FujiFilm's FinePix REAL 3D W3

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One of the drawbacks of 3D photography, going back to the turn of the last century, has been the inability to view 3D pictures without having to resort to extraneous viewing devices. Not so with Fuji's FinePix REAL 3D W3, which allows you to play back and view stills and video in full 3D—straight off the LCD—without having to wear goofy-looking glasses.

Measuring 4.9 x 2.6 x 1.1" (124 x 65 x 27.8 mm) and weighing about 8.5 ounces (including battery and card), Fuji's FinePix REAL 3D W3 still qualifies as a "pocket camera," though a hefty one. But it's also rather hefty in the tech department when you think about what it does, how it does it, and how it plays it all back.

FujiFilm's FinePix REAL 3D W3 is really two cameras under one skin. Beneath the REAL 3D W3's black aluminum casing are a matching pair of 1/2.3" 10-megapixel CCDs, which record images captured by a matching pair of Fujinon 3x optical zoom lenses (35-105mm equivalent), which stare out at you like a pair of cat's eyes.

Taking pictures with the FinePix REAL 3D W3 that make you go "Whoa!" requires a bit of prep time up front, which in the case of the FinePix REAL 3D W3 means setting the proper parallax correction (3D Tuning Function) based on the user/viewers interpupillary distance, i.e., the distance between your pupils. This process is real easy and simply requires you to snap a picture and play it back on the camera's 3.5" (1,150,000-dot) LCD while shifting the small, top-mounted slider back and forth until the two images line up rangefinder-style. Once you do that, you're good to go.

Fuji's FinePix REAL 3D W3
shoots and plays back imagery in full 3D.

We had a chance to shoot with the FinePix REAL 3D W3 at the press conference Fuji sponsored at the Museum of Natural History, where we photographed fellow journalists wandering among rows of dinosaur bones, while balancing hors d'oeuvres and wine cups in one hand and shooting 3D pictures and video with the other.

After a few practice runs I captured a nice selection of stills and video, which I was able to view in full 3D moments later, which I have to admit was a real hoot. As a way of demonstrating the cross-platform playback abilities of the new camera, Fuji also arranged to have a selection of HD TVs representing each of the major manufacturers on hand so we could  "plug-and-play" with each of the major 3D TV systems. And yes, the stills and video I captured using the REAL 3D W3 looked fine on all of the TVs into which I plugged the camera.

Fuji's engineers took advantage of the camera's dual lenses and sensors by incorporating a few 2D tricks to go along with the camera's 3D marketing hook. Included among the camera's 2D abilities are shooting wide-angle and telephoto simultaneously, color and black-and-white simultainiously, and shooting the same pictures at dual ISO settings to freeze the action in one while blurring it in the other.

In 2D mode, the FujiFilm FinePix REAL 3D W3 can shoot wide and telephoto images, color and black-and-white images, and dual ISO-sensitivity images—simultaneously.

The ISO sensitivity range of the FujiFilm FinePix REAL 3D W3 goes from ISO 100 to 1600 and ISO 400-1600 in Auto mode. Shutter speeds range from 1/4-second through 1/100th-second with a maximum burst rate of 2 fps in 3D mode and 3 fps in 2D mode. A recharable lithium-ion battery runs the show, and according to Fuji, you can expect to take about 150 exposures per charge (Remember: this is two cameras in one).

As with all digicams, the Fuji REAL 3D W3 features a selection of White Balance settings, Exposure modes, and Scene modes, designed to ensure successful imaging in 2D and 3D, regardless of shooting conditions.