Introduction: 3D Anaglyph Camera Attachment!

Picture of 3D Anaglyph Camera Attachment!

This device lets you take 3D anaglyph photos and movies with an ordinary camera. The parts cost about $30. It's pretty simple to build and you don't need any special software or camera equipment. Please let me know if you have any improvements on this design.

Newsflash! The photos below show a slide viewer that allows you to view a single slide with both eyes. It might have similar optics to the device in this Instructable. I suggest trying the following:

1. order a slide viewer on e-bay for $10-20.
2. cut the viewer in half along the slot for the slide.
3. cover the eye holes with the red and blue colored filters.
4. put your camera where the slide goes and take a photo.

Please let me know if this works.

Step 1: Before You Start...

Picture of Before You Start...

Before you start, take a look at the photos on the following website to get an idea of the steps.

Step 2: Gather the Supplies.

Picture of Gather the Supplies.

+ 3D viewing glasses (I used the cyan and red glasses from American Paper Optics). You can also make your own with the filter material below.
+ Black mat board from an art store.
+ Red filter material that matches the filters on the 3D glasses (Roscolux #26 matches typical stock glasses available at a stage lighting store)
+ Cyan (blue) filter material that matches the filters on the 3D glasses (Lee #354 matches the cyan filters on most stock glasses available at a stage lighting store)
+ Some 5mm or 1/4" fiberboard.
+ Beamsplitter (50%) 76x102x3mm (Anchor Optical B27122)
+ Mirror 76x114x3mm (Anchor Optical B20850)
+ Four matching (76mm) posts (optional)
+ A sharp utility knife

If the optics listed above aren't available, try to purchase optics with similar dimensions. Anchor Optics is a cheap source:
Beamsplitters (find a beamsplitter about a 50/50 reflection/transmission ratio)
Try to find a mirror with a matching height to the beamsplitter:
You would need to adjust the mirror and beamsplitter holder to fit the new dimensions (i.e. the grooves should accommodate the thickness and the height and width might change). If you make one with different optics, please let me know how it works.

Step 3: Print Template

Picture of Print Template

Print the template from onto a sheet of A4 size paper (you can also print it on 8.5" x 11" paper and scale it to the correct size using the dimensions on the paper)

Step 4: Use This Template to Cut the Walls Out the Mat Board. I Traced the Pattern on the Mat Board First and Used a Ruler and Utility Knife to Cut the Pieces.

Picture of Use This Template to Cut the Walls Out the Mat Board.  I Traced the Pattern on the Mat Board First and Used a Ruler and Utility Knife to Cut the Pieces.

Step 5: Tape the Filter Material to the Rectangular Windows. the Red Filter Is for the Large Window.

Picture of Tape the Filter Material to the Rectangular Windows.  the Red Filter Is for the Large Window.

Step 6: Cut the Top and Bottom Panels

Picture of Cut the Top and Bottom Panels

Tape the template (double sided tape works well) for the inner and outer boards on the fiberboard and use a jigsaw to cut these pieces. You can use a sander to get rid of the jagged edges. Use glue or double sided tape to stick the inner and outer boards together. Place the mirror and beamsplitter in the groves on the inner board while the glue or tape is setting.

Step 7: Cut Standoffs (optional Step for a Stronger Device)

Picture of Cut Standoffs (optional Step for a Stronger Device)

If you want a sturdier device, you can place 76mm standoffs between the fiberboard pieces. The cross hairs on the template should be used to mark the holes for the standoffs (I used a 4mm drill with M4 screws).

Step 8: Assembly Time!

Picture of Assembly Time!

Now it's time for the assembly. Position the mirror and beamsplitter between the top and bottom fiberboard panels so that they are sitting in the slots. If you used a first surface mirror (recommended), make sure the reflective side is facing the beamsplitter (you can test this by placing your finger against the glass; the side that doesn't give you a double image is the reflective side).

Step 9: Tape the Walls in Place

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Position the wall panels around the assembly. Tape the top and bottom of the wall panels to the fiberboard panels. Congratulations! You're done.

Step 10: Take Some Photos

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Now it's time to take some photos. I find it best to turn off the flash and zoom in as close as possible. Then put the camera lens through the hole and shoot. Make sure you have a LOT of natural light.

Step 11: Hints? Next Steps? Share Photos?

Picture of Hints?  Next Steps?  Share Photos?

I was able to shoot digital photos and video and view the images on computer and prints. Good Luck!

Step 12: What's Going On?

Picture of What's Going On?

The mirror and beamsplitter are about 2.5" apart. That's an average distance between an adult's eyes. The mirror is reflecting what your right eye would see into the photo. The beamsplitter reflects 50% of what's in front of it and let's 50% through to the camera lens, so you get equal amount of the red and blue images.

The filters are allowing the red part of the spectrum into the part of the photo that your right eye would be seeing and the blue filter is only allowing the blue light into the part of the photo that your left eye would see. When you view the photo, you don't want your right eye to see the left eye (blue) image, so you erase it by placing the same blue filter in front.


ehrichweiss (author)2013-02-11

I just ordered the slide viewer from the article and in the process I learned that they, Sawyers, are apparently the *original* maker of the ViewMaster viewers. Ultra cool, I learn something new every day. Now to wait for my viewer....

edong1 (author)2012-12-12

1) about how much mat board do i need?
2) Do i have to change the size of the red and cyan panels if my beamsplitter and mirrors are smaller than yours

hmms (author)2012-03-06

Awesome Work gibbon!
Check This Similiar Project out!! A 3d camera made with a Beagleboard! SUPER COOL! :D

Chris0000 (author)2008-12-28

p.s. Does anybody know if the slide viewer method works at all yet? thanx

gibbon (author)Chris00002009-01-03

Hi Chris, I do have a working slide viewer (see images). It was much easier to build but the mirrors are smaller so it only works well on brightly lit objects. I'll post another Instructable soon. Gibbon

dparry (author)gibbon2011-06-29

after reading this, i searched for ages for a slide viewer, one came up on ebay, the exact same one... am 90% there, just need the make the cuts neater and fit the colours, am gonna be using it on a DSLR so am thinking of fitting a filter ring to it so it will attach easier

junkandres (author)gibbon2010-02-01

 Can you take a picture of the inner structure of the slide viewer, that way we can thy to replicate it on a bigger scale to make make it more functional.

Plus i'm having a hard time finding a slide viewer li the one you have :3

egw (author)gibbon2009-09-27

This is awesome! Do you have any sample images taken with the slide viewer version? Do you use a lens or try to align the bare sensor with the focal plane?

Chris0000 (author)Chris00002009-01-03

Hey Gibbon, Could you post on here when you do post that new instructable, I'm very interested!, thank-you very much. Chris

jacko622 (author)2010-11-28

Couldn't you do just a polarized thing for viewing on 3d tv with no red blue, just the images?

ccreutzig (author)jacko6222011-02-19

No, since the camera won't record the polarization of incoming light.

Tyramead (author)2010-12-31

it seems that one of the image will be further away by the measured distance between the two mirrors. A lens should be added to adjust for the distance to correct the image size inaccuracy.

plopcow (author)2009-08-26

there is a way to do this easily with just word and any picture you want. ill post an instructable if anyone is interested

 YES interested!

Same here

soeinegaudi (author)Ghost Wolf2010-09-05

me too !

PriveX (author)2010-04-04

 I saw your Anaglyph foto's, but the thing was that dissapointed me is that it is poppin-in instead of poppin-out. It would be much cooler when it pops-out. 

ratscratch (author)PriveX2010-05-10

Try turning your glasses around and see if it doesn't make the image look right. You might be getting the right eye / left eye signals crossed.

Beduk (author)PriveX2010-04-06

I had to agree with you when i saw the image in 3d glasses

Sandisk1duo (author)2009-08-26

Radical! you can make your own 3D movies!

spike_douglas (author)2009-04-24

I described a device like this many years ago. There's a link here to where you can download a pdf of the article

NobodyInParticular (author)2009-04-01
On a related note...

You can capture two polarizations with one camera by recording one polarization on the red sensors and the opposite polarization on the blue (or whichever). I have seen this done three ways:
  • A specialized digital camera that has tiny polarizing filters on the chip instead of red/green/blue.
  • A camera with a quickly-spinning polarization filter in front of the lens, which records which images were taken during which polarization
  • A camera with a manually-adjusted polarization filter

I asked a question about a home-brew solution to capture this info with one shot on a regular camera (or your eyes), which I'm fairly sure is possible, but didn't get a good Answer yet. Could any of the people working on this project offer some further advice?
Chris0000 (author)2008-12-27

hey, can you send me the things I need to make this unassembled and I can assemble them>? I've got no time to do anything..heheheh...and I have no problem paying... thanx Chris

gerritgroot (author)2008-12-03

Hi, I'm new to this and I am wondering: 1). Why did you use such big mirrors and beamsplitters of more than 76x100mm in size? Can't this be done with smaller mirrors and beamsplitters? Like e.g. 35x35mm or so 2). I understand that you need the beamsplitter from a specialised store like anchor (found similar things at btw), but is it really necessary to have these professional mirrors? Is a normal do-it-yourself-store mirror cut into pieces not good enough? 3). Would there be any reason to use a cube beam splitter instead? Hope someone anwers, this item seems to be old, Gerrit

gibbon (author)gerritgroot2008-12-14

Hi Gerrit, 1) I just ordered the largest possible optics to capture the most light. You could use smaller mirrors and beamsplitters. Dimly lit images might not look that good. 2) You should use a first surface mirror. Regular mirrors are coated with reflective paint on the back side of the mirror. You will get a double reflection (one reflection of the front of the glass and one reflection off the reflective paint) if you use a regular mirror. 3) I don't see why a cube beam splitter wouldn't work. Good Luck!

Jestersage (author)2008-08-17

I am curious: why is it that you cannot use two different polarization filters (one vertical, one horizontal) for anaglyph? For anaglyph, must it be red and blue, or can it be something else, such as green and blue?

gerritgroot (author)Jestersage2008-12-03

I'm not sure, but it seems to me that polarised images don't merge properly. Once recorded with only one camera you loose the polarisation when you reproduce it. To do that I think you need 2 recorders, and 2 players to see it.

tailortrik (author)Jestersage2008-10-05

The way that the Polarization works is that one eye is blinded to one direction of the polarization. once this is photographed, it can no longer be visualized. a camera can only capture the polarize effect not replicate it. make sense? in order to have Polarized 3d Images you need to project them with polarized filters.

gtoal (author)2007-11-25

What I don't follow is that if you're going to the bother of building a box with mirrors to separate the images, why use anaglyph??? You can build a mirror box that will let you see full colour stereo pairs.

These were first designed in the Victorian era when stereoscopy was far more popular - so they should be patent-free now :-) (A quick Google found this example: - there are more...)

Personally I prefer the Holmes Card viewer which uses prisms to converge the images and lenses to refocus your eyes at infinity for (slightly) more comfortable viewing. (My own examples are here: )



HuggyBear (author)gtoal2008-08-05

Your method is perfectly fine for viewing stills, but the anaglyph allows for more convenient viewing, and the added benefit of video compatibility. The stereo image can only be viewed by one person at a time, but you get a cleaner image, and real color.

gibbon (author)gtoal2007-11-25

Hi Graham, Take another look at what this optic arrangement is doing. It's NOT separating the image into stereo pairs. Instead, it automatically creates a red/cyan anaglyph. The beauty of this simple device is that you can take 3D photos and movies with your digital camera and view them on your computer with ordinary 3D glasses.

Junkernaut (author)2006-10-19

will this work for digital images?

Joanassie (author)Junkernaut2008-07-08

ANY images.

Kay-Oh (author)2007-06-20

I have a question... My college yearbook photo was in 3-D. When I had it taken they had a camera on a tripod attachment that was a 4 inch bar. They took two photos. One left and one Right. I'm guessing they combined them digitally? If anyone knows anything about this process please share. I realize that combining 2 photos like this will only work well for still shots. for my purposes I am looking for precision. Anyway, I hate to ask questions without doing any of my own research, but my curiosity has been sparked. -KO

gibbon (author)Kay-Oh2007-07-12

Hi Kay-Oh, Thanks for the question. You're talking about traditional stereo photography. You can get gobs of information about those tools and techniques on other websites. I was trying to get away from the post-production hassles. This device automatically takes 3D anaglyph photos and video. Try to make one. Peas!

codongolev (author)gibbon2008-06-19

I saw something like that. actually, it was like from 1920 or something so that stuff's really old. I just made one, and it was sweet. let's party like it's 1929! (wait, that was the depression. never mind.)

Craig 444 (author)2008-04-14

okey dokey, I have made it! I works great but if you r going to make photos with it remember to turn the auto focus off

Craig 444 (author)2008-02-19

back to topic....has built this yet and does it actually work, it seems to good to be true, thanks, craig

Craig 444 (author)Craig 4442008-02-20

sorry, a little confusing, what im asking is has anybody actually used slide viewer method and does it work? Id really like to try it but it seems to easy to be true, thanks, craig

gibbon (author)Craig 4442008-04-13

Look on for a slide viewer that has two eye holes like the Sawyers Pana View Bi-Lens slide viewer. I have not tried this idea, but my friend has a slide viewer like this and it looks like it would work. If you do try this, please post your experience.

Craig 444 (author)Craig 4442008-02-20

Hello again, sorry for all the posts, i really hope people actually look at this cuz i need my questions answered....ok, does any one know where you can get one of these slide viewers,

jamesmonster (author)2008-03-25

those jerks no longer carry the beam splitter you speak of. any suggestions?

Lotus14 (author)jamesmonster2008-03-27

I can't say for sure, but look at Edmund Scientific, they carry a bunch of optics, and may have a 50/50 beam splitter.

babblin5 (author)2007-10-15

Nicely done and great info! Thank you!

SteveUK (author)2007-07-03

It's actually easier doing 3D video, because you don't have to worry so much about synchronisation. You can do that later in post production. A lot of cheap still cameras can do 640x480 video these days, and all you need is a couple of those mounted side by side. I don't really like anaglyphs, so I would probably just view the video side by side using the boss-eyed technique (although not everyone seems to be able to do it).

weirdscience (author)2007-06-27

Using a slide bar is a common way to do stereo photography the distance you slide depends on the distance from what you are getting a picture of. You can also just hold the camera take the first photo then move it to the right and take a second photo if you are doing a landscape you step to the side for the second shot this is called the "cha-cha" method and it all works very well. There is free software for putting your images together called Stereophoto Maker you can download it here

cinepeg (author)2007-06-14
I worry, though. One eye will look like it is 2.5" further back than the other one, because the light takes longer to reach it.

It won't matter in the long shots, but it'll start bothering you if you have anything too close to the camera, I'll bet.

It would be possible to fix this, by reflecting both eyes in opposite directions, equal distances. You'd need three mirrors and a splitter, arranged like this: (splitter is bottom centre slant, others are mirrors, unslanted lines show the path of light)
|   |\-\ |  /-/  |
gibbon (author)cinepeg2007-06-16

You're right. I think that's how the mirrors and splitters are arranged in the slide viewer shown above.

crapflinger (author)2007-01-10

made one of these for my dad for X-Mas this works pretty good...unfortunately...i'm not the best with a table saw or a glass anything too close up (i.e. closer than 4 to 6 feet) doesn't work (the shift between the colors is too large) but long distance stuff works well...and my dad just likes to look through the thing every so often just to see what things look like in red and blue

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