This is a remarkable camera, not because of its technical specifications – it’s actually unremarkable in terms of the quality of the images it takes – but because it can take and display 3D pictures. To be truly accurate, the pictures are stereoscopic rather than full 3D, but there is certainly a third dimension to them which makes it currently unique among mainstream digital cameras.
The W1 is a bit longer, a bit deeper and a bit heavier than typical compact digital cameras of 2009, but its metal and plastic body is still solid and comfortable to hold. There’s no telescopic lens powering forwards from the front of the camera when you slide the full-width lens cover down. Instead, twin 3x optical zoom lenses are set up to take dual photos, or videos, which combine to produce the 3D effect.
A 71mm LCD on the back has the dual functions of displaying the 3D photos and videos – either before or after they’ve been recorded – and producing an unpleasant headache after only a few minutes of viewing. This reviewer thought it might just be him, but others have reported similar problems, so it’s probably not that rare. It’s worth looking at the display for five minutes or so in the shop before buying.
Down either side of the screen are three buttons which toggle left and right, providing six functions each and having blue backlights, so they can be seen and used in poor light. Most of the functions are obvious, like switching between stills and video capture, but there’s a simple 2D/3D toggle and a parallax control, to improve the alignment of the images from the two lenses.
Images from the two 10-megapixel sensors have plenty of detail but also exhibit quite a bit of noise, more than from equivalently priced 2D digital compacts. The camera supports several special 2D modes which can capture, for example, two images with different exposure settings, or two at slightly different times. That’s not really the point here, though, as the reason you’re paying over £400 is for the stereoscopic 3D images.
These are pretty good. You can certainly see depth in them, and they have that authentic ‘ViewMaster’ feel, though at the moment you can only view them on the camera’s screen or on the Fujifilm 3D viewer, which is another £360 or so. There are freebie apps like nVidia 3D Vision which can handle them, but only if you have a compatible video card and display.
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