2008 Photokina Tradeshow
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Fujifilm's 3D digital camera concept. Courtesy of Fujifilm, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Fujifilm announces 3D digital imaging system
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, September 22, 2008 - 19:26 EDT)

In what has to be one of the more unusual announcements at this year's Photokina tradeshow, Japan's Fujifilm Corp. has announced that it is developing a new system for 3D digital imaging.

Dubbed "Finepix Real 3D", the new system spans the range from capture through viewing and even to printing, and will be comprised of a number of components. An as-yet unnamed digital camera features twin Fujinon-branded lenses - each with its own CCD image sensor. These communicate with a new "Real Photo Processor 3D"-branded image processor, which the company says will yield the same sensitivity and quality of its conventional 2D "Real Photo" processors, but is also capable of synchronizing shutter control on both image sensors to 0.001 second precision, as well as ensuring the zoom position set on both lenses is identical. The camera will take account of data from both imagers equally when determining exposure, focus point, white balance, etc., and impressively will even be able to offer synchronized 60 frames-per-second video from both imagers.

In situations where one might want to control each sensor and lens separately, this could become optionally possible, although it isn't immediately clear if the Real Photo Processor 3D design is currently capable of allowing this to happen. Fuji suggests several possible situations where this might be desirable, however. For instance, such a camera could offer simultaneous capture of images with different optical zoom (and hence, framing) - one lens / CCD combo capturing a wide angle image, and the other a telephoto image. Another possibility could be to simultaneously capture the same scene (within the limits of parallax, obviously), using different exposure settings or image processing parameters for each photo. The design could also allow simultaneous still image and movie capture with different setups such as zoom position etc. for each capture mode. There's also the possibility to use each lens separately to capture images that could then be automatically stitched in-camera to yield a single panoramic image. It should be noted that Fujifilm is not promising any of these features will actually make it into its first 3D digicam, but rather is describing them as "future possibilities" for the system.

Meanwhile, to allow the user to view the resulting combined 3D images and video, the Fuji 3D camera will apparently include a 2.8" LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution that features a newly developed "light direction control module". Thanks to this module, the LCD can provide separate images for the viewer's left and right eyes when viewed from the correct angle and distance, and Fuji claims that its design for the module will help reduce the impact of screen flickering and image deterioration. It will also be possible to display regular 2D images on the display as per a typical digital camera. As well as this on-camera LCD, Fuji has also developed an 8.4" LCD photo frame that incorporates a similar design to allow for 2D or 3D image viewing without the need for 3D glasses.

As for printing, Fujifilm has developed a system that can make prints and apply a fine-pitch lenticular sheet, yielding a 3D effect when viewed from the correct position.

Details as to when Fujifilm might release a product based on these technologies are not currently available. Note that the two low-res images of a Fujifilm 3D digital camera included in this item are billed as a "tentative design" by the company.

Original Source Press Release:

Make your images come alive!

Newly Developed 3D Digital Real Image System
“FUJIFILM FinePix Real 3D System”

PHOTOKINA 2008, COLOGNE, GERMANY, September 23, 2008 —FUJIFILM Corporation today announces a radical departure from current imaging systems with the development of a completely new, real image system (3D digital camera, 3D digital photo frame, 3D print) that marks a complete break from previous attempts to introduce this technology.

The arrival of digital photography over a decade ago opened up so many new ways of enjoying images, not only through capture, but also through manipulation, printing and display. Sales of digital cameras, and other devices like camera phones or webcams have raced ahead of what experts had expected because of the sheer scope of what has become possible in digital imaging.

So many more consumers are enjoying photography through their cameras, PCs and prints than was the case in the heyday of film.

Fujifilm is determined to push those boundaries yet further, to produce devices which offer new ways to capture and process images, and to expand consumer enjoyment of photography in ways that had hitherto only been imagined. Fujifilm has a strong research program currently running to improve every aspect of capture and output. This is based on the broad concept of producing images as lifelike as possible, or more simply, ‘capturing an image exactly as your eye sees it.’ The ‘Real Photo Technology’ program is determined to improve key quality metrics for each generation of camera, like ‘high resolution with low noise,’ ‘expanded wide dynamic range,’ ‘intelligent scene recognition,’ ‘intelligent flash,’ ‘face detection’ etc., culminating in the announcement this September of a new type of sensor, Fujifilm Super CCD EXR, which will take image quality to levels hitherto undreamed of.

Previous 3D systems were hampered by poor image quality, and a cumbersome user experience, which often meant the need for special 3D glasses. One major benefit of the FinePix Real 3D System is that for digital camera LCD playback, display and print, the consumer can enjoy the image just as it was originally seen with the naked eye.

The same research team is determined to use these key technologies to open up a new market with 3D imaging. The new 3D image system features advanced image signal processing and micro-component technologies, and is so far able to demonstrate a camera, a viewing panel and a 3D printing system.

The Technology Behind the 3D Camera
The 3D camera depends heavily on a newly developed chip called the ‘RP (Real Photo) Processor 3D’ which synchronizes the data passed to it by both CCD sensors, and instantaneously blends the information into a single high quality image, for both stills and movies.

‘Built-in 3D auto’ determines optimal shooting conditions from both sensors. 3D auto means that as soon as the shutter is depressed, key metrics for the image, such as focus, zoom range, exposure, etc. are synchronized. The camera is also fitted with builtin synchro control, giving 0.001-second precision for shutter control and movie synchronization.

The processor uses the very latest technologies of high sensitivity and high resolution as the newest 2D processors.

Special identical high quality compact Fujinon lenses have been developed for the 3D system to ensure complete conformity between the left and right images.

The LCD monitor system has also been completely revised. The camera is fitted with a 2.8-inch, 230,000 pixel LCD. Thanks to a new engineering approach, screen flickering and image deterioration, thought to be difficult to overcome, are reduced to an absolute minimum to achieve beautiful, natural 3D images. The screen will also resolve 2D images as any other camera LCD.

Viewing with the FinePix Real 3D System
A new 8.4-inch, “FinePix Real 3D Photo Frame” with over 920,000 pixels has also been developed. The LCD monitor on the camera and the stand alone display panel share similar technologies which solve the problem of screen flickering and image ghosting, common problems with earlier developments, giving crisp, high resolution viewing of images in glorious 3D or standard 2D.

A newly developed “light direction control module” in the back of the LCD controls light to right eye and left eye direction.

This light direction control system enables easy and high quality 3D viewing without special 3D glasses.

Printing with the FinePix Real 3D System
Using know-how gained through years of development of Frontier, Fujifilm has developed a 3D printing system using a fine pitch lenticular sheet giving high-precision, and fine quality multiple viewpoint 3D like never before.

Shooting with FinePix Real 3D System(FUTURE POSSIBILITIES)
FinePix Real 3D System is also paving the way for new possibilities in 2D photo enjoyment.

The heart of the system is a new concept camera fitted with dual lenses. Each lens can capture stills or movies from a slightly different position, producing the basis of the 3D image.

By combining new dual lens system, new functions can be achieved, for example, image quality improvement function (Simultaneous Dual-Image Shooting: Multi-Expression). For users, this is just one possibility from a dual lens camera. Other fascinating possibilities include:

  • Simultaneous Dual-Image Shooting: (Telephoto and Wide Angle)

    telephoto wide
  • Simultaneous Dual-Image Shooting: (Multi-Expression)

    standard simulated Fujichrome
  • Ultra-Wide Panoramic Shooting

  • Movie-Still Simultaneous Shooting

Imaging for the Future. More Than You Imagined
New dimensions in imaging mean a wealth of new possibilities which will revolutionise the way consumers enjoy imaging. Fujifilm is determined to leverage its considerable technical resources to explore 3D in everyway possible, to produce products that expand the imaging market, while at the same time, give future generations of consumers an even richer imaging experience than was conceived at the dawn of the digital age.

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