the viewfinder in and the front pane l acts as a lens cover. When the viewfinder is slid back out again, it also cocks the shutter. This concept really presages the operation of many modern pocket digital cameras, with a sliding lens cover which also turns on the camera.

Bellieni Stereo Jumelle

Bellieni Stereo Jumelle

Typical turn of the century Jumelle style camera with magazine back, for 9x18 stereo pairs. Owing to the physical size of the plates, the magazine holds 24 half size plate holders. Advancing from one image to the next required the operator to keep careful track of the frame counter. The plate changing handle had to be cycled twice per image. Looking at the camera from behind, 24 unexposed half plates are loaded on the left hand side. Each time the changing handle is cycled, one half plate is moved across to the right. Therefore, before the first photo is taken, the changing handle must be cycled to bring an unexposed plate to the right hand side. After taking a photo. The exposed left hand image is dragged over to the right hand stack. A second operation of the handle then drags an unexposed plate from left to right, leaving two unexposed plates in position. The exposure counter must always be on an even number or one half of a pair will be double exposed. Large and clumsy systems such as this were rapidly supplanted by easier to handle 45 x 107 cameras like the Verascope.

Additional Photos

Mackenstein Kallista

Mackenstein Kallista

The good thing about a fisheye lens is it takes cool round photos. The bad thing about a fisheye lens is all it takes are cool round photos, and one doesn't often need that ability. For a brief period around 1909-10, Mackenstein offered the Kallista camera. Designed by L. Stockhammer, as may be noted from the viewfinder, the camera was intended to take round stereo pairs, via a mask installed in front of the film plain. There was also a viewer designed for the round pairs, although I've never seen what it looks like. In 1913, Stockhammer wrote a scholarly treatise on stereo photography "Stéréoscopic Rationelle." Looking back through the lens of history, it would be interesting to learn the original rationale behind the Kallista design.

Additional Photos

Gaumont Stereo Spido

Gaumont Stereo Spido 8.5 x 17

Typical of its era, the Spido was made with a leather covered wood body. The lens panel slides over to shoot mono panoramic shots. Although more portable in concept than a folding camera, the truth is all 8.5 x 17 cameras, as dictated by their plate size, are quite large. After the turn of the century, large cameras like this quickly lost favor against competition from smaller more portable 45 x 107, and 6 x 13 plate sizes.

Additional Photos

Gaumont Stereo Spido Metallique

Gaumont Stereo Spido Metallique 6 x 13

Typical of its era, the Spido was made with both a leather covered body, and as seen here, all metal. This is the simple version, there was also a version designed to shoot panoramas. Like the Monobloc cameras, sliding the lens panel to one side on the deluxe version allowed for shooing 2D panoramas.

Jeanneret Monobloc Stereo

Jeanneret Monobloc 9 x 13

The Monobloc camera was sold under both the Jeanneret and Liebe brands. This example is in an unusual 9 x 13 portrait format, and also incorporates the common ability to shoot 2D panoramas. The magazine came loaded with cut sheet film. It is not uncommon to find glass plate magazines adapted for sheet film. After the age of glass had passed, a common way to keep these older cameras useable was to fit the septums with a spacer and slide sheet film on top.

Liebe Monobloc Stereo

V. Liebe Monobloc 6 x 13

This Monobloc camera is once again typical of its era. Designed as both a stereo and panoramic camera, the lens board slides over for panoramic shots. The Newton finder on top of the camera has a removable mask for framing the wide 2D images. For some reason, the rear objective lens is tinted blue. All the fancier French cameras from this era are a delight, incorporating a high degree of intricate detail and of obvious quality. This same camera was also sold as a Jeanneret Monobloc.

Glass Plate Magazine | Instruction Brochure Cover

Additional Photos

Liebe Monobloc Simplifié

V. Liebe Monobloc Simplifié 6 x 13

Liebe Monobloc StereoQuite often, the simplified versions of these old cameras are less common today than the standard models. Gone are the ability to shoot 2D panoramas and mount plate changing backs, but the camera retains its rising front.

Richard Verascope Stereo Camera 1894

Richard Verascope (first model)

Although the external shape never really changed, the first model Verascopes varied significantly in detail from those which were built in the 1930s. This circa 1894 example is most notable for the pull out shutter cocking knob on the side of the lens board, and the tubular viewfinder on top of the plate magazine. It also lacks a tripod mounting hole, which was added on subsequent models. By the turn of the century, a Newton finder replaced the tubular finder, and lateral correction was added to the reflex finder.

Additional Photos

Richard Verascope 6 x 13 Stereo Camera

Richard Verascope 7 x 13

Its a little unclear how the 7 x 13 format came about. One source says it was the result of lobbying by a French stereo club. Another has Richard himself pus hing the format. Whatever its origins, 6 x 13 was better established and the taller format faded away. According to McKeowns, the same basic camera could be fitted with either of the two format backs. This is an altogether bigger camera than a 45 x 107 Verascope. The features of this example place it somewhere in the 1905-'08 time frame. Although Richard also made Taxiphotes in 8.5 x 17, I don't believe they ever made a camera in that size. Scaling the Verascope concept up even further would have resulted in a giant. If anyone out there has any 6 x 13 magazines or septums, please let me know.

Richard Verascope 7 x 13 Simplifié

As with the 45 x 107 cameras, Richard produced simplified versions of his big cameras. The reflex finder has been abandoned for a simpler Newton finder, and the controls have been simplified. Individual plate holders are substituted for the more complex and costly plate changing magazines. In spite of it's lower initial cost, the Simplifié seems less common today than the fancier models.

Additional Photos

Richard Verascope 7 x 13 w/roll film back

Richard Verascope 7 x 13 w/roll film back

Comparing this example, to the earlier 7 x 13 camera, one may clearly see the design evolution of Verascope cameras. This c. 1930s example has gained, in addition to several detail improvements, better quality focusing lenses and a roll film back. So as to make way for the shutter cocking lever, aperture adjustment has been forced to the bottom of the front plate. Just visible below the lens board is the focus bar. Pushing it side to side runs the entire lens board out on helical threads. Like its early cousins, the system also includes a rising front. I'll have to investigate what form of film this back used, but I have seen color transparencies in 45x107 format, so this camera is likely to still have been viable well after WWII.

Richard Verascope 45 x 107 Stereo Camera

Richard Verascope 45 x 107

If you, or more probably your ancestors, took stereo photos in the early 20th century, odds are good those photos were tak en with some form of Verascope. Seen here on a period ball and socket tripod mount, the control labels are upside down. However, the camera operator is looking down through the view finder. When he tips the camera up to operate the controls, the printing appears right side up to him. Because of the printing, Verascopes are often photographed upside down. This is a late (1930s) focusing model. Self timer operation was simple. Close the flaps, push the lever up and move the switch to Marche. The orange flap means hold still and the white means done. On the close focus lenses, the notch at the bottom is for clearance around the viewfinder window.

Le Cunctator (self timer) | Close Up Lenses

Richard Verascope Rallongé

The Rallongé, or lengthened Verascope differs little from the standard focusing models of the time. It's distinguishing characteristic being the lengthened film back mounting flange. This allowed use of a special quick-loading back. By installing a block at the end of the film back guide, standard plate and roll film backs could be used.

Additional photos

L' Homeos Richard

L' Homeos Richard

Jules Richard fairly well dominated the early 20th century stereo market. Although they established the popular 45 x 107 mm glass plate standard, they were not so wedded to the idea as to exclude consideration of new technologies and formats. The Homeos camera pictured here was one of the first ever 35mm roll film cameras. Although not a huge commercial success with only about 500(?) cameras produced, it was an innovative design, and helped point the way to modern 35mm cameras. This example is from the second series, manufactured circa 1920.

Additional Photos | Viewer

Le Glyphoscope, first model

Ever the inventive marketer, shortly after bringing his Verascope camera and 45 x 107mm format to market, Jules Richard realized he needed a more affordable solution. Le Glyphoscope was the answer. Made from cheaper materials, it combined a camera and viewer in one unit. A removable shutter panel allowed the device to be used as a view, and a special plate holder with built in diffuser replaced the plate holders for slide viewing. Although clever in concept, as with most compromises, it was genrally better in concept than in use.

Le Glyphoscope Stereo Camera 45 x 107

Le Glyphoscope, second model

The second model Glyphoscope came close on the heels of the first. I don't honestly know if one replaced the other, or they were sold side by side. Both cameras emplyed a molded ebonite body. There were also versions with a more traditional leather covered wood body. To see the Glyphoscope in viewer guise, have a look at my Hand Held Viewers section.

Richard le Sterea

Richard le Sterea

By 1931, interest in stereo photography was on the wane. In response to a declining market, Richard produced le Sterea. Modeled after the famous Verascope, but more cheaply constructed, a reduced price was not enough to make it a success. Purportedly less than 1,000 were made. The body of this second model example is cast in aluminum, with a textured paint finish designed to emulate a leather covering. Although functional, it lacks the quality look and feel of previous Verascope cameras.



Raise your hand if you knew the first Franke and Heidecke cameras were stereo. The Rolleidoscop here was the successor to the earlier Heidoscop. Leveling the camera through the viewfinder can be a challenge, but the results are incomparable. The key difference between Heidoscop and Rolleidoscop is the former was designed for interchangable plate backs, or roll film backs. The latter was a roll film camera only.

Rear View