Remember those 3D View-Masters? Well, you don't have to remember because they're still around, but that's besides the point. DXG has created sort of a DIY 3D View-Master-like experience with a new combination 3D Camera & Viewer kit that goes on sale next month for the low low price of $80 that looks as if it could be easy and fun for kids' parties.
Why is this an interesting idea? Only a couple of manufacturers – Fuji primary among them – make 3D digital cameras (most 3D camera makers such as JVC, Panasonic and Sony make 3D camcorders, which secondarily also snap 3D stills). But the only way to see or share your 3D photos is on a 3D TV, which hardly anyone has (or needs), on a 3D-enabled desktop PC, which anyone hardly has (or needs, although you can turn your 2D PC into a 3D PC with the Nvidia 3D Vision Wireles Glasses Kit), or sending away for expensive 3D prints from Fuji's seehere.com site that, to be generous, look like a series of silhouettes laid one atop the other then laminated.
In other words, 3D still photography is silly because there's no way of viewing or sharing the results.
Here's how DXG's 3D viewer works. You snap a photo or photos with the camera. You transfer the photos onto a PC or a printer the usual way – connect the camera to your PC via a USB cable, or slip the camera's memory card right into a slot on your printer.
You print out the photos – you can use plain paper but glossy photo paper works better. You get two 2-inch by 3-inch photos arrayed side-by-side.
You cut around the photos where indicated to create a strip. You slip the strip into the included cardboard viewer, on the left in the photo, then look through the windows just like you would a View-Master or an old-fashioned Victorian-era stereoscope and, you see the image in 3D. It's even gopt a cutout for your nose so your eyes can get close up and personal to enhance the 3D perception.
It's clever and inexpensive, although no substitute for viewing them on a 50-inch 3D HDTV.
'Real' 3D and 2D camcorders, cheap
If you want a 3D camcorder but don't want to spend a lot of three-dimensional dough, DXG will start selling a 3D version of its cool Twist model in September for $300, making it the cheapest 3D camcorder available (so far), preceeded by a traditional beercan-shaped 3D model, the 5F9 ($300) in June.
DXG also announced a couple of inexpensive standard 2D camcorders, the DXG-5K1 (July, $350) and the DXG-B01 (June, $300). Both shoot 1920 x 1080p Blu-ray quality video and 5 MP stills and feature flip-out swivel touch screen view finders – you touch the part of the screen you want to focus on.
For the extra $50, the 5K1 gives you arguably the most important feature on a camcorder – optical image stabilization (OIS). This means the lens, attached to a gyroscope, compensates for your hand jitter to produce a steadier final video without resorting to any digital trickery. Electronic or digital image stabilization (usually abbreviated EIS and DIS) often introduce their own compensating digital jitter that makes the final product look jerky and unnatural.
The 5K1, one of the least expensive camcorders with OIS, also supplies 20 times optical zoom vs. 12x on the B01.