Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stereo Photography Viewing Variables

The three "recording" variables F, B, and I, affect the way the stereo image is recorded on film but they also affect the way the stereo image is perceived, i.e. how it appears during stereoscopic observation.

To understand the stereoscopic impression when we view a stereo image, we also need to know the focal length of the viewing lens, Fv, and the interpupillary distance (eye spacing) of the observer, Bv. Fv and Bv are now our viewing variables.

Finally, even if we know the recording variables and the viewing variables, what we actually perceive also depends on our brain & experience, what we call "peception". So, we can say that:

3d image perceived = (recording variables) + (viewing variables) + (Perception)

There are two conditions that, when satisfied, viewing the stereo image most closely imitates viewing directly the original scene: 1) Stereo base is equal to the interpupillary spacing (B=Bv, approximately 65mm or 2.5") and 2) focal length of the recording lens is equal to the focal length of the viewing lens (or viewing distance), F=Fv. This is known as “ortho stereo”.

Ortho Stereo: B = Bv & F = Fv

General-use stereo cameras are well-suited for this type of stereo photography which explains the choice of lens separation in Realist-format cameras. The focal length of the recording lens is not important as long as it is matched by the viewing lens. Most 35mm film viewer lenses have a FL of 40-50mm. The 35mm FL lens in many stereo cameras is a compromise, offering good depth of field, decent field of view, and near-ortho viewing conditions.

Any deviation from these conditions will result in a visual impression that deviates from reality. We will explore some of these situations in subsequent postings.

No comments: