3D is all the rage nowadays in devices that have a screen, camera lens or both. Even though most people don’t see the need for 3D outside theaters, where the big screens make it worth it, manufacturers keep pushing with their 3D TVs, 3D computer displays (even on laptops – check out the new Sony F series!), 3D smartphones, 3D video cameras, and now, 3D point and shoot cameras – expensive 3D point and shoot cameras.
The Lumix DMC-3D1 by Panasonic is one of those cameras – it’s a point and shoot with two lenses that can shoot 3D videos and photos, 2D videos and photos or 2D video and photos… at the same time. That makes for an interesting product, although at the end of the day, the features might not be worth the price, especially when you can get a much higher quality camera for less (The Lumix TZ-10 is an excellent choice, for example).
The design of the new DMC-3D1 is unlike any Lumix in recent times – in fact, it looks a lot like a Sony CyberShot, with the front slider that hides the lens, big touch screen on the back and overall simplistic design – if not for the big chrome “Lumix” word on the front, you’d never think it’s a Panasonic – weird choice of design, indeed. Anyway, once you open the front slide, you’ll see what the fuss is all about – there are two lens in there, which can shoot 3D video and audio.
There’s also one flash and two microphones, as well as the shutter, recording, zoom controls and the 2D/3D switch on the body of the camera – everything else is controlled using the touch screen. The lenses themselves conduct the light to two separate 12.1 Megapixels sensors, so the output quality of 3D video and photos is pretty high compared to other single sensor, dual lens cameras.
As I mentioned above, there are several ways to use all the sensor and lens goodness – you can shoot 3D video in Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) resolution, shoot 2D video using only one of the sensors (saving battery life along the way, shoot 2D HD video while taking an occasional 12 megapixels photo of whatever you’re pointing the camera at or shoot two 2D videos at the same time, with different zoom levels for each one. Pretty interesting concept and a really good use of two sensors, I’d say. Oh, and the two sensors give you the ability to shoot a whole 8 FPS at full resolution, which is the highest burst speed I’ve seen on a point and shoot and it’s probably thanks to the two sensors, which alternate between shot (so each one takes only 4 FPS, but in the end you get 8).
You can view all your work on the 3.5 inch touch screen on the back, which has a high resolution and looks clear and crisp but misses one obvious feature that would’ve made the camera better – a 3D parallax, of course! That would’ve made it possible to view your 3D images and videos right on the camera, and would’ve made it the ultimate 3D point and shoot.
The camera’s features make it worthy of attention, except that the price is really high – the expected retail price is $500 – that’s for a point and shoot that offers no real quality to speak of – both 3D and 3D images are shot by a pretty small lens that doesn’t let a lot of light through. For the price, you can get a very nice FZ100 or TZ10, and those cameras provide a much higher quality of both photos and videos, at the expense of 3D of course. However, if you really want to be able to shoot in 3D, the new Lumix DMC-3D1 is a pretty good choice.