LAS VEGAS--It's probably the least stylish digital camera on display here at PMA 2009, but it's also one of the most unusual.
As a result, Fujifilm is getting a lot of attention at its booth in the Las Vegas Convention Center with its FinePix Real 3D camera, even though it first showed the unit at Photokina last fall. It's just a prototype, but the point-and-shoot camera is capable of taking and displaying 3D photos.
The camera has two lenses, which take two different images. Then Fujifilm's RP Processor 3D takes the two images and combines them to create a single image on the fly. When you want to review the photo, you click the 3D button and the camera's internal backlighting system on the display will make the image 3D. The lighting system is Fujifilm's own light direction control module, which controls how light hits a person's right and left eyes individually.
Fujifilm has been working on getting 3D technology into its camera products for five years, according to Shizuo Habuta, a manager in the electronic imaging products division at Fujifilm. Besides, the point-and-shoot also has a system for printing 3D photos as well as a 3D viewer in the works.
The question, of course, is whether there's any consumer-level need for 3D digital photos.
"We don't know yet," Habuta said Tuesday. "But 3D is the most interesting technology for entertainment right now." He pointed to the increasing variety of movies being distributed in 3D, as well as an anticipated move toward 3D gaming. Fujifilm is assuming digital still photos will be next.
Even if not, the company is using the prototype to show what it's capable of developing in its labs, he added. "This is a challenge for us."