3-D imagery was so much a disappointing tech–heralded on sci-fi movies for decades, and never really popping into reality–until now. Because Fuji is releasing both a camera and digital picture frame that work in 3-D.
The FinePix Real 3D W1 is an example of Fuji trying to distinguish itself in the extremely crowded digital camera market with a completely off-the-wall product. It’s basically a standard compact point and shoot model, that just happens to have two lenses and two sensors set apart for stereoscopic imaging, much like the way your eyes work in tandem. When you click the shutter, the camera snaps two photos through these two lenses, each at a slightly different angle to the subject, and then it combines them internally into a special-format 10-megapixel 3D image.
It all sounds pretty neat, until you wonder how you’re going to view the resulting 3-D portrait of your kids playing with the family dog on the lawn. One answer is a special Fujifilm photo print, which sounds expensive. But the company also has designs on the modern fad of digital photo frames, and has a special one on its way for 3D images. It’s called, unsurprisingly, the FinePix Real 3D V1 and its 8-inch screen directs each of the two halves of the 3D image to the appropriate eye of the viewer thanks to a Parallax Barrier and Light Direction System. Your brain then does the complex task of image recombination and you see the image in glorious three dimensions–all without needing those tricky polarized glasses that other 3D systems use.
It gets even more interesting when you learn that the Real 3D camera can also shoot video. But before you get too excited, thinking of recreating the moving photos in the Harry Potter movies, the price of all of this novel technology may be a big stumbling block. For starters the camera may well cost you $600 when it launches. And given that even standard 2-D 8-inch digital photo frames come in at around $100, you’re probably looking at over $800 to snap and then view your pictures. Is the novelty of the third dimension worth all that much cash?