Welcome to the How-to-3D page, learn to view and take stereoscopic (3D) photos in no time at all.
Learn to Freeview right now! (Cross-eyed)
Start small. Stare at the two dots below and cross your eyes until they become three dots. You’ll need to keep your head level and be patient.
The centre dot of the three that you see represents the 3D image. When the dots are stable and it’s comfortable to view, try the same thing with each of these images:
You're now freeviewing 3D! Try some more images online. Bigger images take a little practice so start small, or sit far away! - you’ll soon get used to it.
Most stereoscopic 3D images that you’ll come across on the internet are presented in one of three ways. The red/green/blue ‘Anaglyph’ ones you’ll know, - view them with any of those red/green glasses that you might have lying about - the glasses vary a lot in quality, try different ones out. The other format that you’ll see a lot of are Stereo Pairs. These come in two flavours, Cross-eyed or Parallel. Cross-eyed pairs are best if you’re ‘freeviewing’. Parallel if you’re using equipment to view.
Now take your own 3D photos.
First you’ll need to take a couple of photos with your camera or phone. Snap the first photo then move the camera to the right about 6cm (eye distance) and take the second. This distance doesn’t need to be exact, if you’re shooting close-up the distance apart should be less (or you’ll get eye-strain), and shooting a landscape the distance would be much greater to get a stereoscopic effect.
Next stick your two photos next to each other, the first photo you took must be on the right to avoid a ‘pseudoscopic’/false stereo effect. Now you can use the technique above to view the pictures in perfect 3D! - This won’t work of course if there’s movement in your scene, in which case you’ll need a proper 3D camera - or you can join (or hold) two normal cameras together and push the shutter buttons at the same time.
Some people prefer to Parallel freeview so give this a go if cross eyed doesn’t work for you. The advantage of parallel is that you can see content that was designed to be seen with a viewer such as Victorian stereo cards.
You're limited to smaller images with parallel because it's harder on the eyes.
Try the instructions below.
The next step from here is to download StereoPhoto Maker. With this simple and free program you can join your two images together and save them as a Stereo Pair (use ‘x’ on the keyboard to swap between cross eye and parallel views). Use StereoPhoto Maker to make an anaglyph or save as a 3D TV compatible file (.mpo). It also corrects the crop and alignment of your image to make it comfortable on your eyes (use the ‘auto alignment’ button). All the info you'll need is on their help page here.
There are very few consumer 3D cameras available, many stereo photographers will make their own rig using a pair of cameras (an easy and popular setup is pair of Sony RX0's). Using a single camera or phone with the above method is fine, and still a good backup for your main 3D camera.
The new (2022) Qoocam Ego comes complete with a viewer and it's only decent quality consumer 3D camera on the market right now. It's not perfect but it's well priced and built by enthusiasts.
The only two mass-market digital cameras to have come out in the last decade or so were the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 (and W2) and the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-3D1. Both are old now but still get decent results and are widely used by the stereo community.
Cameras made for VR headsets (such as VR180 cameras) can be used but are not best suited for 3D photography because of the extreme wide angle of the lenses.