3D Film Photography: Featuring the Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III

3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film Featured Image
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Written by John Adams III

Have you ever seen those wiggly “3D” film photos on Instagram and thought to yourself, “How did they do that?”

The effect is easier than you think – the only catch is that it requires a specific type of film camera and a little Photoshop magic. 

How to Create 3D Film Photography
How to Create 3D Film Photography
How to Create 3D Film Photography
3D image of man holding lunchbox - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film

What is a Stereoscopic Camera?

Stereoscopic, or stereo, cameras are outfitted with two or more lenses allowing the user to capture different angles of a scene simultaneously.

They were originally intended to make 3D prints (think holographic Pokémon or baseball cards) but have found a new usefulness in the digital age. 

Find 3D film cameras and vintage stereo cameras on eBay.

3D image of a woman drinking a coffee - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film

How Does a 3D Film Camera Work?

I own the Nishika N8000 film camera (find on eBay), but the process for taking a 3D image will be similar no matter what stereo camera you decide to use.

The Nishika has four lenses; when the shutter is released, each lens captures the scene at the same time but at slightly different angles.

The Nishika N8000 3D film camera - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
The four lenses on the Nishika N8000 3D film camera - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
A close-up of the four lenses used to create a 3D image

On the negative, you’ll see four half frame photos shot over two frames of film. This means that in any given roll of 35mm film, you can expect 18 exposures from a 36 exposure roll and 14 exposures from a 28 exposure roll.

Example of the 4 images over 2 negatives to create a 3D image - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
The 4 lenses of the Nishika N8000 creates 4 half frames over 2 negatives.
Example of the 4 images over 2 negatives to create a 3D image - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film

This multi-lens technology functions the same way our own eyes do in perceiving the world in a three dimensional way!

3D image of a man pointing at a plane - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
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Shooting with 3D Cameras

These cameras were not made for the professional market and are, to put it bluntly, very cheaply made.

On the Nishika N8000 specifically, you have to be careful advancing the film as the plastic winding mechanism doesn’t always grip the film correctly. This can result in accidental double exposures or even a torn negative.

I’ve had similar problems with the ImageFX 3D camera. When I owned that camera, the flash stopped working AND it ripped one of my rolls almost in half.

3D image of a man holding popcorn - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film

So, just know what you’re getting into before buying a cameras 3D film photography Fun effect, but maybe not the most reliable cameras out there.

I’ve found that I achieve the most quality results when using 200 or 400 speed film coupled with a flash. The use of a flash helps isolate the foreground subject of your photo from the background, thus accentuating the 3D effect. 

The Nishika N8000 3D film camera with flash attachment - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Flash attached to the Nishika N8000
Two men sitting outside on some steps - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film

Bringing Your 3D Film Photography to Life with Animation

So, you’ve gone out with your friends and shot some 3D film photography. Once your film has been processed and you have some scans to work with, you can begin creating an animated GIF out of your image. 

There are different methods to animating your images, but most generally follow the same steps. With the method outlined below, you’ll need a few things:

  1. Adobe Lightroom (or similar photo editing software, or no software at all if you choose not to edit your scans) (Find the Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Photography Bundle on Amazon)
  2. Adobe Photoshop 
  3. A little bit of patience 

Step 1: Editing Your Film Scans and Bringing Them into Photoshop

I begin by editing my film in Lightroom, as I normally would.

Once finished, right click the photograph and select Edit in Photoshop CC which will shoot your color corrected film scan over to Photoshop.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Edit your film scan in Lightroom, and then bring into Photoshop
Click to enlarge

Step 2: Stacking Your Frames

Once in Photoshop, I like to begin by stacking all four half frames on top of each other.

To do this, you’ll want to utilize the Marquee tool to select each individual photo in your scan.

(I scan all four half frames together into one file, which I find makes my life easier. If you have four separate files, simply drag them into Photoshop and skip this step.)

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Scanned image with all four half frames
Click to enlarge

First, double click your background layer to unlock it. It will ask you to rename the layer – for the purposes of this tutorial, I left the layer titled Layer 0.

Use the Marquee tool to select the last frame (I begin on the right and work my way to left), hit Ctrl+C to copy it, and then Ctrl+V to paste it onto a new layer.

Then switch to the Move tool (shortcut V).

With the new frame on the new layer selected (Layer 1), hold Shift and drag the selection on top of the first frame on the far left (It doesn’t have to be perfectly aligned at this point.)

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Use the marquee tool to select the last frame. Copy and paste it into a new layer. Drag the layer to the far left so it is on top of the first frame.
Click to enlarge

Repeat this for the second and third frames: highlighting your selection on the base layer with the Marquee tool, copying and pasting to a new layer, and then stacking the selection on the left.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Repeat the process for each frame
Click to enlarge
Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Repeat the process for each frame
Click to enlarge

At the end of this step, you should have four layers each containing a selection of each separate frame.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
All four frames are stacked on top of each other in separate layers.
Click to enlarge

You’ll then want to select the Crop tool and crop everything down to one frame.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Crop the image down to one frame.
Click to enlarge

Step 3: Align Your Layers

In the next step, we are going to align all four layers.

In your Layers panel, drag the bottom layer (Layer 0) to the top. This will be the layer used as the basis to align the other layers with.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
In your Layers panel, drag Layer 0 to the top.

Begin by dragging Layer 1 to the very top, above Layer 0, and hide the bottom two layers.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Drag Layer 1 to the top and hide Layers 2 & 3

Drop the opacity of the Layer 1 to around 50% and zoom in. I like to align the photos at a common point like the subject’s eye, or another small area on the main subject.

Select the Move tool (shortcut V), and drag the topmost layer until you see that the layers are aligned.

If you find it hard to tell if the layers are aligned or not, adjust the opacity accordingly or zoom in closer.

The layers will initially be unaligned like this:

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Unaligned layers
Click to enlarge

And you want the aligned result to look similar to this:

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Aligned layers
Click to enlarge

Once the Layer 1 is aligned, reset the opacity back to 100% and drag it underneath Layer 0. Hide this layer, select Layer 2 and drag it to the top.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Reset the opacity of Layer 1 to 100%, drag it underneath Layer 0, and hide Layer 1. Drag Layer 2 to the top to repeat the alignment process.
Click to enlarge

Repeat the alignment process with Layer 2 by dropping the opacity, zooming in, selecting the Move tool, and aligning Layer 2 and Layer 0 at the same point you used for Layer 1.

Repeat the process for Layer 3.

The layers should be in this order when you are finished

Layer order top to bottom:

  • Layer 0
  • Layer 1
  • Layer 2
  • Layer 3
Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
All layers aligned and in order

Step 4: Animate

Time to animate and create your 3D image!

Go to Window>Timeline to open up the Timeline Window. Ensure it is set on Create Frame Animation (not Create Video Timeline).

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Make sure the Timeline window is set to Create Frame Animation
Click to enlarge

Turn off the visibility on Layers 1, 2, and 3. With the topmost layer selected (Layer 0) and only that layer visible, click Create Frame Animation in the center of the window.

You will see one frame of your topmost layer appear in the window.

Congratulations, you’ve just created the first frame of your animation!

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Select and turn on visibility for Layer 0, and click Create Frame Animation in the center of your Timeline window.
Click to enlarge

Select the next layer, Layer 1, deselect and turn off visibility on all other layers, and then click Duplicate Selected Frames. The button is a square with a plus symbol inside, and it is located below your animation frames.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Click the square button with the plus symbol located below your animation frames to Duplicate Selected Frames.
Click to enlarge

Repeat the process with Layers 2 and 3. Turn off visibility on Layer 1, select and make visible Layer 2, click Duplicate Selected Frames. Turn off visibility on Layer 2, select and make visible Layer 3, click Duplicate Selected Frames.

At this point, in the Timeline window, you should have four frames, one corresponding to each Layer.

Step 5: Loop the Animation and Set the Timing

We want the animation to loop continuously, so, in your layer panel, turn off visibility for Layer 3, select and make visible Layer 2, and click Duplicate Selected Frames.

Then again for Layer 1. Turn off visibility for Layer 2, select and make visible Layer 1, and click Duplicate Selected Frames.

You should now have six frames in the Timeline window.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
The six frames in your Timeline window.

Next, ensure that the timing option in the bottom left of the Timeline window is set to Forever so that the animation will loop continuously.

Select the drop down arrow below Frame 1, and input the time duration for the animation. This part is completely up to you, but I find that 0.17 seconds seems to be a nice spot.

Go as fast or slow as you like!

Make sure you input the same time duration for all six frames.

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film

At this point, you’ve successfully animated your photos!

Select the play button at the bottom of the Timeline window to preview your creation.

If you are getting random spaces of white or unwanted black space in your animation, simply hit the Crop tool (shortcut C), and remove the unwanted areas. 

Step 6: Export Your Animation

To export your new creation, go to File>Export>Save For Web (Legacy).

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
File>Export>Save for Web (Legacy)
Click to enlarge

Make sure GIF is selected in the window in the top right corner and then click Export!

Animating 3D Film Photography by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Select GIF and export
Click to enlarge
3D image of a man pointing at a plane - 3D Film Photography Nishika N8000 Stereoscopic Camera by John Adams III on Shoot It With Film
Exported GIF

Thank you so much, John! John is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out his other articles here, such as a review for the Mamiya RZ67. You can also check out more of John’s work on his website and Instagram.

If you have questions about 3D film photography or the Nishika N8000, leave them below in the comments, and you can pick up a N8000 for yourself on eBay!

Check out all of our film camera reviews here.

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John Adams III

John Adams III is a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find his articles here, such as a review for the Mamiya RZ67 medium format film camera.

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And John Adams has a stereoscopic camera so I bought a stereoscopic camera. But for real, ebay sellers with stereoscopic cameras are going to be reeeeeeaaaal happy today

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