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Double Vision (Leica Stemar 33mm f3.5 Stereo Lens)

Posted by Jesse Seberras on

Stereoscopic imaging was first developed in the early 1800's and it wasn't long before it was adapted to photography through the use of stereo lenses. In the days before moving pictures a stereoscopic photograph was a pretty damned amazing thing. So much so that when Queen Victoria visited the World's Fair in London in 1851 she was reportedly so excited about it that it caused quite the stir and help make it a popular form of entertainment up until the turn of the century.

By the 1900's It fell out of fashion for a few decades until a resurgence after WWII with the creation of the Kodak Viewmaster. Here enters the Leica Stemar 33mm f3.5 stereo lens. First developed in 1940 but not put into mass production until 1954 (and shortly thereafter discontinued in 1957), it was the first and only stereo lens Leica produced for their M system. Thus far Leica has never even hinted at making another one since then.

You will be glad to know that it will work on your Leica digital M bodies without damaging your sensor or shutter. This means that not only can you take digital stereoscopic photos but you can also take advantage of the M(240)'s video mode and make some 3D movies of your very own! There are a few limitations however. Due to the lens mount the Live View function will not engage and the internal metering will underexpose by about ten stops thanks to the image divider on the rear of the lens.


The lens is built to Leica's typical quality standards. All metal construction. Due to the very low profile of the lens the focus ring and aperture ring are reduced to knobs. Even the front lens cap is all metal with a bayonet mount giving the lens a very steampunk look. It is quite sharp, lightweight and compact. Typically stereo lens cameras are large devices that shoot on medium format film. Or else it is a two camera set up where the photographer would need two of everything. There are a few other compact options out there such as the Nishika N8000 but they pale in comparison to image and build quality. The Stemar 33mm is a rare breed of lens. If you come across an example that comes complete with its viewfinder, hood and binocular attachment then be sure to grab it quick as they do not come up very often.

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