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Sony's point-and-shoot cameras are being marshaled to rally 'round the company-wide push for 3D TV with the announcement that two of three new Cyber-shot models will contain 3D Sweep Panorama capability. By shooting a burst of still images while panning the camera horizontally or vertically, the resulting panorama will appear in 3D when viewed through 3D glasses on a Sony or other brand of 3D TV.
One of the 3D-capable model is the DSC-WX5 in black (above) or silver (right) available in September at about $300. The 12-Megapixel camera contains a 2.8-inch LCD and 5x zoom lens. The other, also expected in September, is the DSC-TX9 at about $400, a 12MP camera in grey or red (below) with 3.5-inch LCD and 4x zoom. Lacking 3D Sweep is the DSC-T99, a 14MP camera with three-inch touch screen and 4x zoom. It does do Panorama Sweep, but not in 3D. The DSC-T99 will be available in silver, black, green, or pink at about $250.
The WX5 and TX9 are the least expensive 3D-capable cameras from Sony, which like Panasonic and Samsung, have been touting 3D TV viewing as the most exciting reason to buy a new HDTV set this year. Meanwhile, by going to the Sony support site, owners of the higher-end Alpha Nex-5 and Nex-3 models can now download an upgrade that endows their models with 3D panorama picture-taking abilities. You can connect any of the 3D-capable cameras to a 3D-capable TV using an HDMI cable, then use the TV's remote to run the 3D slide show. See Free Firmware Upgrade for Sony's Nex-3 and Nex-5 Cameras.
In the 3D panoramic image above, the cluster of balloons will appear to be floating off the TV screen.
Besides using the 3D Sweep Panorama function, the WX5 and TX9 cameras will offer a feature called Sweep Multi Angle that shoots a high-speed burst of 15 frames, creating a "3D-style" image that can be viewed from different angles on the camera's LCD . After shooting, you tilt the Cyber-shot from side to side. According to Sony, sensors inside the camera detect your movements, scrolling through the sequence of multi-angle frames as you tilt and view the camera’s LCD screen. Multi-angle views can also be viewed simultaneously on an ordinary 2D television as you tilt the camera.
To see Sony's lineup of 3D-capable HDTV sets, click here.