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Panasonic is Working on Compact Twin-Lens 3D Digital Camera

September 2nd, 2011 · 10 Comments · Shooting in 3D


Panasonic used this year’s IFA trade show to announce and show an interesting prototype of a device they are working on, a twin-lens compact 3D digital camera that will go under the company’s LUMIX product line. The Panasonic Lumix 3D camera may as well turn out to be the closest competitor to Fujifilm’s 3D digital cameras that are already available for quite a while now, but we are probably going to have to wait at least a few months before the Lumix 3D camera hits the market. Still it is good news for everyone that is interested in a compact 3D-capable digital camera, as having more devices on the market with different features is a good thing, right? And although Panasonic is still not releasing a lot of details about the capabilities of the device, they let out a few pieces of information. One very important thing however was left out – the interaxial distance between the to lenses of the camera, but judging from the photos of the device it seems to be something in between 3 and 4 centimeters (1.2 – 1.6 inches). So the distance will for sure be shorter than what we already have on the Fuji 3D camera, meaning more flexibility for closer 3D photos and videos and more flatness when you want to capture more distant objects.

According to Panasonic their compact 3D camera will be capable of taking 3D still photos (most likely in MPO format) and 3D HD video (recorded in Side by Side AVCHD format). It is using 4x zoom lenses with folding optics and optical stabilization for achieving better results when shooting both still photos and video. There is no information available yet about the display of the camera, but it will most likely be an autostereoscopic 3D solution as this makes the most sense. And of course the camera will feature HDMI 1.4 support for connecting and playing the 3D content to a large screen 3D-capable HDTV. If you are visiting the IFA trade show you may go and also visit the Panasonic booth at Messe Berlin, Hall 5.2 where the new 3D digital camera prototype should be on display (until September 7th). And if you do so you and find some other interesting details about the Lumix 3D camera, then feel free to share them in the comments below…

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10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Andreas Aronsson // Sep 2, 2011 at 17:16

    Hrm, a bit disappointed. The interaxial distance sure is small, this does not appeal to me :( Blah. Isn’t the entire point with stereoscopic 3D is to replicate what we see with our eyes? Even the zoom feature is not very logical when comparing to human eyes, and as zooming relatively reduces the interaxial distance it would make more sense to have the lenses further apart than 7cm… IMO the Fujifilm cameras seem fairly optimal when it comes to this aspect. Oh well.

  • 2 GORDY // Sep 2, 2011 at 18:21

    Actually, no, that’s a pretty good distance for a wide range of use when the lenses cannot be adjusted. Note that the Panasonic 3DA1’s IO at 2.5″ severely limits it’s use.

    You cannot shoot anything closer than about 7′ and nothing beyond 100 feet behind the subject without hurting your eyes. That’s why very little professional video is shot with it.

    In the professional 3D world of photography and video, not much is shot with an IO or IA of 2.5″

    And zooming actually makes it even more necessary to move the lenses closer together. The more you zoom, the more the background diverges. So… to get the background out of headache range, you need to move the lenses closer together.

  • 3 Mathew Orman // Sep 2, 2011 at 18:34

    Great! Unrealistic stereo base and no convergence. Another gimmick 3D camera. I have no competition to my realistic mode 3D rigs.

  • 4 gordy // Sep 2, 2011 at 19:01

    Matthew, I’d love to hear more about your rigs. Do you have pictures posted somewhere or 3D footage on YouTube?

    Or maybe they’ve been used in a production we can buy on Blu-ray?

    Looking forward to seeing your stuff!

  • 5 Mathew Orman // Sep 2, 2011 at 22:28

    If you click on my name then you should get a link to my website.

  • 6 Andreas Aronsson // Sep 3, 2011 at 14:27

    Ah, that makes total sense Gordy! So I guess subject depth is sacrificed for getting material that works at all, as we cannot have the right convergence for everything at once.

    I am trying to reflect on why this is the case, and I guess it is because as a human we change the convergence of our eyes every time we look at something at a different depth, while the convergence in recorded media is always fixed… interesting indeed! I think my understanding just got bumped up a notch, thank you! :3

  • 7 Mathew Orman // Sep 3, 2011 at 17:25

    @Andreas
    Yes we can and must have convergence on all objects of a scene or else we have a bad geometry. The problem with small IO is the World scale is exaggerated and we see objects magnified. Lack of toe-in adjustments in the camera means that we do not know the size of the screen that would match the viewer geometry.

  • 8 Andreas Aronsson // Sep 3, 2011 at 19:07

    I was watching the Panasonic live feed from IFA, at this link http://ifa.panasonic.eu/en/?questionid=q_1315064645735 you can see the answer to a question where they say the screen on this camera will only be in 2D :| Incidentally what I like the most about my W3 is the screen…

  • 9 steve // Sep 6, 2011 at 05:31

    What are they thinking about with the lenses that close together. Like 2 lenses is all that matters.

  • 10 gordy // Sep 6, 2011 at 16:47

    Andreas, yes, that’s exactly right! The convergence and focus is almost always fixed on the subject of the shot, which puts it on the surface of your screen. That’s yet another reason why you want to stay away from zooming. The longer you go out on your lens, the less depth of field you have– shallow range of focus. In 3D, you really have to use focus carefully because if you don’t hold the viewer’s attention on the subject in focus… their eyes will wander around the screen, trying to focus and converge what cannot be in focus. That’s working against the natural mechanics of our eyes and brains– a recipe for eye fatigue and headaches.

    Indeed, you do give up some depth as you move the cameras closer together and converge on the subject, but that’s the only way to create content that is comfortable to watch in 3D for an hour or two.

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