The twin lenses and shutters can also be used with 2D shooting to create images captured simultaneously with different focal lengths (as shown here), different colour modes or different ISO settings (in order to vary the shutter speed).
It’s not possible to show the W3’s excellent 3D capabilities, but the good news is that its 2D effort has been improved over the W1, in terms of both features and performance. Even though the sensors are the same, the W3 has a new processor which delivers some improvements to image quality, most noticeably in the area of noise reduction.
Beyond the 3D Auto mode, there’s a choice of advanced 3D capture modes and these are called ‘Individual Shutter 3D’ and ‘Interval 3D Shooting’. Both use the two lens/sensor units, but the 3D image is created by taking the two images separately. The first mode allows for a small adjustment in the camera position and angle between. It’s possible to select either shutter to fire first and the first image is then shown in the monitor screen to assist with the repositioning of the camera for the second shot. Fujifilm recommends that the variation between the two shots be between 1/30th and 1/50th of the subject distance. The Interval mode is primarily designed for shooting 3D images while moving. The lag between the two shots can be manually set, but again the recommendation is that the camera should only move between 1/30th and 1/50th of the subject distance. The shooting sequence can also be either left-right or right-left.
Because the W3 can take two shots simultaneously there are also some special 2D modes which take advantage of this. These allow for the focal length to be different for each frame or, alternatively, the colour mode or the ISO settings (primarily in order to vary the shutter speed when shooting moving objects). Both the ‘A2D’ and ‘A3D’ modes are accessed via the main mode dial as are the 13 scene modes and, of course, the standard exposure control modes. The choice here is program, aperture-priority auto and manual with the two auto modes backed by +/-2.0 EV of exposure compensation. The scene modes are accessed via ‘SP1’ and ‘SP2’ settings on the mode dial which allow for two favourites to be assigned as the first up when each setting is selected. There’s a choice of 256-segment multi-zone metering or either average or spot measurements (which can be used in conjunction with the focus lock). The sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 100 to 1600.
The colour settings mentioned earlier comprise Standard, Chrome (which boosts the sharpness and colour saturation as per transparency film) as B&W. Auto white balance control is
supplemented by seven presets, but there’s no provision for custom measurements and the W3 still lacks any bracketing options at all, not even for exposure. The built-in flash – positioned midway between the two lenses – has auto, red-eye reduction, fill-in slow synchro modes. With 2D shooting and face detection AF/AE, the red-eye reduction upgrades to red-eye removal.
Because it would be difficult to have a multipoint AF system with two lenses (as they’d often select different points), only single-zone distance detection is available with 3D shooting and features such as face detection can’t be provided either. However, a multi-zone focusing system with auto face detection is available with 2D shooting (and this also optimises the exposure).
The movie functionality is limited to the extent that even zooming isn’t possible during recording, but then the FinePix W3 can record 3D clips which is a neat trick. The playback options include post-capture parallax correction for 3D images, a slide show with a 2D-to-3D fade function, red-eye removal for 2D images taken with face detection active, and both cropping and resizing. Images can be captured in the 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratios and in three sizes (small, medium or large) at one of two compression settings (fine or normal). Continuous shooting is possible at 1.0 fps in 2D, but with a burst length of up to 40 frames. Anything faster requires the camera to switch to the smallest image size, in which case up to 3.0 fps is available in 2D and 2.0 fps in 3D. The W3 hasn’t stepped up to SDXC compatibility so it accepts either SD or SDHC types.
While the W3 may share some key components with its predecessor, the two are very different animals indeed. The W1 essentially traded on the novelty of its 3D features and its 2D capabilities were distinctly undercooked. Fujifilm has recognised the need to give the W3 greater appeal so it’s a much better camera in 2D mode (although just about any budget-priced digital compact is better featured) with the additional attraction of 3D capabilities. What’s more, the latter have been further refined so the W3 is a big step forward in pretty much every department.
It’s certainly a whole lot easier to fly thanks to its back-to-basics control layout and tidier menus. And the new, bigger and high resolution autostereoscopic monitor screen is a real beauty. However, the old problem related to having one of the lenses so close to the edge of the camera body remains... it’s still too easy to accidentally partially cover it with a finger even if the sliding lens cover does have a ridge to encourage a lower set grip. Interestingly though, the new screen does make it easier to see when a pink blob is protruding into the frame when shooting 3D. It’s pretty much eliminated during the 3D merging process, but it’ll be very evident in the standard 2D shots because these are captured with this lens and sensor.
However, it’s the 3D ‘experience’ that’s still the W3’s big party trick, even if a 3D TV or display is needed to really make the most of it. The camera’s monitor screen is great, but even at 8.9 cm in size its impact is a little muted. Nevertheless it will help tune the senses to the type of subject situation which works the best for 3D shooting.