3D cameras, like the Poppy 3D camera, are cool, but often they’re a pain to use. That “pain” translates to their being left aside while regular 2D digital cameras get center stage. So you’d think that any camera that can shoot 3D video in high-def and 3D pics would get precedent over its 2D cousin? Wrong. And that’s not good for promoting 3D use. To compare 2D to 3D cameras check out our latest digital camera reviews.
So say hello to my new best friend digital camera: the Sony Bloggie 3D. This little guy shoots high-definition video and stills with 12.8 megapixels of resolution: 2D for sure, but stereoscopic 3D as well. And Sony got it right because this digital camera takes 3D to where it needs to go: into the hand of the consumer to use. Keep reading as this review will talk about what a 3D digital camera does to work as intended.
Related: You might also be interested in the Sony Alpha A6500 mirrorless digital camera that prides itself in its body image stabilization and accurate AF system.
Those with big hands will find the Bloggie a bit smallish, but not annoyingly so. It comes in a plush-like box that mirrors the edges of the camera and makes it easy to grip. The Bloggie has internal memory only (8GB), and recharges through a USB port (you do get an accessory USB cable). Press a notch on the bottom to eject the USB tab or do the reverse when done. But, to be recognized by the computer, make sure it’s turned on first.
With that said, I got a message on my Mac that there was a firmware update. While I downloaded that, I clicked on the icon of the Bloggie that held the manual and software (Mac users have to do a download for the software). The software lets you transfer video and stills with ease or upload them to social networking sites: those who don’t want to bother can transfer the content directly from the camera instead.
Related: Check out our compact-sized Sony DSCW800 Camera review, which comes with 5x optical zoom plus 360-degree panorama views.
With the Bloggie charged and disconnected, you press a top-mounted power tab to turn it on and this takes about 4 seconds. The button to the right of the tab is the shutter for still photography — remember to press it down to shoot because halfway just activates the auto exposure features like focus and white levels. On the back of the Bloggie are a 2.4-inch color LCD screen, a direction pad, and three tabs: one turns on or off the 2D or 3D effect; one brings up the general purpose menu; one brings up the playback menu for seeing what’s been captured.
The Bloggie’s front has 2 lenses and is designed to shoot video horizontally — a message warning you to turn the camera away from the vertical pops up onscreen even if you’re only planning to shoot a still when 3D is enabled. The LCD is used as the viewfinder and images can be shot by pressing the shutter button, while the video just needs a press at the center of the direction pad (not having to set the camera to “still” or “video” is great). The built-in white LED on the front provides more than enough illumination for stills and even video — providing you don’t expect it to reach past a couple of feet (works really well for filling in shadow areas of faces outside). Also, you should expect it to drain the battery faster as a result of repeated use.
The camera is compact but big enough not to slip as you use it — I found that I could shoot fairly competently with one hand, although for video two are best to avoid shaking. Such things as auto stabilization and other special functions aren’t found here. I started by shooting in 2D and the experience was pretty comparable to that of a quality “point and shoot” camera. One that had a quick enough response time when used to shoot photos, as I found out while following my Cavalier King Charles Auggie around until he was disgusted with me and went back to sleep on the couch.
Switching to 3D just required pressing the 2D/3D tab until “3D” appeared on the LCD screen — I also went into the menu and set the video to 1080p, as opposed to the setting more suitable if the video is to be watched on a 3D-capable PC. Then you just shoot video or stills as was done in 2D earlier. You can record 3D footage on this pocket camcorder for up to about 80 minutes on a single battery charge, and you can also record HD video quality in 1920x1080p.
There’s a 4X digital zoom, but it doesn’t work when shooting 3D (frankly I don’t recommend using it with video in 2D either since it degrades the image).
Now since you can see the 3D on the LCD screen without having to put on liquid crystal glasses, don’t be surprised if the display looks a bit “off” to your eyes. The screen will seem “shiny” a bit when 3D is playing, but it can be gotten used to (those with glasses, like me, will find the effect a bit more pronounced). And just as when shooting 2D video, holding the camera steady is a necessity. Fortunately, the candy bar shape is augmented by a soft material on the sides as well as the edges — which aids when gripping the camera and minimizes vibrations.
Probably the biggest change in shooting 3D is realizing that you have to have the camera aimed in such a way that depth is present — shooting a car on the curve that’s 10 feet away won’t show any real 3D contrasted against the road behind it. So plan on moving closer to those images you wish to capture, while also keeping in mind that you can create depth between objects by the way you position the camera relative to them. In other words — practice by shooting, checking out what you did on the LCD screen afterward, rinse and repeat.
Once the shooting is done, you pop out the USB connector, attach it to a computer and transfer the images. Software for viewing 3D on the PC is included, but obviously, the computer must be compatible.
There’s also an HDMI output that can be used to directly connect to an HDTV. If you watch a slideshow or video in 2D, it’ll look fine on any HDTV out there. But should you play a 3D video or a 3D still photo, the HDTV must be 3D-capable or you’re going to be seeing double.
Bottom line: Shooting in 3D isn’t a “gimmick,” but it’s still out of the ordinary today. To enjoy the 3D -effect, you need a camera that doesn’t hamper your creativity. But even more important, you need a camera that is as easy to use as a 2D one is. The Sony Bloggie 3D is just such a camera.