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Fujifilm introduces Finepix Real 3D W3 camera, we go hands-on

Sean Hollister
S. Hollister|08.17.10

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Fujifilm introduces Finepix Real 3D W3 camera, we go hands-on
When reviewers call your product "the worst ____ ever made," do you give up and move on? Or do you build a second model and try to prove them wrong? After introducing the world's first consumer stereoscopic 3D shooter to dismal reviews, FujiFilm chose door number two, replacing the camera with a thinner, lighter, and easier-to-use version that addresses a host of complaints and costs $100 less to boot. The FujiFilm FinePix Real 3D W3 adds a larger 3.5-inch, 16:9 LCD screen, a 720p video recording mode, and HDMI 1.4 out for dropping images and videos right into your 3D-ready TV. Oh, and it actually feels like a real camera this time, our favorite feature by far. We got some hands-on time with the new cross-eyed shooter, read on for more! %Gallery-99488%

Surprisingly enough, FujiFilm didn't start from scratch with the W3, as the FinePix Real 3D system inside hasn't changed one bit: you'll find the same 3x zoom lenses, the same 10 megapixel CCD sensors, and the same RealPhoto processor under the hood. If you weren't happy with the horrendous noise and limited low-light sensitivity of the W1, you won't find better image quality here, but for most every other physical feature Fuji went back to the drawing board. Gone are the wonky controls and guesswork menus, replaced with the standard dial-and-directional-pad and UI identical to Fuji's other models. Viewed from the rear, it's practically indistinguishable from a standard pocket cam, and if you've ever used another Fuji you'll be right at home with the W3. From the front, the camera's a dead ringer for the original, but less glossy and chunky, though it's still quite the lump in a pants pocket and weighs over half a pound. Making the camera smaller involved a tradeoff, too -- the camera now uses a smaller (but admittedly more common) NP-50 battery pack rated at 150 shots sans flash.

Now, we weren't able to spend nearly enough time with the W3 to make any sort of judgment call on the quality of the unit's stereoscopic shots -- as factors like relative subject depth give 3D photography something of a learning curve -- but we found it easy enough to experiment with the camera's impressive array of automatic and manual modes. That said, we weren't always impressed with what we ended up seeing on the W3's screen. The 3.5-inch parallax barrier LCD has over quadruple the pixels of the older camera -- enough that we couldn't make out individual dots like on the W1 -- but the stereoscopic viewing zone actually felt smaller in that it took less head movement to pull us out of the zone and induce eyestrain. Viewing images on a Sony 3DTV via HDMI was easier on the eyes, but showed serious limitations to Fuji's video output. Images were dim and constantly flickering, and 720p video was grainy to the point of resembling VHS footage. Both screens showed that ghosting was prevalent in every picture we took and some professionally shot scenes as well, though the best of these showed that the camera's also capable of capturing convincing levels of depth with some foresight and practice; we noticed that objects deep in the background of an image often still looked three-dimensional instead of "billboarding" like in some stereoscopic content.

FujiFilm representatives told us straight-up that though the W1 met sales expectations, the $600 camera only sold several hundred units to a strictly enthusiast market. At $500 and with consumer-friendly controls, the W3 could do much better, but we have to wonder why the company sprang for a second camera without even incrementally improving the pocket shooter's output.

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FinePix REAL 3D W3 Digital Camera Captures Stills and Movies in HD in True 3D;
with Easy Playback on 3D HD TV Systems

Valhalla, N.Y., August 17, 2010 – FUJIFILM North America Corporation today announced a new addition to its FinePix REAL 3D system – the FinePix REAL 3D W3 digital camera. The FinePix REAL 3D W3 steps it up from its predecessor with the ability to shoot high-resolution 3D photos and movies in 3D HD at 720p¹, with the help of a new RP (Real Photo) Processor. It also sports a new Mini HDMI port² for easy playback on most 3D television systems and an Autostereoscopic 3D Widescreen 3.5" LCD. All components make for stunning 3D still photos and movies that can be viewed and enjoyed through an easy connection between the FinePix REAL 3D W3 and their 3D TV³, or printed in stunning 3D quality.

"Last year, Fujifilm introduced the first real, complete solution for 3D digital photography, once again showing our commitment to the evolution of imaging technology," said Go Miyazaki, division president, Imaging and Electronic Imaging Divisions, FUJIFILM North America Corporation. "With the new FinePix REAL 3D W3 digital camera, we have made 3D imaging more accessible to all consumers, enabling them to shoot in 3D HD and making it easy to view their photos and movies on most 3D TV systems."

The slim FinePix REAL 3D W3 digital camera with a black matte finish is ergonomically designed and measures 21.0 mm at its thinnest point and weighs 8.5 ounces with battery and memory card. The durable stainless steel construction ensures that the optical axis is balanced ever so precisely resulting in accurate 3D images. The W3 also has a horizontal lens cover with wave detail, which serves as the on/off switch.

FinePix REAL 3D Technology
Fujifilm's FinePix REAL 3D technology captures true 3D thanks to its use of twin 10 MegaPixel CCD sensors and dual FUJINON 3x optical zoom lenses (35-105mm) that are spaced 75 mm apart to create realistic images that are similar to how human eyes see them. The synchronized control of the twin CCD sensors releases the left and right shutters at the same time. This technology produces a synchronized image with a natural sense of depth, and allows easy capture of 3D movies and photos in HD, and also provides the beneficial unique 2D Advanced Shooting modes.

3DHD Capture and RP (Real Photo) Processor 3D HD
The 3D and 2D Auto functions let anyone take high-definition, high-resolution movies and photos effortlessly and audio is captured in stereo to preserve its original impact. Photo data captured by the dual lens CCD system is processed by the newly developed RP (Real Photo) Processor 3D HD which merges the left and right images into a single image. This processor is also the power behind 3D Auto – the function that lets even first-time users take stunning HD quality photos.

Autostereoscopic (3D) LCD
The FinePix REAL 3D W3 also comes equipped with a 3.5" high resolution Autostereoscopic 3D Widescreen LCD with 1150K resolution that displays high contrast images and movies that can be viewed in 3D without the need of 3D glasses. This new lenticular system uses rows of convex lenses that create a binocular parallax effect to produce a realistic 3D image with less cross-talk and flicker. 3D images can be shown in High Luminosity Mode that both display images 1.5 times brighter, and color reproduced 1.8 times deeper4, allowing for clear, distinct and vivid images.

3D HD Movies and Photo Playback
Now it's easier than ever to enjoy high quality 3D HD movies and still photos in your home, because the FinePix REAL 3D W3 comes equipped with a Mini HDMI 1.4 port. This allows the user to quickly and easily connect the camera with an HDMI cable (not included) to enjoy high quality movies at 720p and HD photos captured at 1920x1080 pixels (or higher) on most 3D HD TV systems.

Advanced 3D/2D Modes
The FinePix REAL 3D W3 includes advanced 3D and 2D capture modes. With Individual Shutter 3D Shooting, advanced users will enjoy the ability to take two shots of the same subject from different positions, and then the camera will automatically merge and save the captured images as a single, enhanced 3D photo. Photos of distant subjects like mountains and skyscrapers look amazing in enhanced 3D, while close-up subjects like flowers come to life in natural 3D. With Interval 3D shooting, you can shoot hyper (wide distance between capture of left and right data) for capturing 3D effect in far away subjects.

The Advanced 2D Modes also allow for independent use of the dual CCD sensors and FUJINON lenses in the FinePix REAL 3D W3. Just as if shooting with two digital cameras, the user can choose different zoom ranges and color settings for each image, capturing both at the same time. With Tele/Wide Simultaneous Shooting, you can zoom in on your subject while also taking a wide-angle shot of the same scene. With Two-Color Simultaneous Shooting, at one press of the shutter, you can take photos of the same scene with a different color tonality. Set one lens system to vivid colors and the other to vintage black and white, or capture the scene in both standard and black and white. Dual-Sensitivity Simultaneous Shooting allows the user to capture high and standard sensitivity simultaneously. For example, you can take panned shots of a moving subject at the exact same instant with different degrees of background motion blur. In dark scenes, you can prioritize blur reduction for one shot, and image quality for the other.

The FinePix REAL 3D W3 also comes with a variety of additional functions:

Switch 2D/3D Button: Switch between capturing a subject in 2D or 3D instantly with the touch of a button and effortlessly capture movies and pictures for every kind of scene.

One Touch Movie Mode: No need to fumble to find the movie mode, as the button is located right on the back of the camera, instantly changing from still to movie mode, making it convenient for taking HD quality movies in either 3D or 2D.

Auto and Manual Parallax Control: The camera automatically adjusts parallax in 3D Auto mode for an optimal sense of depth. Manual mode is also possible by operating the Parallax Control lever on the top of the camera to easily fine-tune the sense of depth and alignment of the images. Both can be used to eliminate "ghosting" and increase or decrease the 3D effect.

MyFinePix Studio 3D Movie and Photo Editor: Manually edit captured 3D images effortlessly with MyFinePix Studio software that's included with the camera. Separate a 3D still photo (MPO file) into left/right still image data, and recombine left/right still photos into 3D photos (MPO file). MyFinePix Studio also lets you freely cut and splice 3D movies.

Manual Shooting Functions: Choose "M" (Manual) mode for the freedom to set shutter speed and aperture. Get instant control of depth of field in "A" (Aperture Priority) Mode. With the built-in "P" (Program) Mode, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed and aperture value.

Scene Positions: Select from among the 13 Scene Positions (SP) that matches the subject and situation. The camera automatically optimizes camera settings for some of the most common shooting environments, making it easy to get great 3D photos in virtually any shooting situation.

Super Intelligent Flash: This advanced flash system automatically adjusts flash output and timing to capture subjects and background in bright, natural detail over the full flash range. No more flash washout even when taking ultra close-up shots.

3D Print Solution
Getting high quality 3D prints is as easy as uploading your images to Fujifilm's SeeHere.com a photo printing, gifting, and sharing website, and having them delivered right to your door. Fujifilm has integrated high precision prints with lenticular technology, resulting in stunning high quality 3D images with tremendous depth and detail. 3D prints priced at $6.99 for a 5"x7" print.

The FinePix REAL 3D W3 digital camera will be available in early September 2010 at a retail price of $499.95.

*1 As a digital camera equipped with 2 CCDs, according to Fujifilm research in August 2010.
*2 HDMI 1.4-3D compliant, HDMI mini-terminal.
*3 HDMI cable with high speed type required.
*4 Compared to previous model.

NOTE: For FinePix REAL 3D W3 digital camera specs please go to: http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/
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