Why Doesn't Sony Have A 3D Consumer Camcorder?

Sony loves them some 3D. So much so that they have a global 3D taskforce to better enable all arms of their business to go 3D. They happily claim they're the only company offering an end-to-end 3D solution. But there's a big hole in their 3D product line-up - they don't have a 3D consumer camcorder.

Considering they were one of the first companies to create a 3D broadcast rig, you would think that they'd have a 3D camcorder ready to go. But according to Akima Shimazu, head of all things 3D at Sony, it just isn't that simple.

"Of course it's on the roadmap, but the point is, making camcorders is easy, the most difficult products is if you make it right.

Even in the professional area, with the professional camera and a big rig, when we zoom in with two cameras sometimes you experience pixels shifted vertically, horizontally and twisted, so that really damages 3D which makes it very hard to see.

So [cameramen]now understand that we they zoom in, zooming is not really exactly straight, it's sometimes shifted. That is maybe okay for 2D shooting, but that is a problem for 3D shooting."

Another problem is what a consumer-grade 3D camcorder would be used for. By necessity, 3D cameras are useless at shooting anything closer than 3m away. But if you've got a camcorder, chances are you use it to video kids or pets, who have a horrible tendency to come running either towards you - closer than the 3m barrier you need - or away from you. As Shimazu explained:

"We have to resolve what's the best way to make a 3D point and shoot camera. Of course, what is easy is to just make a fixed lens. But first of all we want to make a zoom lens with zooming capability and focus and also we have to make white balance and colour very accurate.

So we're not going to rush to the market, but we'll resolve those issues and make a very good camera."

It's an interesting thought - that tilting the camera while filming 3D would ruin the 3D effect, kind of like turning your head while watching 3D does. And I have to admit that when I saw Panasonic's consumer 3D camera in action, it was fixed on a tripod - it will be very interesting to see just how the 3D effect comes out while the camcorder is being used in the hand and not actually stable.

In any case it just goes to show that despite the fact 3D is being marketed left, right and centre at the moment, the technology still has a long way to go before it's truly effortless and enjoyable.

Nick attended IFA as a guest of Sony.

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