How do you go about designing the world’s first consumer 3D camcorder? The answer doesn’t require an engineering degree: You start with an excellent 2D camcorder.
That’s exactly what Panasonic did. It took its superb HDC-TM700 camcorder as a base model and then integrated extra dimensional recording capability. The result: the Panasonic HDC-SDT750K, the world’s first consumer 3D camcorder.
So how well does the final product work? And should you consider jumping on the 3D camcorder bandwagon? Our pros, cons and verdict:
In 2D mode the 3D-capable HDC-SDT750K has all the excellence that its HDC-TM700 camcorder cousin does. Both shoot in full 1080p, include a high-performance Leica Dicomar Lens and feature wide-angle capabilities and an 18x zoom.
Best of all: both the HDC-SDT750K and HDC-TM700 shoot at 60 frames-per-second with progressive scanning. The majority of consumer camcorders shoot at 30 fps and use an inferior form of scanning, interlaced, which captures only a portion of each still frame.
To view 3D video you’ll need a 3D-capable television. (Go figure). The HDC-SDT750K is especially calibrated to work with the Panasonic VIERA line. By happy coincidence, the VIERAs are the best 3D HD TV sets out there.
The HDC-SDT750K produces quite good 3D video. Will watching 3D home movies of your new puppy give viewers the illusion that Sparky is jumping out of your television? No. But it will most definitely show Sparky rendered on your screen in three dimensions.
Panasonic makes 3D filming as easy as possible with this camcorder. Everything is automated that can be automated. And a clear set of instructions is included.
Despite Panasonic’s best efforts (see above), filming in 3D is more tricky than 2D. You need lots of light, a focal range between 1.2 and 4 meters (4 and 13 feet) and so on. This is the fault of physics and 3D video technology in general rather than a fault of this camcorder in specific.
Those with prior 3D videography experience will bemoan the lack of a robust manual 3D mode. Then again, almost no one falls into that category.
The largest downside of all: the price. Though we expect Amazon to be offering a discount once production ramps up, a Panasonic HDC-SDT750K will currently set you back around US$1,400.
Spot Cool Stuff is apparently among the few blogs that finds the Panasonic HDC-SDT750K to be more than a gimmicky fad gadget. Much more. We suspect that the majority of naysayers have never actually used this camcorder. Once you get the hang of capturing 3D video—a skill that admittedly can take a few hours to get decent at—it is rather amazing what you can do with that extra dimension. Kids, especially, tend to love it.
Furthermore, we don’t think 3D in general is a fad. 3D Blu-ray movies are already coming out at a good clip. It makes sense that 3D consumer technology would follow.
So, if money is little object to you then we wholly recommend Panasonic’s first consumer 3D camcorder. But what about for those who would have to stretch the budget to snag a HDC-SDT750?
Amazon currently has a hidden price on the Panasonic HDC-TM700 of $755. That means adding 3D functionality essentially costs an extra $600. For serious videographers and early adaptors we think that $600 is worth it.
If you are, say, expecting a new child and want to go crazy videotaping their first months of life then you might want to splurge on a HDC-SDT750 too.
But for the rest of you, we suggest saving your money and opting for a superb, albeit limited to 2D, HDC-TM700. Panasonic was the first company to come out with a consumer 3D camcorder, but they certainly won’t be the last.
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