Stereo photography is nothing new, for decades inventors and camera manufacturers have created stereo imaging devices that range from bizarre to functioning. The Leica Stemar is one of these stereo imaging devices, but its original and functioning design sets it apart from the crowd.
Based on a 1937 design by Wilhelm Albert the two wide angle lenses on one frame split the 24x36mm frame into two 18×24 frames. this design helped avoid the telephoto effect that plagued most stereo cameras at that time. The original Stemar was able to laterally shift from 55-72mm, but later this lateral shift was fixed in the second generation Stemar. Of course, this lens can be used with a Leica range finder, and the second version came in screw and bayonet mounts.
Originally the Stemar was fitted with a 3.5cm F2.5 lens and then was later modified and equipped with a slower F3.5 Elmar lens. By the second version the focal length of the Stemar lenses were shortened to 3.3cm with a maximum aperture of F3.5.
To meet the needs a US market, Leica decided to manufacture the second version of the Stemar in Midland, Ontario. This version was manufactured from 1954-1957. Our Stemar is the second version, and was built in Germany at the Leitz Wetzlar factory and not in Ontario. Why? Leica probably wanted to make a handful of the Stemar’s in Germany to test the market and to refine the mass production methods that they would utilize in Midland, Ontario.