FinePix REAL 3D W1 At a glance

  • Two 1/2.3in CCD sensors 
with ten million pixels
  • Two 35-105mm (equivalent) zoom lenses
Simultaneous 3D and 2D capture possible
  • Street price around £424

FinePix REAL 3D W1 introduction

With the recent success of James Cameron’s film Avatar and the buzz around 3D products at the moment, it seems 3D photographers will soon have their time in the sun. If Fujifilm has its way, the FinePix REAL 3D W1 could be the camera that persuades 2D photographers to start shooting in three dimensions.

The key to the W1’s 3D capability is the two sensors mounted behind a pair of Fujinon 6.3-18.9mm f/3.7-4.2 lenses, which offer the focal-length equivalence of 35-105mm on 35mm format.

These lenses have a stereo base of 77mm, which is a little wider than the 65mm average distance between the centres of our pupils, thus enhancing the 3D effect. In its 3D mode, the W1 captures two images simultaneously, one on each sensor, and then aligns them to reveal the 3D effect on the 2.8in, 230,000-dot LCD monitor (with Light Direction Control).

The camera can align the images automatically when the auto parallax control is activated, but it can also be adjusted manually, before and after image capture when necessary – for example, if the images need to align perfectly somewhere other than the focus point.

Three-dimensional images are captured with the MPO format, but the camera may also be set to record a 2D JPEG file simultaneously.

Alternatively, in its 2D mode, the W1 can shoot two standard images at the same time, but using different focal lengths on each lens. Hence, the wide view of a landscape can be captured at the same time as a detail. It’s hard to image too many occasions when this is going to be much more than a gimmick, but it could be handy for one-off events.

Similarly, it’s possible to take simultaneous monochrome and colour images, or take two photos at different sensitivity settings. When panning with a moving subject, the latter allows a different degree of blur to be recorded at the same time.

In addition to the standard 3D mode, the W1 has a collection of advanced 3D modes.

With Individual Shutter 3D Shooting, two shots may be taken of the same subject from different positions, with the camera automatically merging and saving them as a single 3D image.

This is helpful with close subjects when the camera is unable to align the two images captured simultaneously. The first image is displayed on the screen to help position the camera for the second shot before it is taken.

In its Interval 3D Shooting mode, the W1 takes a succession of shots following a single press of the shutter-release button. This is designed for use when shooting from a moving vehicle to create images with lots of depth.

Oddly, Fujifilm doesn’t supply any software to process the MPO images, although fortunately some software is available online for free.

I used StereoPhoto Maker (available free from, which is simple to use and is able to open the pairs of images and make adjustments (cropping, brightness, and so on), and then save them in a number of ways. It can be used to make anaglyphs, with offset red and cyan images that can be viewed using 3D glasses, or to produce pairs of images that can be printed and viewed with a stereoscope.

In addition to stills images, the W1 is capable of capturing 3D video at 640×480 or 320×240 pixels (at 30fps) with stereo sound.

Build and handling

3D camerasFuji’s W1 is considerably smaller and neater than 35mm 3D offerings such as this Kodak Stereo Camera, which captures 23x24mm images.

As it is effectively two cameras in one, it is hardly surprising that the FinePix REAL 3D W1 is a little bulkier than some other ten-million-pixel digital compact cameras. It can be slipped into a coat pocket, but care is needed to ensure that the lens cover, which slides down to power-up the camera, remains over the optics.

The back of the W1 looks and feels more like a portable games console than a camera. Its buttons are of the rounded, rocker-switch type and they take a little getting used to, with some double-pressing being necessary during the first few minutes of using the camera.

There are also a few handling quirks that I would like to see resolved. Adjusting the exposure in manual or aperture priority mode, for example, involves pressing the Function (F) button to bring up the function menu and then selecting the bottom option before exposure settings can be changed using the navigation controls. It seems a rather lengthy process for such a basic function. The menu system could 
also be better organised by associating set-up sections more closely with the shooting menu.

My main bugbear with the W1’s handling is that its screen suffers badly from reflections, and when shooting outside, even in overcast conditions, it can be hard to see the subject. In bright light the screen becomes an effective mirror. Although it is usually possible to compose an image, manual parallax adjustment is impossible as it relies on being able to align two faint pictures on the screen.


It’s odd that while Fujifilm has provided aperture priority and manual exposure modes (as well as 13 scene modes), it hasn’t provided a histogram view to back them up. This would be very useful given the difficulty of seeing the screen when shooting outdoors.

While the 256-zone multi-metering system performs reasonably well, it has a tendency to overexpose landscapes and it can be helpful to turn to the centreweighted or spot metering options instead.

Noise isn’t really a problem 
with images from the FinePix 
REAL 3D W1, although its removal is an issue. High-sensitivity 2D images have a slightly grainy texture, and when examined at 100% on the computer screen it is clear that they have sharp, high-contrast edges with a soft wash of colour between them. The results look much better at sensible printing sizes, but I’d limit prints to A4 or smaller.

Image: On the W1’s LCD screen these two images combine well with the swan and first jetty standing out clearly from the river and background

I found that the W1’s automatic white balance setting produces reasonably good colours in a range of conditions, but they sometimes benefit from a slight post-capture tweak. The enclosed shot of a river, for instance, originally looked a bit too blue. On the whole, though, the camera tends towards producing pleasantly warm images, even in 
some quite shady conditions. This 
may not be entirely accurate, but 
the results are pleasing to they eye.

In 3D mode, the W1 has a single, central AF point, so it‘s often necessary to focus and recompose images before taking the shot. The 
AF response is fairly swift and accurate, and the system only struggles with low light or contrast.

When 2D images are being captured, the W1 has a Multi AF 
point option, but the user cannot select a specific point and the camera focuses on the highest contrast area in a small section around the centre 
of the image frame. Given the relatively small area covered by the 
AF system, I think it’s better to opt 
for the central point option as this allows control over which part of 
the scene is in focus.

LCD and viewing

3D screenUnlike the monitor on a standard digital camera, the LCD on the W1 has a novel Light Direction Control System that ensures the left and right eyes receive a slightly different view to give subjects a 3D look.

To see the images correctly, the screen must be viewed straight on, as moving to the side results in only one of the two merged images being visible.

It’s a very effective system and when viewed indoors, where the ambient light levels are lower, 3D images look great with plenty of depth. As you’d expect, foreground subjects appear to stand out from the background.

Fujifilm also offers the FinePix REAL 3D V1 viewer, which is a digital picture frame with a parallax blocker that directs light separately to our right and left eyes to impart the 3D effect. Like many other viewers, the V1 has a stand to allow horizontal or vertical display, but it can only display 2D images in the vertical orientation – the W1’s lens arrangement is set up for horizontal images. The V1 can display images on inserted memory cards, from a PC via a USB connection or from the W1 via infrared transfer.

During the summer Fujifilm plans to introduce a 3D dye-sub printer service, which uses lenticular media, into the UK.

Currently, 3D prints may be made from W1 files, but they have to be ordered online from Fujifilm. As the prints are made in Japan it can take a few weeks before they arrive. The new service will take just a few days and enable W1 users to have prints made in four sizes from 4x6in to 6x9in.

Our verdict

There’s no question that the W1 makes light work of taking digital 3D images and it is far easier to handle and operate than a twin-camera rig.

The novice can snap away without noticing any significant difference between shooting 3D or 2D images apart from when they look at the results. Compared to many modern 2D digital compact cameras, however, the W1 is rather awkward to handle and the screen is difficult to see outside. Of course, this won’t put off the experienced 3D shooter who wants to travel a bit lighter and have the convenience of a pocketable compact camera that is ready to 
use almost as soon as the lens cover is snapped back.

Viewing 3D images has always been a challenge. You can’t just put a print on the wall and see the 3D effect. To view an anaglyph, 3D glasses with coloured lenses must be used, and a stereoscope is necessary for viewing twinned pairs of images. The W1’s LCD screen, the Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D V1 viewer and the lenticular prints manage to overcome this provided they are viewed straight on.

Although 2D images may be produced, the whole point of the FinePix REAL 3D W1 is to take 3D images, so it is very strange that Fujifilm leaves the user to work out how to process, view or print the images on anything other than its own 3D products. Some 3D software really should be included in the package.

A word from the experts

What stereo photography enthusiasts think of the REAL 3D W1

Alexander KleinAlexander Klein
Webmaster,, International Stereoscopic Union

The Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W1 is a fully integrated stereo camera that removes the hassle of synchronising two 2D cameras. With the automatic stereo window correction, even an amateur without any 
3D experience can produce good stereo images without major errors.

Of course, an experienced stereo photographer will be able to tweak the images even further with freeware software such as StereoPhoto Maker. By manually adjusting the stereo window and correcting the last few remaining errors, the results can be even more pleasing.

The W1 is now my camera of choice for everyday use as it fits in almost any pocket. For more delicate work, where I have to be able to adjust the stereo base (the distance between the lenses), I still use a twin rig.

Bob Aldridge and Brian MayBob Aldridge
President, The Stereoscopic Society,

I applaud Fujifilm on the introduction of the W1; it is the first general-purpose, integrated digital stereo camera that can be taken everywhere. The results are great for all practical purposes, but it is not without some negatives.

First, the flash is between the lenses and it casts opposing shadows in the stereo pair, giving a strange appearance.

Second, the image quality leaves a little to be desired. Its LCD is amazing, giving a good, solid three-dimensional image, but it can be hard to see outside if the light is at all bright. It can also show a certain amount of ‘ghosting’ if you aren’t careful to control the depth in your scene. With a lens separation of 77mm, which is wider than most people’s eye separation, depth is a little exaggerated.

Nevertheless, none of these negatives is really a ‘deal breaker’. The W1 may be the only option if you want a sleekly packaged digital stereo camera. It really is an excellent piece of equipment, and that screen is a real bonus. I’m sure many people will find that it is all they need to show their 3D images off to their friends.