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Repair or Restore?

The extent of technological innovation during WWII was reflected in camera design after the war. Among stereo cameras, gone were the traditional wood bodies and leather bellows. Compact designs composed of metal and plastics became the norm. About the time Seton Rochwite was building his own personal stereo camera, which would lead to the Stereo Realist, Verascope was producing their last innovative new camera, the F40. Clearly, the American Rochwite was thinking along the same lines as the French, however, their head start was lost in the war and its aftermath.

Stereo Realist

Seton Rochwite almost single handedly created the American post war stereo boom. The Realist design established the 5 perf "Realist" format, which was followed by all subsequent American stereo cameras. He went on to design the Kin-Dar and Contura cameras, as well as the Hyponar macro stereo lens for the Exakta.

Seton Rochwite Instruments Polarizer
Steinheil Wide Angle Adapter front | side

David White Stereo Realist Custom

David White Stereo Realist Custom

Stereo Realist Custom

What do you do when your new car don't sell? Give it to the marketing department! By the end of Realist production, the post war stereo boom was long since gone. Color TV, fast color photo printing and a fickle American public had put paid to the craze. The subtle ergonomic changes make this the easiest Realist to handle, and its "Rare Earth" lenses are certainly as good as any ever put on a Realist. Things like the enlarged rewind knob don't seem like a big deal, but I can attest to having chewed through a glove using the small rewind knob at the Winter Olympics in Norway. Combine improved features with limited production numbers and y ou get the most desirable example of the Realist family.

Realist Custom Stereo Camera

Realist Macro Stereo

Realist Macro Stereo

The rarest Realist was a highly specialized macro stereo outfit. If you could focus a regular stereo camera to within a few inches, the results would not be visually pleasing. By moving the lenses close together, we can maintain "normal" apparent depth at very close distances. As a fixed focus camera, the Realist Macro was usable only for close-up work.

Internal View


Realist Macro Brochure

David White Stereo Realist

Stereo Realist Oddball

Here it is, the Space Oddity Realist. Although this is not a true factory authorized prototype fixed focus Realist, it is built to roughly the same pattern, and somebody spent the time to make it. The body has been carefully modified. Many of the parts appear to have manufacturing defects, or are unique product samples which do not match production parts. It is my belief this camera may have been assembled by someone with access to the David White factory or R&D department parts bins.

Go here for a more extensive review of this unusual camera.

Olden Camera Stereo Realist

Stereo Realist, Olden Camera & Lens Co.

My Uncle purchased his first Stereo Realist somewhere in the late 1940s. He later replaced it with this Olden Realist. Olden Camera purchased remaining parts inventory from David White and continued assembling cameras after production at David White had ended. The Olden cameras are distinguishable by having several external features in common with the Realist Custom. Olden cameras are easy to spot because they lack the Kangaroo leather covering, click detents on the focusing knob and rare earth lenses, which were features of the Custom.

Iloca Stereo 1st Model

Iloca Stereo, first model

Through the 1950s, the Iloca Camera Co. made all sorts of stereo cameras, many were marketed under other trade names. This is the first model. These early cameras were made in the European 7 perf stereo format.

Iloca Stereo 2nd Model

Iloca Stereo, second model

This is what I would call a second model camera (not sure if this is correct). The first model was effectively the same, but without the "Iloca Stereo" plate covering the gap between the lenses. Somewhere after this model, they changed over to Realist format.

Iloca Stereo Rpid 2.8

Iloca Stereo Rapid

A later rendition of the Iloca was also marketed by David White as the Realist 45. This Iloca labeled example has the less common 2.8 lenses. Although it features a cast body, the front, top and bottom plates are all simple stampings. Controls lack the feel of solidity one would expect in a more expensive camera. One notable feature is the film advance lever, operated by the left thumb. Physical dimensions are surprisingly large for a Realist format camera.

Box and Instructions
Steinheil Wide Angle Adapter front | side

Belca Belplasca


Oooh, aaaah! Built in beautiful bombed out Dresden, the primary feature usually mentioned about the Belplasca camera is its Carl Zeiss lenses. Truth be told, a properly handled Realist 2.8 is every bit as good. In my opinion, the Wolle nsak 10 has even better lenses. The real boon of the Belplasca is its very good lenses are mounted to a 7 perf European format body. Like most 1950s cameras, the controls are easier to use than a Realist. Its also much less common than the 2.8 Realist.

Internal View

Owla 3D Stereo Camera

Owla Stereo, first model

Japan's entry in the "whoops we made it too late" sweepstakes of collapsing interest in stereo photography. The body is a stout casting, and it is nicely made. if the lenses are up to snuff, it is likely an equal of the other late 1950s upscale stereo cameras. No idea how many were built, but they are less common in the States.

Owla Stereo Camera Japan

Owla Stereo, second model

A revision of the above model, obviously, but beyond that I have no information on dates or production numbers. The second model, presumably having learned from experience, features a number of mechanical and cosmetic changes.

Richard Verascope f40

Verascope f40

"Considered by many to be the finest..." yada yada. The Verascope name returned after WWII on the f40 (sold in the US as the Busch f40). Owing to a propensity to experience severe lens flare, it is often referred to as the "Flarescope." Technically interesting and somewhat uncommon, the f40 is both very collectible, and with modification, a quite usable machine. Like the Belplasca, it benefits from being based on the European 7 perforation format. Richard offered a unique viewer to accompany the F40. Looking more like a pre WWII design, it was a transposing viewer, intended to be used with raw uncut film strips. The lens focus and interocular adjustment mechanism was lifted straight off the old Taxiphote cabinet viewers.

Revere Wollensak 10 Stereo

Wollensak 10

Wollensak was a fine old name, but by the 1950s was owned by Revere, who marketed the Revere 33 stereo camera. Just at the end of the stereo boom, they decided to sell a premium version under the Wollensak name. The 10 had sharp, fast ƒ2.7 lenses and a 1/300th top shutter speed. In my estimation, it was the equal of any 50s era stereo camera. Unfortunately for Revere, it came too late and only limited numbers were sold. Most examples available today saw little use and are in excellent condition. If you are planning to shoot with a Realist format camera, this is the one to use.

Stereo Corporation Contura


The Contura is one of those cameras where all the available knowledge seems to have been quoted from one source to the next, around in a circle. Was there ever any valid original knowledge? The camera was styled by Brooks Stevens, the case was by Perrin of California (who also made those nice camera bags for the Stereo Realist), and whatever the true production numbers were, its a safe bet there weren't very many. The literature says 100 cameras assembled, but based on the serial numbers I have seen, I'm guessing it was double that number. And in case anyone ever wondered, yes, those rare earth lenses are radioactive.

Back and Interior Views | Prototype

Contura Stereo Camera

Ihagee Exakta Stereflex Stereo

Ihagee Stereflex Stereo Unit

Here's another of them "it ain't actually a camera" deals. The Stereflex system, for Exakta cameras, is probably no better or worse than any other 1950s era beam splitter system. What sets it apart is the unique combination viewfinder/slide viewer. By removing the slide holder and inserting a ground glass screen in its place, the viewer beoames a 3D viewfinder. Although one must get used to the image through the camera being reversed, stereo viewing through the lens is remarkably effective. The wide based prism on the camera is for normal distances, and the close base prism on the left is for macro work.

Kin-Dar Hypo-Stereo Attachment

Kin-Dar Hypo-Stereo Attachment

Perceiving a need for a close up capability, Seton Rochwite designed a macro stereo lens set for the Exacta, which was marketed by Kin-Dar. Rochwite also designed the Kin-Dar stereo camera, although this was not a particularly fine camera. The Kin-Dar and later Rochwite Hyponar are substantially similar designs. Approximately 100 were made. Both lenses are considered among the least common of Exakta lenses.

Seton Rochwite Hyponar

Seton Rochwite Instruments Hyponar

After the demise of the Kin-Dar, working from his home machine shop Seton Rochwite built an additional 75 Hyponar units. The lenses are fixed focus, but like the Kin-Dar can be adjusted with screw in filters. To help with composition, the kit also included a viewfinder mask. Somewhere around this time Realist Inc., as David White had become, marketed the Realist Macro. I'm not sure who came first, but having a stereo product personally manufactured by Seton Rochwite is a very cool thing.

RBT S1 Stereo


If lens quality is the measure of a camera, here is the modern 35mm champ. Based on a pair of Konika Hexar autfocus cameras, the S1, though a little slow in operation, takes stunningly sharp photos. Lens spacing, available in either 45mm or 59mm centers is a bit close, so the camera is at its best when the main subject is within about 10-12 feet. Sadly, RBT has ceased production of the S1.



RBT, a small German maker of semi custom modern stereo cameras, is the savior of people like myself who want modern zoom lenses and metering technology. I spent several years shooting with various of the above cameras. Today my RBT X2V2, based on a modern Ricoh body and Pentax lens mounts, is the weapon of choice. The primary lens set is a pair of 24-90mm zooms. It also sports a pair of 135mm telephotos.

RBT X4 Stereo Camera


The entry level X4 is a simple manual camera, which means it is also a reliable backup. Having the same 75mm stereo base as the X2, lens pairs can be shared between cameras.


Contact: information@ignomini(dot)com


Stereo Realist f2.8