Panasonic unveiled its first two consumer camcorders capable of recording video in 3D on Wednesday.
The camcorders look like regular handy-size video cameras and can capture conventional 2D video and images, but by adding a conversion lens adapter, they can capture in 3D. The adapter has two small lenses that each capture a slightly different image of the scene being shot. The right-eye and left-eye images are recorded side-by-side and are what's needed to create a video image with the illusion of depth.
The side-by-side recording method used by Panasonic does result in some quality loss. In 2D mode the camera records a full high-definition image at 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels, but in 3D mode each image takes up half a frame. The resolution drops to 960 pixels by 1,080 pixels.
Video recorded on the camcorders can be viewed on a 3D television by connecting through an HDMI cable. Video can also be transferred to 3D Blu-ray Disc via the camera's SD memory card and a compatible Blu-ray Disc recorder.
The lens adapter will be available as an option in Japan, but in other markets it will come bundled with the camcorder. Panasonic is offering two models in its home market, the TM750 with 96GB of storage capacity and the TM650 with 64GB. Outside of Japan equivalent models to the TM750 will be the only camcorder available.
They will go on sale in Japan on Aug. 20 and follow in other markets from October. Panasonic said the TM750 will cost ¥160,000 (US$1,820) and the 3D lens adapter will cost ¥38,000. In contrast the camera and lens bundle in the U.S. will be considerably cheaper at US$1,400.
The launch of the two camcorders makes Panasonic the first major digital camera maker to offer a 3D-capable camcorder.
Panasonic launched a professional 3D camcorder earlier this year. The AG-3DA1 looks like one of Panasonic's existing semi-professional camcorders with a bulbous twin lens assembly in place of the normal single lens. It records full high-definition images to SD memory cards and is available as a built-to-order product from the company for US$21,000.
Panasonic and other major consumer electronics makers have been pushing 3D televisions in the last few months as the first professional 3D content begins to appear on Blu-ray Disc and via television networks.