Sony Launches Single-Lens 3D Cameras

Following up on its recently introduced 3D TV and Blu-ray 3-D compliant players, as well as its upcoming 3-D on PlayStation 3 console, Sony  (NYSE: SNE  ) is pushing more and more 3D-enabled products into the consumer market.

The latest example are Cyber-shot DSC-TX9 and DSC-WX5, two compact digital cameras that natively capture 3-D images. Unlike Fuji's FinePix Real 3D W1, Sony is using sweeping motion technique. Sony decided to use sweeping motion following the success of the Panorama feature on their older compact digital cameras; it adjusted the algorithms to create a 3-D image instead of multiple-image panoramic shots.

Sony relies on native 12.2 Megapixel ExmorR CMOS sensor, with background electronics supporting Sony's SteadyShot image stabilization. In the real world, you can expect images in 4000x3000 resolution, while you can record videos in 1280x720 and 1920x1080 pixels (i.e., both HD Ready and Full HD).

Naturally, using a single lens significantly reduces the complexity of the internal parts, meaning DSC-TX9 and WX5 are both lighter and cheaper than dual-lens competition. Both cameras weigh only about 130 grams, even though they're a very different construction -- Cyber-shot DSC-TX9 comes in a sleek body with Carl Zeiss 4X Optical zoom [3.3-4.6], while DSC-WX5 features a conventional look and packs a 5x optical zoom.

Even though Sony press images did not show the back of the cameras, DSC-TX9 comes with a 3.5" LCD screen, while the WX5 packs a 2.8" one -- just like many of Sony's past cameras.

If they're fitting your needs, DSC-WX5 will run you for $300, while the sleek DSC-TX9 runs for $400. In any case, very affordable 3-D cameras, but the question remains: Are they taking good or "good enough" 3-D images? Given our past experience with Fuji's W1, we know that the bar is raised pretty high for both 2-D and 3-D images.

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