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Panasonic and Sony Introduce New 3D Cameras at NAB

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LAS VEGAS--Stereo 3D is becoming almost mundane in its ubiquity with virtually every company of note in the video space touting product which is capable of acquiring, recording, managing, manipulating, delivering or viewing 3D in some fashion. Sony and Panasonic showed off their new 3D camcorders a the National Association of Broadcasters show here on Sunday.

Cost remains the biggest impediment to production and Sony and Panasonic, both of whom have vested interests in 3DTV channels (3Net and DirecTV’s n3D) and a strategy to sell more 3D displays to consumers, are preparing to ship new inexpensive – and uncomplex - camcorders aimed at putting 3D production in the hands of any professional.

Indeed, by the year end both companies will have professional shoulder-mounted and semi-pro handheld integrated 3D camcorders on the market.

Panasonic’s handheld version (the AG-3DA1) is already out and will be joined in the fall with a second integrated 3D camcorder, this time with a larger imager recording to Panasonic’s memory card format P2. This unit, the AG-3DP1, is intended for use in live productions, sports, independent films and documentaries.

Panasonic claims this shoulder-mounted camera can record 80 minutes of stereo in 10 bit AVC intra to twin 64Gb P2 cards. It contains two 1/3”, 2.2 3MOS sensors. By contrast its predecessor contained 2.7 megapixel chips and records to SD cards.

Panasonic’s shoulder mount will vie for market attention with Sony’s version, which is due out at around the same time. First shown in prototype last September, the PMW-TD300 3D camcorder features a twin optical lens equipped with three ½-type CMOS sensors.

Also shipping this summer from Sony is a compact 3D XDCAM camcorder intended for videographers, events and corporate videos. The HXR-NX3D1 incorporates two ¼-type CMOS sensors, twin 10x zoom lenses and an internal flash memory of 96GB to enable around 7.5 hours of 3D recording.

Panasonic said its 3DA1was finding favour as a training tool at film schools and sports facilities, including at Florida State for college football.

An eye-catching use of the camcorder will be aboard the final mission of NASA’s shuttle Atlantis this June, during which astronauts will use it to document the International Space Station and experiments in orbit.

At CES earlier this year Sony, Panasonic, and JVC all announced consumer-friendly still imaging and digital video stereo cameras as they seek to create a groundswell of interest and even user generated content in the 3D format. The cameras announced at NAB are a step up in terms of professional ergonomics and imaging quality. Nonetheless there are many critics of such single-bodied twin lens cameras who argue that the fixed interaxial distance between the lenses hampers 3D capture of events, particularly when capturing close ups.

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