- How to Build a 3D Underwater Camera
Using only two underwater cameras and a bit of snazzy allignment.
Stereoscopic photography is not a new concept, in fact its been around almost as long as the camera. But as the technology for viewing 3D photos and videos progresses, the format is becoming less of a novelty and more of a preference. After all we see in 3D so why shouldnt all of our photos and movies be in 3D as well.?
The following is a rough guide on how to create a stereoscopic camera. You dont need to use the same cameras as me, or the same materials. The most important factor is ensuring the two cameras are juxtapositioned as level as possible and as close to 63.2mm (the average distance between human eyes) apart as you can manage.
I used two Olympus 850SW compact cameras, partly because theyre great all round underwater compacts and partly because I already had one and was able to acquire a second, pre-owned for £70. If you have the funds I would recommend buying two new cameras as the sensors will have worn differently on separate pre-owned ones and some exposure compensation may be needed to match the shots, but its not a huge issue.
I purchased the brackets from eBay for less than £1 and by a case of serendipity the existing holes lined up precisely with the tripod threads of the cameras. However if this wasnt the case holes would needs to be drilled in the correct spots. Once the brackets were positioned on the camera I needed to calculate the dimensions of the solid piece of metal that the brackets would be welded to so that the cameras would be accurately aligned. This could also be done with wood and glue, although it might not fair to well underwater.
Like all good ideas, the plans for the bracket started on the back of an envelope.
- A more accurate digital model was needed for the fabricator.
- The fabricator fashioned the steel to my exact specifications, I also got him to tap a ¼ inch thread in the base of the steel to allow for a tripod in the centre of the rig.
Next the newly cut frame went to the welders where the brackets were attached and some ¼ inch screws I bought from eBay were shortened to attach the cameras.
The great thing about these particular cameras is that they can capture VGA and QVGA movies at 25fps so if you fancy shooting the next Avatar....
Make sure that the settings for both cameras match and then simply take a photo with both cameras at the same time (pressing the buttons simultaneously is something of an acquired art).
Then go tohttp://stereo.jpn.org/eng/index.htmland download Stereo Photo Maker and Stereo Movie maker. The aforementioned software will allow you to take the left/right photos or video and turn them into stereoscopic images/videos viewable with the old school twin colour glasses.
- I took the above photographs as a test, if you've got some twin colour glasses, pop them on now.
The great thing about this is that the technology is no different to high end devices whose media is viewable though specialist equipment, either with polarised glasses or no glasses at all. So if you're lucky enough to have one of those then this really isn't a novelty at all!
Now I've got mine, I've got some pretty exciting underwater 3D project ideas in the pipeline so stay tuned!