Toronto. An article in the June, 1939 issue of Popular Mechanics shows a clever device for shooting live 3D with a normal 35mm camera. A mirror device affixed to the lens takes two images in a single frame – one for each eye. A special 1/2 frame viewer allows the shutter bug to frame his/her shot.
Inexpensive gadgets used two mirrors and a solid septum. A more expensive idea used front silvered mirrors (prone to damage from over-enthusiastic cleaning). High end makers like Leitz used a prism instead of two mirrors to protect the reflecting surfaces and eliminate any ghost images.
Not mentioned is that the gadgets all made shots as if the camera was turned 90 degrees – ie portrait not landscape. Nevertheless, the gizmos worked great – I have a Leitz STEREOLY prism, arm, and viewer which was made in the 1930s. The few shots I made with it in both B&W and colour came out in beautiful 3D. My setup was intended for an earlier screw mount Leica, but worked fine on a IIIf.
A thank you to my good friend and fellow camera historian, George Dunbar, for taking the time to share this little article with us from the days when 3D was in vogue.