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Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

DXG's 3D toy camera is cheap fun

It might be made for kids, but the DXG-018 3D digicam is an inexpensive way for anyone to make 3D photos.

DXG

Having tested several digital cameras with 3D photo modes, the excitement quickly wears off. That's mostly because the results aren't great and they require a 3D HDTV and glasses. The DXG-018 camera is different.

While other manufacturers use a single lens, high-speed shooting, and image processing to create a 3D image, the DXG has two f2.8 lenses and two incredibly small 1/9-inch type sensors (a typical point-and-shoot has a 1/2.3-inch type sensor). Press the shutter release and it captures a single 0.3-megapixel shot with each lens.

Those shots are saved side by side (see the photo below). The camera can focus as close as 6 inches from the subject, but be warned: the angle of view is very narrow. Framing shots is done on a 1.4-inch LCD; that's small and the screen quality is miserable, so it can be difficult to use in full sun.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

There are virtually no adjustments you can make: white balance, resolution--1.3 megapixels (interpolated) or VGA--and exposure compensation. ISO is auto and apparently only goes up to ISO 100. Shutter speeds only go down to 1/20 of a second, too, so you're going to need a lot of light to get a properly exposed photo. Also, it's not fast enough to use with moving subjects. You'll probably only want to use it on stationary subjects.

Once you've taken some pictures, you pop out your SD card (not included) or connect to a computer or printer by Micro-USB, and make some prints on standard 4x6-inch photo paper. They come out of the camera formatted properly, so there's no editing to do and the files are viewable on any computer. Just cut along the dashed lines and you'll have a stereoscopic slide to stick in one of the three included cardboard viewers.

It might take a couple blinks and a little movement of the slide for you eyes to adjust (and like a View-Master it works best when aimed at a light source), but you can get a nice 3D effect. Also, the better the printer you use, the more enjoyable the slides.

The DXG-018 was designed with kids in mind, so if you're expecting anything more than a toy camera, don't waste your money. The camera looks and feels cheap and, well, it is. The starting price is $70, but it can be found online for about $50, which is probably what it should've been all along. It is a lot of fun to play with, though, and since it's small, lightweight, and runs on two AAA-size batteries, you could easily toss it in a bag to capture a few 3D shots at a party or on your next vacation.