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Special Project: Olympus XAx2

This camera is an early 1999 project. It enables me to shoot full frame 35mm stereo pairs with a compact handheld camera. The Olympus XA is well suited to twin rig stereo for several reasons. It is semi automatic aperture priority, allowing manual control of depth of field, with one camera doing the metering and firing both shutters electrically. I have found flash sync to be excellent, automatic metering to be very good.  Pictures of my studio setup were taken with this camera.


Figure 1. Cross-eyed stereo pair of the Olympus XAx2 with flash attached to master camera.

The camera is so small, that the interaxial separation is about 63mm for this rig. Very good for close-up stereo. Without the flash attachment, the camera is little larger than 4x5x1 inches. Smaller than many SLRs, comparable to many 1950s era dedicated stereo cameras.

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Figure 2. Olympus XAx2 with lens covers open to reveal optics. The enlarged (zoom) images show the focus knobs in the middle.

Drawbacks: Manual focus of both cameras is effected with a little lever that is smack in the middle of the front of this configuration - difficult to get to without accidentally fingering the lenses. Close focus is only about 2.8ft. I would rather like to get closer than that, especially with these 35mm f.l. lenses.

Other than the wiring, which I had to sub out to a pro shop, construction of the rig is simple. Two thin aluminum plates are attached to the base of each camera via a bolt that secures in the tripod socket. These plates are joined at the front of the rig with small office spring clips. In between the plates ride two little lengths of bicycle spoke, acting as a hinge. Using spacers at the rear of the rig, I can roughly control the amount of toe-in. This is a prototypical bracket, to be replaced someday with something more sturdy.

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Figure 3. Close up to show bracket "hinge" with spring clips. Tubing encloses wiring to link master shutter circuit with slave camera. Two solenoids in each camera are joined in a simple parallel circuit connection.

(Photos on this page taken with a Pentax K1000 on a slide rail, 50mm f2 lens, approximately 40mm stereobase. Click here to see the taking set-up).


Next project: Making The Pixie


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