the mail arrived earlier than usual (late morning instead of mid-afternoon), and along with it came my ebay-purchased used fuji finepix real 3D W3 camera. fuji introduced the camera in the summer of 2010, replacing the earlier W1 (introduced in 2009), which was one of the first 3D cameras, but had so many things wrong with it, that when fuji finally updated the 3D camera, they jumped a number (W3) to sort of put some distance between the new and the old camera. if you're in the market for a 3D camera, the W3 is pretty much it. i know panasonic has its own 3D camera (introduced 2012) but the distance between the 2 lenses seems to be too close and it lacks something that the fuji W3 has: a lenticular LCD that can actually display back the 3D photos.

the camera came with the original box plus a battery and charger, but that was pretty much it. missing were the manual, the CD-ROM, and the USB cable. the battery arrived completely drained, so i had to recharge it for 2 hours before i could finally play with the camera.

for a used gadget, the camera itself seemed to be in okay shape. a few small nicks and scratches on the edges (nearly invisible), and some of the buttons seemed fade. however, the thing that irked me the most was the couple of scratches on the LCD screen. although it doesn't affect the performance of the camera, had i known about the scratched screen, i probably wouldn't have made a bid for this "almost mint" (seller's words) camera.

as you would expect with a newly 3-year-old camera, the W3 is sort of big. part of the problem is having 2 lenses, which need to be set approximately 2.5" apart, the optimal distance for 3D photography (the distance between 2 eyeballs). the W3 lenses are actually set closer to 3". the camera is roughly the same size as an iphone, but a little bit longer, and 3 iphone thick.

the battery compartment is not very well designed so you can actually put the battery in the wrong direction without realizing it. that might've happened to me earlier before i decided to just simply recharge the battery. i discovered this design flaw when i put in the fully charged battery and the camera didn't work. at first i had a moment of panic, like maybe i bought a dead camera. but then i checked the camera and realized i put it in wrong. after i flipped the battery, the camera whirled to life when i slide the front cover down.

the way the camera turns on my sliding the lens cover makes it very easy to accidentally touch the lenses with a finger or block the lenses when taking a photo. playback mode can be turned on without sliding open the cover, but in order to turn off the camera, you have to then slide open the cover and slide it closed.

the first time i used the camera was kind of trippy. the 3D lenticular display suddenly adds another dimension to the photos and for a moment my eyes didn't know what they were looking at. it almost seems like a magic trick, like the first time you ever seen a hologram. normally the camera displays in 2D (unless you're in playback mode), but once the shutter is pressed down halfway, the camera goes into 3D mode, so you can see what you're shooting (it's also a good way to check that no fingers are blocking the lenses).

i went through and changed all the settings, starting with the date and time. i turned off the beeps but the camera still makes noises from the zooming and focusing. i changed it so that it only saves MPO files and not a complimentary JPG as well (later i'd turn this feature back on because my cataloging program can't read MPO's so it won't import them for indexing). the user interface is okay but there are issues. for example, commonly changed settings like white balance is buried in the menu and takes at least 4 clicks to set. there are also some useless animations like a pixelated dissolve for deleted images that just wastes time.

the 2 internal 1/2.3" CCD's have the 4:3 aspect ratio. that means when you take a 16:9 photo - which is the size one would take for display on a 16:9 HDTV - it's actually using less of the CCD's (7 megapixels instead of the full 10 megapixels). the 3x optical zoom has the 35mm-format equivalent of 35-105mm. with that medium range, the optimal shooting distance is 4-13ft. any closer, the you run into parallax issues and the 2 images overlap so much they don't merge; any farther, and you don't really get an 3D effects.

fortunately the camera has a few manual 3D shooting options, all using just the left lens. first there's interval shooting, where the camera takes 2 quick photos based on an adjustable time period. it can either do it without delay, or you can set it to however many seconds. apparently this is used for taking photos from a fast moving vehicle. the second option is individual shutter 3D, where you take one image, and the camera superimposes that image onto the screen so you can shift the camera yourself to take the second photo. this is the only option if you want to do macro photography.

the camera has 34MB of internal memory. i discovered this when i turned on the camera without a memory card and saw there were a few photos still on the camera. photos of the girls basketball team and 2 boys dressed up like they were going to the prom.

i was glad to discover that the fuji W3 will also display MPO files taken with other cameras. the images have to be in the right folder in order for the camera to read it, but once loaded the lenticular LCD shows them just fine. playback is a little weird though: when i went to sort them via date, the order was a little messed up when i viewed the photos in sequence.

i also shot a 3D video, although it's proprietary AVI format isn't supported by my panasonic 3D HDTV. the videos can only go as high as 720p. i did notice there was a large dead pixel in the middle of the video however (that doesn't show up in photo mode).

i was going to give the seller a neutral rating on ebay, but after playing around with the camera a little bit, i was in a more forgiving mood. i wrote him to let him know i would rate the transaction as positive, but i was happy with a few things, like missing manual/CD-ROM/cable and more importantly the scratches on the LCD he never mentioned in his "almost mint" listing.

i knew getting the fuji 3D W3 that it'd be more of a toy, since its one trick is primarily to shoot 3D photos. the lenticular LCD is really cool, i doubt anyone can not be impressed when they see it. the thing that the W3 does very well is shooting medium range action. it has no problems with moving objects with its dual-firing lenses. i'm hoping to take it out the next few days and do some exploring with the camera.

i had big plans for this week - like going out to do some naturing - but with intermittent strong showers (the sort of weather pattern that turns daylight in nighttime), i haven't gone very far. in fact, i didn't leave the house at all today, even though it didn't rain (just a dreary overcast). the city is repaving sections of oxford street so they turned my street into a detour route. it wasn't bad until rush hour, when it looked like my small one way street was getting more traffic than mass ave.

i knew the little 1000 mAh battery wouldn't be enough power, especially since i've been playing with the W3 all day. by evening it was already flashing the low power warning icon until the battery finally gave out. while i recharged it, i also went online and bought 2 spare batteries off of ebay ($3.88 each, NP-50, 1400mAh).

for dinner i had some more asparagus smoked salmon salad. this time i added some cranberries to add another flavor layer. the fun thing about eating asparagus is the smelly pee afterwards, and i finally noticed it tonight.