MINUTA STEREO — a new pinhole stereo camera

written for the stereosite by Dominik Oczkowski, Germany

It was sev­er­al years ago, that I dis­cov­ered what stere­oscopy is,  how it sup­ports my work as an archi­tect and how reward­ing stereo pho­tog­ra­phy can be. I real­ized that I can use  my knowl­edge of stere­oscopy to devel­op stereo cam­eras and stere­o­scopes. I start­ed by  mount­ing two dig­i­tal cam­eras for a stereo rig. But I also had access to a dark room and learned the entire process of ana­logue pho­tog­ra­phy. Dur­ing my stud­ies I learned how to build mod­els with laser cut parts. So I came up with the idea of devel­op­ing an ana­logue stereo pin­hole cam­eras. The first stereo pho­tographs from my pro­to­types enlarged on light sen­si­tive paper were very exper­i­men­tal, very inter­est­ing and very three dimensional.

Stereo pair shot with a dig­i­tal rig
An ear­ly pin­hole experiment

After some years I decid­ed to cre­ate a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign to devel­op my first com­mer­cial prod­uct. I imag­ined a cam­era that would encour­age more pho­tog­ra­phers to explore stere­oscopy. After some more months of intense work, I was ready to launch.

In 2020 the MINUTA STEREO Pin­hole Cam­era cam­paign got suc­cess­ful­ly fund­ed on Kick­starter with­in one month. It made me very hap­py to see, that there was a lot of inter­est in a new cam­era adding stereo to pin­hole pho­tog­ra­phy. Over 160 back­ers believed in this project and invest­ed their mon­ey, so I could set up pro­duc­tion of my first prod­uct. In spite of a delay of some months, I’ve deliv­ered all rewards ship­ping around the globe.

MINUTA STEREO Pin­hole Camera

After the suc­cess­ful cam­paign, I invest­ed the raised funds in set­ting up my small work­shop for opti­cal devices. The biggest and most expen­sive machine was the laser cut­ter I need­ed to cut out all the parts from MDF sheets. It’s con­nect­ed to a large exhaust fan and a CAD com­put­er. Anoth­er impor­tant thing I was miss­ing, was the fur­ni­ture to work on and to store all the mate­ri­als. In the end I built it myself from sim­ple wood­en boards. Only cus­tom made pieces would fit into my small space. 
I’ve also invest­ed in good light­ing and a sim­ple 3D-printer.

Dominik Oczkows­ki in his Workshop
The laser cutter

Then I start­ed final­iz­ing the prod­uct and check­ing my CAD draw­ings again and again. The biggest prob­lem with the pro­to­type was that it had way too many fea­tures. Instead of mak­ing a sim­ple stereo cam­era, I’ve packed all the knowl­edge I gained dur­ing the last years into my first prod­uct. I’m afraid I’ve made the envi­sioned easy start to stere­oscopy a bit com­pli­cat­ed. The biggest les­son I’ve learned while ful­fill­ing the rewards, was to start with sim­ple things. 

But I had promised a stereo cam­era for both medi­um for­mat and 35 mm film with an option­al rise & fall func­tion, many dif­fer­ent image for­mats, a 2D mode, pre­cise viewfind­ers, many mag­net­ic parts and some gad­gets like pouch­es or hold­ers. So, the main rea­son for my delay in deliv­er­ing the rewards, was that I had to devel­op a lot of dif­fer­ent spe­cial parts for all the dif­fer­ent options. 

Explo­sion drawing
Adapter, spac­ers and spools

In addi­tion to the cam­era, there were add-ons the back­ers could choose from: two dif­fer­ent stere­o­scope mod­els, an expo­sure cal­cu­la­tor and six dif­fer­ent slide mounts. Every­thing had to be designed, planned, pro­duced, stored and packed.

EMULSIA STEREO — for ana­logue stereo slides or high res­o­lu­tion pix­els pairs
PAPUGA STEREO — A Stere­o­scope for Stere­o­cards and Smartphones
FOTON STEREO — A Dial Expo­sure Calculator

So it was impor­tant to estab­lish a clever work­flow for export­ing my CAD draw­ings, paint­ing the MDF-sheets, laser-cut­ting the parts and organ­is­ing them in labeled trays. Then I pre­pared explod­ed views and assem­bling man­u­als. The final design of the cam­era con­sists of over 100 parts includ­ing mag­nets, nuts, lev­els and many cork parts which had to be ordered and prepared.

One tray for each part
120 cam­eras

After most of the cam­eras were already built I start­ed do devel­op the prod­uct man­u­als and the packaging.I’m very grate­ful for the help of my neigh­bours: the two girls from Future­Play­ground helped me with the graph­ic design, the box­es and the book­lets. Then I start­ed pack­ing and ship­ping the rewards. In the end I’ve deliv­ered over 120 cam­eras, 90 stere­o­scopes, 1400 slide mounts and many small­er add-ons. 

The MINUTA box
The man­u­als

Now it’s in the hands of my back­ers. I am extreme­ly curi­ous to see what the peo­ple will do with this camera.I’ve cre­at­ed a Face­book Group to share and dis­cuss images shot with the cam­era and the #min­u­tastereo hash­tag on Instagram.

MINUTA STEREO, back view
Dominik Oczkowski (Munich, Germany)

Dominik Oczkows­ki is an archi­tect, stere­o­g­ra­ph­er, mod­el builder and prod­uct design­er based in Munich and Cra­cow.
After pho­tograph­ing archi­tec­ture and stage design mod­els in 3D, he start­ed devel­op­ing stereo cam­eras and stere­o­scopes. Dominik is search­ing for the grain and the bokeh in the depths of spa­tial pho­tog­ra­phy.

Web­site: oczkostereo.eu
Insta­gram-pro­file: oczkostereo.eu
Face­book-group: Min­u­ta Stereo