GoPro 3D Camera

Ron Niebrugge California, Photos, Travel 6 Comments

Joshua trees, Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Joshua trees, Joshua Tree National Park, California.

This was a still captured from a 3D time-lapse taken last Saturday night.  The sky ended up lighting up pretty nice – I take clouds for granted in Seward, but down here in the desert, they are a real treat!

I have been anxiously waiting the release of the 3D camera from  GoPro® HD Cameras.   It has been rumored for over a year.  In hindsight, I’m glad it wasn’t available because it forced me to create my own work-flow, one without the distorted horizons the GoPro’s have and better suited for the landscape and travel footage I like to shoot.  That isn’t to say these things won’t be really cool!  I will certainly be ordering a pair and will give further feedback.

It is interesting, but much like HD when it first came out, without content, there isn’t demand – kind of a chicken or egg kind of thing.  This isn’t lost on 3D TV manufacturers like Sony, which is one reason they are helping to subsidize new 3D channels like ESPN 3D and Discovery 3D.  I think the GoPro should be talking to Sony because user generated content by affluent young people might just be as valuable at these other channels.  I mean, it has to be really cool to see yourself surfing or skiing on a large HD 3D TV.  At least 3D TV’s don’t have the expense hurdle early HD TV’s had to overcome – a comparable 3D TV isn’t much more expensive then a similar sized flat panel HD TV.

There are a lot of things to like about the 3D GoPro® HD Cameras.  It can be mounted just about anywhere.   It can be used underwater or above in all kinds of conditions. But one of the great things is just how close together the two lenses are – this should allow the filming of subjects 5 feet away or even less.  The GoPro website confirms this – I look forward to having an option for these new working distances.

Along with the two cameras, the 3D GoPro® HD Cameras also comes with a free version of 3D software from Cineform.  I have been using 3D software from Cineform for about a year now, it is some wonderful software.  But, the program I have cost about $3,000 – nothing close to free!  As you might guess, the free version is a watered down version that only works on GoPro files, but still, that is a great feature.

I might note, GoPro announced the purchase of Cineform just last week – I have a feeling the delay in the release of this product had to do with working out the details on this deal – without the software, these cameras wouldn’t be usable.

There are still plenty of challenges with 3D that this camera won’t solve.  For one, it takes a heck of a computer to process two HD video streams at the same time, even when using the Cineform format.  And, although these cameras will be great for close up subjects, anything very far away won’t have much 3D effect, and there isn’t any way to adjust the stereo base.  There certainly is a lot more to good 3D then just two side by side cameras, but I have a feeling these things will work great in a lot of situations, especially the kinds of situations the typical GoPro user is filming in.   I look forward to trying them out!

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  3. Been a 3D photographer for a long time now (well over 10 years) and have even done underwater 3D stills. You can imagine my interest in the GoPro 3D kit. But I discovered something important doing my research — the stock GoPro camera housing does not focus underwater. For sharp images you need an after-market flat port to replace the standard dome ports.

    This is actually a bit ironic; UW photographers have been shooting with domed ports for years to avoid the magnification, and thus lengthening the effective focal length, that occurs when shooting through a flat port. It would be nice if the camera itself could have its focus set to work with the standard dome ports underwater.

    There are lots of test videos on YouTube that demonstrates the GoPro underwater focus problem and fixes.

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    Hi Bill,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. I have shot a bit of salmon underwater with the 3D GoPro, and was disappointed in the lack of sharpness. I just assumed the stream wasn’t as clear as it appeared, but after doing some searching as you suggested, looks like I’m not alone. That is ironic, I would have thought the little dome ports would have worked better. I see there are some aftermarket flat ports, I might have to try one of them.

    Thanks again.

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