Introduction: Stereo Photography Track - Quick and Dirty

Picture of Stereo Photography Track - Quick and Dirty

 Some time ago I stumbled (again) over some stereo pictures. This time I had to build my  own simple rig. I am not going in depth of the principles of stereo or 3D photography; there are many and very detailed web pages about this subject. I rather show a solution that practically everyone can build by her(him)self  (At least with the help of a good friend).
In the last step you find a few pictures for 'cross-eyed' and 'parallel' viewing.
A little guide to 3D viewing you find HERE

Step 1: Find the Materials

Picture of Find the Materials

Question was, how do I move my camera 2.5" or ~6.5cm in either direction. Somehow it has to slide to the left and right. Alright, you need a 'track' and you need a carrier for the camera.
I sifted through all the stuff in my basement and found this steel track, maybe once used for a sliding door. Also a nice piece of hardwood where a cutoff piece of this track would ride on.

Step 2: Cut the Track

Picture of Cut the Track

The wood was 1" thick. With a bit of sanding it would fit nicely into the metal piece. I drew up a sketch and run over to my friend, an experience wood worker. A few cuts on the table-saw later I had a nice track my metal carrier could ride on.

Step 3: Build the Camera Carrier

Picture of Build the Camera Carrier

The mounting hole at the bottom of a camera is made to accept a 1/4" - 20 screw. Back in my basement I drilled a 1/4" hole in the middle of the metal piece, inserted a 1/2" long screw and secured it with a nut. There was enough thread sticking out to screw the camera on.

Step 4: Prepare the Wooden Track

Picture of Prepare the Wooden Track

I thought drilling a 7/16" hole in the bottom of the hardwood would be enough to accept the screw of my tripod. There is really not much wear and not much weight to support. Should this thread wear out I always can replace it with a pronged tee nut.

Step 5: Finalizing the Track

Picture of Finalizing the Track

Last step was to limit the way the camera carrier can ride which is 2.5" or roughly the distance between your pupils. 2 nails would do this job. To avoid splitting the wood I pre-drilled slightly smaller holes than the nails.

Step 6: The Job Done

Picture of The Job Done

All in all it didn't take me longer than 2 hours and to be honest, the assembly was a bit wobbly first. I inserted some Styrene shims and now the whole contraption slides smoothly back and forth , or rather right (first picture) to left (second picture).
I hope at least some of you can enjoy my first stereo pictures I took this evening in my yard.
The first 5 pictures are for 'cross-eyed' viewing, the rest are for people who find it easier to use 'parallel' viewing.


cefn (author)2010-11-13

I had fun working on a servo-driven 3D camera track with Tinkerlondon last year...

Our project was based on a camera in a Nokia N900, and I wrote some software to put the stereoscopic images in the right place on the phone's screen so a Viewmaster could view them immediately after you'd taken them.

The video output on the phone was also wired into an LCD projector to throw read/cyan anaglyphic 3D images you could see with colored specs.

There's more background on the project in general here...


yellowcatt (author)2010-07-17

I made a similar system some years ago as part of a college project, I was taking macro 3D shots on film. The camera on rail system works well enough for a still subject, for a moving subject you would need to use two cameras. For viewing the results there are several options there is freeware anaglyph software here I have not used it so do not know how well it works. Another option would be to use a viewer, there are several types types designed for viewing prints: An interesting option would be to modify a viewer for stereo transparencies to take a pair of keyring digital photo frames .

92033 (author)2010-06-05

I'm from the Old School when photography was 'Photography'. Good idea on your adaptation but these ole eyes have had over 64 YEARS of Killer Migraine Headaches and will not contribute to creating them again with 'cross eyed' viewing. Get yourself a REAL stereo camera. Stereo Realist with f/2.8 lenses like I had. Uses film. So??? You can't live without digital? :-)

trubbleguy (author)2010-05-27

I found a simple way of creating the same 3d photos is to simply put a dot in the centre of my lcd viewer on my camera, take the first shot with the dot on a distant target, move the camera six inches left, (width of eye separation) put the dot back on the previous distant target and take second shot, when viewed side by side cross eyed, they are perfect, when out in scenic locations i always do this and get wonderful results. i have some wonderful 3d shots of the grand canyon somewhere i took 15 years ago like this.

Gartholameau (author)trubbleguy2010-06-03

I've been freehanding my stereo shots for a few years and it works well, although sometimes the alingment can be out a bit.  I've found a wonderful freeware program called StereoPhoto Maker that will align pairs of stereo pictures.  You can Google "StereoPhoto Maker" or go to 

MissBetsy (author)trubbleguy2010-05-28

That is pretty cool and I wish you would show us at least a couple of these pictures! Seen with the eyes of a monster ^_- or did you rather mean 6cm?
I do not doubt that you can make hand held stereo pairs but I would like to make pictures of my projects and despite halfway decent lighting the exposure is often only 1/30 and hand held won't do then.

trubbleguy (author)MissBetsy2010-05-29

Oops, i did mean 6cm lol, i have never used a tripod for them, always used the dot to set the focal point and moved camera 6 CENTIMETERS this is a word.doc with pics properly aligned, all taken standing or sitting without tripod and a extra mars 3d pair, thats awsome to look at.

MissBetsy (author)trubbleguy2010-05-31

 Looks great and thx for showing! I have to admit I am surprised how well it works freehand. I made a few pairs myself this weekend and they turned out really good. 
As I have mentioned in some other comment, my reason to make this track was taking pictures of my projects with exposures of 1/60 and less.

trubbleguy (author)MissBetsy2010-06-01

yes, i find i cannot make exposures of 1/60 or less by hand either as they blur, your slider mount solves that problem perfectly, its a well designed tool and simple to use. great job.

trubbleguy (author)2010-06-01 for those who cannot see the 3d effect, my document i made with sample 3d photos in word format explains how to train your eyes to see them, download the zip file here and follow the instructions.

ldb477 (author)2010-05-31

Cool, I was about to mention that some are backwards which makes the closer things seem further away but then I read a little.  I can do the "parallel" aproach extremely easy but cannot for the life of me do the cross eyed way.

lofty (author)2010-05-25

 Nicely done :)

I opened the pictures in stereoscopic player from and viewed them on my iZ3D monitor, they look great !

Some of them needed vertically adjusting as they weren't aligned properly and after adjusting the convergence point they looked really good.

MissBetsy (author)lofty2010-05-25

 Hmmm, your soft- and hardware seems to be more sophisticated than mine. I had no problems but do you think it was that my setup was not perfectly horizontal?

lofty (author)MissBetsy2010-05-29

 It's possible, just re-align them in photoshop or something as you stitch them together

Alpvax (author)2010-05-29

Many people have been complaining that they can't see the pictures using the cross eye method, but i find it is the reverse, i can see all of them cross eyed, but none parallel, they just get blurry. I'm only 16, could age have anything to do with it?

Awesome idea for making them, never really thought about making any myself, just enjoyed looking at them :)

tinkertoy (author)2010-05-27

Great project. Love the simplicity. I like the projects that are simplistic yet are impressive. Kudos, you accomplished both. If I'm not mistaken, tripods and cameras use a 1/4"-20 thread, not 24. You don't want to mess up the threads. If I'm wrong or maybe there are cameras that are different, I humbly apologize.If you're not sure, pick up both at a hardware store and try each one. There should be no resistance. Again, great project.

MissBetsy (author)tinkertoy2010-05-28

Thank you for your kind comment. Yes you are right about the thread and I corrected myself. And actually I just run over to my hardwarestore and got that screw right from the shelf. It's also called 'coarse thread'.

kewlkiwi (author)2010-05-27

In step 3 you mention that cameras have a 1/4 by 24 thread - are you sure about this? I thought it was 1/4 by 20


MissBetsy (author)kewlkiwi2010-05-28

Thank you for reading my Instructable so thoroughly and I corrected my error, ahmm typo ^_-

inc_b (author)2010-05-28

I'd recommend allowing for a spacing greater than the distance between the eyes - sounds odd, but it's extremely handy if you want to take landscape pictures. Because of the distances, they generally look kinda flat at normal eye spacing.
If I remember right, you can actually work out the best spacing by simply dividing the distance to the subject by thirty. So a subject thirty feet away would work best with a one foot spacing between the cameras.
Nice photos though! Using one camera for this kind of thing is always difficult and you've taken some great shots.

Treknology (author)2010-05-28

Unfortunately, I can't cross my eyes to look at something other than the tip of my nose.

I do like the idea that you've brought the lens distance closer together to better mimic the natural seperation of the eyes.

Just as unfortunately convenional methods of 3D projection, polarized or color seperation, cause me severe headaches!

Ausm (author)2010-05-27

I was wondering how to make these pics myself. I was always under the impression that it involved some rotation between the two images.

smrp1984 (author)2010-05-27

Very cool!

Arnoldofingo (author)2010-05-27

Love your innovation. I find that when I use Picassa I can adjust the size of the photo, eh -your photo to a dimensional size that enables me to see it in full stereo. Albeit, the image clarity is compromised...

thepelton (author)2010-05-26

An antique steriopticon makes a good viewer of stereo photographs, if you can find one.

PAWZ (author)2010-05-25

I've always just took the 2 pictures first holding the camera to one eye and then the other! Simple and has always worked out fine for me :-)

MissBetsy (author)PAWZ2010-05-25

 That is good for you that you obviously have such a steady hand and posture.
I wanted to take pics of my other projects which often require exposures of 1/60 and less.

PAWZ (author)MissBetsy2010-05-26

Ah I see. I only used basic point and shoot cameras when I have done it, so I guess, for longer exposures you would need it! :-)

mrvoodoo (author)2010-05-26

Took a little bit to adjust my eyes to see it right.. but wow that's awesome.

thepelton (author)2010-05-25

If they still make those disposable cameras in the cardboard box, why not just tape two together side by side?

MissBetsy (author)thepelton2010-05-25

 The idea is definitely a good one but I have a digital camera and don't want to pay and wait for the development of the film, especially considering that I take several pictures of the same object/motif and use only 1 pair in the end. Furthermore it allows immediate photo-editing.  Should a stereo pair turn out especially good I can upload it to Walgreen' s and have it printed for 18 cents a piece. 

janern (author)2010-05-25

my god, That's awesome! and a little bit painful after awhile. i find the parallell viewing approach easier. what is the difference in the pictures?

MissBetsy (author)janern2010-05-25

The first set of pictures is for cross-eyed viewing and the pic you took in the right position is moved to the left side in your picture editing program and vice versa;
the second set for parallel viewing has the right pic on the right side and left pic on the left side.

bloomautomatic (author)2010-05-25

I made a similar setup with a linear slide I salvaged from a piece of machinery.  Wouldn't be cheap to buy it new.  I got similar results with my pictures, but I don't have any on this computer to share.


Here's 2 of them i did using the same method described here. 

for me to view them, they need to be relatively small on the screen and i need to remove my glasses (i'm near sighted) and get close to the screen and cross my eyes.  can't explain it any more than that.

MissBetsy (author)bloomautomatic2010-05-25

 It all depends what you can find in your "stuff" pile as long as you are a bit inventive.

Chikara (author)2010-05-25

i wish i could see it :(

zigzagchris (author)2010-05-25

I have a old  machine for viewing these but every time i try doing it (parrallel methode) with just my eyes i have a hard problem focusing on letters and they all look so blurry. i can baeely type this

MissBetsy (author)dsauer2010-05-25

 Thank you for your offer. In the meanwhile I uploaded pictures in the 'parallel' view for those who prefer this method.
I managed in both views but it is a bit confusing. Anyway for those who want to try: If you look at the middle and left left pictures you see it in parallel view, the middle and right pair is for cross-eyed view.

Arbitror (author)2010-05-25

I don't think I've ever seen this sliding method before... Good job!

gmjhowe (author)2010-05-25

 Excellent work, a method that I have not seen before (using a sliding track).

The final pictures work really well, which is testament to the projects success!

Kryptonite (author)2010-05-25

Can't... see!

Stuffses (author)2010-05-24

 I made some sterio pics before, using 3ds max, but its realy anoying when you cant find anyone else who can see them too

About This Instructable




Bio: You might call me "Jane of all trades, mistress of none"; "all" is definitely an exaggeration but I am interested in lots of "trades" and ... More »
More by MissBetsy:Miss Betsy's Excellent BaconMiss Betsy's Cold Smoke GeneratorMiss Betsy's Rechargable Solar Nightlight II
Add instructable to: