While the sensors are the same as those used in the previous model, the W3’s new processor can be expected to incorporate improved algorithms for things such as noise reduction and colour reproduction. Noise levels are, indeed, low up to ISO 800, although this does appear to some extent to be at the expense of overall sharpness. The ISO 1600 setting is certainly usable, but fine detailing lacks real definition. Unfortunately, the W3 has no provisions for adjusting either sharpness or contrast in-camera, but the 2D

images do sharpen nicely in Photoshop. However, the colour reproduction is excellent and partly pleasing in the Chrome colour mode which delivers an extra punch that really livens up 3D images. On balance, there’s no doubt the W3 outperforms its predecessor in terms of imaging performance in 2D, but it lacks some of the picture control functions that are available on many conventional compacts at a similar price. The same money, for example, will buy a Lumix TZ20 that’s loaded to the gunwales with extra features. To be fair, though, such comparisons aren’t really relevant because the FinePix W3 is going to be purchased for its 3D capabilities and here it does a superb job.

The Verdict

Flaws and all, we still liked the W1, and the W3 arrives when 3D is an even bigger deal with sales of 3D TVs climbing rapidly and the first laptop computers appearing with 3D displays. The W3 is a much better developed product than its predecessor too, and the price drop means it can be a ‘suck it and see’ purchase. The reality is that shooting in 3D is pretty addictive and the challenge to find scenes that deliver the best results is very enjoyable. It’s a deliberate pun, of course, but the FinePix W3 really does add another dimension to photography.

There’s still room for improvement in terms of the camera’s 2D features, but the W3 undoubtedly proves the point that the ‘Mark 2’ version of any revolutionary product is always the one to wait for. As far as the fun factor is concerned, this camera is a winner.

FUJIFILM FINEPIX REAL 3D W3 $599

Type: Fully automatic, fixed lens digital compact camera for 2D or 3D capture.
Lens: Two Fujinon 6.3-18.9mm f3.7-4.2 (equivalent to 35-105mm). 5.7x digital zoom (2D only).Combined optical and digital zoom in 3D is 3.8x. Baseline length = 75 mm.
Focusing Type & Range: Contrast detection with a central focusing point (3D). 60 cm to infinity; macro focusing down to 8.0 cm in 2D and 38 cm in 3D. Face detection mode (2D only).
Shutter Speeds: 3-1/1000 second (differs according to exposure mode).
Metering: Multi-zone (256 segments), centreweighted average and spot.
Exposure Control: Program, aperture-priority auto and manual plus 13 scene/subject modes. Up to +/-2.0 EV compensation.
Sensitivity: ISO 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600.
Sensor: Two 7.7 mm CCDs, 10.6 million pixels (10 MP effective).
Image Size: 4:3 aspect ratio = 3648x2736, 2592x1944 and 2048x1536 pixels. 3:2 – 3648x2432, 2592x1944 and 2048x1536 pixels. 16:9 aspect ratio = 3584x2016, 2560x1440 and 1920x1080 pixels.
Video Recording: AVI Motion JPEG format at 1280x720 pixels, 24 fps and 16:9 aspect ratio. Also at 640x480 and 320x240 pixels at 30 fps. Stereo audio recording.
Continuous Shooting: 3D = up to 2.0 fps for a burst of 40 JPEG/small frames. 2D = up to 1.0 fps for a burst of 40 JPEG/large frames.
Formats: MPO, MPO+JPEG, JPEG, Motion JPEG (AVI). PictBridge and DPOF compatible. Flash: Built-in with auto, red-eye reduction, fill-in and slow sync modes. Flash range = 30 cm to 3.6 metres (at ISO 800).
White Balance: TTL measurement via image sensor. Auto and seven presets.
Viewfinder: 8.9 cm LCD monitor screen (1.15 megapixels) with ‘Light Direction Control System’ for 3D viewing.
Storage: SD/SDHC cards plus 34 MB of internal memory.
Interface: USB 2.0, PAL/NTSC AV composite output, HDMI.
Main Features: 3D image capture and processing with auto/manual parallax correction, ‘Individual Shutter’ and ‘Interval’ 3D modes, twin 2D capture modes (zoom, colour and ISO), superimposed shooting grid, dual-delay self-timer (two or ten seconds), silent mode, MPO+JPEG capture, three colour settings (Standard, Chrome and B&W), slide show, red-eye removal (2D only). PictBridge and DPOF compliant.
Power: Rechargeable 1000 mAh/3.6 volts lithium-ion battery pack.
Dimensions (WxHxD): 124.0x65.9x27.8 mm. Weight: 230 grams (without battery or memory card).
Price: $599.
Distributor: Fujifilm Australia Pty Ltd