3D Photography: Is there still hope for 3D TV’s stillborn cousin?

ExtremeTech.com has an interesting question for you: Where are all the 3D digital cameras and photos? There are 3D TVs, 3D movies, 3D games, 3D printers, Kinect — but, when it comes to 3D still cameras, the market is almost completely barren. Sure, there’s a handful of 3D point-and-shoot cameras, but they’re not exactly flying off the shelves — but more importantly, the 3D smartphone market basically died a few months after it was created by the LG Optimus 3D.

There are a few reasons for this. First, we do most of our digital photo viewing on smartphones, tablets, and PCs — and while it isn’t that hard to find a PC with a 3D display, 3D smartphones and tablets are almost impossible to find. In the few cases where tablets and smartphones actually have a 3D display, they’re usually glasses-free — which is nice for the person holding the phone, but unworkable if you want to enjoy your travel photos to your grandmother. 3D desktops and laptops suffer in the opposite way: They require everyone to wear special glasses.

The second reason is that we primarily take photos to share them with other people — and if you want to share a 3D photo with someone, they have to have a 3D display. There are quite a few 3D TVs, but how many people surf Facebook on their TV? The vast majority of people view photos on their PC or mobile device, and the penetration of 3D displays in these markets is almost zero. (See: 3D TV is dead.)

Finally, there are a handful of intrinsic, technological issues with 3D cameras and images that simply make them prohibitively cumbersome. To take real 3D images with acceptable quality and separation (to create parallax), you need two lenses that are separated by a couple of inches — and whether you’re talking about smartphones, or DSLRs with big lenses, that’s a big ask. The only workable solution at the moment seems to be point-and-shoots with two small lenses, such as the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 (pictured right), but you’re never going to approach DSLR-level quality that way. You can use some clever hacks to take 3D photos with a single lens, such as Samsung has done with its NX-series 45mm lens, or split the CMOS sensor in half as Panasonic has done, but the laws of physics will probably prevent both approaches from ever creating a satisfactory 3D effect.

Read more at http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/156138-3d-photography-is-there-still-hope-for-3d-tvs-stillborn-cousin

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