Medium-format stereo - my favorite
Medium-format stereo images in a hand-viewer are, IMHO, the ultimate in stereo format. Every format has its draws and I enjoy many of them, but when I want the best, I reach for a medium format viewer and slide.
Making these images has been a little harder than viewing them, however. The problem certainly isn't the availability of the film. The 120 film format was introduced by Kodak in 1901 and has been in production ever since. You can no longer buy it at the corner drug-store, but it is readily available at professional shops and New York mail-order houses. The limiting factor has been the shortage of stereo cameras using this film.
In the 1920s, 30s and 40s there were several German and French cameras available for producing stereo images on medium-format film. The Rolleidoscop, Heidoscop, Ontoscope and Flektoscop date from these decades. Each year, several of each are available for sale and chances are good that in the condition in which they leave e-bay they will take good pictures. The good news is that if you invest a little money in a cleaning and shutter calibration they will probably take great pictures.
In the 1960s and 70s the Soviet Sputnik was produced. Despite what sellers may claim, many of these cameras appear on e-bay each week. They cost about a tenth of one of the previously mentioned older cameras, but be careful. Straight from the factory the Sputnik had so many deficiencies that one can barely call it a camera. Fresh from your e-bay dealer you can't really expect it to work at all but if you are willing to invest several hours (or days) cleaning, adjusting and correcting, it is capable of making more than adequate images.
In 2003, there was a rumor of a new medium-format stereo camera being developed and produced in China. In 2004 the attendees at the NSA convention in Portland Oregon (myself included) had an opportunity to see a prototype of the camera. It was early 2006 before any additional news was available. Now (September 2006) I have a new camera in hand and am looking forward to making stereo images with a modern camera with coated lenses. Next