Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    Thumbnail image for DMC_3D1_slant.jpg
  • Dual 12-Megapixel High Sensitivity MOS image sensors 
  • Dual 4x Optical zoom lenses
  • iAuto Shooting mode
  • Full 1080p HD video and 3D video capture
  • 3.5-inch 460,000 dot Touch LCD screen
  • AF Tracking
  • Dual Shooting Capabilities
  • Simultaneous Still and Video Capture 
  • RAW or JPEG still image capture modes 
  • 8fps continuous shooting
  • Li-ion battery pack
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot
  • HDMI output
 
Pros
  • Compact size like a standard digicam
  • Overall outstanding image quality
  • Dual lenses allow true 3D capture
  • One Touch Video is always ready
  • Dual Shooting gives you options not available without two lenses and sensors
  • Huge 3.5-inch Touch LCD is easy to operate
  • Plenty of available optional accessories
  • Outstanding high ISO performance for a point-n-shoot  (acceptable up to ISO 800)
  • Excellent overall camera performance
Cons
  • Very poor battery life
  • Incredibly weak flash
  • $500 price tag is steep, but it is one of the few 3D options available
  • Lack of a 3D LCD Screen (like FujiFilm's FinePix REAL 3D W3)
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.0 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 5/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.88 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.3 seconds
  • 8fps burst =  6.32fps
  • GUI navigation = responsive
  • Performance is good, but the burst is lacking a little from Panasonic's claims
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Pro Class 10, 8GB SDHC card, Program mode, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
One of the few true 3D options available currently, the Panasonic Lumix 3D1 is designed for anyone that is looking to capture their own 3D images and videos. It's 12-Megapixel imaging sensors and 4x optical zoom lenses provide great quality and versatility.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a way to capture your own 3D images and videos while still having the same high quality digicam for everyday use.
At first glance, the Panasonic Lumix 3D1 looks and acts like a normal point-n-shoot camera. With a second look, you then notice the dual 4x optical zoom lenses, and realize there is something a little different about this camera. A set of wide angle lenses, dual 12.1-Megapixel High Sensitivity MOS image sensors and the Venus Engine allow the camera to capture 3D images and videos without tricks or moving the camera. The two lenses are calibrated to move and focus together, creating a 3D image the same way your own eyes do. The two separate images are then put together by a 3DTV or computer so that you can see them. If you like the idea of 3D but still want a regular digital camera, the 3D1 still works in 2D as well. In fact, the 2 lenses allow for a couple special shooting modes as well. It allows the camera to capture video and stills at the same time, as well as shooting with different focal lengths at the same time.

With the look and feel of an internal lens ultra-compact camera, the 3D1 is easy to take with you on the go. The sliding lens cover keeps the lenses safe; whether you have thrown it in a purse or slid it into your pocket for safe keeping, while making it easy to turn on and start shooting by just sliding open the cover. Except for the shutter release, 2D/3D switch and zoom control, everything else on the camera is controlled using the huge 3.5-inch, 460,000 dot Touch LCD screen. Right out of the box, the screen  was calibrated and works as well as any other touch screen we have used. The screen itself is also very easy to see in all lighting conditions with its adjustable levels of brightness.

Looking at our outdoor image samples from the 3D1, we were pleased to see that this specialty camera keeps the same high level of image quality we've come to expect from the rest of Panasonic's Lumix line. Exposure, color and detail all show through in our samples. The only exception is our museum shot, where the camera overexposed for the shadows and blew out the highlights. While doing this, it also had a bleaching effect on the image's color. While this is the effect of iAuto, setting the camera to program and picking your focus and exposure point is an easy fix. On the positive side, the amount of detail in the other outdoor images is incredible, allowing us to see some very distant details. Also helping to get closer to those fine details are the dual 4x optical zoom lenses. With a 35mm equivalent of 25-100mm (2D) or 30-120mm (3D / 16:9), the lenses offer a great range for everyday use; and at 4x optical, it is setting the standard for the future of 3D cameras.

Our indoor sample images give us an outstanding look at how impressive these HS MOS sensors are. Looking closely, it is even easier to see the fine details, even at some of the higher ISO settings. ISO 100 - ISO 400 show incredibly low amounts of noise within the image, allowing for very large, very clear prints. Once you reach ISO 800 - ISO 1600, the increase in noise becomes noticeable, but the images are still suitable for smaller prints. Assisting with your indoor and lower-light images is a small flash unit with an equally small range. At ISO Auto with a max range of just 11.5 ft, you will definitely have to stay close to your subjects. 

Capturing portraits with the 3D1 is just as easy as with any other Panasonic model. The camera quickly recognizes faces within the frame and follows them without problems. Good color and natural skin tones capture your subjects just the way you see them. In our sample image the flash, set to auto, chose not to fire leaving no chance for red-eye, but we had no problems with that at any time. The camera's face recognition allows you to store faces in the camera, so that your favorite people to photograph will always be the stars of your images.

With the set of dual lenses and sensors, the camera is capable of a few other special shooting modes other than 3D. One mode allows the camera to capture two images at a time, one from each lens/sensor combo, with both lenses using a different focal length. This is a great way to capture two views of a scene at once. This feature also allows you to capture full-sized images while the camera is recording video, without there being any type of break in the video. Another great way to capture different medias at the same time with the same tool.

With a dedicated video recording button, the camera is always ready to capture video with just one push of a button. Whether it is in 2D or 3D, you will be pleased with the quality of the full HD (1080p) video capture with stereo sound. It's clear, smooth playing video and clear sound provide a pleasurable experience on any HDTV. With the camera's small built-in speakers, they still pick up a lot of background noise and concentrate on the sound that is closest to the camera; and not necessarily what you are focused on. An external mic input would have been an excellent addition to increase the quality of the audio. However, this is quite typical with almost all compact digicams.

Powering the 3D1 is a 3.6V, 895mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery that has the power to capture approx. 200 images on a single charge. While this already sounds like a short battery life, during our tests we were barely able to capture 100 images and videos while completing our tests. This battery is not near enough to power a camera that requires so much to operate; with the large LCD, dual sensors and lenses, it consumes more power than other camera's to perform the same tasks. You will definitely want to have a spare battery or two, all which can be kept charged with the external quick charger; kudos to Panasonic for keeping the external charger in this camera kit.

Bottom Line - The Panasonic 3D1 is a the perfect camera for the 3D enthusiast. With 3D image and video capabilities without having to use special shooting modes, 3D capture is as easy as capturing a regular photo or video with any consumer camera; just point the camera and shoot! While 3D is the main selling point of this model, the camera still captures amazing 12-Megapixel 2D images and full HD video. Loaded with extra components and features, the camera's battery does not last very long, which was the only major disappointment we encountered. Overall with a MSRP of $499.99 USD, this is one of the few true 3D camera's available, and its great 2D image quality means you will use it all the time. While it may not be for everyone, the Lumix 3D1 does have a lot to offer those who are fascinated with 3D, while still being a very capable 2D point-n-shoot.

*Note: We currently have no way to view the camera's 3D images and videos. When we are able to view these, we will update this conclusion with comments on the 3D output of this camera. 

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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