Author Topic: Personal View-Master  (Read 2297 times)

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Bryan

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Personal View-Master
« on: January 12, 2016, 03:59:51 AM »
I'm not sure if anyone on the forum would be interested in taking this on but I thought I would do a tutorial on the Use of a Personal View-Master camera.  My wife's grandfather purchased one of these cameras in the early 1950's when they first came out.  He shot many rolls of film of family and vacations up until he passed away in 1986 on a vacation where he was shooting his last roll.  My wife's entire childhood is on View-Master reels in Kodachrome.  They are pretty amazing to look at.  She asked me to look into shooting more reels and I haven't stopped in almost 10 years.  Unfortunately her grandfathers camera is gone so I had to go out and purchase one with all the rest of the accessories needed to make reels.  When her grandfather was doing it you could send the film to a lab and they would send the finished reels to you.  That service is obviously long gone.

I will start with the cameras.  I own two, the original View-Master camera and the Mark II.  Originally I purchased a Mark II camera but my wife was kind of disappointed because it wasn't the same one her grandfather had so I ended up getting that model as well.  There are some notable differences between the two.  They both have fixed focus lenses with a near focus of about 6 feet.  One important difference is the flash, the Mark two has both M and X flash where the original model only as M flash so you need flash bulbs and it only works with the flash designed for it.  I use an adapter so I can use M3 bulbs rather than M5.  M3 bulbs are plenty bright with ISO 100 film. 

The first camera pictured below is the original model, I prefer it over the Mark II because you can set the shutter speed and the iris independently.  It's also a better built camera and there is a closeup attachment available for it.  the film transport shoots a row of stereo pairs on the top of the film until you get to the end of the roll.  At the end of the roll you rotate the knob on the front and shoot the bottom half of the roll as the film is being wound back into the cartridge. 

The following link has more information on the camera: http://www.vmresource.com/camera/cameraspecs.htm
This has the manual: http://www.vmresource.com/manuals/index.html

You will note in the picture below that you will need a film cutter to make your own reels.  The camera and a cutter will cost over $200 depending on the condition.  Both cameras have their own film cutter because they have a different film transport that I will explain in the next entry.

Bryan

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Re: Personal View-Master
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2016, 04:09:26 AM »
The Mark II camera uses a diagonal film transport.  This allows you to shoot all 72 stereo pairs without going through the roll twice.  it also makes it a bit easier to cut the pictures out for mounting in the reels.  You can use a standard electronic flash with this camera if you don't have access to flash bulbs.  The one thing I don't like about this camera is that you are limited to one shutter speed depending on the f-stop.  The shutter speed for the two lowest f-stops are 1/40 and the rest are 1/60.  It also has an odd film advance that seems to work ok, you push down the lever on the top and it's ready to shoot. 

You will note in the film cutter in the photo below has the two holes at an angle, this is different from the one above where they are directly across from one another. 

There is also a Meopta Stereo 35 camera that is supposed to be the View-Master format but I have no idea how well it works with the reels or how easy it is to get a cutter for it. 
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 04:18:14 PM by Bryan »

Bryan

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Re: Personal View-Master
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2016, 04:18:47 AM »
Since Kodak stopped making reversal film I have been shooting with Fuji Velvia 100, Velvia 50 would also work well with these cameras.  If you don't develop your own film like me make sure when you send it to the lab that you tell them not to cut the film.  I also highlight this on the form to make sure they see it.  You will get the film back in one piece ready to start making reels.  I like to get scans of my film as well, it helps go through the pictures before you cut them to work out how you will mount them.  I like to try to keep one subject or event on a reel if I can though it doesn't always work out that way.  There are seven stereo pairs per reel so you may want to keep that in mind when you are shooting the film. 

You will also need to purchase blank reels to load your film into.  They tend to cost about $3 per reel unless you buy a large lot of them.  Make sure they look fresh when you buy them, if they look faded they may not have been stored well and may give you problems.  If they were stored poorly the glue can get very brittle and they will fall apart when you are trying to load them.  there is a company that was making new ones recently but I'm not sure how good they are since I have not used them.  I buy mine on eBay, always watching for good deals.

Bryan

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Re: Personal View-Master
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2016, 04:24:59 AM »
To make the reels you will load the film into the cutter by pulling up on the lever and laying the film in the film path.  You need to look through the cutter and make sure they are lined up properly.  You may have to move it over a sprocket hole or two to get it right.  Once it's lined up the film holder can be lowered to keep the film positioned in the film path.  After cutting a pair you advance to the next pair with the knob on the front.  It will click into place where it needs to be for the next pair.  You may need to push the film pairs out after you cut them, they don't usually fall out like they are supposed to. 
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 04:24:42 PM by Bryan »

Bryan

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Re: Personal View-Master
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2016, 04:40:52 AM »
This is the hardest part, loading them into the reels.  You will see on the film that one side has a half circle notch and the other has a half square notch.  These correspond to the numbers on the reel so you know which side the film goes in.  it is possible to get them backwards where they still look fine but everything is a mirror image of what it should be.  make sure you check your first one to make sure everything is lined up properly before you do the whole reel wrong.  With the original camera you will have to flip the film over to do the bottom row and this changes your workflow a bit, you will have to flip them to the opposite side.  I always get this confused. 

There are tools available for inserting the film into the reels but I find it's much easier to do it by hand.  The tool tends to open the reel up too much making the film fit loosely to where it can fall out easily.  I use nitrile powder free gloves to avoid getting finger prints on the film. 

You will get a total of 72 stereo pairs from a 36 exposure roll of film, that's about 10 reels.  It usually takes me about a year to go through one roll of film. 

Bryan

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Re: Personal View-Master
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2016, 04:49:59 AM »
Now you need to view your photos.  One of the best ways is to use a standard View-Master handheld viewer.  They are cheap and easy to find, I think they still make them.  There are some that are battery powered with their own light source, otherwise you need to hold it up to a light.  Another good way to view them is with a View-Master stereo projector.  These are hard to find and can be a bit expensive.  You will also need a silver screen, the stereo effect will not work with any other kind, I'm not sure why.  There is also a mono projector (last one pictured below) but that kind of defeats the purpose. 

One last thing to keep in mind if you are shooting stereo photos is the best stereo effect is from close up to about 30 feet away.  Beyond 30 feet the image looks pretty flat. 
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 04:26:32 PM by Bryan »

Bryan

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Re: Personal View-Master
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2016, 04:57:21 AM »
This web site is a great resource for shooting Personal View-Master cameras:
http://www.vmresource.com/camera/camera.htm

Another good web site:
http://www.3dstereo.com/

This is another good web site but it's more for collectors of View-Master reels but it does have good information on the viewers:
http://www.cinti.net/~vmmasell/

These are some web sites in the UK:
http://www.viewmaster.co.uk/

http://www.3dimages.co.uk/viewmaster.html


hookstrapped

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Re: Personal View-Master
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2016, 01:44:20 AM »
I just quickly browsed through this for the moment, but this is amazing. I loved View-masters when I was a kind. Will return...

Bryan

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Re: Personal View-Master
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2016, 04:45:02 PM »
Thanks Hookstrapped, it is a lot to take in.  It's a bit of an investment in equipment and supplies so I don't see many people being interested in taking this on but I thought the whole process may be of interest.  Many of us grew up with View-Master, It was first introduced in 1939 at the New York Worlds Fair and is still sold to this day, that's pretty amazing.  I'm not sure who is making the reels now, Alpha-cine in Seattle was doing it up until they shut down their film processing in 2009.  I remember seeing the equipment they used to make the reels for sale when they were shutting down the operation. 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2016, 04:49:36 PM by Bryan »