Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Super Wide Angle Stereo Camera Rig

I have never been a big fan of wide angle stereo photography, let alone super wide. But recently I have assembled a super wide angle stereo camera, based on Voigtländer equipment and I am experimenting with interesting results.


Here is some information about the company (source: Wikipedia,

Voigtländer is an optical company founded by Johann Christoph Voigtländer in Vienna in 1756 and thus it is one of the oldest names in camera equipment. Some of its famous products through the years include the Petzval photographic lens (fastest lens at that time: f/3.7) in 1840, the world's first all-metal daguerrotype camera (Ganzmetallkamera) in 1841, the first zoom lens (36–82/2.8 Zoomar) in 1960 and the first 35mm camera with built-in electronic flash (Vitrona) in 1965.

The company sold its shares to the Carl Zeiss Foundation in 1956, and Zeiss and Voigtländer integrated in 1965. In 1972 Zeiss/Voigtländer stopped producing cameras, and a year later Zeiss sold Voigtländer to Rollei. In the late 1990s, Cosina licensed the rights to use the Voigtländer name, and the names of Voigtländer lenses, for its own products. So since 1999 all Voigtländer products are made by Cosina.

The company’s current products are listed in and include rangefinder cameras and lenses with Leica screwmount and bayonet mounts. As you can see, if you visit their products page, the majority of their lenses are in the wide/super wide range. This is expected because rangefinder cameras are well suited for this kind of photography.

My RBT/Voigtländer 3D Rig

My super wide angle stereo camera rig consists of an RBT S2 Stereo camera (see: and a pair of 15 mm Super Wide Heliar lenses.

The RBT S2 stereo camera is based on the Voigtländer Bessa R2 camera and has the following features:
• Leica M-mount
• Manual operation (no batteries required)
• Through the lens light metering
• Twin VF, bubble level, Self timer
• 75mm lens spacing (other configurations are available too)

The 15 mm Super Wide Heliar is a newer lens by Voigtländer. It comes with a Leica-M mount and it is extremely compact (one of the advantages of RF lens design is that the lens can go back into the camera and does not need to clear a mirror as it is the case with SLR cameras). Other features:
• Aperture range f4.5-f22 with ½ stops
• 6 groups, 8 elements, 110˚ angle
• Diameter: 59mm, Length: 38mm
• Weight: 156g (5.5 oz!)
• Filter mount: 52mm
• Integrated Lenshood

Another necessary ingredient for the system to work is a separate 15mm view-finder. Shown in the pictures here is also an external light meter (Voigtländer VC meter) mounted at the top. This is not necessary but allows me to set the exposure by looking at the top, instead of through the camera’s view-finder. Also, for my camera I have an original Voigtländer strap and camera grip. I bought the RBT camera from 3D Concepts ( and lenses & accessories from

Ultra-wide angle photography is a specialized area and I am still experimenting and learning what works and what does not work. Expect to see some examples in our next stereo club soon.

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