Fujifilm's 3D Camera Features Easy Parallax Adjustment Function

Fujifilm Corp will release what it claims is the world's first digital camera that enables to see three-dimensional pictures on the back monitor without special glasses Aug 8, 2009, in Japan. The expected street price for the camera, "FinePix Real 3D W1," is about ¥60,000 (approx US$636). And the price of the "FinePix Real 3D V1," a 3D digital photo frame, is expected to be about ¥50,000. When purchased as a set, they will cost about ¥100,000.

Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W1

The 3D camera is based on the prototype exhibited at photokina, a trade fair for the photographic and imaging industries, in 2008. The largest difference from the prototype is a new user interface that enables to easily adjust parallax, which influences the effect of 3D representation. The width of the image shown on the LCD monitor is different in each picture (see Fig 2 and Fig 3). It is because I changed the degree of parallax by pressing the two buttons under the left thumb.

Fig 2

Fig 3

This time, Fujifilm realized such an easy method to adjust parallax anytime after taking a picture. As a result, it became easier for users to watch 3D pictures.

The FinePix Real 3D W1 features a function to automatically adjust parallax in accordance with the object of shooting. But the distances between the eyes and the monitor and between the two eyes differ in individuals. Therefore, the function to manually adjust parallax is convenient.

However, the camera is not currently equipped with a function that records each user's adjustment and automatically reproduces it in the next use.

With the method of taking two pictures at the same time, near- and long-distance pictures normally do not look three-dimensional enough. To address this issue, Fujifilm added new shooting modes, "3D double shooting" and "3D time-interval difference (TID) shooting."

The former mode requires the user to slightly move the camera and take a normal 2D picture twice by using one of the two camera modules. The latter mode is used, for example, to take a long-distance picture when the user is on a train or an airplane.

"Taking two pictures successively from different viewpoints provides stereoscopic effects to the pictures of grand sea of clouds and mountains seen from an airplane," Fujifilm said.

Furthermore, the company introduced new modes that allow users to change the settings of the two camera modules to take 2D pictures. They are "tele/wide simultaneous shooting," "two color simultaneous shooting" and "high-/low-sensitivity simultaneous shooting."

The following are the important points of the component mounting:
- Fujifilm used an aluminum die-cast built-in frame to prevent the positional relationship between the two camera modules from changing (Fig 4 and Fig 5). The company called the frame "the core component of the 3D camera." Partly because of this built-in frame, the camera weighs 300g (including the battery and memory card), relatively heavier than other lens-integrated cameras.

Fig 4

Fig 5

2. The two camera modules have the same specifications (Fig 6), incorporating a flexible optical system. The recommended shooting distance for 3D pictures is more than 1m at the widest angle and more than 2m at the narrowest angle (when the automatic parallax adjustment function is on).

Fig 6

3. When I examined the exhibited main board, I thought the cost could be lowered by integrating and downsizing the substrates (Fig 7). The number of connectors for flexible substrates is as many as 10, and the component density is not high enough.

Fig 7

By Tomohiro Ootsuki, Nikkei Electronics