Review Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W3 - Video Recording
This FinePix REAL 3D W3 can record videos in 2D or in 3D. Before you start to use video in an extended way you should check out the Fujifilm site for the firmware updates for this camera. Somehow all updates had to do mainly with video. The last firmware update 1.20 enables an Economy mode for recording. So you will need less space but at the cost of less video quality. You can find the download link at the menu More Info at the top of this site.
For video recording there is no image stabilizer (there is none at all even for still images) and zoom is not possible while recording.
There are different video qualities you can select
HD1280 (1280x720/720p, 24fps)
640 (640x480/VGA, 30fps)
320 (320x240/QVGA, 30fps)
All video recordings come with stereo sound recording. And here a big surprise - the microphones are not bad.
What you should not expect is to buy a 3D photo camera at this price and to get a perfect 3D video camera on top of it. That would be very nice but is hardly possible. For me - I do not use the video of this camera because in my view the quality is not so good. But I tested it. In respect of video I tested HD1280 and 640. I will put the focus on the highest quality HD1280 and not on 640 or even 320 since HD is simply the standard today.
The movies are recorded in an AVI format. For a 3D movie with the highest quality HD1280 you will need about 4 GB storage space for 10 minutes. This is also the maximum file size - a technical restriction of the Microsoft FAT file system. The here used FAT32 file system can handle up to 4GB as single file. When reaching this size the video will pause for a moment and will start a new file. For 2D recording you will need about half of the 3D storage space.
You will need a memory type that can cope with this high data storage speed. It should be able to write at least 6MB/s according to Fujifilm. But providing this speed seems to be not enough as you can see later at "But Warning" and could be a surprise. More about the Fujifilm memory speed requirements you can find in the manual of the camera and at the camera specifications. You can find the download links here. But be careful. It is not SDHC Ultra memory. If you buy such an Ultra memory you will find two speed ratings on it. For instance 15MB/s and inside a kind of C the number 4 (see memory card pictures below). This camera uses Ultra memory only at not Ultra speed and so will only use the speed rating inside this C and not the 15MB/s Ultra speed. There should be at least a 6 inside this C. I use Kingston 16GB SHDC with the number 10 inside this C. I bought this high speed memory because first I thought the reason for the skipping of frames is the low writing speed of the memory that I had before. But 10 should be more than enough if only 6 is required.
But WARNING. The 16GB Kingston SDHC shown below does not allow me to play back HD1280 3D videos on the camera - only 2D HD1280 videos work. I always get the error message "?Read Error". No formatting and nothing else helped. The card was tested and is completely error free. If I copy the problem file to a 4GB memory then the camera can read it (according to the Fujifilm specifications it should be able to handle memory up to 32 GB). I am not alone with this problem as an internet search revealed. If you have a 16GB card that works please contact me at the contact link so that I can write this here. Fujifilm mostly tests with SanDisk.
The biggest disadvantage of this Fujifilm HD1280 video quality setting at this FinePix REAL 3D W3 is that it records only with 24 fps (fps stands for frames per seconds. That means how many pictures are shown or recorded per second). So you get 24 pictures/second recorded with this camera at the setting HD1280 - the highest quality setting. On the other hand the video quality was improved compared to the 3D camera version Real 3D W1 (there was no W2). The W1 had no HD1280.
This following blue paragraphs you can skip if you are not interested to understand fps more. It might not be easy to understand because it is a bit technical. But do not complain about jumping videos then or do not complain about headache if you read it ;-)
24 fps is the (old) movie standard that you see for instance in the cinema. 25 fps would be PAL (old TV for instance in Europe). About 30 fps is NTSC (old TV for instance in the USA) and HD has different standards again. On top of it you have at HD interlaced and not interlaced - but let's forget about this.
A normal LCD computer monitor displays 60 fps (new 3D monitors up to 120 fps). But 60 fps do not fit together with the HD1280 24 fps of this camera - just divide 60 by 24. The rest is not 0 but 12 and this rest are not fitting frames. They will create these jumps. 60 divided by 30 works much better since you can show a new frame every 2 seconds and there are no not fitting frames left. So there will be no skipped frames and so no jumping. But with 60 and 24 fps there will be a problem - even with the 25 fps standard of PAL you have this problem on a LCD computer monitor - normally not on a TV because it has the correct display frequency for this. In general you can say - if you cannot set the required fps at your monitor like 24 fps or a multiple of it you will get a problem. The problem will get less visible the higher the display frequency of your display unit is but it will be still there.
In the end you can say 24 fps would be enough if you can display them correctly. One of the new 120 Hz computer monitors might be fine but I could not test it. On the other hand most new 2D photo cameras can handle 30 fps with ease at HD quality settings and you will not have these problems at all.
So whenever I had movement in the video - for instance a car passed - I got skipping. The car moved in small jumps. I even got this experience at the monitor of the camera. The same you get when you pan.
What I cannot tell you for sure is if you get this skipping already to a certain extend when you record (should not be) or only when you play back. I can only verify the display quality on the camera monitor or on my computer monitor. I just can assume the recording quality is okay without skipping. Here skipping could occur if the data could not be written quickly enough to the memory. But if the processor of the camera just throws away such frame data in such a situation or if you get an error message at such a situation this is up to (the firmware what means software of) the camera.
For me the camera does not provide a useable HD video quality because it does provide 30 fps but only 24 fps. But here my monitor seems to be the problem. In respect of the picture quality of the video itself - it did not convince me.
In addition the video at my last replacement camera has pixel errors - the cameras before did not have them. You could check for red, green, blue, white and black errors. I just checked for black errors with a video taken in a dark room. You can do the same for photos - of course without flash. Video and photo will show different pixel errors if there are any. Afterwards check the video/photo for bright spots. It should be completely black. On the internet I could find that I am not alone with this pixel problem. After reading this story here I lost all hope for an easy fix: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/fuji3d/message/13305.
Below a captured screen shot in 2D of a video at the settings HD1280. I did not find out how I could capture in 3D. There is a lot of skipping/frame jumping in this video. But again - for this money you cannot expect a good 3D video camera. But at least it should not have hot pixels.
You can download the original AVI 3D video shown above at the following link:
It was not possible to upload it to YouTube and show it there in an acceptable quality. The Finepix REAL 3D W3 video format is called "Pair with next stream". It is a two channel avi file If you change it to side-by-side for YouTube so that you will be able to upload it as 3D video that can be displayed at YouTube in 3D then the quality will suffer a lot. Some 3D videos of this camera on YouTube were created (I guess by accident) with the setting to make 3D out of the video in YouTube because you cannot upload the Fujifilm camera output as 3D directly. What happens then is that YouTube takes only the left channel of the Fujifilm 3D AVI file and creates a 3D video out of it. This has nothing to do with the original FinePix REAL 3D W3 recording anymore. You can do this with any 2D video file.
You can continue here at the following link with the review next part Night Shots. There I write about my experience in respect of the photo quality at night. Or you can check out the sample videos below. You can find them also at Fujifilm and other download links at this site - there might be also other interesting things to download.
Original Sample Video Files (AVI) of the Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W3 Camera
All the sample videos shown below were recorded with my FinePix REAL 3D W3 in HD1280. This is the highest possible resolution for video recording at this camera. If you do not have a 3D player you can play back the videos with the Windows Media Player. You will see only one (the left) channel then. Therefore you will see a 3D video in 2D only. But if you have for instance the 3D capable version of PowerDVD you can display the videos in 3D on your computer. The dark video on the right side shows the bad pixel that my last replacement camera has. You can see it/them as white spot on the right upper side.
Please click on the thumbnails to get to the download links.The files are on the file hoster MediaFire.
The next video samples show different shooting modes and situations. The first video is a 3D recording in HD1280 Normal mode. The video next to it is a 3D recording in HD1280 Economy mode. To be able to record in this mode you need to have the firmware version 1.20 installed. You can find the download link for this firmware version under the menu More Info at the top of this page.
The third and fourth sample video are recordings at night or night like situations. The third was an outside recording and the video next to it was taken inside a shopping mall at artificial illumination. Just click on the thumbnails to get to the download links.