The Curious Cameras of the 3D TV Era

The Curious Cameras of the 3D TV Era

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In the years surrounding 2010, 3D TV seemed like a big deal. Almost every manufacturer dove head first into making 3D panels and the often-goofy glasses that go with them. Here in 2017, however, 3D TV is completely dead with Sony and LG reportedly discontinuing their 3D offerings in 2017. They were the last of the major brands still in the space. So, while there are few people out there mourning the passing of an awkward era in home entertainment, it has left in its wake a collection of quirky cameras and camera accessories meant to augment the 3D experience.

Perhaps the most high-profile dedicated 3D consumer camera came from Fujifilm, a company without any real skin in the 3D TV game. I distinctly remember going to a lavish preview event for the Real 3D W3 camera held in New York’s Museum of Natural History.

The camera was actually a follow-up to Fujifilm’s original 3D model, the W1, but represented some pretty distinct upgrades, including a pair of CCD (!) sensors, each behind its own set of optics. This was no split optics setup, but rather a camera with two cameras built-in. It also had a parallax barrier 3D screen on the back, so you could see the images popping out at you without the need for glasses.

The Real 3D W3 seemed impressive for the time. Sure, the 3D screen on the back of the camera was reminiscent of those lenticular baseball cards that changed the picture as you tilted them back and forth, but you didn’t need glasses and there was a real wow factor about it. Plus, it was only $500, which wasn’t cheap, but seemed like a better deal if you had already bought a pricey 3D TV, which were sorely lacking for content at the time.

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