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3D Viewers for Side by Side Images

The first form of 3D, starting from 150 years ago, involved a viewer that you could look at two images with, this style of viewer is available still today. You can buy one complete or a kit and put it together yourself. Today there are other forms of viewer but most do in affect the same job.

The original form of these involved two photos on a card, and a viewer with a separator in and two lenses, you therefore saw one image with each eye. The same process is used in the 'Viewmaster Wheels', that were very popular a few years back, with wheels for places of interest and cartoons, with some devices with built-in wheels that were children's toys as well.

Versions of these are still available but we also now have viewers that use the same process and can view either two prints or two images on a TV or monitor. Some of these are fold up and of high quality.

The disadvantage of the viewers with prints or slides in, is that only one person at a time can see them, and the disadvantage of the viewer device is that its fiddly lining up on a pair of prints. For print i.e. books the disadvantage is that you have to have two pictures side by side, so pictures are smaller or you need a wide book.

The advantage of these systems over the coloured glasses methods is that the colours are unaltered, and that a  single photo is just that, a photo with no colour shadows, halos or peculiar look to them. You also don't need any special editing software, this is using straight prints taken from two viewpoints just a few inches apart.

The Holmes Bates Stereoscope

Holmes-Bates Stereoscope

This is the original design, made of wood, a card with two photos are on an extending arm, and you look through a pair of lenses on a device with a separator going away from you, forcing you to see one photo with each eye. There area lot of these around and you will find second hand versions, not all old. New kits and assembled versions can be obtained from various places including www.berezin.com/3d/holmes.htm. The same site also sells reproduced copies of old cards.

Photos of a wider range of Holmes-Bates Stereoscopes can also be seen at:-


A wider range of side by side viewers

The same website also offers a very wide range of other side by side viewers.
See www.berezin.com/3d/viewers1.htm

There are also versions that use two images about each other on a video screen.

In addition there are special versions made for specific applications. I have a large one in my collection that was used at the time of the Second World War, and you view two photos taken from a plane flying over a scene, and with this device and changing the position of some light spots you can measure the height above ground and therefore produce accurate maps with heights, measure heights of buildings etc. Another application up to recently for the same device is to take a photo of something like stone work on an ornate entrance to a cathedral and be able to measure accurately the depths of each of the mouldings or sections. Today with the advent of computer controls systems and laser systems we can use other non photographic methods, to do the same task.


There are people who collect Viewmaster Wheels, and there are a number of websites that sell both original and reproduction wheels, as well as original and compatible viewing devices. Some of these come and go, so I have not added a  contact list, but an internet search will highlight those currently in this market.

PokeScope Pocket sStereoscope

The viewer I find the most interesting is the Pocketscope. This is a folding device that folds up into a small cube. Because the angles can be adjusted it can be used with pairs of prints, with stereo cards meant for other systems and with TV and video screens. See  www.pokescope.com/pokescopeinfo.html or  www.berezin.com/3d/pokescope.htm

See Also our 3D Section for more articles and projects on this topic.


By: Keith Park   Section: 3D Section Key:
Page Ref: 3D_viewers Topic: 3D  Last Updated: 01/2010

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