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What makes a good 3D camera system?


If you want to take good 3D photos, you need a 3D camera system with the right requirements. Not every camera is suitable for stereoscopy. Basically, you can take any photo camera or smartphone for 3D photos. In simple words: One photo for the right eye and another for the left eye, then assemble on the computer and then export as anaglyph image or other 3D formats - Done. The photo shows a 3D effect. If you want to show more than just a 3D effect, you need a good 3D camera system.

Especially in stereoscopy, high quality standards are absolutely necessary. Anyone presenting a poorly implemented 3D photo will ruin the eyes of the beholder. This can not happen with 2D photos. Therefore, stereoscopic images are considered the most ambitious art form in visual perception.

Human vision is the benchmark in the stereoscopy. For a good shot, it is about adjusting both cameras, so that they are imitated the human visual relationship. For this purpose, two identical cameras, which are mounted on a rig. The following minimum requirements should have a good 3D camera system:

  • Full manual access to shutter speed, ISO, aperture, color temperature and sharpness. Do not rely on the automatic of the camera. If a camera has a little variation in shooting settings, the 3D photo is unusable.
  • Image storage format in Raw and JPG in 100% quality. In Raw format, all image information is stored loss-less and thus enables a high degree of flexibility in post-processing.
  • Minimum 18 megapixel sensor. That's 5,184 x 3,456 px. A high resolution is a good starting point for quality, especially if you want to present images for 3D TVs or projections.
  • Two identical lenses with fixed focal length which have as little curvature as possible and allow a direct field of view of 45 degrees. Only with lenses with fixed focal length ensures that the image section is similar to the other. It is very important that these lenses have no curvature in the picture. If you wanted to assemble two bented images into a 3D image, troubles would occur at the edge of the image.
  • A trusty manual focus that can be checked on the viewfinder. A digital zoom function on the display is very important or there is an analog image transmission in the eyecup.
  • A stable 3D rig so that the cameras can be mounted completely horizontally and also a vergence can be adjusted. A 3D camera system should be transportable, so that it moves in its position. Otherwise, a new calibration must be performed on each photo.

Nice to have:

  • A sync cable as a trigger or a reliable radio remote control. To test the reliability, photograph a waterfall or a fountain. If the pictures are ok then you have a good trigger system.
  • High-quality camera body with a very good ISO quality for successful shots with low light.
  • A measuring device which displays overexposed and underexposed areas in the image (histogram, zebra).
  • High-quality lenses which are characterized in brightness and sharpness.
  • A flexible 3D rig with variable base.