Part 4 – Getting serious about 3D digital photography
As I said in the beginning, 3D photography is not new. There are still a lot of people that are passionate about it (as you will see from the reference links later). As you would expect, there are also much better ways of getting “proper” 3D photos than the humble cha-cha anaglyph presented in Part 2. Here are only some of the alternatives…
Film & convert
Use a stereo 35mm film camera and then scan the fill photo pairs into digital before creating the anaglyphs. It’s a much longer process, but using an older camera with two lenses means that you can actually take 3D shots of moving themes too, wihtout being restricted to still life. Although not cheap, you can still find good secod-hand Kodak and Realist cameras on ebay for reasoable amounts of money. Two-lens SLR’s do exist, but they are more rare to find and cost a lot more…
Digital 3D Stereo Camera
Fuji recently announced the FinePix Real 3D W1 camera, which is a pure digital stereo camera, and managed to get most of us interested in 3D photography drooling… However the prices are still very high (around UKP £450 at the time of writing this – Nov 2009), so for most of us it will remain a dream toy.
Several people have invested time and effort creating 2-camera stero rigs, using two normal digital cameras. Although not the easiest contraptions to carry around, nor cheap, when they are synchronised correctly, most will do an excellent job.
An alternative approach, uses mirrors and/or prisms to generate two stereo images on a single frame, using a single camera. Devices such as a tri-delta rig and Loreo Lens in a cap can fit on your normal camera, with reasonable results.
A special case of artistic licence – 3D from 2D
Finally, it would be wrong of me not to mention one of the most ingenious pieces of software I’ve come across relating to 3D. It’s not “stereo” photography in real sense, but it allows you to reconstruct very credible 3D versions of 2D images, through photo manipulation. The software is called 3D Gugle Pro and I would invite you to look at some of the work that it’s designer has done on some classical masterpieces, in this gallery. Even if you don’t attempt it yourself, it’s well worth the look!