History of 3D stereo photography

How 3D stereo photography works

Humans also see spatially and can estimate distances because they have left and right eyes.

The Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster made use of this insight. In 1849, he presented the first camera with two lenses, one for each eye, with which it was possible to take moving snapshots for the first time.

At the World Exhibition 1851 in London, Queen Victoria became enthusiastic about stereo photos.

And when, some time later, the American doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes launched a new viewing device that made it possible to optimally view 3D stereo photos, a success story of unexpected proportions began.

One also speaks of a "stereomania".

Hundreds of thousands of 3D photographs were sold.

For viewing, the right and the left picture were glued side by side on a cardboard. The anaglyph technique came later.

The most popular were views of distant landscapes, cities and people.

Publishing houses emerged that sent hundreds of photographers around the world. One of the largest was Underwood & Underwood, founded in the USA in 1881.

By the turn of the century in 1900, the company was producing around 25,000 stereo photo cards a day and was considered the world's largest supplier at the time, producing a total of 10 million cards and 30,000 viewers a year.


Discovery of the world through stereo photography.

From 1880 onwards, mass commercial use was largely due to the German physicist and entrepreneur August Fuhrmann. Not only in Germany, but also in the large cities of Central Europe.

His devices, called "Kaiserpanorama", were a popular mass medium. Up to 25 people could view stereo photos at the same time.

The crowd pullers were exotic destinations and landscapes that were inaccessible to most people. Such a presentation lasted half an hour.

As early as around 1910, there was an imperial panorama in 250 cities with more than 100,000 pictures, which were shown in regularly changing programmes.

The great era of 3D photography ended with the film.


And today?

3D stereo photography is an important tool for the military, in research and technology.

3D stereo television has not been able to catch on, one reason being the different technology.

Cinema has rediscovered 3D film, with numerous new productions in brilliant, advanced technology- still based on the same principles as in 1859.


For those who want to learn more

stereo photography:

3D anaglyph technology: