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Score: 4.5/5

So, you look at your friends, and the places that you've been, in your photos and you think to yourself, that's not quite how it was... I remember more, somehow, but I can't place it... wait a minute, it was more... dimensional, that's it! It was more dimensional. One of the major drawbacks of photography [well, aside from the lack of smell, texture, etc.] is it's lack of the third dimension: depth. You've got height. You've got width, but you just haven't got that little bit that makes it all seem like it's right in front of you: depth. Well, now you've got it. The Loreo Stereo Camera brings you what you've always been missing – the third dimension.

Stereo: The technology of stereo photography is not new, but it is, unfortunately, fairly unknown. Many people know the concept of stereography – 3D movies, 3D comics, the ViewMaster, and those 3D Magic-Eye thingies that were all the rage a couple of years back. All these examples operate on the principle of stereography, in which two images from slightly different perspectives are viewed together to produce the illusion of a third dimension. The prevalence of this technology is quite far-reaching, but yet there are virtually no consumer stereo cameras available – you definitely won't find one at your local camera shop, let alone a disposible version at the supermarket counter. The Loreo Stereo Camera is a recent attempt to tap into the relatively non-existant consumer stereo photo market.

Process: The Loreo Stereo Camera has two lenses placed side-by-side, and facing in the same direction. This is the signature of a stereo camera. More than a signature really, it is the way in which stereo photography is done. Each of these lenses exposes half of a frame of standard 35mm film. The film is processed producing a 4"x6" print that appears to have two copies of the same image. These are the images exposed by each of the lenses – similar, but yet different. The print is then placed into the Stereo Viewer and, when looked at, a three-dimensional image is seen. This process is a major advantage over previous stereo cameras. Most other stereo cameras have been more labour intensive – the ViewMaster system, although unique and able to stand the test of time [from a viewer point of view], required the user to cut the small images out of 35mm slide film and insert them into the circular viewing cards, a highly labourious process; and the Realist system in which two full frames of 35mm slide film must be put into a special card that then is put into a viewer to see the three-dimensional effect. Both of these systems involve some sort of process to get from exposing the film to viewing the three-dimensional effect, as does the Loreo system, but the Loreo system is fairly simple: expose, print, and view.

Fun: Now, where do we begin with the potential for fun with the Loreo Stereo Camera? Sure, the crowd may not get as riled up as they do with the Casio Watch Camera, but the public fun comes in looking at the stereo-pics once they have been processed. Reaction to the stereoscopic images varies from person to person, ranging from boredom to near-psychotic behaviour. Many a time have I heard things to the effect of "Look, he's right there in front of me. It's as if he's right there. Hey, wanna go play some video games? Yeah? Come on." At that point, I generally need to tear the Viewer out of the persons hands and convince him that what he saw was actually a photograph. Well, I guess the fun is really limited to the viewing of the 3D pics, but there's just so much fun involved in said viewing that it seems like there must be many more fun aspects to the Loreo Stereo Camera. There is. It all depends on what you take pictures of!

Quality: I am veritably impressed at the quality of the photographs that are taken with the Loreo Stereo Camera. I fully recommend using 800 speed film – a bit more expensive and somewhat more difficult to find than your standard 100 or 400, but it's well worth it. Using 800 film in the Loreo produces the ideal results for a well-lit situation. Now you may ask about a non well-lit situation. And to that I reply: built-in flip up flash. [Look here for an example, or see the first photo in this article.] In low-light situations – indoor, night-time – use the flash [or a higher speed film]. The flash produces excellent results for a factory model. It fills out the scene in a nice rounded fashion, making for excellent results. [Now look here for some examples.]

Craftsmanship: A big question is: How well is it made? Is it well designed? Is it durable? Okay, that's a few questions, but, moving on... Well, this is an area in which the Loreo Stereo Camera does not shine. Due to the shape of the lens housing, the Loreo is unable to fit any conventional lens caps and unfortunately the camera does not come with a lens cap of its own – many a time do I find myself needing to clean off fingerprints and dust. As part of the design of the camera, the shutter release button is on the front of the camera rather than in the standard spot – the top. Call me old-fashioned, but why change something that works? Especially when the world is used to a certain way. Last, but not the least of the things to comment on: the rewind button. My biggest beef with the otherwise flawless Loreo Stereo Camera is the rewind button. Every once in a while it sticks in its depressed position, rendering the camera useless until I perform a small operation with a small screwdriver to disengage the button. A small, but annoying flaw, that hopefully [for you guys] only occurs on my camera.

Features/Accessories: The major accessory to come with the Loreo Stereo Camera is the Viewer. The Viewer is the equipment with which you view your highly dimensional stereoscopic photographs. The Viewer is made of a hard, durable plastic and folds up into a nice, small 1.5"x4.5"x6" box for easy storage or carriage. When it's folded out into Viewer mode it has a tray to put your photos into [up to 4"x6" in size]. A metal tab holds the photos into place and marks the spot for you to align the center of your photos. opposite the photo tray is the eyepiece through which you look. The eyepiece is made of two convex lenses that work to merge the two separate images into one. The Viewer does the work so you don't have to! The Viewer is well made with a nice post-war design to make it seem more "authentic", it's easy to carry around and I've found that it can hold about 40 pics or so easily in it's closed position. That way you can take all your favorite pics with you where ever you go. Trade with your friends! Another feature that needs some discussion is the flash. The Loreo Stereo Camera has a flip-up flash on the top that is activated by a switch which flips it up and turns it on. A light beside the viewfinder indicates when a flash is recommended, flick the switch, the flash pops up, wait for the green light [not too long], snap, and you're all set.

Price: I must say that this is an excellent value for your money, not only do you get an excellently crafted camera for your $80 USD, but you also get the funky 50s style Viewer and a load of fun that you can take anywhere!

Conclusion: All-in-all a high-scoring camera that only loses points because of some design flaws, but these flaws are far out-weighed by every other aspect as discussed above. Though, the question still remains: Why isn't everything in 3D?

June 1, 2001

ps: If you want to see any 3D effect of the stereo images on this site, try crossing your eyes. It takes a bit to get used to, but I think these images are small enough that it will work. Don't put your face too close to the monitor, it makes it harder. all of the info contained within is for the use of any and all. enjoy.

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