CES 2010: Panasonic Unveils Revolutionary All-in-One 3D Camera

In what looks to be one of the more groundbreaking camera releases in recent memory, Panasonic has announced that it will release the world’s first professional, fully integrated HD 3D camcorder this fall.

Unveiled at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Full HD 3D camcorder integrates two cameras into a single rig, alleviating the need to assimilate two separate cameras for 3D production. The camcorder includes lenses, camera head, and dual memory recorders built into one body and incorporates stereoscopic adjustment controls.

Most conventional 3D setups feature two 1080p optical blocks installed side by side, with the right and left camera axes approximately 6.5 cm apart — equivalent to the distance between the human eyes — to create binocular parallax. However, if the cameras are too large to fit side by side (as most broadcast and film cameras are), the cameras must be installed vertically, using half-mirrors, or mounted on large rigs, using prisms. As a result, the crew is forced to work with a colossal system in constant danger of being nudged out of alignment.

If the system is knocked out of alignment and the convergence point needs to be adjusted, horizontal- and vertical-displacement corrections must made by a PC or external video processor. Panasonic’s twin-lens 3D camcorder, on the other hand, automatically recalibrates the convergence point without the need for external equipment, allowing immediate 3D image capture.

The camcorder’s size and price, however, may be its most attractive assets. At just 3 kg, it is smaller and lighter than most current 3D rigs, allowing handheld-style shooting never before seen in 3D production. In addition, at a suggested retail price of $21,000, the Full HD 3D camcorder will carry a lower price than traditional 3D rigs. Lower transportation and setup costs as a result of the compact size will also slim down production budgets.

In terms of recording, the camcorder’s right and left HD video streams can be recorded as files on SDHC/SD Memory Cards, eliminating the need for tape, disc, HDD, or mechanical-based recording device. It also has the capability to plug in to both Mac- and PC-based platforms.

Although several consumer-electronics companies are developing similar products, Panasonic’s model will be the first to hit the open market. The Full HD 3D camcorder will be available to order in April, and, if the buzz surrounding it at CES is any indicator, Panasonic will have an onslaught of invoices to process.