Update 3/8/2011: For additional information, see our guide to 3D video editing and sharing options.
We're already in the second generation of in-home 3D, but you're forgiven if you feel nervous about making the plunge just yet. Spending $2000 or so on a 3D TV set, a few pairs of glasses, and a 3D-capable camera or camcorder still seems like a risky proposition at this point, as some key questions remain.
For instance, will 3D video shot with a Panasonic camcorder display correctly on a Samsung TV? If so, what will it take to play back your own 3D images and video on your set? And if you'd rather limit your viewing options to broadcast 3D content and 3D Blu-ray discs, will the content currently available keep you entertained for long?
In this guide, we'll help answer those questions. It's worth a read even if you're not interested specifically in a 3D setup: Soon, every new HDTV may support 3D viewing in one way or another, and more everyday cameras will offer 3D modes.
"In the next couple of years, 3D camcorder success will depend on the ability to easily watch your content on the new breed of TVs," says Christopher Chute, Research Manager at IDC Worldwide Digital Imaging Solutions Group. "Cameras built specifically for 3D shooting may have only a niche following, yet more cameras in the coming years will give you a choice of 3D modes and let you easily capture 3D still and video content. Another trend we'll see is more glasses-free 3D screens on cameras and camcorders, enabling easy local sharing."
Here's what you'll need to know about the 3D file formats, cameras, camcorders, and HDTVs available now and in the coming months.
In Video: A Guide to 3D TVs, Cameras, Camcorders, and Glasses
If you’re dead set on capturing 3D video and images immediately, the Finepix Real 3D W3 is the most-versatile pocketable option at the moment. It deserves a lot of credit for its innovative features, but it's mainly for the brave early-adopter crowd.