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Spotted at Olympics: 3D photography in action

A photographer at the Olympics in Vancouver used a dual-SLR camera rig to take 3D images.

Russ Beinder spotted this 3D camera rig at the Olympics.
Russ Beinder spotted this 3D camera rig at the Olympics. Russ Beinder/used with permission

The 3D era is coming to movies and video--but it appears the world of still imagery won't be left behind.

Stereography, in which two cameras take photos simulating the perspective of two human eyes, has been used to create 3D imagery since the 19th century. Russ Beinder spotted a more modern approach at the Olympics, with a photographer using two modern digital SLRs conjoined with a Sports Illustrated-labeled rig.

A photographer at the Olympics bearing the 3D camera rig
A photographer at the Olympics bearing the 3D camera rig. Russ Beinder/used with permission

Judging by Beinder's photograph at Flickr, the camera appears to have two higher-end Nikons attached together, the left one upside-down, perhaps to keep the image sensors closer together like human eyes. It appears the two 24-70mm lenses' zoom control rings are linked with a belt-and-gear device to keep them in step.

It wasn't immediately clear how settings such as exposure length, aperture, focus, and shutter release were controlled and synchronized, but a box with a rocker switch and protruding cables is attached to one of the camera bodies.

Gizmodo identified the photographer, whose hat has a "3D Illustrated Stereography" logo, as David Klutho, author of "In Your Face 3-D: The Best 3-D Book Ever!" from Sports Illustrated.

The Olympics, which draws numerous professional photographers, is a proving ground for new photo equipment.

3D photography is by no means common, but isn't just about exotic, custom-build rigs. Fujifilm offers a 3D compact camera.

Of course, to get anything out of the shots, you need a way to look at them. In the old days, this was done with a simple box called a stereoscope; a partition divided it into two halves, one for each photo. Fujifilm's camera comes with a 3D digital viewer.