Running with Vinny - 3D camera testing - 4. Panasonic Lumix 3D1


George Themelis
 

Panasonic 3D1: the little wonder.

 

PS. The attached page is from the recent issue of the Stereogram from where this novel is originating. Subscription to the Stereogram (the newsletter of the Ohio Stereo Photographic Society) is only $10 for the season (10 issues). All the money goes to support the club. What follows is a more extended discussion of the points made in the attached summary, but take a look at the attachment if you want to see pictures of Vinny.

 

The Panasonic Lumix 3D1 camera was introduced in 2012 and I rushed to get one. Right from the start I was pleasantly surprised. I loved these features:

  1. Image stabilization
  2. Good low light performance (better than the Fuji)
  3. Short (30mm) stereo base, perfect for close-ups

 

Back in the film days there were very few choices for this sweet 30mm stereo base (“mild hypostereo”).  Towards the end of the film era I acquired and enjoyed the very expensive Horseman 3D camera with a stereo base of 34mm. I was thrilled with it, see my blog: https://drt3d.blogspot.com/search?q=horseman

 

Now, I have the ability to take similar digital pictures with the very compact Panasonic 3D1 digital camera. I was (and still am) in 3D close-up heaven. I love how you can take 3D selfies with it. As it turns out, the best results are obtained with the subject at arm’s length (~24 inches or 0.6m) which is what a selfie is. We have this build in measuring tape, so when I get ready to take a close-up with the 3D1, I just extend my hand until I touch my subject (hoping not to get bitten!) and fire the shutter.

 

I have taken many award-winning pictures, including one that won the award of “Best Use of 3D” in the Three Dimension Society (TDS) exhibition (UK). Yes, best use of 3D with a stereo base of only 30mm. It showed two people looking at the (crammed) interior of a plane engine at the air show in Cleveland Ohio.

 

I can go on and on, but how well does this camera work for my early morning trail runs with Vinny?

 

It woks OK, and it has replaced the Fuji as my “running camera” since it takes better pictures, because of #1 and #2 above. I ran the Athens 2017 Marathon (among many races) holding this camera and took some nice pictures and have great memories.

 

But there are two problems:

 

  1. I cannot take action photos. For some strange reason, the Panasonic engineers decided that when you use this camera in 3D, you only get fully automatic  mode, without any manual control. Classify this under “what the f*** were they thinking??”

 

I love to take action shots of Vinny jumping over logs. When I tried this with the 3D1, everything is sharp except for Vinny who is burred due to his movement. The camera used these settings:  f/3.9, 1/60s, 160 ISO. 1/60s is not fast enough to freeze the action. If I had a choice I would have used 1/250s, 600 ISO. But I have no choice. The camera has a mind of its own.

 

Also, sometimes the automatic color balance that the camera uses is a failure. When a color dominates, like green now in the trails, warm colors of wood, or warm colors of sunrise/sunset, the camera thinks it needs to color-correct and introduces ugly blue, destroying the mood of the picture. If I had a choice, I would choose daylight balance, but I don’t. Yes, I know, I can fix things later, but it still annoys me that I have no control of any settings in 3D. 

 

I do have control over exposure compensation and I have set it to -1/3 and even have this menu setting available in the screen so I do not have to go though menus to change it. I change the exposure compensation from time to time. Thank goodness for this little morsel of control we have with this camera!

 

  1. I first noticed this in the cameras I have tested the last few years and it is happening with my current camera: When I shoot against strong light, the camera shows really bad lens flair, as if a thin layer of haze is covering the lens. I have looked at the lens from the outside with high magnification and strong light, and I see nothing. But there is something going on. One day I will take the camera apart and try to clean it. The images should be crystal clear even when shooting against the light. (It used to be like that in my first cameras, I have been through 7-8 of these.)

 

If you are looking to buy one of these cameras today, you will have another problem: You cannot find them. If you find one, it is priced way too high. That’s too bad because this is a nice little 3D camera.

 

Bottom line: When I go running with Vinny if I only take one stereo camera with me, this is it. Even if I take another camera, I usually also take the Panasonic 3D1 for close-ups etc. This baby is here to stay and most likely it comes with me wherever I go.

 

There is a very useful accessory that goes with this camera, that’s the subject of the next chapter. Stay tuned.

 

George Themelis

 

 

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