3D seems to be the buzzword for entertainment now, in the home and in the movie theatre. There are plenty of ways to watch and enjoy it but when it comes to creating 3D media there is not much available to the home consumer. This is where products like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1 come in.

The DMC-3D1 is a camera that can provide a true stereoscopic image by the use of its two lenses, and sensors that it uses when taking pictures and recording video. This is fairly new in cameras as most like the Sony Cyber-shot and Olympus cameras use software to create a 3D effect. Of course the use of hardware like this in theory should be superior, although a pricey option.

Controls
Easy to turn the on the DMC-3D1 is ready to be used as soon as you slide down the lens cover from the dual lenses. It seems to be designed to make taking pictures as easy as possible for the user. It’s possible switch between 2D mode and 3D, which offers two type of file. 3D files are saved as MPO files, while 2D is the normal JPEG which is more standard.

Each lens has a 4x optical zoom and although the two lenses are designed for 3D imagery it is possible to use one lens for a wide shot and the other to zoom on an object within the shot. This could over complicate the function for the user but it’s still a nice option for some complicated shots, with an added unique look. The images are treated as two separate images by the camera meaning on the screen on the back of the camera you can either view the wide shot or look at the smaller image the other lens has focused on.

Screen
The DMC-3D1 is a compact camera that easily fits in your pocket but the screen itself does not suffer because of this. Coming in at 3.5-inch the touch panel has a 460l-dot resolution LCD screen. This means there is no need for psychical buttons on the rear of the camera meaning less space is stolen from the screen itself. The screen is one weakness in the DMC-3D1 camera though if you compare it to the Fuji-W3 which is another 3D camera. That camera comes with a screen that is able to represent what the 3D image will look like, the DMC-3D1 can only achieve a 2D picture, which is of course disappointing.

Image Quality
The DMC-3D1 is a camera that not only offers 3D still shots but also video. It records the video at 25fps in HD (in either 2D or 3D) and offers two file formats of AVCHD or MPEG4 compression. When recording in 3D the user has to think more about the shots they are trying to take. 3D tends to flesh out the picture more and of course there will be more focus on the objects that are closer to the camera than further away, this is the nature of 3D photography. If you organise your shot so that there is just as much to focus at in the background than in the foreground (closer to the camera) this actually makes the camera work better and you get to feel the 3D more.

The 4X zoom is available during recording video clips which is very useful, especially for 3D. Though there is some loss of definition the wider the shot is recorded. Even though there are extra sensor settings to handle low light shooting it was also found that the performance is not as good as promised, providing quality similar to lower budget cameras.

Verdict
The DMC-3D1 offers around 200 2D shots or 150 3D shots on full battery charge so although not spectacular is adequate for normal use, there is not too much battery drain when using the extra features. To say this is a compact camera it does feature plenty of functionality in the slim packaging and this is one way it beats the Fuji-W3 which although being a superior 3D camera is far bulkier and far less compact.

The 3.5-inch LCD screen is a big selling factor though and is definitely easy to use but it is a shame that trying to use the 2 lenses for 2D shots can be quite confusing at times. This camera is perfect for the “early adopters” of the 3D world and shows that there is true potential in cameras like this; it will be interesting to see what other companies come up with in the future.