The last few years has seen great advancements in video technology. One of the more controversial and great leaps taken by top camera manufacturers is the introduction of 3D video cameras. Even with the additional costs of equipment like a 3D capable TV and 3D glasses, the number of 3D camcorder models are growing rapidly.
These new 3D camcorders make it easy for professionals and hobbyists to add more depth and detail, and capture nuances of complex scenes such as crowds, rain, leaves, snow, reflections, rain, etc, like never before.
As 3D video capturing is a rather new technology here are some information that will help you make a better decision before spending your money on an expensive piece of equipment.
Main Factors to Consider
The first thing you need to decide is where you’re going to watch the video most often. If you are planning to upload the video and watch it online, look for a camcorder that offers one-touch uploading and one that creates anaglyphic videos. These can be viewed with cheap red/cyan glasses to get the 3D effect. These camcorders are generally less expensive.
Most would prefer watching it on a fully compatible 3D HDTV. Most camcorders fall under this category anyway and there are also more costly. These camcorders usually record to an external memory where you can just insert directly to your TV’s card slot.
It is also a wise option to invest in a good tripod as the 3D camcorder’s image stabilization might not be good enough to keep your videos steady for headache free viewing.
As with non-3D HD camcorders, lighting conditions and zoom quality will quickly reveal the limits and strengths of the camcorder’s lenses. All 3D video cameras use the same basic concept of stereoscopic lenses . And because of the polarity involved in creating a stereoscopic image most consumer 3D camcorders work best in well-lit situations.
If you want a camcorder that shoots primarily in 2D but also lets you shoot in 3D with an optional lens, you can consider the latest Panasonic models such as the Panasonic HC-X900M and X900K. They are great in shooting 2D video in 1080/60p, but when fitted with the VW-CLT2 3D conversion lens (sold separately) these camcorders captures beautiful 3D video too.
The cheaper option is one that captures images in anaglyph (red/cyan). An example is the Vivitar DVR 790HD which retails for less than $100. Videos can be viewed on a TV, computer or iPad or uploaded to YouTube without a need for an expensive 3D TV. Obviously the video quality pales in comparison.
One of the more interesting 3D camcorders you’ll find is the Sony DEV 50. It is a binocular-camera hybrid capable of recording 3D video in Full HD. It also has a improved low-light performance and a broad zoom range which makes it more versatile.
Moving up the scale there are 3D professional video cameras in the 5 figure price range. These pro camcorders have the ability to shoot two streams of HD video akin to housing two high-end camcorders in a single body for compromised 3D video quality.
Some camcorders have onboard memory for camera functions only, so you will need an SD/SDHC card for recording video. Generally 32GB of memory allows you to capture 2.5 hours of high definition 3D video or about 16 hours of video at full 1080p HD.
There are also many higher priced 3D camcorders that can record video and still images either to an internal flash drive or external memory card. Sony’s newer HDR-TD20V however only offers the option of recording to the onboard 64GB flash memory.
Shot Enhancing Features
With 3D, avoiding camera shake is critical. Option A is to use a tripod, which is not always possible in many scenarios. Option B is a pair of steady hands and good technique. Failing which the next best option is one with good image stabilization.
Sony offers Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode that compensates for greater degrees of camera shake.
Panasonic offers HYBRID O.I.S. + which uses five-axis correction to thoroughly suppress blurring.
It’s good to do some research to find out which models perform best in this area.
Video Output & Editing
If you have a 3D HDTV, record your video in either AVCHD and/or MVC (MP4) format. AVCHD is developed by jointly by Panasonic and Sony, so editing 3D AVCHD video is a lot easier than the MVC format.
MVC is the codec used in Blu-ray discs. The best editing option for this is Sony Vegas Pro 11, which will help you take full advantage of the higher image quality that’s possible with MVC.