; Fig. C: The Expo-Sure system automatically dials in the matching f-stop and shutter speed settings for you. ; Fig. D: Snap on this lens attachment to take “close-up” 3D pictures.
results. But where other stereoscopic cameras
took full-frame 35mm images that required
complicated mounting (more about that
later), the V-M camera created 16mm images
to fit the standard V-M reel. That meant only
half the width of the 35mm filmstrip was used.
Gruber’s “Aha!” moment came when he
envisioned running the film through the camera twice: once as the film was pulled out of
the canister, then again as the film was wound
back into the canister. What made it possible
was the “Film Miser,” an elegant solution with
At the end of the roll you’d simply twist a
dial. The swiveling twin lenses would be repositioned from the bottom half of the filmstrip
to the top where they would make a second
strip of stereo images. Using a 36-exposure
roll of film, the Personal Stereo Camera yielded a whopping 69 stereo images. Wow!
With lots of other clever features, the V-M
camera was a breeze to use. A bubble level
appeared right in the viewfinder to help you
hold the camera level. When taking pictures
in “you-are-there” 3D, you don’t want tilted,
Built into the top of the camera was the
Expo-Sure, a clever light-metering system
(Figure C). First, you’d set the speed of your
film (ASA 100 was the top speed setting!)
and select the season (“winter” or “summer”
lighting). To take a picture, the f-stop and shutter speed control knobs were set to match
up the subject color (marked “dark/average/
light”) to the sky brightness (“bright/sun”
through “cloudy/dull”). When you lined up
the marks, the f-stop and shutter speed were
automatically set for a perfectly exposed
picture, no light meter needed.
It also indicated the depth of field right on
the dial. To get more of the picture in deep
focus, you’d simply use a smaller aperture.
The Expo-Sure automatically adjusted for the
new shutter speed setting — it was an all-mechanical analog computer!
The camera’s focus was fixed, but for close-up subjects a snap-on lens attachment added
magnification and slightly changed the angle
of the two lenses — like crossing your eyes to
thread a needle (Figure D). For indoor or night
shots there was a flash unit that synced to the
camera and fired flash bulbs.
After you took the pictures, the film was
developed like any other roll of slide film.
Instead of being cut up and mounted into
individual slides, the film would be left uncut
as one long strip.
With other 3D cameras, you’d have to
carefully measure and cut the left and right
images from the filmstrip, then manually trim
and mount them into a frame, spacing and
aligning the images by hand. One slip of the
razor blade or sloppy alignment and you’d
ruin your picture. Again, too much trouble for
most casual photographers.
No worries. The next element of Gruber’s
system, the View-Master Film Cutter, made it
61 Follow us @make