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Stereo Cameras Explained

Repair or Restore?

Self Casing Cameras: The next evolution in general camera design. "Let's make all the tools fit in the box!"
Rochester Camera Ca Poco A stereo

Rochester Camera Co. POCO A

Rochester Poco A Stereo

The maker's label tells us this particular camera was manufactured in the 1895-'97 time frame. The hinged drop bed self casing design concept was pioneered by the Henry Clay Camera a few years prior. Those cameras set the stage for a whole generation of self casing cameras to follow.

Rochester Poco A

No 5 Folding Kodak satchel Camera

No. 5 Folding Kodak Improved "satchel" Stereo

Satchel

In 1885, Blair established the concept of self-casing cameras with their commercially successful Lucidograph. Kodak soon followed with their own Folding cameras. Looking much like a satchel, the Kodaks were more practical, though still far from an ideal design. An interesting feature of the Kodak cameras was their incorporation of an Eastman-Walker roll film holder. The No. 5 Improved of 1893-'97 was given a wider lens board, allowing the use of stereo shutters. It could also shoot glass plates. By the turn of the century, better designs were available and the satchel cameras were gone.

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Folmer Schwing Folding Stereoscopic Camera

Folmer & Schwing Folding Stereoscopic Camera

Folmer & Schwing Manufacturing Co

Pre Kodak Folmer & Schwing cameras are not common. The F&S name, however, went on to grace huge numbers of hard working press, and amateur cameras. When F&S entered the self casing camera segment, they wanted to build a heavier, higher quality piece than generally available, but sell it at a competitive price. True to the maker's intent, this beautiful camera is somewhat bigger and heavier thanFolmer Schwing Stereo Camera cameras like the Rochester POCO A above. Notice the double extension to carry the front standard. This concept, with the addition of a focal plain shutter, would ultimately morph into the definitive Stereoscopic Graphic.

Rochester Stereo Poco

Rochester Camera & Supply Co. Stereo POCO

Rochester Camera Supply Co

The Stereo POCO camera was a typical turn of the century cased camera design. I tend to think of this as the third basic design evolution. Early cameras were of the sliding box type, then came folding designs with leather bellows, but their components were Rochester Camera Supply Co still exposed when the bed was folded up. Cased cameras were the norm for over 50 years. It took modern 35mm SLRs to unseat them. By changing the lens board and removing the internal septum, the camera can be converted for shooting regular 2D photos.

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Century Camera Co Stereo Model 46

Century Camera Co. Stereo Model 46

Century Camera Co 46

Started in 1900, Century was quickly absorbed by Eastman. By 1905 they had also absorbed the Rochester Panoramic Camera Co., who had recently introduced the Cirkut cameras. In 1907, the company became known as the Century Division of Kodak, and ultimately, as the Cirkut cameras evolved, the Century name was dropped. Thus, the Century camera name only had a short life. This example is in 5 x 7 format and includes a revolving back.

Anthony S
tereo Solograph

Anthony Stereo Solograph

Anthony Solograph

Before merging with Scovill, and later becoming Ansco, E&HT Anthony was the first American camera manufacturer. This c. 1901 Solograph was produced shortly before the merger. Although of fairly light construction, the detailed brass work on the shutter and lens board make this a highly attractive camera.

Korona Stereo Camera

Gundlach-Manhattan Optical Co. Korona Stereo

Korona Stereo Series VII

As was common with turn of the century optical companies, Gundlach went through a series of owners and naming variations. Based on the branding, this particular example was likely made somewhere between 1903 and the war years. Interestingly, while most Korona cameras had an ivorene maker's plate at the base of the front stand, this one does not. Instead the maker's information has been engraved on the decorative plate between the lenses. If the label appears crooked, that's because it is! Presumably, this was a manufacturing deffect. I would love to see if any other Korona cameras of this period had the same deffect.

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Folmer & Schwing Stereoscopic Graphic

Folmer & Schwing Stereoscopic Graphic

F&S

How quickly times change. Looking at the Folding Stereoscopic camera above, we see the product of great pride in design, and construction detail. The later Stereoscopic Graphic is still a functionally designed camera, but the jewel like appearance has been abandoned in favor of a harsh utilitarian quality. The in lens shutters have been replaced by a focal plane unit, which would be the hallmark of Graflex cameras for many decades. This particular camera has what must be considered mismatched lenses. The serial numbers are several hundred apart, and although both are Carl Zeiss Tessars, the lens bindings had been redesigned between the production of these two lenses. The lens mounts are marked E. B. Mayrowitz, the US agents for Zeiss lenses. Although the pair is a mismatch, it is reasonable to assume one or the other is a period replacement. The color and condition of the lens bindings are about identical. I would think it pretty tough to find a matching replacement today, so close to the serial number and condition of the original remaining lens. I suppose it's possible the camera came with these two lenses, but thinking about it, I find that unlikely. The Stereoscopic Graphic was a professional camera, built for a very small, specialized market. Although available for the better part of 20 years, relatively few were made.

Lizars Challenge Model B Stereo

Lizars "Challenge" Model B Stereo

Laizars ChallengeLizars is arguably best known for their tropical models, but the company produced an array of nicely made cameras. Oddly, this stereo model cannot be closed with the lens board in place. This is due, at least in part, to the roller blind style septum installed for stereo work. While this camera could have been produced as a panoramic model, which just happened to double as a stereo body, it seems odd. The septum is held in place with screws, so it's not a simple matter to remove it. The B&L style shutter is marked Challenge, so this is obviously a factory made example, or at least modified with Lizars supplied pieces.

Hugo Stockig union 30

Hugo Stöckig Union 30

Stöckig was a large German mail order company which sold many private label versions of Ernemann cameras, under the Union label. This particular model was the Union version of the Ernemann Heag IV Stereoskop. The back incorporated an unusual folding viewing hood for the focusing screen. Later versions incorporated a reflex finder mounted on the front between the lenses.

Camera Back

Blair Stereo Weno

Blair Stereo Weno

Blair was one of a number of companies absorbed by Eastman around the turn of the century. Built in the popular "pocket" style, Weno cameras are less common than the similar Hawkeye models, and were only made in 1902-'03. Although still labeled Blair Camera Co., Kodak would drop the Blair name around 1908. This is an early example, serial number 88. All the others I have seen have an aperture scale bridging the top of the gap between the shutters. Blair Camera Co and Weno are then stamped into the black metal cover. On this camera, Blair Camera Co. is stamped into the two small chrome plates screwed to the tops of the shutters. Only the name WENO is stamped into the black metal plate.

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Kodak No 2 Stereo Bro
wnie

Kodak No 2 Stereo Brownie

Kodak made a large and confusing series of folding stereo cameras. This was due in part to the fact Eastman kept absorbing competing companies, but continued to offer their products. The No 2 Stereo Brownie is a personal favorite. On these early cameras the handle was on top, so one would carry the camera much like a lunch box.

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Blair Stereo Hawkeye Model 2

Blair Stereo Hawkeye Model 2

Blair logoBlair originated the Stereo Hawkeye camera, and continued to sell a self branded version until 1907. By that time, however, Blair had been long since absorbed by Eastman. Looking at the Blair and Kodak Model 4s below, one can see these are little more than "badge engineered" variations.

Blair Stereo Hawkeye Camera

Blair Stereo Hawkeye Model 4

Blair Camera CoThis example isn't up to the condition standard I normally wish to collect, but the vast majority of the cameras seen today bear Kodak branding. I took another photo of this camera under the same light as the Model 2 above. The brass finish is noticeably darker on this camera. The bellows are fair, but dusty.

Kodak Stereo Hawkeye camera

Kodak Stereo Hawkeye Model 4

Stereo HawkeyeOne of the prettiest folding Kodaks, the Stereo Hawkeye Model 4. Eastman absorbed many camera companies along the way, including the Blair Camera Co. This led to the rather long winded Eastman Kodak Co Successor to Blair Camera Co. label on the round disc between the lenses. From 1908 on, the Blair name would slowly fade, however, Kodak must have realized there were advantages to Blair's design, because the Stereo Brownie had only a short life.

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Kodak Stereo Hawkeye Model 6

Kodak Stereo Hawkeye Model 6

Kodak Hawkeye StereoIn firearms terms, we'd call this a transitional model. I'm fairly convinced the muted coloring of the brass was chosen to reduce contrast between the brass and the black bellows. This piece marks the end of nineteenth century camera aesthetics in a Pocket Kodak.

Stereo Kodak Model 1

Stereo Kodak Model 1 (early)

The thin end of the wedge. Next thing you know they'll be making these things out of plastic. Oh wait, that's exactly what happened. Although the case has been modified, there is no mistaking the Hawkeye origins of the Model 1. It also marked the end of the beautiful wood, brass, and maroon bellows era.

Stereo Kodak Model 1

Stereo Kodak Model 1

This is a later example of the Stereo Kodak Model 1. Notice how the camera has evolved from the box shape of the No 2 Brownie. The handle has moved to the end, which is rounded instead of square. Its now much more typical of a 1920s pocket camera. However, these cameras were way to big to fit in your pocket. Standard stereo view cards of the day were 3.5 x 7 inches, and so the camera had to accommodate a big roll of film.

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