Customer Review

108 of 121 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 3D, but poor 2D pictures, December 9, 2010
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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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Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 10, 2010 6:46:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2010 9:00:21 AM PST
Skye says:
Maybe your camera autofocus isn't working properly. Do you press the shutter half way to allow time for the image to focus in the viewfinder before pressing all the way down? It's unfortunate that this camera will take a shot if you press the shutter all the way down before it has a chance to autofocus. I always have to remember to wait until the image appears sharp in the viewfinder before clicking the shot.
My camera takes very sharp pictures in 2D and 3D. I switched between the lowest and highest image quality settings. Both picture settings are sharp, but of course the lower resolution image degrades more when enlarged beyond an 8 X 10" size. If the halfway shutter focus trick does not improve sharpness of your photos, you might want to try another experiment to determine if one of your sensors or lenses are the problem. Setup the camera to take two simultaneous 2D pictures one wide and the other telephoto. Then examine both to see if only one shot is out of focus. If so, you could return the camera as defective for a replacement. Hope this helps get your camera working for you...

Posted on Dec 10, 2010 1:42:22 PM PST
Soulster says:
I was very puzzled by your complaint of poor quality - then the explanation dawned on me. You are using the camera in auto mode which defaults to a grainy ISo of 400. Use program mode and change the ISO to 100 and the pics will be fine.

Posted on Dec 12, 2010 1:54:03 PM PST
Thanks Skye and Soulster for the hints. I did a few more experiments and
updated my review above to reflect that. Using the 'tele/wide' mode I have
checked whether there is a difference in sharpness between them (there is none).
It tried many modes, ISO settings & focus lock for many different pictures.
I even went to a local BestBuy to take a few pics with their display model,
double checking that my FinePix does not have a manufacturing defect in the
autofocus or optical system. There was no difference in sharpness.

I'm puzzled by the discrepancy between your findings and mine. My experimental
observation is that the effective quality of this camera is roughly 2MP, no matter
what picture size or quality is selected. That is pretty bad. One would expect this
camera to make pictures that are at least as good as a phone camera.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2010 5:45:11 PM PST
Skye says:
Ok, so if you tried another camera at BB with your same impression of the focus/sharpness then there must be something about the camera that others have not reported before, or possibly the most current models have some sort of component change or defect. My camera was purchased in september as soon as it went on sale.
Other reviewers on Amazon and professional product reviews have noted that the 2D quality is average, but none have been that crtical.
I'm curious how you assess the sharpness for all settings as being similar to 2Mb. Does the image filesize increase as you change settings to higher resolutions?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2010 6:38:22 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2010 1:15:28 PM PST
Soulster says:
It could be that the 5MP camera in the iphone 4 is very good. I have just read the reviews of the iphone 4's camera quality and it beat all other phones substantially, and even several point-and-shoots (macworld). I have to admit that reviewing the 2d results of the W3 confirm that it is not that great. But it is more than good enough for its intended purpose.

Posted on Jan 28, 2011 10:05:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 28, 2011 10:07:59 PM PST
Lion King says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Feb 1, 2011 10:37:05 AM PST
The camera allows for standard 4:3 pictures if you prefer. The Finepix software bundled allows you to convert the special DMO format into separate left and right JPEG files. Then you can print these for viewing with antique "Holmes" viewers using other software or MS Word to layout page. For TV viewing on 2D TV I don't have an answer. You can set the HDMI output on the camera for side-by-side images mode. I don't have optics for viewing that.
On a PC screen, I have ideas I haven't tried yet. Maybe get a Toshiba laptop with Nvidia 3D option.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2011 9:12:54 AM PST
Alex Lindsay of the PixelCorps has said that this camera is excellent BUT, DON'T use the supplied software (for anything - throw it away!) He recommends "Stereo Splicer" software as a substitute.

Posted on Mar 7, 2011 9:13:55 AM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Apr 1, 2011 8:16:45 AM PDT
HiDefGuy says:
I have the camera and don't regret buying it, but what the reviewer said: stills image quality is really bad - extremely grainy. I have another 7megapixel Casio that makes images in a different league. I think when viewing stereo images, the graininess is not noticeable because it's combining two images.
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