Best 3D Camera

3D footage is one of the latest technologies to be adopted by online streaming platforms such as YouTube, but recently, it’s become supported by a wide range of TVs too. You may have thought that creating 3D images or video costs thousands of dollars, and believe us, some of the high-end cameras do cost that much, but it’s also possible to find a 3D camera for a more modest budget too, and that’s what we’ll be doing today.

Best 3D Cameras 2017 – Our Top Picks

Below, you’ll find a table briefly describing each camera we’ll be reviewing in this article. This is intended to be an “at a glance” overview of the cameras, so please don’t make your mind up just yet, as we’ll be giving you our opinions just a little later on.

3D CameraMaximum ResolutionScreen TypeCurrent Price
Ricoh Theta S Digital Camera1920x1080None
Sony Bloggie 3D Camera1920x10802.4” LCD
Action Camera OUTERDO3840x21600.96” OLED
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W31280x7203.5” LCD

Now that you’ve seen the products we’ll be covering, we’d like to take a closer look at each of them. We’ll find where the camera excels, where it might fall flat, and the situations in which it would be best used. That said, let’s begin with the Ricoh Theta S.

1

Ricoh Theta S Digital Camera – Most Portable 3D Camera

The Ricoh Theta S Digital Camera is a sleek little camera with a small profile to ensure that it’s as portable as can be. This means you can take it just about anywhere, and believe us, you’re going to want to travel with this camera.

First things first, this camera takes monoscopic 3D images, as well as 360o video. It comes with 8GB of internal memory which sadly can’t be upgraded, however, to offset this, Ricoh has allowed for direct upload to social media through this product’s dedicated app. The app also shows a live preview of your footage or image, the ability to change camera modes or settings and live-streaming capabilities. It should be noted that the preview video only displays up to 10 frames per second, but in actuality, the recorded footage is 30 fps. The reason for this reduction is that it’s a lot easier to transfer 10 frames of video quickly than it is 30, and so we believe this to be a reasonable compromise.

This camera allows a decent amount of customization – both ISO and shutter speeds can be adjusted (from 1/8 of a second all the way to one-minute shutter speeds, ISO in incremental steps from 100 to 1600). It also gives you the ability to shoot raw footage which makes it easier to apply post-processing at a later time and has a lens which is specially adapted for low light conditions, so there are no issues using this camera even at dusk, which allows for some fantastic time lapses.

The Theta S weighs just 0.3 pounds and measures at just 5.1” tall, 1.73” wide and 0.9” thick, so it’s the very definition of pocket sized. The body itself features just two buttons, with most of the functionality accessed via the mobile app. This does limit the camera a little, as there’s no real way of changing settings if your phone dies, but as long as you’re prepared, you’ll be okay. The built-in WiFi has a speed of up to 8mbps too, so you shouldn’t encounter any lag at a crucial moment.

There are a couple of downsides, the first of which is that videos can only be a maximum of 25 minutes long. You can record multiple videos, but you might have to stitch them together afterward is all. It’s just a slight annoyance, especially when you take the price into account. The second issue is that there’s no zoom. Whether this is a problem or not will depend entirely on how you plan to use the camera, but if you’re looking for a close-up image, you’re going to have to get… well…. close.

All things considered, this is a pretty decent camera. It’s capable of both 3D and 360 images and offers a pretty respectable amount of control over the camera itself, which can only be a plus.

PROS
  • Good amount of image control
  • Ultra-portable
  • Great for low light conditions
CONS
  • No zoom
  • Maximum recording time of 25 minutes
2

Sony Bloggie 3D Camera – Best 3D Camera for Active Lifestyles

This camera is aimed squarely at a particular kind of customer: the outdoorsy, always on, always active person who wants to record their adventures. The Sony Bloggie 3D Camera (as its name might suggest) allows this to be done easily and in high definition.

It has a small design and looks not unlike an old-style cell phone, weighing 0.6 pounds and measuring at just under 5” tall, 2.8” wide and deep. This means that it’s a little chunkier than its rivals, but it’s still very easy to take around with you and should fit in any pocket or bag you want. The screen on the rear is a 2.4” LCD which offers the ability to see 3D images without the need for glasses, and there’s both an HDMI out so you can connect to a larger screen, and a built-in USB arm for easier connection to your computer.

There is 8GB of internal memory, and while this can’t be increased, your images can be transferred to the cloud or social media immediately using the swing out USB arm. Regrettably, there’s no optical zoom option (there is a 4x digital zoom mode, but it’s not all that useful), but your images do benefit from the built-in stabilization and face detection – this means that even if you have unsteady hands, you can still take some gorgeous pictures.

Speaking of image quality, still photos have up to a 5MP resolution, whilst videos are recorded in MP4 format at 1920x1080p, which is full HD. There’s also the option to use an LED light in darker situations, and whilst this is useful in some scenarios, we found that it gave our images a kind of found-footage vibe – the LED is a little too bright to capture anything subtle. A strange, if interesting inclusion is the Dual Record mode. This allows you to take still images whilst recording video – sure, this could be achieved by selecting individual frames from the recording, but we suppose it’s intended to save you the trouble.

Sony estimate that you can record 4 hours worth of video on a single charge, which is a decent length of time. The battery can only be recharged via USB, which takes some time, so it’s a good idea to plan your shoots ahead of time. Sadly, if you need to use this camera for longer than four hours, you’ll have to purchase additional batteries, which can be expensive.

Overall, we think that this camera would be best suited to a blogger or someone who travels a lot. It offers a strong range of features which complement this lifestyle including quick cloud upload and an easily transferable file format. Additional low light functionality would have been welcomed, but even without, this camera holds its own.

PROS
  • Long battery life
  • 3D images viewable on rear screen
  • Fast upload to the cloud
CONS
  • No zoom
  • LED is too bright to be useful
3

Action Camera OUTERDO – Best Budget 3D Camera

The Action Camera OUTERDO is an exceptional product with an unusual shape and even more unusual set of features, especially given its low cost. At under $150, it’s the least expensive camera in this list but boasts specifications on par with a much pricier model.

It has a not quite spherical appearance, with a top mounted lens and 0.96” front facing OLED screen. At 3.9” wide, high and deep, it’s not exactly pocket sized but is still small enough to carry around in a backpack or glovebox. Included with this camera are Velcro strips, a base screw, a bike mounting clamp and a couple of brackets to help you attach it to a helmet, which is great and really helps drive home just how versatile this model is.

Image quality is incredible for this price – both images and video can be captured in 4K resolution which allows for some truly stunning panoramic footage. There’s no way to preview this footage using just the camera, but if you connect your mobile device to the app, you can change camera settings, upload images or see the snaps you’ve already taken. This approach does mean that you occasionally have to just hope that you got some good shots, for example, this camera is waterproof up to a depth of 30 meters, but most phones aren’t, so in that case you just have to cross your fingers. Footage is recorded in MP4 format, so it should be supported on most TVs and display devices.

 There’s an HD out and microSD slot which provides some much needed logistical function, plus the camera has built-in WiFi so you can upload photos and video wherever you are. Footage is spherical and can be processed into your format of choice by external programs – thanks to the 360o ability, you can even play video through a VR headset to relive precious moments in first person. The battery is recharged via micro USB connection and lasts quite a while due to the low power requirements of the camera itself (no fancy screen to power, no on-board image processing).

We’d have liked to see some more functionality outside of the app; as is, you can’t do much except record if you don’t have your phone handy, and the screen is purely for displaying menus and other general information, so you can’t even preview your images. Additionally, we can’t help but think the spherical design, whilst eye-catching, is slightly less than practical – a smaller, thinner design may have been better, but admittedly, that may have driven the cost up.

 Given the low cost of this model, we weren’t expecting much, however, upon closer inspection, we found that this camera is actually pretty powerful. Sure, it requires a mobile device to reach its full potential, but it offers a much higher resolution than its competitors and is waterproof, where most other products aren’t. If your budget is tight, you don’t have to compromise on quality!

PROS
  • 4K Resolution
  • Waterproof up to 30 meters
  • Includes various mounting options
CONS
  • Requires mobile device to reach full potential
  • Not as portable as other models
4

Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 – Best 3D Camera for Intermediate Photographers

The Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 is a fine piece of technology. Although its maximum resolution is lower than the other cameras we’ve reviewed (720p as opposed to 1080p or above), it still manages to improve upon the competition mainly due to the inclusion of some features that are more often seen in a professional quality camera than a GoPro style device.

The first of these features is the ability to change not only shutter speed but also the aperture of your shot. This means that you can fine-tune the amount of light in your photograph to perfectly suit the picture you’re taking. Shutter speeds can be increased incrementally from 1/1000 of a second, all the way up to 3 seconds, so whilst you won’t get a super long time lapse, you can capture the essence of busy places very nicely indeed. This camera also offers 3x optical zoom for when you’re slightly too far away to get a good shot (there’s also 5.7x digital zoom, but we’d recommend ignoring this).

There are two lenses in this camera. They allow for stereoscopic 3D images, but also have another purpose – to enhance your 2D photography. It’s possible to set one lens to take a black and white photo whilst the other takes the same image in colour. You can also capture a wide angle and zoom shot at the same time – the functionality of this camera is unparalleled. There’s a toggle switch on top which allows easy switching between 2D and 3D modes and the whole camera weighs just half a pound, so you can bring it everywhere with you.

On the rear face, we have a 3.5” autostereoscopic LCD screen. This sounds complicated, but it just means that you can see your 3D images without using special glasses. As the screen is larger than most, you can preview images in batches of 100 image thumbnails – great news if you have a lot of photos to scroll through. There’s also an SD card slot which you’ll want to take advantage of as there’s only 34MB of internal memory – enough for a few pictures at high resolution. The mini HDMI slot allows you to connect the camera to a TV or other display for closer examination. It should be noted that you’ll ned a 3DTV to view 3D images, otherwise they’ll look blurry – this is normal, so don’t worry!

Unfortunately, you’re limited to autofocus mode, which seems a shame given the decent level of control provided over other photo attributes. This does make it simpler to “point and click”, however, we can’t help but feel that if other modes were provided, this camera would be a game changer.

The FinePix Real 3D W3 is a strong performer which merges features more commonly found in a standard camera with the new technology found in 3D cameras. The result is a very versatile piece of hardware that can be used in just about any setting. On holiday, at events, at home – Fujifilm has you covered.

PROS
  • Twin lenses offer additional functionality
  • Offers control over shutter speed and aperture
  • Screen is large enough to easily navigate lots of menu items
CONS
  • Autofocus only

Best 3D Camera - Buyer's Guide

We know that cameras can be confusing to buy; with all those technical terms and specifications it can be hard to tell what’s important. That’s why we took a little bit of time to elaborate on some things you might want to consider before making a purchase.

3D Types

There are a few different methods of delivering 3D images. The one you’re probably familiar with is anaglyphic 3D – the red and cyan glasses kind. This is generally the cheapest to view, since you can find those glasses for a dollar or so, but provides a significantly less exciting experience compared to stereoscopic 3D.

Stereoscopic 3D is created by placing two lenses side by side, capturing two images and overlaying them to give a sense of depth – the same way your eyes work. This allows for a truer to life 3D image and as a result, offers higher quality than anaglyphic 3D. Stereoscopic images will often need a pair of 3D glasses to view properly unless you’re displaying them on a high-tech screen like the one on a Nintendo 3DS or high-end 3DTV.

Purpose

What do you plan to use the camera for? The needs of a nature photographer will be vastly different from the needs of an extreme sports enthusiast, so it pays to take into account the places and situations you’ll be shooting in.

Firstly, is the battery life long enough? Can it be recharged whilst in use or will you have to buy additional batteries? There’s nothing worse than being out in the middle and nowhere and having your camera die, so think ahead. If you notice your battery is low, can you quickly upload your images to the cloud or social media, or will you have to wait until you get home and transfer them by USB?

Is the camera waterproof? This is an important consideration, and doubly so since these cameras tend to be pretty expensive – you don’t want to hop into a kayak just to find out that one drop of water will cost you hundreds of dollars in repairs. Plan ahead and you could save yourself not only money but heartache in the long run.

Image Quality

For a long time, people made their decisions based on the number of megapixels a camera had. Whilst more is a sign that the camera can offer higher image quality, it’s not a guarantee of it. The ability to tweak certain settings like aperture or ISO grant you the option to customize your shots to the shooting environment and gives the skilled photographer the chance to capture gorgeous images no matter the conditions.

If your camera has the option for manual focus, that’s a bonus too as some settings won’t come across as well as they could when left to the automatic focus. Generally, autofocus does a decent job, however, and these situations are the exception rather than the rule, so don’t worry too much if your camera doesn’t have the manual option.

Zoom is an important factor too: cameras will often give you two numbers, one for optical and one for digital zoom. Digital zoom simply enlarges the pixels of an image to give the impression of being closer. The larger you go, the more distorted the image gets, whereas optical zoom physically changes the focal distance of the lens and produces a far clearer image. For this reason, we’d recommend ignoring digital zoom entirely and relying on optical zoom (or just moving closer) as needed.

Photography is a very deep field, and explaining all of the different options available is sadly outside of the scope of this article, but if you’re interested, you can read the very useful article here.

Conclusion


As you can see, each 3D camera we’ve reviewed would make a great addition to a photographer’s arsenal, however, there is one in particular which we keep coming back to. The Sony Bloggie 3D Camera has proven that it’s the go-to camera for those who love spending time outside. Its higher than average battery life and range of social media options ensure that you’ll never miss another treasured moment again.

As ever, our research has been both thorough and in-depth, so we can assure you that these really are the best 3D cameras around (without spending a lot more money). We hope you’ve found this article helpful, and if so, we’d ask you to remember us the next time you’re looking for purchasing advice. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and have a great day.

Related Posts

If you like this post, please rate it.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This