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April 19, 2007

Digital Camera 3D with Just the Built-in Flash and New Software?

"Digital cameras and camera-phones could capture 3D information using just an in-built flash and some clever software, say Japanese researchers," writes Tom Simonite on the NewScientistTech website.

Go here for the complete article.

The 3D VuCAM™ - High Performance 3D Binocular from StereoVision Imaging, Inc.

3D_VuCam.jpg
The new 3D VuCAM™ features 2 seamlessly integrated 3.1 Megapixel resolution cameras.

If you're into 3D digital capture you simply have to read about this new product from StereoVision Imaging, Inc. I think this one will be on a lot of wish lists for NYSS members.

"It's finally here - a true stereo imaging system seamlessly integrated with a high-performance binocular! Now for the first time ever, users can easily capture high resolution and magnified stereoscopic images."

"The 3D VuCAM™ is a true stereo imaging system seamlessly integrated with a high-performance binocular. Users can easily capture high resolution and magnified stereoscopic images. The 3D VuCAM™ combines the features of a high-performance binocular that allows distant 8x magnified viewing with patented digital stereo imaging technology to deliver a 'what you see is what you get' experience. By simply pushing one button - end-users can now enjoy eye-popping 3D images that can be viewed on a glasses-free 3D monitors or traditional 3D display systems." - from their website.

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An anaglyph produced by the 3D VuCAM™ High Performance 3D Binocular from StereoVision Imaging, Inc.

Click here for the complete details.

June 1, 2007

HeavyMath Cam 3D 3.3 - Anaglyph Stereo Video from Two Webcams

HeavyMath_cam_3D.jpg

The latest version of HeavyMath Cam 3D (3.3) has been released, a $50 program for Windows that enables you to merge the input from two web cams of the same focal length. You have full control over the recording codec, quality, audio sample rate, channel, bits per sample, and bitrate.

The standard version allows you to record to MKA (Matroska Video), OGM (OGG Media), or WMV formats. Additional export choices including Quicktime and MPEG-4 are available by add-on 'booster packs' from creater River Past.

Go here to see the product on the River Past site.

Anyone with experience with this, or other stereo video programs, is invited to weigh in on this. How well do these things work?

June 14, 2007

Low Light Photography with new Kodak technology

OK, this not a 3D item but I thought it would be of interest to all the 'shooters' in our audience. Chris McNiffe of Kodak's image sensor division says that Kodak has developed a "color-filter technology that at least doubles the sensitivity to light of the image sensor in every digital camera. . .[this will] "enable a 2x-4x improvement in light sensitivity."

This filter would replace an industry standard filter designed by Kodak scientist Bryce Bayer in 1976. Samples of the new filter should be made available to camera manufacturers early next year.

It is expected that Point & Shoot cameras will be the first to have this new technology, followed by camera phones.

For the complete article, go here.

February 28, 2008

Synch Two Canon Compact Cameras up to 1/20,000 sec with StereoData Maker

Canon_twinned_cameras.jpg

Twinned digital cameras are obviously the future of 3D photography. While there are ready-made solutions available (from sources like 3D Concepts), the current generation are either expensive ($1,500–$2,000) or require hacking your digicams in ways that are beyond the comfort level (read: void warrantee) and skill set of most shooters.

Now David Sykes (author of the documentation for Masuji Suto's programs) offers an inexpensive way to twin a variety of Canon point-and-shoot cameras that requires only SD card-based software, USB cables, a switch, a battery and a mount (like a slide bar).

"StereoData Maker(SDM) provides on-screen stereo information for certain Canon compact cameras and can save the data to file. It can synchronise twinned cameras up to 1/20,000 sec and synch flash at shutter-speeds up to 1/1000 sec."


The webpages are hosted by Masuji and further details may be found here:
http://stereo.jpn.org/eng/sdm/index.htm


There are also galleries of images taken by Masuji using SDM and an A570IS twin-rig here:
http://www.stereomaker.net/galleries/tega2/indexe.htm


and some cropped images with 'through-the-window' effects here:
http://www.stereomaker.net/galleries/tega_crop/indexe.htm


On Flickr, Roger Harris offers an overview and some interesting links, here.

Click on the thumbnails below to see some parallel pairs from Masuji's site.



March 20, 2008

Standford's 3D Camera: Not Two but Rather 12,616 lenses

Stanford_camera_device.jpg

Thought you'd love an affordable twin lens digital camera from a major camera company? Wondering when such a product will hit the market? But why settle for just twin lenses. How about a digital camera with over 12 thousand lenses?

An electronics research team at Stanford is working on a new camera design with what they call a "multi-aperture image sensor." And it may eventually cost less than a standard mid-range digital camera because the quality of main lens will no longer be of critical importance.

"We believe that you can reduce the complexity of the main lens by shifting the complexity to the semiconductor," explained Keith Fife, one of the trio of scientists working on the project.

Seeing the world through thousands of tiny lenses would give you a 2D image with everything, near and far, in focus. But most importantly it would also generate a "depth map" recording the precise distances to each object captured in the frame.

In addition to processing a great stereoscopic image from this data other applications could include security using facial recognition, medical imaging, 3D printing, 3D models of buildings, creation of 3D avatars for virtual world gaming or interaction.

For the complete article, click here.

October 3, 2009

Interesting 3D Helmet Cam

from NYSS member Mark Heath:

tachyonxc-20090931-800-00048-600.jpg

http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/02/tachyon-xc-3d-helmet-cam-hands-on/

November 20, 2009

Fuji Finepix 3D W1: New User Report — 3D without Film, Glasses or Photoshop

“. . .You take a picture of your neighbor’s dog and within seconds you are viewing that same image in full color 3D — without glasses — on the back of your camera.”

Bailey_window_3DSM.jpg

Here’s an anaglyph I made from images taken by the new Fuji Finepix 3D W1, the world’s first twin-lens digital 3D camera (with two 10 MP CCD sensors). The subject is a neighbor’s dog, a Golden Retriever puppy named Bailey.

I’ve only had the camera for a few days, so please take these comments as preliminary thoughts.

Objectively, I have to say that if you are a 3D shooter OMG! you’ve-gotta-go-out-and-BUY-THE-FUJI-W1-before-you-finish-reading-this-sentence!!

If you are not among the small percentage of photographers who already shoot 3D with digital twin rigs or film cameras, you’ll probably want to learn a little more.

Here’s their press release on the well-respected Digital Photography Review site.

Here’s a stunningly negative review titled, “Fuji W1 3D Camera. . .The Worst Camera Ever Made” from the Akihabara Live from Japan news site. Followed by a more temperate review after Akihabara’s staff was contacted by FUJI. TIME magazine weighs in and lists the FUJI W1 as one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2009.

A great source of information from people who have the camera and are exploring its possibilities is the Fuji3D Yahoo Group started by Linda Nygren.

If your interest runs to Stereo Macros, check out this attachment made partly of Erector set parts by Donald E. Simanek, here.

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For Mac OS X users, check out Mike's Stereoscopic Web Site. In addition to lots of useful information he provides versions of his program, 3D Slide Maker for Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard users. The Snow Leopard version provides support for .MPO files.

The Challenge! REAL 3D and Mac web site by Junji Ikeda offers a program he created called Stereo Splicer that works with Mac OS 10.4 or later to separate out the Left and Right images in an .MPO file and produce anaglyphs, parallel and cross-view pairs.

Another Mac option is the cross-platform Java program Stereomerger by Geir Øyvind Vælidalo.

There are some intriguing two lens options aside from the 3D, but the main selling point of this camera is the 3D. Examples of what FUJI calls Advanced 2D Twin Camera Mode where each lens takes the same picture with different options: color settings, ISO settings, zoom and non-zoom. Interesting, but clearly not why anyone would buy this camera.

FUJI_W1_3D_camera.jpg

There’s no viewfinder on the W1, like many digital point-and-shoots, so you view your 3D and frame it on the rear screen, 2.25 wide by 1.75 inches high.

This is one of the things that Fuji got right on this 1.0 version. The screen has crisp, clean color and displays the picture you took just a moment ago in color and 3D.

Though to be sure, the screen’s small sweet spot makes it a single user experience. A shift of say, five degrees in either direction while viewing your pictures and the 3D effect vanishes and your image collapses into ordinary 2D.

Let me repeat, what I think is the major selling point to the general audience, you take a picture of your neighbor’s dog and within seconds you are viewing that same image in full color 3D — without glasses — on the back of your camera.

Given the history of all previous 3D cameras that have required post processing and a degree of skill to get best results, this almost instant 3D color display feels revolutionary, not evolutionary.

Want to know how this display works? See this explanation (with diagrams) on Dimension Technologies web site.

Size, weight and form factor: The W1 weighs about 11 oz. with battery and SD card inside. It’s 4.9 X 2.7 X 1.0 inches, the case is metal, so think chunkier, heavier iPhone. The left lens is at the extreme edge of the camera face and this means the W1 must be held by it’s edges. Is there some technical reason that the lenses and the flash couldn't be centered on the camera's face?

This can be a major adjustment from handling a traditional single lens camera, but hey, it’s 3D — it’s worth it. After a while you won’t even think about it.

Lack of internal battery to maintain settings: a small minus. If the camera’s battery runs out you’ll lose your initial stored settings for language, date and time. My suggestion: buy a second FUJI NP-95 battery for $30 and get this $9 charger from Amazon: Maximal Power FC600 Rapid Travel Charger for Fuji Battery.

Fuji_battery_charger.jpg

Also, the camera fits nicely in the $9.00 Case Logic # TBC303 Black case with a zippered storage pocket on the front that neatly holds an additional battery and SD cards.

Image quality: Too soon to tell, if I am honest. I suspect that my Canon twin-rig of two 7 MP SD 1000’s takes better images in a wider range of settings. But I’ve yet to subject that to direct comparison. It may just be that I’m more familiar with how to optimize the Canon settings.

In addition, my twin rig occasionally goes out of sync and must be restarted. That sync issue does not occur with this new Fuji. And the W1 is significantly smaller than my twin-rig and has no sharp edges (unlike my twin rig).

One thing I notice when using the flash — some of my images have been subject to the small, glowing disc shapes that amateur ghost hunters point to in snap shots as mystery orbs of psychic energy. But are, in reality, just the flash inadvertently catching dust motes in the air, and reflecting back the light.

Could the fact that the flash is centered between the two lenses instead of above (or even off-camera) be the reason this happens? I don’t experience this effect with my other digital cameras, shooting in the same environments.

Menus, Settings and Camera Controls: Well executed and similar to the typical digital point-and-shoot camera format. I’m more familiar with Canon and Nikon interfaces, but this one seems well thought out. The controls are on both sides of the LCD screen, three buttons a side. These buttons toggle to double the number of features you can access.

The negative review cited above claims, “I struggled for hours to understand how to set the ISO and I had to read the user’s manual (lame).” Surely this is an exaggeration. Hours of struggling? RTFM. To change the ISO you press the F-Mode Menu (lower right hand topggle) and ISO is the first option on a Menu that includes Image Size, Image Quality, White Balance, Exposure Compensation & FinePix Color Settings.

Yes, it is a horrible shortcoming that you might actually have to refer to a single page in the manual that comes with your new camera.

In addition to the functions you’d expect to find on a digital camera — Menu, OK, Trash, Macro, Flash Mode, Video, Display, etc. — there’s a toggle switch to go from 2D to 3D mode and, most striking of all, Parallax Control. This enables you to change the parallax during playback to adjust the stereo window. However, you have to go through too many hoops and menus to save a copy of your new window adjustment, IMO.

Besides, for viewing your images off the W1, you’ll probably want to make more adjustments with a program like the free Windows program, Stereo Photo Maker or a major image editing monster like Photoshop.

Huxley_back_500px.jpg

Another new digital image file format .MPO It should be made clear that Fuji uses a new .MPO file format to store your stereo image pair. It’s a proposed standard for storing more than one JPEG in a single file. So .MPO is not strictly proprietary, just very, very new.

This combined JPEG format has applications outside of 3D, like bracketing exposures and High Dynamic Range photography. The MPO file format is limiting. Currently no major image editor will correctly open an .MPO file into its two component right and left JPEG’s. What you get when you can open them, is a single JPEG, the image taken by the left lens.

Stereo Photo Maker has recently been updated to open .MPO files. On the Mac side, there is no comparable software at any price. There are new programs to open .MPO for Mac users coming out, like SplitMPO (and the examples above). It’s my hope these will increase.

And with all the photographers (and families) that use Macs, why hasn’t a cross-platform or Mac only program as good as SPM been developed? Maybe the Fuji W1 will inspire some Mac code monkeys to rise to this challenge.

.MPO format only allows JPEGs, so you’ve already lost image information, right? A RAW option for each right and left image would be a great improvement. But perhaps this would mean little to the average point-and-shoot customer and was never even considered as an option. Even allowing the option to natively save the separate JPEG images would be a step in a more open direction.

FUJI has an interest in driving users of the W1 towards their stereo processing options: lenticular prints and an optional digital picture frame, the FinePix REAL 3D V1 Viewer, that at $500 is nearly as expensive as the camera itself (at $600).

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You really need more than a single stereo pair to make a decent lenticular print so the process seems inherently flawed. I haven’t seen one of these prints but the word coming back from those who have is disappointing. This service is being offered by FUJIFILM’s SeeHere Photo Sharing site and the cost is $6.99 per print (they don’t indicate the size). That price seems like it’s set up to discourage, rather than encourage orders.

The digital picture frame model is surely the better path towards a general, as opposed to specialist market. No need for any ‘work’ by the photographer. Pop your SD card in the FUJI frame and enjoy a slide show in full color 3D with no glasses required! That’s what the Average Snap Shot Taking family, party and vacation photographer wants. Or so Fuji hopes. . .

As with the prints I haven’t seen the FUJI Viewer. Sight unseen, I still think the price point should be lower for this. However, this seems to me like the right track to a broader audience. Digital picture frames are already established in the marketplace. The move everywhere is away from print to digital, so perhaps FUJI thinks there will be only a small market segment that actually wants physical prints of their 3D images. I think they may be right about this.

Given the resurgence of 3D in the movie marketplace, is it too much to hope for success for this camera? So that there may be future models with additional small refinements?

FUJI certainly makes the 3D shooting experience open to the great majority of digital camera users; people who would be unlikely to invest the time in processing two film or digital images into 3D, as every other system requires. The owner of the FUJI W1 doesn’t have to post process their pictures at all. It’s done for you by the W1’s software.

3D without glasses, film or Photoshop! I’d call that revolutionary.

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Fireplace anaglyph made with stereo pair taken with FUJI W1’s Slow Synchro Flash Mode setting.

December 15, 2009

New 3D Camera Sets Record for Number of Lenses: 158

Certified as a record holder by the Guinness Book, Yojiro Ishino of the Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan created, along with his students, this mammoth camera back in August to photograph and study flames.

The 158 lenses are encased in a 18.5-inch aluminum arc frame. Imagine the lenticulars you could make from that! The goal is to discover more efficient ways of burning fuel for engines. For more information, go here.

158_lens_camera.jpg


February 4, 2010

Fuji announces a 3D Photo Printer for the UK

As the owner of a Fuji W1 camera I certainly think this is good news. However, I worry that lenticulars made from less than 4 images are likely to suffer from quality issues, even using quality dye-sub printing technology.

"These new 3D print varieties are well suited to on-site print services, at venues such as theme parks, tourist attractions and cruise ships."

This also does not seem to be a product pitched for the home user. Unless, of course, your home (like mine) is a theme park located on a cruise ship.

For the complete press release, go here.


July 6, 2010

Sony Announces World's Smallest Single-Lens 3D camera — Two of Them, In Fact

Sony_3D_cybershot.jpg

You knew it was only a matter of time before the Fuji W1 3D camera was joined by competing products. Sony will be bringing two single-lens compact 3D cameras to market this September. They are the Cyber-shot® models DSC-TX9 and DSC-WX5. The TX9 will have a MSRP of $400 and the WXS will be $300.

Sony says that these single lens cameras will capture 3D using a sweeping motion that brings to mind the classic single camera stereo method usually referred to a "cha cha." This is because you put your weight on one foot and then the other while taking the picture to obtain your stereo baseline separation.

Here's how they describe it in their press release (below). Note that they refer only to 3D panoramas, begging the question: Can the cameras take non-panoramic 3D images? And the wording 'simulated 3D' viewing on the camera's LCD accessed by "tilting the camera back and forth."

"Both models offer a 3D Sweep Panorama™ feature, which lets you take panoramic pictures in one press-and-sweep motion. The high-speed burst of frames is stitched together using innovative processing techniques to automatically create detail-packed 3D panoramas. These images can be enjoyed in 2D or stunning 3D on compatible 3D televisions (3D-compatible HDMI cables and 3D glasses are also required and are sold separately.)"

"The DSC-TX9, which has a 3.5-inch 921k resolution LCD touchscreen, and the DSC-WX5, which has a 2.8-inch LCD screen, also let you view images in a whole new way. Unlike 3D Sweep Panorama mode, which lets you view your 3D images on compatible 3D television systems, Sweep Multi Angle™ lets you view images moving in simulated 3D right on the cameras’ LCD screen by tilting the camera back and forth. This new shooting feature captures 15 images at different angles and then compiles them into one photo, creating a 3D-like effect on the display. "

Go here for the entire press release.

August 27, 2010

Fuji announces it's Second Digital Stereo Camera – FinePix REAL 3D W3, now with HD!

fujifilm_W3.jpg

It's a little smaller, a little lighter, a bit less expensive and it shoots stereo and 2D in HD, stills and video. And have they improved the horrid, unintuitive controls of the W1? It appears so, from the twin dials on the camera back. Hey, I love the things they got right with the W1, but the menu interface wasn't one of them.

W3_mode_dial2.jpg

Go here to the Fuji site for more info.

Read the Gizmodo hands-on review here.

UPDATE: Trial HD anaglyph videos from the Fuji W3 are available from NYSS member Dimitris Athos and Ryan Suits at Vimeo here and here.

Download the PDF of the W3 4 page brochure here or the 124 page camera manual here.

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A side-by-side comparison of the W1 and the W3 from Engadget.com.

September 8, 2010

Fujifilm W3 - A "First Impressions" Review by William Meredith

After one day of owning a Fujifilm W3, here are my first impressions:

The new W3 is solidly built and has a very comfortable feel in the hands, not slick or slippery. The camera is easy to carry and the included wrist strap adds a degree of security. The lens cover/power switch has a positive snap that leaves no doubt as to whether it is off or on. A ridge on the lens cover makes it easy to keep one's fingers out of the lenses.

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The 3x (35mm - 105mm) zoom control ring surrounds the shutter release button. Like most zoom controls it is difficult to zoom slowly enough for accurate composition. Rather than trying to get a continuous zoom, it appears to be better to use an intermittent approach - quickly press the zoom control, hear the beep, let go of the control and the zoom moves one step in or out.

There is a parallax control on the top of the camera on the left side. This can be quite useful when the point of parallax is different from the point of focus/exposure. When pressed, the control causes the display to show both images simultaneously and adjustments can be made in fine increments. It can also be used in the Playback mode to adjust parallax before printing. Lenticular prints can be ordered online.

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It is difficult to keep finger grease off of the 3-inch screen in normal handling, carrying, sliding into/out of a case, etc. This screen is incredible and gives the camera a huge "Wow!!" factor. It is a very high resolution - 1 million plus pixels - lenticular screen with virtually invisible lenses. This is not your father's "Winkie!" Fortunately, the grease has no impact on the imagery.

The battery/SD card cover is a fairly complicated plastic and metal affair that will get a great deal of use. Its operation is somewhat misleading as there are four raised dots on the front edge, however, they do not provide enough grip to actually open the door. The best way is to simply put one's thumb smack in the middle of the label and slide the door open. This will happen often because the battery will require frequent changing.

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To become more familiar with the camera, I put it in its "fully-automatic everything" mode and played 3D tourist at the American Museum of Natural History. :-) Although the camera has a great deal of flexibility, I thought that the majority of users would just shoot in this mode most of the time and I wanted to see how it would perform.

Starting with a fully charged battery and a freshly formatted 4-GB SDHC card, I was able to take 156 pictures using the dual *.mpo/*.jpg mode - in other words, 78 discreet images. I shot a mix of bright exteriors on the walk over, and both available light and flash in the museum. I kept the camera turned off most of the time. Afterwards I reviewed the pictures with a friend.

This was enough to completely drain the battery which then took 2.5 hours to recharge.

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The controls on the rear of the camera are similar to many P&S digital cameras but with the addition of a 2D/3D button and a Movie button. The Shutter Release button is used for both stills and movies. The selected mode is displayed on the screen.

The Disp/Back button steps the screen display through Information on, off, and a very useful "rule of thirds" grid display. This is invaluable for keeping the lenses horizontal.

The Playback button > can be used to turn the camera on and off without having to open the front lens cover. The Menu rocker switch is used to move through the images, and the Zoom Control can then be used to magnify them.

A Mode Selection dial provides access to Fully Auto, Program, Manual, Aperture Priority, two Scene Modes (that are assigned in the Menu) and two Advanced Modes.

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The A(dvanced)3D position allows two images to be taken by the left lens, á la Cha-Cha, for situations where the normal 75mm baseline is too much or too little. After taking the first shot, it is displayed on the screen in an onionskin mode, partly transparent, so that the second shot can be aligned with it. These two images are then combined in the normal *.mpo format to yield a stereo image. This provides some interesting new macro capabilities.

The A(dvanced)2D position allows you to take two different images simultaneously, e.g., a wide shot and a close up or different color balances, etc. These images are just two individual *.jpgs.

Since there is no image stabilization, hand-holding at slower shutter speeds could be difficult.

Sensor noise appears to be very low, especially considering that, in the fully automatic mode, the lowest ISO is 400. I haven't yet explored the other manual settings which go down to ISO 100.

One problem I found is that the flash can create double shadows - one on either side of the subject - because it is in between the lenses. When possible, moving the subject away from the background will help.

DSCF4104_500px.jpg

The image quality is very good and the precise synchronization between the two image sensors adds substantially to that quality. Depth is quite apparent with no "cardboard cutout" effect. I've included a few representative stereo pairs that I shot today.

I bought the Fujifilm W3 expecting that it might be an "almost, but not quite there" attempt at what I was looking for in a 3D camera. And I made very sure I could return it when it fell short of my expectations. After one day on full auto, I'm totally impressed with its design, quality and capabilities.

The rock-solid, cableless synchronization, HD video and amazingly clear 3D screen solve many of the difficulties I've dealt with previously. The fact that it has a multitude of other modes and features adds substantially to its value for my needs. No camera is perfect for everyone, but the W3 is a solid 2nd gen contender and, for me at least, a keeper.

About Cameras

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to New York Stereoscopic Society in the Cameras category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Annoucements/NYSS News is the previous category.

Events is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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