Watch our video review of the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W1 here
The world’s first 3D digital camera is here, and it really is like a glimpse into the future. The Fujifilm Real 3D W1 is tough to explain – this is a gadget you need to see to believe. Firstly, there are no stupid goggles required.
3D images are captured using two lenses set far apart on the front of the camera, with each taking the shot from a different angle. The two images are then overlaid and then displayed on the special lenticular LCD.
3D magic on lenticular screen
This lenticular screen is where the magic happens – the screen shows the two slightly different images from different angles, so one of your eyes sees one and the other eye sees the second image, creating the illusion of depth. It’s the same principle as those holograms you got free with packs of cereal.
What that means is that you can take a photo and almost immediately see the 3D result on the LCD. The first time you see it, you won’t believe your eyes. In fact, it can take time to get used to focusing on the image, and you’ll notice some oddities with duplicated details in the background, but that won’t spoil your enjoyment of what is something truly special.
And it’s not just limited to stills – you can take 3D video, albeit only in VGA quality.
In addition to the Auto 3D mode, there are two manual options, either of which are essential for macro shots. The first simply takes two shots in quick succession, so you physically move the camera to create the second image – a bit hit-and-miss.
The other option is far cleverer, taking one shot then ghosting the image over the viewfinder, so you can see how much overlap you’ve got before taking the second image.
So what's the catch?
OK, don’t break out the champagne quite yet – there’s a slight downside to this pioneering tech. Currently the ways to see this extra dimension are the back of the camera, an 8-inch lenticular photo frame that Fujifilm will be charging around £400 for, and a lenticular printing service that will cost around US$5 per print.
To be fair, Fujifilm has probably covered the bases to the best of their ability with those options, but it does mean there’s no way of viewing in 3D on a big screen. Yet.
The other downside is that, with the lenses only mounted horizontally, the 3D effect only works in landscape format, not holding upright for portrait.
However, choosing 3D over 2D should be considered a creative option, much like black & white or colour, wide aperture or small aperture, etc. (A black & white 3D image is a bizarre but fun retro-futuristic option, by the way.)
3D isn’t always the best shot choice, as you obviously need some depth and layers in the frame to get the right results.
Acknowledging that fact, Fujifilm has set the Real 3D W1 by default to store a standard 2D file alongside the 3D file for both stills and video.
Image quality from standard 2D stills is very good – comparable with the Fujifilm Z200fd. Good, punchy colours and excellent detail, with low noise up to ISO 800.
Build and size
Enough about the 3D, how about the rest of the camera? It’s big, but it’s housing two full-size (1/2.3in) CCD sensors and two lenses. And if you’re prepared to carry an SLR to give yourself more creative options, you certainly won’t mind the trade-off for 3D shooting.
Round the back, the controls are a slightly mixed bag. Everything is there and clearly marked, with dedicated buttons for 2D/3D and parallax control (getting the best overlap of images for optimum 3D effect). There’s also the usual Fujifilm ‘f’ button to access essential settings such as ISO, white balance and image size.
The downside is some slightly strange logic applied to button use – for instance, to get video playing you press the down button on the D-pad.
More thought could also have been given to the macro function. If you press the macro button while in Auto 3D mode, it simply does nothing – it would have been far more helpful if it gave you the option to switch to one of the manual 3D modes where you can use macro.
Overall, though, this is a stunning first effort. It’s a little big and pricey, but you’ve got a whole new creative dimension to play with – and playing around to get the most eye-popping results is utterly addictive.