In my junior year of college, I had a crazy idea for a project for my directed study class. I wanted to create my own view-master reels, and to my surprise a view-master camera not only existed, but was available for purchase. Everything about this camera was a difficult trial and error challenge, but the end results are a one of a kind gem.
The Meopta Stereo is a fairly large boxy camera that has two Mirar lenses (1:3.5 25mm) on the front of the camera. Below the lenses you will find the aperture settings which ranges from F3.5 to F22, however it is slide control and can make stops between each aperture setting. The shutter speed has only two choices, 1/60th of a second or B(ulb) option. There are also contacts for a flash, however I did not have one to try out for this camera.
On the back of the camera there is also a small viewfinder, which has a small box outline within it to help compose your image. I found that this was rarely accurate for close up images and resulted in numerous trial and error shots. There is also a place to mount a tripod, but since this camera is old it was before the standardization of the tripod mount, so good luck finding a piece that fits. Like most 35mm cameras there is also a manual winder, and film advancement knob. On a side note I ended up taping up all the sides of the camera because I wanted to avoid any chance of light leaks.
On the bottom of the camera you will find the frame counter which goes up to 75, you will be able to take up to 75 images on a single roll of film which is very helpful in keeping down the developing costs. Inside the camera is very different from most cameras, the film will actually go diagonally across the two lenses. This means that when you get your film back the two images that go together will not line up, they will be about 5 frames away from each other and slanted. Keep in mind that these images are super tiny (think of the view-master you had as a child) they are small, only about a centimeter wide!
For my project I used Fujifilm 135-36 Fujichrome Astia 100-F Color Slide film. Overall I was satisfied with the outcome. The colors were usually fairly accurate, skin tones seemed normal, and the only problem I ran in to were images coming out too dark. I used a 36 frame roll of film which in this camera means you will get twice that, 2 tiny frames per 1 standard frame size, which makes this camera very cost effective and will help you in the trial and error process.
When I bought this camera it thankfully came with three empty view-master reels, and a view-master film cutter. Without the cutter you will regret buying this camera unless you have unlimited amounts of time for hand cutting, trimming, and trying to make the images appear 3D. By far the worst part about this camera package is the construction of the actual view master reels.
Using the cutter is fairly easy, you will put the film across the film-loading plane and try to line up the two images within the empty holes. The cutter will then punch out the two matching images and they should easily fit in to the empty view master reel. However, there were times when I had to hand trim each individual piece in order to get it to fit, and for it to appear 3D within the actual View-Master viewer. A lot of my images appeared blurry or would make you feel cross-eyed, and it took hours of work perfecting them. I would also recommend wearing film-handling gloves because you will be pawing all over these slides.
I have not touched this camera since this project, but lately have been thinking about trying it out again. If you have the time, money, and patience then I would highly recommend this camera!