Last week we talked about 3-D camcorders letting you film immersive home movies of, I dunno, your dog and cat slapping each other or the kids tossing wrapping paper around. Turns out 3-D still photos are much cheaper and/or easier to accomplish than video.
I say “and/or” because there are two different ways to go about it. The first way is to buy a digital camera specifically made for 3-D imaging: one with two lenses.
FujiFilm is out in front here. The company has not one, but two 3-D digital cameras out right now.
The first, the FinePix REAL 3D W1, is a real budget buster at $999. Two lenses and two 10-megapixel image sensors do make it pretty easy to capture 3-D images with the press of a button. Export to a modern 3-D television or Fuji’s V1 8-inch viewer. The 2.8-inch LCD viewfinder displays in three dimensions without the need for glasses. (Small screens can do that much more easily than those larger than your face, since the image area and distance to your eyes is more limited.)
It also gives you some rather neat 2-D options, almost functioning like two complete cameras in one body. Zoom one lens while taking a wide angle shot with the other; use different ISO settings to get a grainy but sharp image as well as a blurred but clear shot that suggests motion.
The W3 came out a bit later at a drastically reduced but still not exactly cheap price. Hovering mostly near $500 but available as low as $349, the W3 has pretty much the same styling and features as the W1. It does have a larger 3.5-inch screen and takes 720p video instead of the W1’s 480p, so there’s really no reason to go for the W1, which acted mostly as a prototype.
If you don’t take a lot of action shots, just want to experiment or have no cash, it’s pretty simple to get 3-D images with any old digital camera. You just need a bit of software, patience and practice.
Start by taking a picture of your subject. Take a step to the left or right and take another nearly identical picture. The slight change in angle simulates the way your eyes are set apart. The farther apart your two pictures are, the more three-dimensional your final image will appear — to a point. After that point, it’ll just look like a mess. As a general rule, the closer you are to your subject, the closer together the two shots should be. Take a bunch of shots when you’re starting out to get a feel for it.
Then put both shots into software like Callipygian 3D for Windows. It’s free and guides you through creating an anaglyph that can be viewed in all its glory through cheap red and blue glasses. Their site at callipygian.com even has a full tutorial.
If you’re using an iPhone, a $2 app called 3D Camera by Juicy Bits makes it even simpler. Fire up the app, take two shots, bam.
Save as a red and blue anaglyph, a side-by-side stereo pair or a “wigglegram,” an animated file that quickly alternates between your two images in a way that always, without exception, looks a little bit dirty.
Now won’t your summer vacation photos be exciting?