Posted 11 months ago
One of the things that fascinates me is seeing how makers updated camera designs over time as the technology improved, and stereo cameras are especially interesting. Shown here is a comparison of stereo designs from two different photographic eras spanning 50 years: wet collodion plate and flexible roll film. What a difference in design and user experience.
The larger John Stock (American) wet plate camera is typical of an 1860s rear focusing, field design making stereo pairs on 5 x 8 inch glass plates. The camera itself is heavy and photographers were burdened with lots of supplies including large tripods, glass plates, toxic developing chemistry and water, and a portable darkroom to immediately develop the plates. Exposures were made using lens caps or hinged wood panels mounted to the lens' fronts. Additionally, intrepid photographers often transported their equipment in horse drawn wagons.
Wet plate photography in the 1860s was far from spontaneous. A lot of planning had to be done before going out to take pictures and exposures were often many seconds in duration.
In contrast, the Kodak No.2 Stereo Brownie (1905 to 1910) was small, lightweight and convenient to carry. Snapshot photography was easy. Simply load a roll of film, open the camera, focus, and trigger the stereo shutter to shoot 3-1/4 x 2-1/2 inch image pairs.