Introduction: Retro 3D Photos

Take cool 3D snapshots with retro 35mm box cameras. 

Use cheap film and low-end plasticcameras for artsy results.

Low-cost home scanner and free software make it fast, easy, and fun.

The pizza baker snapshot  uses an animated file to give a sense of what the 3D photo looks like.

This instructable will cover cameras, film, shooting, developing, home scanning and viewing.

Step 1: Get Your Camera

So-called toy cameras are mostly plastic and have few controls, so they're perfect for shoot from the hip 3D snapshots.

Search flea markets, yard sales, and eBay for these 4 lens bug-eyed monsters. Names like Nishika, Nimslo, and Loreo can be found for under $10 USD.

Step 2: Cheap Film

I learned about the free film camera in the photo from this Instructable by mpap89.
Major chain stores like Walgreens have these cameras.
You buy the camera, take out the film, shoot it in your 3D camera, put the film back in the store camera and return for processing.
Then you get a free roll and start all over again.

Another source is expired film which is often sold for $1 USD a roll or less.
Ask for it at camera stores.

eBay often has cheap expired film as well.

Step 3: Shoot From the Hip

This instructable isn't about technically perfect 3D photos.

It is about Shoot From the Hip photos with lots of spontaneous fun.

So find a colorful scene with lots of depth and snap away.

I like to shoot on sunny early mornings because the angle of the light seems to add depth and warmth.

Step 4: Develop-Only

You can ask for develop only service at most photo processors.

I pay between $1.29 USD and $2.19 USD for one-hour develop-only service.

You get back a long piece of film.

Remember to ask for  8 or 9 transparent sleeves when you pick up your film.

Using a plastic bag as a glove, insert the film into the sleeves and carefully cut with a scissors.

Step 5: Scan at Home

Many home desktop scanners can scan negatives with an included attachment.
Get a used scanner, or borrow one from a friend or neighbor.
Used, good scanners can be purchased for under $20 USD.

Consider that the actual negative is about an inch high (3cm).
So a good scan setting is 1,200 dots per inch -- this should give you enough pixels to work with for printing, or displaying on the screen.

Be bold and tinker around with the various settings on the scanner.
You can often get beautiful effects by adjusting the color and sharpness right in the scanning software.

Step 6: Crop the Scan

The simple point and shoot cameras usually take 4 photos at once like the scan above.
You only need the two outer images, the so-called LEFT and RIGHT, to make a 3D photograph.

The LEFT photo is sometimes already marked on the negative with a red dot, or a small black triangle along the bottom edge.
In general it's the right-hand image in the group of 4.
Try to keep track of the LEFT image -- but don't worry if you don't, you can adjust it in the 3D software. 

You can use any pair of the 4 images to make a 3D photo.
Different pairs produce different angles and more or less depth.
In this instructable I will use the two outermost images to get the most depth.

Typically I scan all 4 images at once to keep contrast and colors consistent.
I use a simple image viewer like IrfanView to crop and save the Left and Right images as separate files,
for example pizza_L.jpg and pizza_R.jpg

Step 7: 3D Alignment

After saving the Left and Right images, they need to be properly aligned using software

The image for this step shows the main window for Stereo Photo Maker.
SPM for Windows is popular and free.
It will automatically align the images.

The image shows the most useful SPM buttons indicated with yellow arrows.
SPM is very easy --
  • First Open the Left and Right Images
  • Next automatically Align them
  • Crop both images (this happens simultaneously) to remove borders
  • Automatically adjust the color and contrast so the images match more closely
  • Save your image
  • View your image

Step 8: View Your 3D Images

Finally you can print out 4x6 photos for use with a low-cost stereo viewer, or stereoscope.

In the picture above, you would look through the simple stereo viewer at the 4x6 print to see a full-color 3D image.
Viewers like this are less than $5 USD on eBay.

Some people can learn to view stereo images without any viewer at all; this is called free-viewing.

You can also make an animated file for viewing on your computer screen, like in the first step of this Instructable.

Stereo Photo Maker has other viewing options too: you can print or display an anaglyph 3D image which uses special red/blue glasses to view. Some of the digital formats can be viewed on home flat screen TV sets.