Ceatec 2010: Hands on with Panasonic's 3D camera

Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds camera with 3D lens fares much better in bright light, we found after taking it for a brief spin at the annual Tokyo gadget fest.

The Micro Four Thirds camera from Panasonic with 3D lens, shown here at Ceatec 2010.
The Micro Four Thirds camera from Panasonic with 3D lens, shown here at Ceatec 2010. Erica Ogg/CNET

CHIBA, Japan--Panasonic's 3D obsession encompasses more than TVs. Here at Ceatec 2010 is the company's full complement of gadgets capable of recording, storing, and displaying 3D video and images.

Panasonic introduced the 3D camera at Photokina in Cologne, Germany, a few weeks ago, but there was a demonstration area set up here to test the 3D Lumix GH2 camera, so we tried it out.

The 3D lens can be attached to the Micro Four Thirds camera. With the 3D lens on, there's no zoom, and very bright light is required. Photos taken in a dimly lit exhibition hall barely registered any 3D effect, besides being blurry. For the best results, Panasonic says it recommends using the setup outdoors.

But the images we took in the demo area, where Panasonic had set up a backdrop with plenty of depth and a very bright light, even indoors, came out fairly well in 3D.

A 3D image taken with the camera and displayed on a 3D TV. In person, with glasses, the 3D effect worked pretty well.
A 3D image taken with the camera and displayed on a 3D TV. You need 3D glasses to see the effect. Erica Ogg/CNET

Once the photo is taken, you don't get the 3D image on the camera's flip-out display. Instead, you take the SD card out of the camera and put it into a 3D TV (Panasonic, naturally, used its own in the demo area).

Only once you've donned 3D glasses and selected the image from the TV's menu can you review your photo. (Example at right.)

It should be noted there's no requirement to use a Panasonic 3D TV with the camera. An HDMI cable between the GH2 and any other brand 3D TV would also work.

The 3D lens is going on sale at the end of October in Japan for the equivalent of $250, and sometime in November in the U.S. for between $250 and $300, according to a Panasonic representative here.

Correction at 4:36 p.m.: This story initially included the camera in the pricing given in the last paragraph. That pricing is for the lens only.

About the author

Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur. E-mail Erica.



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