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Finepix Real 3D W3 From Fujifilm

High Technology Product Reviews | Trends and News | Finepix Real 3D W3 From Fujifilm
The $499.95 Fujifilm Finepix Real 3D W3 is a true 3D camera—it packs two lenses and two image sensors into a pocket-friendly build. The W3 snaps large 10-megapixel 3D images, and shoots 3D video in 720p24 high-definition that you can view in 3D on the camera's LCD, or on a 3D HDTV or a 3D-enabled PC. With the touch of a button, the W3 also becomes a capable (though expensive and somewhat bulky) 2D camera. The W3 is not a difficult camera to operate, but shooting photos that look good in 3D can be challenging. Not every image you shoot is going to look good in 3D—in fact, most images I shot during testing were very difficult to view, and some actually hurt my eyes to look at.

10 MP
Media Format
Secure Digital High Capacity
35-mm Equivalent (Wide)
35-mm Equivalent (Telephoto)
Optical Zoom
3 x
LCD size
3.5 inches
Wireless Connectivity
HD Video Capture
Design and Features
Other than the two lenses, the camera looks like an ordinary 2D camera. At 2.6 by 4.9 by 1.1 inches (HWD) and weighing 8.2 ounces, the camera is fairly pocketable, but it's longer and heavier than most 2D cameras. You'll find all the typical buttons and mode dials on back along with a Zoom trigger on top. The camera has no Power button—sliding the lens shield down turns the camera on, and sliding up turns it off. Two buttons stand out on the W3: first is the dedicated 2D/3D button, which toggles quickly between 2D and 3D shooting. The other is a trigger on the top left size of the camera that adjusts the parallax, which is the relationship between the left and the right image. Toggling can intensify the 3D effect, but if you go too far, you can ruin the effect. By default, the camera automatically adjusts the parallax, so you can completely ignore this control, but if you want to tinker, the option is there.

Like the upcoming Nintendo 3DS, the 3.5-inch LCD on the back camera is an Autostereoscopic 3D display, which means you won't need glasses to see the 3D. Alas, it's not as spectacular as it sounds. The display is covered by a parallax barrier, which makes your left eye and right eye see different pixels, so you see the image in three dimensions. It works, but the impact is subtle—a 3D HDTV with active-shutter glasses gives a much more dramatic 3D effect. Also, you have to look at the screen from exactly the right angle, or the images can become headache-inducing. The LCD packs more than a million pixels, but doesn't look nearly as sharp as a 2D display with a comparable amount of pixels, like the 3.5-inch LCD on the Editor's Choice Samsung DualView TL225 ($349.99, 4 stars).

The UI and menu system on the camera is the same you'll find on other Fuji cameras, like the Finepix EXR F80 ($299.94, 3.5 stars). Text and icons look very dated, but it's not difficult to find your way around once you familiarize yourself with the clunky interface. Whether you're in 2D or 3D shooting, you have access to all the modes you'd find on typical Fuji cameras including Face recognition, Scene Modes, Aperture Priority and Manual Shooting. You'll need a memory card to store the images you shoot, since the W3 only has 34MB of internal storage—the camera accepts SDHC cards up to 32GB.

Each of the Fuji W3's lenses provides 3x optical zoom via focal length of 35-105mm, and corresponding aperture of f/3.7-f/4.2. Since the camera has two lenses and two image sensors, the W3 has some unique 2D shooting abilities. In Tele/Wide Simultaneous Shooting mode you can zoom in and take a shot with one lens, while the other stays in the wide-angle position and fires at the same time, giving you two shots from two different distances. 2-Color Simultaneous Shooting gives you the option of taking two shots, in standard and chrome, standard and black & white or chrome and black & white, at the same time. 2-Sensitivity Simultaneous Shooting takes two shots at two ISO sensitivity modes, one at a lower ISO (less noisy, slower shutter speed) and one at a higher ISO (more noise, faster shutter speed). (The ISO sensitivities are automatically chosen by the camera.)

2D images from the Fuji W3 are good, but not nearly as good as what you'd get from a $500 2D camera. In the PC Labs, we use the Imatest testing suite to collect objective information about image quality. In the 50 spots analyzed within an image, the Fuji W3 offered an average score of 1,540 lines per picture height (1,894 in the center, 1,404 part way to the corners and 543 in the corners.) That score is low, and the low number in the corners means that the image is soft at the edges. The $200 Editor's Choice Kodak M580 ($199.99, 4 starts) averaged a much sharper 2,127 lines (2,241 in the center, 2,241 part way and 1,769 in the corners). The Fuji W3 does do a little better than the M580 in low light without a flash. The Fuji W3's sensor can be pumped to ISO 800 before it reaches Imatest's noise threshold of 1.5 percent, making it a great camera for low-light situations. Comparatively, the Kodak M580 can only go to ISO 400 before images become too noisy.

The images I captured in 3D were hit-or-miss, with an emphasis on the miss. I had trouble shooting images that really popped off the screen. Whether I set the parallax to automatic or controlled it manually, images were rarely easy to look at. Most shots just looked like I was seeing double, and actually made me feel a bit cross-eyed. The few that looked good had an effective 3D effect, but it's impossible to view the entire image without refocusing your eyes. After about ten minutes of viewing photos, even good ones, my eyes hurt. The best 3D images I captured were ones of still objects against clean backgrounds with significant distance between the subject and the background. For example, a person standing in front of a full-frame brick wall looked truly three-dimensional.

Despite being the first consumer 3D point-and-shoot camera, I found the W3 had great compatibility with other 3D products. Image files are written as .MPO and video files are written as .3D-AVI, both 3D-industry standards. I had no problem playing files back on 3D computer monitors equipped with the Nvidia Ge-Force 3D Vision kit. The camera connects via an integrated HDMI 1.4 port—I plugged it right into a 55-inch Sony Bravia KDL-55HX800 3D HDTV and it was playing back 3D images in no time.

As far as the camera's speed, when completely powered off, the W3 can turn on and capture a 2D or 3D image in average of 4.3 seconds, and shutter lag for each shot averaged just 0.6 seconds. Capturing 3D photos takes a bit longer than capturing a 2D photo: the wait time between 2D shots is a fast 1.9 seconds, while wait time between 3D shots averaged a pokier 4.5 seconds.

High-definition video is captured in 720p at 30 frames per second in either 2D or 3D. And unfortunately, capturing compelling 3D video is even more challenging than getting good 3D still images. Nothing I was able to record looked like polished 3D movie content. You really have to train yourself to keep the camera still, and let the subject be the only movement in the frame. Even so, most of the moving subjects in my videos showed significant ghosting when I viewed them on the camera's screen and the Sony 3D TV.

If you're an early adopter who wants to make the most of your 3D monitor or 3D HDTV, the Fujifilm Finepix Real 3D W3 might be for you. It's simple to use, but 3D image results aren't stellar since only a small percentage of pictures will pop right off the screen. Since there are virtually no other consumer-priced 3D cameras on the market, it's impossible to recommend anything else if you want to capture photos and video in 3D. Panasonic has announced an interchangeable 3D lens, designed to work with select Micro Four Thirds cameras, which will be available in November. That might be a more-versatile 3D-photo solution if you don't need something right now.


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