108 of 121 people found the following review helpful
Stunning 3D, but poor 2D pictures
, December 9, 2010
This review is from: Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Digital Camera with 3.5-Inch LCD (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Camera)
My great-grandfather made 3D pictures in the 1920ies. As a child I loved to look at these razor-sharp 2x2in sepia images though a wooden viewfinder. Another era came alive in front of my eyes. Almost a century later, this camera finally allows me to produce the same magic digitally. The 3D effect is stunning on the built-in 3D LCD screen, which can be viewed without special glasses.
Overall, this is a well-engineered 3D camera that feels solid and looks good. Thanks to the built-in electronics, taking pictures is a breeze, though one needs to get used to the 'rules' for producing proper headache-free 3D pictures. Basically, objects should not be too close, and foreground must be centered in the picture. Also, 3D only works in landscape mode. The FinePix includes a good tutorial to get started. Though stunning, the 3D LCD viewfinder screen must be watched with some discretion, in order to avoid getting sick. Similarly, 3D movies should be panned very slowly, so that the brain can latch on to the optical illusion. If the brain misfires, this camera will literally make you puke.
As much as I love the 3D effect, the 2D quality of this camera is poor. In fact, its the worst I have seen come out of digital camera ever in the past 10 years. The pictures are grainy and unsharp, especially in the edges. The camera has a few unique 2D modes thanks to the two lenses, but given the very poor quality that all doesn't matter much. Especially greens such as lawns do not sparkle and look unnatural.
Given the many happy reviews and the 10MP specs of the camera, I was puzzled by the very disappointing picture quality. So I did some careful testing to get to the bottom of this, taking almost 100 pictures in various different situations and light settings. First I went to BestBuy to compare my FinePix 3D to their display model. The 2D picture quality turned out to be the same, so my camera does not have a manufacturing defect.
For every picture I took with the FinePix 3D I also made a reference picture with my phone (an iPhone 4). Since the phone camera is only 5MP and has much smaller optics, one would expect better pictures from the FinePix. The opposite turned out to be the case, unfortunately. Put side-by-side on the computer monitor, the FinePix's pictures were noticeably less sharp and more grainy for both outside and inside under low-light conditions.
I also compared all possible resolution, compression and ISO settings of the FinePix. Despite trying hard, I was not able to get sharper pictures out of the FinePix Real 3D. The main settings for jpg picture files are 2MP (1.3Mb size), 5MP (2.1MB), and 10 MegaPixels (4.1MB). Put side-by-side on a big monitor, it is barely possible to distinguish between the settings.
A thing to consider is that 3D pictures and movies can only be watched on a (new) 3D TV, or on the built-in screen. 3D pictures are stored in an uncommon format that is not supported by most photo software. Luckily, the FinePix also stores a regular .jpg picture with the 3D one.
In summary: 3D is a great gimmick and conversation piece, but the current price level and the awful 2D picture quality make it a little hard to justify. If you like to own something unique and can spare the money, the Fujifilm real 3D is for you. For most everything else, the camera in your phone is better.
Update after a few months of use:
The 3D pictures continue to put a smile on my face, while the poor picture quality continues to annoy. The 3D effects are hit-or-miss: it is hard to predict which pictures will come out well and which simply do not work. Sometimes a few objects in the foreground add a great perspective, while in other similar shots it does not work at all. The remedy is simply to take lots of shots and toss the ones that disappoint. Shots taken through a trees against low sunlight gave very nice effects in 3D.
I also noticed that some 3D shots work better on a big 3D TV while others work better on the built-in screen. I guess it has to do with the way our eyes focus differently on a tiny screen. The only way I found to play 3D pictures on a big TV screen is by connecting the camera to the TV using an HDMI cable. This is clumsy, since the cable is shorter than the viewing distance and there is no way to group pictures. Also the camera runs on battery power, so it turns off quickly.
For the 3D effects it is very important to be aware which foreground and background objects are in the shot. In bright California sunlight the viewfinder of the camera is near/totally invisible, which makes shooting quite a gamble. To salvage this, one needs to take off sunglasses and use the left hand to put a little shade on the LCD screen.
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