Surrounded by 3DTVs and reconstructed skeletons of prehistoric creatures at New York's Museum of Natural History, last night we spent some hands-on time with Fujifilm's latest 3D compact. Having tried out all of its new features, as well as the ones that have been carried over from last year's Real 3D W1, it's fair to say that this is a big step forward.
The first thing you'll notice when picking the camera up is how compact it is. The elongated body shape makes it easy to fit in a pocket, but also makes it a little unwieldy to hold when shooting. The flush lenses don't extend from the body, and the rightmost optics are extremely close to the shutter button, which means the traditional one-handed grip is pretty much out of the question. Unfortunately, it's also fairly easy to get your index finger in front of the left lens, especially if you have large hands. Expect your fingers to make some cameos in your shots, at least until you've nailed down the perfect position for holding it.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the whole device is the 3.5-inch parallax barrier LCD 3D screen that doesn't require glasses for the three dimensional experience. We found it to be fairly similar to the screen on the W1, although the W3's display was slightly brighter than we had expected going in. Getting the 3D effect just right is crucial and requires a dead-on viewing angle. Even a couple degrees askew and you'll be looking at a flat image.
It takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust to the 3D effects, but we found that the parallax adjustment (which is controlled by a zoom-like switch on the upper left part of the camera) was very useful when it came to getting the right amount of perceived depth. During playback, photos looked crisp and clear, but videos seemed a little stuttery, even after tweaking.