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2010.07.10

The third-dimension is big and Sony has been producing 3D LCD televisions for a while now but 3D media is  quite sparse. Certain Blu-Ray players can show the few 3D- compatible disks that are available but using these new Sony digital cameras, regular people can easily produce their own 3D contents. The new Cybershot DSC-WX5 and Cybershot DSC-TX9 both feature a 12 megapixels CMOS sensor which can be used to produce a sweeping panorama in 3D.

To obtain a standard (2D) sweeping panorama, the camera basically records image slices while it is being moved in a sweeping motion. The camera then assembles the slices into a single panoramic image. The 3D version works the same way except that 2 images are produced, one for each eye. The images differ in perspective because they are taken from different slices of the same subject area. This clever approach allows 3D to be captured using a single lens, as opposed to the traditional dual-lens (and therefore dual-sensor) approach which requires bigger and more exepensive gear. The difference is that the dual-lens approach captures the two perspectives from a single camera position while the 3D sweeping panorama approach requires camera movement for obtaining multiple perspectives.

The flagship of the two is the ultra-compact WX5 which measures just under 1″ thick and can capture 12 megapixels images and 1080i HD video using the space-efficient H.264 file-format. It also features an ultra-wide angle 5X optical zoom lens equivalent to 24-120mm in 35mm terms.  The ISO range goes from 125 to 3200 for exceptional low-light capabilities. A 2.8″ LCD with 460k pixels appears on the rear of the WX5 as well.

The TX9 is ultra-slim at less than 3/4″ thick with a non-protuding 4X optical zoom lens going from ultrawide 25mm to 100mm in 35mm terms. This one can also captute 1080i HD video in H.264 format. It features a huge 3.5″ LCD tocuhscreen with 920K pixels. Progressive video is also available at 720p and at the odd non-widescreen resolution of 1440×1080. The CMOS sensor gives these cameras the ability to shoot continuously at up to 10 FPS. Several modes take advantage of this by combining a burst of nearly-identical show to produce an improved image.



The same 3D Sweeping Panorama capability has been added recently to their NEX-3 and NEX-5
interchangeable-lens cameras via a firmware update. The NEX-3 and NEX-5 are currently available while both WX5 and TX9 ship in September for a suggested price of $300 and $400 USD respectively.

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