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DXG Camcorder

DXG camcorder gives 1080p 3D on a budget

By Jim Bray
February 18, 2012

Whether or not 3D is going to be the next greatest thing or – as I think it will be – just a flash in the pan fad is not yet plain. Despite that, however, 3D is here and 3D-compliant devices continue to proliferate, with prices getting downright entry level.

A case in point is the DXG-5F9V HD 1080p 3D and 2D High-Definition Camcorder, which not only shoots high definition video but which can also be used as a five megapixel digital still camera. The thing offers a lot of bang for the buck – as long as you remember the old adage "you get what you pay for" – and it's small and easy to use.

This $299 camcorder is nice and small, fitting nicely into your hand when you're using it. Its built in dual lens technology lets you shoot in two or three dimensions, and its fold-out viewfinder lets you monitor your 3D shots in real 3D. Without glasses. Well, without 3D glasses; if you wear glasses normally you'll still need them – this is a camcorder, not a laser surgery clinic!

One feature I didn't expect was that you can shoot still pictures in 3D as well. I'm still kind of a 3D denier, and my eyes don't see 3D properly anyway, so I'm not the best one to assess the actual quality of the 3D. I had my biennial eye exam last week and my optometrist says my 3D angst will be cured if I do some "eye exercises" each day. That undoubtedly means that, if my vision of 3D's future is true, I'll regain proper 3D discernment just in time for 3D to follow VHS into the ashcan of history. And wouldn't that just figure?

Fortunately,  those around me don't have my eye problem so I can lean on them to tell me if the 3D in an image is any good or not. Even more fortunate, none of them have asked to be paid!

But back to the DXG.

That "non-glasses" 3D LCD display is quite cool, and it actually works: you see the 3D image supposedly as you'll shoot it (or shot it, if you're playing back), without the fumbling around and discomfort of those darn glasses. In practice, it reminds me of the old fashioned "Viewmaster" 3D images from my misspent youth, though in the case of that device you had to hold the thing up to your eyes and peer at two separate images inside, your brain blending them into one image.

The camcorder has simple and reasonably intuitive menu controls, though the menu is quite limited compared to some higher end camcorders I've tried. This isn't necessarily a problem because this bargain basement unit isn't meant for the serious videographer who wants to tweak everything possible; it's more of a point and shoot unit aimed at people who don't want to be bothered with the more arcane features of home videography. 

One thing I liked a lot was that this camcorder doesn't require a separate add-on 3D adapter. Instead, it has the dual lenses on the front and you merely crank that part of the camcorder 90 degrees to get working (well, you have to turn it on, too, of course). You need that 90 degree action for storage because otherwise the camcorder would have trouble fitting into its little carrying case.

The downside of the rotating lenses is that they can limit how much you can tilt the LCD if you want to do that. I didn't find it a big deal, but your mileage may vary.

Switching from 2D to 3D is accomplished merely by pressing a button on the side of the unit behind where the LCD folds up. This is also where the power, menu and "play" buttons are located and also where you access the SD card.  The rear of the unit holds mini USB and HDMI ports, the "record" control, "mode" and navigation buttons and a "status" indictor LED. The battery is stored on the right side, behind the carrying strap.

Here's a caveat: the "no glasses required" pitch only refers to the 3.2 inch LCD screen on the camcorder itself. If you're planning to play back your masterpiece on a 3D HDTV, you'll want the glasses for that. I played my mess-terpieces back via an Epson 3010e 3D front projector, hooking it into the unit's wireless transmitter, and it worked fine – with glasses. And I have to admit, the 3D content looked pretty cool on an 106 inch screen, my substandard 3D vision notwithstanding.
The unit comes with 128 megabytes of storage built-in, which is virtually nothing, but via the SD slot you can up that to 32 gigabytes. Top video resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels at 30 frames per second.


You can zoom up to 120x for video, though in 3D it's very slow and quite jerky – but at least it zooms, unlike the last – and more expensive – 3D-adaptable camcorder I tried. The zoom capability for still photos is 60x.

There are even some limited effects capabilities built in: color, black and white and sepia. There's a self timer for those who want to get into the picture (and, presumably, have a tripod or some kind of anti-gravity device on which to leave the camcorder), an LED flash, TV out (NTSC, PAL), and you can order an optional remote control that I really wished my sample had been equipped with. If you're planning to play back your footage on your home theater system and don't have the remote, you'd better have a really long HDMI cable or incredible psychic abilities.

One area in which I thought the camcorder fell down was in the audio quality, which I'd rate as only adequate (but, again, what do you want for three hundred simoleons?). And since the 3D images are recorded side by side, the resolution is actually only half the 1920 pixels side to side, so you have to choose between picture quality or "gee whiz" factor.
There's also no image stabilization built in, so you'll want to have a steady hand or the abovementioned tripod.  And you have to remove the battery to recharge it (you can't just plug the camcorder in via USB), though this is probably not a big deal as long as you remember to bring the charger (which is included) with you.  

Bottom line is that if you're on a budget and want 3D high definition, this may be worth your while. If you're looking for something semi-pro or with all of the flexibility of higher priced camcorders, you'll be better off checking out those higher priced camcorders.

But for what it is and what it claims to be, the DXG-5F9V works pretty much as advertised.

Copyright 2012 Jim Bray

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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