Having used the Fuji W1 since I got it last year to capture some very basic 3D footage I was looking for a not too expensive upgrade that would deliver stereoscopic footage of a better quality than the heavily compressed 640×480 video that the w1 delivers.
Although I’m keen to experiment with rigs (more news on that to follow soon), I wanted something that matched the w1 for simplicity of use when wanting to just grab some basic footage in 3D and really the only consumer option that can deliver some quality at this point is the little Panasonic SDT750. Having seen the footage that “Short Film Weekends” produced with this I was convinced it could be useful for a specific type of footage so I bit the bullet and ordered one.
Having had the camera a week I thought I’d give a little more info and thoughts on the results.
The camera itself is a well regarded 1080p HD camera for shooting standard 2D footage – the couple of test I did straight from the box without actually doing any manual settings looked great – crisp, clear and with a really nice balanced colour. Installing the 3D lens was a bit fiddly for me but the set-up beyond that point was pretty straight forward, following a few knob twiddling instructions. Then it was time to get out and shoot some footage.
It just so happens we’ve had the worst snow in Edinburgh for a century so the river just across from where I live was in full flow as the melt set in. This did give me some stunning scenery to shoot – although the path was solid ice so after one shot where I was wobbling about, any further movement was limited to panning/tilting. This footage can be seen on YouTube.
As you watch the footage you can see the limitations of the really small inter-axial distance of the dual lenses on the 3D adapter – the result of this is you get a reasonable 3d effect from about 1m-4m but beyond around 10m it become pretty much flat instantly. The footage demonstrates this as you can see with shots where close branches of trees/shrubs work well, the river does have a bit of depth but any longer shots are pretty much flat. This doesn’t make the camera unusable – it just means it should be used in shots where 1m-4m is the expected range.
Shooting indoors this is a much more practical limitation (unless many of you live in castles that have rooms that are 25mx25m, etc) as in most shots your focal point is likely to be pretty close, well within the anticipated range. The only downside of this is the lens does reduce the light intake so good lighting is required. This isn’t perfect as the probable scenario for using this camcorder is not well lit studios, but more likely to be poorly lit birthday parties, etc. Our second clip of my family decorating the christmas tree demonstrates some footage taken indoors with a variety of lighting levels.
Previewing it on my Panasonic 3D TV was simple – just slip the SD Card into the card slot and the TV fires up the mdia player ready to play the 3D clips. On the TV the first batch of clips look bright with a reasonable 3D effect, but the darker clips looked a bit blurry and I struggled to really discern much 3d effect. In fairness I’ve not learnt the camcorder controls yet so everything here is just on full auto so I hope to improve results indoors when i have more time to play with this camera.
In summary I’d say this camera could produce reasonable results working within its limitations – the fixed, low inter-axial with no control over convergance point does severely limit its use though so do be sure you understand it’s limitation before buying. If what you want to shoot is simple 3D, in brightly lit conditions and you’re not over concerned about convergence control then this camera will deliver a pleasant if not amazing 3d result. If you want every shot to be a perfect 3d shot you’d be better looking at hiring the higher end big brother of this (the Panasonic AG-3DA1) or actually if you have the budget/time/skills a proper flexible 3D rig will deliver considerably better results.