January 10, 2011

Sony + JVC low-cost 3D camcorders

3D was probably the key theme at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week (even more so than would be iPad rivals), with 3D displays, 3D games consoles, 3D-equipped laptops, and cheap and simple consumer cameras on many stands – some of which could find themselves used for professional applications.

Sony's first foray into the world of consumer 3D camcorders includes one that should be of interest to professional users.
The Sony HDR-TD10E was claimed to be "the world’s first Double Full HD 3D consumer camcorder" – JVC made similar claims (see below). It uses an integrated dual lens system with two Sony G Lenses, two Exmor R CMOS sensors, and two BIONZ image processors, recording 1920x1080 on both channels. It can also output full HD 2D video, and recordings can be played back in 3D without glasses on the camcorder’s 3.5-inch autostereoscopic LCD touch screen.

Other features include: 10x optical zoom with Optical SteadyShot (Active Mode) and iAUTO in 3D mode; 64GB of built-in flash memory.

The HDR-TD10E will be available in April for about $1,499.

Sony also has one of the simplest, cheapest and smallest 3D camcorders on offer in its new Bloggie HD range.

The Sony MHS-FS3 Bloggie 3D records 1920x1080 MP4 video and 5-megapixel still photos. It has two lenses (very close together), two image sensors, stereo microphone and built-in LED light. Recordings can be viewed in 3D without glasses on the camera’s 2.4-inch LCD or via a 3D screen using HDMI. It has 8GB of internal memory and will be available in April for less than $250.

JVC goes full on

JVC's GS-TD1 full HD 3D consumer camcorder (pictured top) can also record 1920x1080 (50i or 60i) on both left and right channels simultaneously (as well as supporting side-by-side format AVCHD 3D plus AVCHD 2D).
It features two 3D HD GT 5x lenses (10x in 2D mode), two 3.32 megapixel CMOS sensors, 64GB of built-in flash memory plus an SD card slot, the new Falconbrid LSI chip, and a 3.5-inch glasses-free 3D touch panel LCD. It should cost less than $1,700 and ship in March, a month before the HDR-TD10 – which might indeed mean it lives up to JVC's claim that "the newly developed LR Independent Format makes the GS-TD1 the world's first consumer-oriented camcorder capable of 3D shooting in Full HD."

It has an Optical Axis Automatic Stabilization System for disparity control to give depth to 3D images, Biphonic technology for dynamic 3D sound, and Automatic Parallax Adjustment to optimize the 3D-video comfort zone. The f1.2 lenses have round iris diaphragms to give a pleasing bokeh effect (background blurring) for both video and stills alike – although the small, back-illuminated CMOS sensors may not always give the shallow depth of field needed to make that useful - although shallow depth of field isn't really applicable to 3D as it makes the 3D effect look less natural.

The GS-TD1 will be able to do 3D time-lapse recording, which could make it very useful as a set and forget camcorder for long-term projects. It also records 3D still images. [UPDATE: The first reviews are coming in - see GS-TD1 review at Digital Trends].

JVC also showed a new compact HD Everio camcorder with 3D capabilities. The $950 GZ-HM960 has 2D-to-3D conversion built in, to turn any 2D footage into 3D. Output can be viewed without glasses on the camera's 3.5-inch 3D LCD monitor, or by connecting the camcorder to a 3D TV.  It will be available in February.

By David Fox

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