How to Recreate the Look of Old 3D Cameras

You probably remember the old film camera people used to carry around. Today, film cameras are still in use, however, old 3D cameras are now designed to create beautiful 3D photos effortlessly. So, what is an “old” 3D camera? An old 3D camera creates 3D images using various lenses to create the illusion of depth. These often use 35mm film and create highly detailed, and stunning 3D images.

What Makes a 3D Camera Unique?

A 3D camera is unique due to its ability to capture a photo with multiple lenses, or one lens that shifts to multiple angles. This allows the camera to create a 3D photo using classic film. These cameras are becoming increasingly popular in the world of photography. 

Similar to 3D motion pictures, 3D cameras alter the perception of depth by having the lens shift, and in some cases, use more than one lens to achieve the desired 3D results. This lens shift allows almost anyone to capture a unique, and truly captivating image, that looks as if you could walk right into the photo.

The images you can create using a 3D camera are similar to those generated by LucidPix. You can recreate stunning 3D images even without a 3D camera with the same depth and clarity.

old 3D camera

History & Background of 3D Cameras

The first 3D camera was patented by Chris Condon, a respected cinematographer, and his business partner, Allan Silliphant, their invention transformed the future of photography and videography. The two formed the Magnavision company, introducing the world to the art of 3D photography

We can thank Condon and Silliphant for the modern 3D films we see today, as in 1972, they created the very first widescreen 3D camera lens. This allows for movies to be filmed in 35mm and 70mm while implementing a 3D effect.

The pair’s legacy still lives on today, as their technology is heralded to be the beginning of modern 3D cinematography.

3D camera clouds

What Distinguishes a 3D Camera?

There are a variety of features that distinguish an old 3D camera from a regular camera. The most prominent difference will be the sheer amount of lenses that are present on the 3D camera. Let’s compare and contrast the two.

Standard Camera

Standard cameras are designed to take a still shot or video without the 3D effect. These images and videos are then stored on either digital, such as a memory card or on the classic film. 

Although there are many different types of cameras, they all operate in a fairly similar fashion. Each type of camera involves letting light into the lens and having the shutter decide how long the light is allowed through. Video cameras are similar, however, they capture a series of still images, and then play them back at 24 frames per second, or more, to give the illusion of movement. 

There are a variety of different elements that must take place in order for a camera to work properly. When light enters your SLR camera, it travels into a device called a pentaprism, which directs the light into your viewfinder. When you press the shutter, your camera’s mirror moves out of the way, and the light is reflected to the back of the camera onto unexposed film, creating a chemical reaction that lights up the subject or location, or in the case of a digital camera, the light lands on a silicon sensor.

How Does a 3D Camera Work?

3D cameras are different from traditional cameras, as the lens either flips to provide multiple perspectives to create the 3D illusion, or they use multiple lenses to achieve the effect. These cameras use the phenomenon called stereoscopy, which is when an image is converted to 3D shortly after it is captured. 

Creating a 3D image requires the correct amount of depth, therefore, it is critical to keep the foreground and background in mind. The background and foreground must be properly staged in order for the picture to look three-dimensional.

These types of cameras have specialty lenses that will simulate this stereoscopic effect, and make the image look 3D in post-processing. You could even place two cameras together and shoot the same subject. Therefore, each camera gets a slightly different perspective.

Types of Stereoscopic Images

There are a variety of stereoscopic images, which all create a slightly different effect. Some are used in motion pictures, while others are used for still images.

Anaglyphic Images

Anaglyphic images are those we oftentimes see in our favorite 3D motion pictures. These types of images are seen through 3D glasses and are generated using chromatically opposite colors. For example, if you’re wearing a pair of 3D glasses, the lens that is blue will appear black, and red as white. 


A lenticular image is created when a thin plastic lens is placed over a carefully prepared image to make it appear 3D when you change viewing angles. These lenses trick your eyes into only viewing one part of the picture at a time. These are popular on small images, such as postcards.

Stereo Photographs

Stereo photographs are some of the most detailed 3D images available. These types of images really stand out, and it feels as if you could jump right into the images. Stereo photography is typically the type that old 3D cameras can capture, giving you great depth perception and detail as the image does not need to be processed after the shot to make it 3D.

old 3d camera mountain shot

What are Some of the Most Popular 3D Cameras?

There are a variety of 3D cameras on the market today, including the Nimslo 3D, Stereo Realist, and Kodak Stereo Camera. 

LucidPix is a great modern alternative to these classic cameras, and can perfectly replicate the look and feel of this old school 3D photography.

Nimslo 3D

The Nimslo 3D is no doubt one of the most popular stereo cameras on the market today. Due to this 35mm camera’s four lenses, it takes breathtaking images and provides immense depth to any scene.

Stereo Realist

This is a real classic! First entering production in 1945, this camera uses 135 films and has a unique slide and focusing. This camera is revered for beginning the era of stereo photography and is quite popular among novice and professional photographers alike.

Kodak Stereo Camera

The Kodak Stereo Camera first entered production in 1954 and was popular using its 35mm file to create stunning 3D images. This camera is popular with novice photographers, as it is easy to use, and has a wide range of customizable apertures and shutter speeds. 

Use LucidPix to Recreate These Classic Images

Although 3D cameras may not be the most modern way to create these images, they are cool, especially for those who enjoy vintage. Technology is constantly evolving and making it easier to craft all kinds of unique photos. LucidPix is no exception. With LucidPix, you can create these classic 3D images in just seconds!

You can create your own 3D images without a 3D camera using LucidPix. With LucidPix, you can easily convert any photo to 3D using only your smartphone. Try out LucidPix for yourself today!