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Hands on: Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1

Panasonic's first 3D digital camera shoots both stills and video

Panasonic has announced the DMC-3D1, its first 3D compact digital camera. Panasonic has plenty of experience with 3D, from its professional video cameras to its Viera TVs and the 3D lenses for its camcorders and Lumix G cameras, but the 3D1 marks the first time Panasonic has put 3D technology into a point-and-shoot stills camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1

It closely resembles the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3, with twin lenses and sensors behind a sliding door, although the Panasonic’s lenses are positioned closer together. Sadly, it doesn’t share the W3’s lenticular screen that allows photos and videos to be viewed in 3D on the camera itself without the need for glasses. In use, it’s only the twin lenses, 3D logo and a small switch on the back labelled 2D/3D that suggest that this is no normal camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1

There are a few other tricks up the 3D1’s sleeves, though. As well as capturing 9-megapixel photos and 960×1080 videos in 3D, it can use its twin lenses and sensors to capture a wide-angle and telephoto photo at the same time, or capture a photo without interrupting video recording. Control is almost entirely via the 3.5in touchscreen. The lenses aren’t hugely bright, with a f/3.9 maximum aperture, but otherwise this appears to be a reasonably competent general-purpose camera.

We had a brief chance to try out the camera, and the 3D photos we took popped out of the screen extremely convincingly – once we got them home at least. As with other 3D stills cameras, 3D photos are saved as a conventional JPEG plus an accompanying MPO file, which stores the extra information to turn the JPEG into a stereoscopic image. These give a full-colour 3D image, but we’ve converted them into a red/cyan anaglyph for the example shots below so you can see the 3D effect on any screen using red/cyan glasses.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1

You’ll need the old-fashioned red/blue glasses to see these images in 3D, but at least it will work on any display – click to enlarge

Videos are recorded in AVCHD format as a single 1080p video stream, with the left- and right-eye images encoded onto the left and right halves of the picture. This halves the horizontal resolution to give an effective 960×1080 picture. The couple of test videos we shot were less successful than the photos when we reviewed them in 3D-aware video-editing software – it seems that the left- and right-eye images weren’t quite vertically aligned. This was a pre-production model, though, so we’ll need to do more extensive tests with a full production unit before we can tell whether it handles parallax any better than the Fujifilm W3’s slightly clumsy approach.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1

We’re hoping that Panasonic will confirm pricing and availability soon – we’ll update this news story as soon as we have this information.

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