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Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W3 Overview

Posted: 08/17/2010

One look at the front of the Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W3 will tell you this isn't just another point-and-shoot digital camera. The Fuji W3 follows in the footsteps of last year's REAL 3D W1, with a restyled, slightly lighter body that features softer curves, and a totally redesigned rear panel. Beneath its sliding lens barrier lie two separate lenses that presumably retain the same 77mm base line length (distance between each lens' central axis) from the W1. In between these two lenses are a pair of microphones that together provide for stereo audio, along with a single flash strobe at the mid-point between the lenses. Each lens has its own separate 1/2.3-inch CCD image sensor with an effective resolution of ten megapixels. In concert, the two lens / sensor pairs can be used simultaneously to capture either still images or video for 3D viewing. This is the Fuji FinePix W3's big selling point, differentiating it from pretty much every other compact camera on the market except its predecessor.

An integral component of the REAL 3D W3's 3D capabilities is its updated Real Photo image processor, which like that of the W1 is capable of synchronizing shutter release to within 0.001 second precision, as well as the lens zoom position, and takes account of information from both sensors when determining exposure variables such as exposure, focus point, white balance, etc. Unlike the W1's processor, the latest Real Photo design now allows 720p high definition 3D movie recording.

Taking full advantage of the 3D capability, Fujifilm has included a 3.5-inch widescreen autostereoscopic display panel, with 1,150,000 dot resolution, in the FinePix W3. This new display is both larger and significantly higher resolution than that from the W1, and also has a wider aspect ratio. The display is capable of showing 3D images without the need for special glasses or other hardware, thanks to a lenticular system using rows of convex lenses to create a binocular parallax 3D effect with minimal flicker and crosstalk. There's also a new High Luminosity display mode that allows display brightness to be increased by 1.5x, and with 1.8x greater color depth, as compared to the previous display design of the W1.

The Fuji Real 3D W3 can shoot in either 2D and 3D modes, capturing 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio still images to a maximum of 3,648 x 2,736 pixel resolution, as well as 24 frames-per-second movied at 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) high definition resolution, or 30 frames-per-second movies at up to standard-definition VGA (640 x 480 pixel) resolution. Metering modes include 256-segment multi, average or spot, and exposure modes are Program, Aperture-priority or Manual, plus thirteen scene modes. ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 1,600 equivalents, and between the various shooting modes, shutter speeds from 1/1000 to three seconds are available. At its full resolution, one frame per second burst shooting is possible in 2D mode. 3D shooting is possible as fast as two frames per second if the resolution is dropped to three megapixels, while 2D shooting at the same resolution allows three frames per second. In 2D mode, the Fuji W3 includes multi / center AF with face detection, and macro focusing is possible to as close as 3.3 inches (8 centimeters). For 3D shooting, the only AF option is multi, and macro focusing distance increases to a minimum of 38cm (1.2 feet). Ordinarily the Fujifilm REAL 3D W3 can focus to two feet (60 centimeters).

As well as its 3D features, the W3 offers several 2D-mode features that take advantage of the dual lenses and sensors. These include the ability to simultaneously capture still images with different zoom settings, different sensitivities, or different color modes. The FinePix REAL 3D W3 stores images and videos on SD or SDHC cards, as well as in 34MB of built-in memory. Still images are saved in JPEG format (JPEG compressed Multi Picture Object for 3D), while movies with stereo sound are saved using AVI Motion JPEG compression (dual-stream AVI-3D for 3D videos). Power comes from an NP-50 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and connectivity includes both high-definition HDMI (mini terminal, type 1.4 3D compliant), and standard-definition NTSC/PAL video output, plus USB 2.0 High Speed data transfer.

The Fuji FinePix W3 will be available in the USA from early September 2010, priced at around $500 -- fully $100 less than the initial list price of the W1 at launch. Fuji currently offers a $500 3D photo viewer which uses a parallax barrier system to allow 3D viewing of images without the need for special glasses or other extra hardware. In addition, 5" x 7" 3D prints using a fine-pitch lenticular sheet over the paper surface are currently available, priced at about $7 each from Fujifilm's SeeHere.com website.