F. and S. Marriott 140 Newbegin, Hornsea, England, HU18 1PB

February 2010. Stephanie is seriously ill. Therefore, there may be considerable delay in responding to e-mails. We will try to continue to despatch orders promptly. The shop is open by appointment only. Thank-you for your continuing patience.

Viewmaster Stereo Color Camera Instructions

Note: My comments are in brackets and italics. I have only commented on information which I think may be different now from what is was when this camera was new (early nineteen-sixties).

Number in brackets refer to parts of the camera. Some of these are referenced by pictures in the text, the rest can be found referenced in the Main Picture and Key.

Choice of Film

Loading the Camera

Taking the Picture

Unloading the Camera

Tips for Better Pictures

Exposure without scales - how it works

Depth of Focus

Choosing your Colour Window

Checking of Film Speed Ratings

Non-Standard Flash II

Adjusting for Sun's Altitude

Time Exposures

Multiple Exposures

Better Flash Pictures

Use of Filters

Keep Your Lenses Clean

Bottom of page

Choice of Film

Any 35 mm. film, in the standard cartridge, will fit the camera. Of course, you will choose a colour film - first because the extreme realism of Stereo would lose much of its effect in black and white - secondly, because you need a transparent image, and the standard daylight color reversal film is the easiest way to get it. A negative color film is less suitable.

Length of film: The films normally sold as 36 exposures will yield up to 75 stereo pairs. This length might serve for vacations, a long trip etc.

Of course it offers the greatest economy - one or two films might last the whole trip.

The 20 exposure films will yield 40 stereo-exposures and is best for average use. Its economy is still so great that you can afford to take the film out of the camera when little more than half of it has been exposed.

Film speed: As you have lenses of adequate power (f:2.8), you will not normally need highspeed color films. Films of average-speed are more economical and less sensitive to poor storage conditions.

The slower the film speed, the more detail and sharpness your pictures will have.

Loading the Camera

1. Take the camera out of its case and check it is empty. If the knurled knob (13) on top turns freely in the direction of its arrow, there is no film in the camera.

2. Unlock the camera by squeezing the two buttons (24) together, swing cover to the right. Turn the take-up spool (25) with a finger until the slot faces you. Lay the camera face down in subdued light.

3. Take the film out of its container. About four inches of film will emerge from the cartridge and from most of this length the perforation has been cut away on one side. Pull out about two more inches of film - this part will be of the the full 35 mm. width, doubly perforated.

Take the cartridge in your left hand, the film tongue in your right hand, perforation down. Now insert the film tongue in the slot of the take-up spool (25) and make the tooth (26) on one side of the slot engage the first perforation. Turn the take-up spool one revolution with your finger, so most of the tongue is tightly wound on it.

4. Stretch the film over the film channel and drop the cartridge in the magazine on the left (30). Push up, so that the shaft (29) engages the cartridge spool. Turn rewind knob (13) a little to facilitate this. Turn the take-up spool (25) a little more to tighten the film.

Viewmaster camera - film path

5. The full width of the film should now cover the two sprocket wheels (27). Make sure that sprockets on both sides are engaged in the perforations, then close cover.

6. Press release button (14) and rapid wind button (1) alternatively six times. This will bring fresh, unfogged film in front of the two lenses. Allow the rewind knob (13) to turn freely. This turning indicates that the film is moving properly.

7. Set the exposure counter (21) to '0' by pressing and turning to left or right. The window (20) will indicate the number of exposures made.

Viewmaster camera - exposure setting

Film speed setting: Turn the big central dial (19) until an index (6) flanked by the letters ASA and DIN appears. Hold one of serrated tongues (9) with a fingertip or nail and turn the central dial (19) until the index (6) points to the correct film speed either in DIN (black scale) or ASA (green scale).

You can determine your film speed from the carton or data sheet coming with the film.

You need never touch this setting again as long as you use the same type or speed of film. Check occasionally to make sure the setting has not been changed unintentionally.

Taking the picture

Every quality-camera has means to regulate the amount of light admitted to the film, depending on light conditions and subject colour.

These consist of a diaphragm regulating the opening of the lens (or lenses) and a shutter, regulating the time of exposure. Normally each of these have to be set by two separate dials and the best combination must be calculated.

The View-Master camera, too, has these means - but only one single dial (19) to operate them. This dial should simply be set for the amount of light that is wanted on the film; the camera itself calculates and sets the diaphragm and shutter time that are need - automatically, unerringly.

Viewmaster camera - adjusting exposure

Exposure setting outdoors: For easy adjusting, with the camera strap around your neck, swing baseplate up so that camera faces you upsidedown with the scales you might need right side up.

 Viewmaster camera exposure setting

Look at the three colour blocks (16) on the front - they are not just a styling feature! Decide which of the three matches best the overall colours of your subject, the frame with the light, with the average or with the dark colours.

Now look at the little window (17) in the block you have chosen.

When you turn the exposure dial (19), four different symbols will appear in succession.

Viewmaster camera exposure symbols
  • With bright sun from aside or slightly behind the subject, use the 'hazy sun' symbol.
  • For scenes in dull weather (if unavoidable!) under open sky, use the 'shadow' symbol.

When you have placed the correct symbol in the correct colour window, you are ready to take the picture. There is nothing to forget - focus, lens-opening, shutter and exposure-value have all been set perfectly, automatically. Everything from about five feet will be in sharp focus.

  • Shoot only from 2 hours after sunrise until 2 hours before sunset. Before or after colours will be too red, too dark.
Viewmaster camera - holding the camera

Holding the camera: Hold the camera firmly with both hands. Make sure your fingers do not cover the lenses. In the viewfinder (28) you will see a bright, sharp line, framing your subject. Make sure the top and bottom lines of this frame are perfectly horizontal.

  • never turn a stereo camera on its side (vertical format) or you will have to view your pictures with the stereoscope (and your head!) on its side.

For really sharp pictures, steady yourself with feet apart, press camera against nose for extra steadiness and, - with your forefinger - squeeze the shutter button (14) down without jarring camera.

It is a good idea to practise this with unloaded camera in front of a mirror.

Again for sharpness, avoid excessive movement of your subject or make it move towards or away from you.

Viewmaster camera - winding on

Film advance: After you have tripped the shutter, the rapid wind button (1) will pop up as soon as you take your finger from the shutter button. It reminds you that the film must be advanced before you can take the next shot.

Viewmaster camera in use

Simply press down the rapid wind button (1). This will:

  • advance the exact amount of film;
  • count the exposure;
  • free the shutter button, which was locked to prevent double exposure

The rapid wind button can best be pressed with the thumb. For rapid sequence shooting, while looking through the viewfinder without interruption, use the middle finger for the shutter button (14) and the forefinger for the rapid wind button (1). In this case, be especially careful that there are no fingers in front of the lenses or on top of the rapid wind button.

If the latter happens, it will not pop up and a blind exposure (with the lenses covered) must be made to prevent a double exposure.

Extra originals: Before you walk away from your subject, consider if you will want extra pictures as spares to give to friends etc. Remember, that your film will not be copied or 'printed' but that the pictures in your stereoscope will be on your own original film (reversal processing). This is one reason for their extreme reality. So, the best - and cheapest - way to have spare pictures is to make them on the spot. To have duplicates made afterwards, if it can be done, will be more expensive and less satisfying.

Using an exposure meter: To help judging exposure, especially in unusual conditions, an exposure-meter will be useful - if you learn to use it correctly.

Follow manufacturer's instructions accurately. Read the exposure value (all modern meters will have this scale) and set exposure scale of camera (18) to this number by turning dial (19).

Flash pictures: Indoor or whenever the light is insufficient (exposure dial will not turn far enough, clockwise) change to flash.

Any flash gun will work with the View-Master camera (note: requires co-axial cable connection). The modern, compact ones will slip into the accessory shoe (8). Use blue flashbulbs, because you have daylight colour films. Connect the flash cable to the 'M' outlet (11) on top of the camera.

If you use electronic flash, connect its cable to the 'X' outlet (12).

Viewmaster camera exposure setting

Setting the camera for flash: Judge or measure the distance of your subject from the flash holder. Turn the exposure dial (19) until this distance (in meters - black scale; or in feet - green scale) appears in window (10) in front of blue arrow (5).

That's all! No 'guide numbers', no calculations, nothing else to set.

Caution: if a red signal has appeared, partly or wholly, in window (4), your subject is too far away from the flash. Turn back the exposure dial until the red signal just disappears. At that moment, the blue arrow will indicate your maximum flash distance.

Non-standard flash: If most of your flash pictures come out too light, whatever the cause may be (high-efficiency flash unit, non-standard bulbs, over-estimating distances, etc.) the correction is simple. Instead of the blue arrow, use the index (5a) on the side of the light colour block.

If your flash bulbs are mostly too dark, use the index (5b) on the side of the dark colour block instead of the blue arrow. The blue arrow should generally be used for average blue flash bulbs (7000 - 9000 lumenseconds, such as the PF1-B, XM1-B, 5B, M5B etc.) in average reflectors and for medium-sized electronic flash units (60 - 90 Wattseconds).

For smaller blue flash bulbs (AG1-B) and small electronic units, use index (5b). For very strong flash, use index (5a).

Outdoor pictures with 'fill-in flash': To brighten strong shadows (sun very high, on the side, or even behind subject) you can use 'fill-in flash', like the experts but without the usual complicated calculations.

  • Set exposure dial (19) to match light conditions and subject colour as if the sun were normally behind you.
  • Read your flash distance at the blue arrow (5)
  • Put your flash unit at this distance from the subject and take your picture

Unloading the Camera

If you keep shooting until the very end of the film, the rapid wind button (1) will meet a high resistance, the rewind-knob will stop revolving and the exposure- counter (20) will indicate a wrong figure. Also there are chances that the film may be damaged and the last few pictures double exposed.

It is therefore better to stop shooting at the last exposure as indicated before:

For the 36-exposure film: stop at 75

For the 20-exposure film: stop at 40

Rewinding: The film must be wound back into the cartridge before opening the camera.

  • Press rewind button (3) and keep it pressed while you rewind the film by turning rewind-knob (13) in the direction of its arrow. You will feel the film tongue snap loose from the take-up spool (25), after which the rewind knob turns more freely.
  • Open camera in subdues light and facing down (so cartridge won't fall out), take out cartridge and put it back in container.

Processing and mounting: Send the film to processing station as advised by the film manufacturer or your dealer.

Indicate clearly that the film must remain uncut.

Viewmaster camera pictures on film

After you receive the processed film, the pictures are grouped as in illustration above.

The two A-pictures together form a stereo-pair, they must be cut out from the film and inserted into two opposite pockets of a precision made, empty View-Master reel.

Next the two B-pictures are cut out and mounted and so on.

There are three convenient ways to do this:

1. You can mount them yourself with the View-Master film cutter and blank 'personal' reels. It is the fastest, cheapest and most satisfying way.

Viewmaster reels Viewmaster film cutter

The film cutter comes with full, easy-to-follow instructions and will soon pay for itself.

2. Your dealer will have them mounted for you. You get back all your usable pictures, in the order they have been taken, seven per reel.

Viewmaster film inserter

If you wish to, you can change the pictures from reel to reel at will. To do this scratch-free, all you need is a special pair of tweezers, the View-master 'Film-inserter'

3. If none of the dealers in your area offer a mounting service, any of them can give you the address of the central View-Master Mounting Service in your country, to which you send your film direct.

(note: options 2 and 3 are probably no longer available. Contact a specialist 3D supplier - see Links page - for up-to-date information)

All that remains to be done is to title each picture carefully in the space provided on the blank reel and to file the reels in View-Master albums or library boxes. They will offer you and your friends many hours of unequalled enjoyment.

Tips for better pictures

Exposure without scales - how it works

We explained that the View-Master Stereo Color Camera has variable lens openings and variable shutter times like other quality cameras - but their setting is semi-automatic.

On the camera you will not even find scales for these two values. For inquisitive readers, we mention then here:

Lens openings: 1:2.8 - 4 - 5.6 - 8 - 11 - 16 - 22, continuously

Shutter times: 1/30 - 1/40 - 1/50 - 1/60, continuously

Times shorter than 1/60 sec. are rarely needed and greatly affect the efficiency of flashbulbs, necessitating complicated flash calculations.

If you want to know exactly what lens opening and shutter time you are using at given exposure value settings - scale (18) - use this table:

Viewmaster camera exposure values table

As you see, you always use the shortest shutter time (1/60 sec.) unless the light is so low that the lenses reach their full opening - only then does the camera shift itself from 1/60 sec. to 1/30 sec. gradually.

With your camera, there is no other reason to use these longer shutter times - such as insufficient depth of focus - see Depth of Focus.

Now you know why you only have to feed information abut light conditions to the camera, which then takes care of the ideal settings all by itself!

Depth of Focus

Maybe you wonder why nowhere in this manual are any measures mentioned for keeping your subject in sharp focus.

The reason is that here, too, the camera largely takes care of itself. The extreme short focal length of your lenses (20 mm.) makes focussing unnecessary and guarantees that under average taking conditions everything from about five feet (1.50 meters) is perfectly sharp. Even if objects closer than this distance can be pictured sharp (see table below) it is unadvisable, with any stereo-camera of standard lens-separation (about 2.5 inches or 65 mm.) to approach any subject closer than four feet. Eye strain in viewing (especially in stereo projection) may result.

As old hands in photography know, the depth-of-focus depends on the lens opening setting. So, if you want to know the point at which sharp focus starts at various camera settings, use this table.

Viewmaster camera depth of focus table

Choosing your colour window

Light Subjects: People in white or light-coloured clothes, all unusually light-coloured objects; also snow scenes, beach scenes, open seascapes, scenes with white buildings or on white platforms - even if the people or objects in these scenes are only average-coloured.

Average Subjects: All average-coloured persons, fabrics, objects etc. in average surroundings (landscapes, wide streets and squares, open fields, gardens)

Dark Subjects: Dark-coloured complexions, fabrics, objects; dark foliage or leafless trees, dark buildings, narrow streets and corners.

  • Whenever in doubt, use 'average'
  • When judging the colour group of your subject, be certain to do this independently of the light conditions. The choice of the colour block (16) only depends on the subject as it is, the choice of the symbol (17) inside its window only on the light that falls on the subject.

Checking of Film Speed Ratings

As all colour-film speed ratings are based on undefined interpretations of laboratory tests and not practical results, the film manufacturer's recommendations how to expose under standard conditions are more reliable than their indicated film speed. (this may not be the case now ).

To check on this, act as follows:

  • Establish from their data sheet what Exposure Value the film makers recommend for average subjects in bright sun from behind the camera (for instance: E.V. 13).
  • Set the exposure dial (19) so that the central window (17) shows the symbol for bright sun.
  • Read the Exposure Value (18) (for instance: E.V. 13 2/3)
  • In case the two Exposure Values are not the same, change the film speed setting (6) until they are identical (for instance: from 18 to 16 DIN)

Non-Standard Flash II

When you use completely non-standard flash, as in professional use, the simple correction described before will not be sufficient.

If you still want to benefit from the easy flash-distance scale (10), use the same reversed method as described above (Checking on film speed ratings) to find the proper film speed setting.

Example: You use Kodachrome type F film and PF5 (clear) flashbulbs. Your guide number is 88 (product of distance in feet and lens opening). This means that with the flash distance set at 11 feet, the lens opening must be f-8, for which the View-master camera must be set at Exposure Value 12.

These two settings will only correspond when the film speed is set at 50 ASA (18 DIN). So, set the camera for this film speed and your flash-distance scale will work accurately.

Note for connoisseurs: The M-delay of the View-master stereo color camera is set at 12 milliseconds, with the remarkable result that modern flashbulbs (time to peak 15 - 21 milliseconds, duration at half-peak to to 15 millisec.) are used, for all practical purposes, at full efficiency at all shutter times (same as open flash).

Adjusting for Sun's Altitude

All day in winter, and early in the morning or late afternoon in summer, the sun is lower and weaker than usual. Compensate as follows:-

a) snow scenes in the mountains: no adjustment necessary

b) all other scenes

  • Match colour subject and light conditions as usual.
  • Read the Exposure Value (18).
  • Turn the dial until this value is one point less

Time Exposures

When illumination is low (twilight, indoors, flood- or spotlights) and you do not want to use flashlight, proceed as follows:

  • Take camera out of case, put it on a tripod at (23).
  • Screw in a cable release at (2).
  • Swing lever (22) on B.
  • Determine correct exposure (in lens opening and shutter time) or Exposure Value. The best way for this is an exposure meter, preferably a photo-electric one. In case the meter reads in Exposure Values, the camera has to be set as follows:Viewmaster camera time exposures table
  • These settings are for the shortest practical time exposures by cable release (1 sec. or longer). If you prefer smaller lens openings, set the Exposure Value (18) 1 or 2 points higher, and expose two or four times longer respectively.
  • For meter readings of 8 or higher, you can make pictures free-handed in the usual manner.
  • After finishing your time exposures, swing the B-lever (22) back to neutral. You can't forget, because you will have difficulty in putting the camera back in its case with the lever on B. Once in the case it will not be possible to swing the lever to B unintentionally.
  • For photoflood and studio lamps, use type A or B color films. Carefully follow the instructions that come with the film. Flourescent-tube lighting is not recommended.

Multiple Exposure

If you want to expose several times without winding the film (multiple flash, fireworks, 'ghost' and trick-photography) here's what you should do:

When making the first exposure, hold the rapid-wind button (1) down and keep it down. As long as you keep it down (with a rubber band if necessary) you can make as many exposures as you want without moving the film. Release the rapid-wind button before the last exposure.

Better Flash Pictures

If your flash exposures are irregular (some too dark, some too light) the chances are that you have difficulty in judging the correct distance of your subject. Use a tape measure or, more convenient, and photographic rangefinder you can buy or happen to have. If your flash unit screws into the bottom of your camera (23), you can slip the rangefinder in the accessory shoe (8).

Use of Filters

Filters are seldom needed for colour photography. If you want to use filters, according to the instructions of the film manufacturer, you need slip-on filters, size 27 mm., or series V filters in adaptor rings 1 1/16 inch.

Keep Your Lenses Clean . . .

. . . this will keep your pictures brilliant. Use a soft chamois leather or lens-tissue and wipe the protective filters (15), in front of the lenses, carefully. Clean the front and rear lenses of the viewfinder in the same way. To clean the rear lenses inside the camera, set central dial (19) to 8, ever (22) to B and press the shutter button (14). Use only a soft brush.

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