Sony Develops High Frame Rate Single Lens 3D Camera Technology

Not to be outdone by FUJIFILM's recent announcement of the new FinePix REAL 3D system, Sony announced its own 3D development today in the form of a single lens 3D camera technology that is capable of recording natural and smooth 3D images at 240fps (frames per second). Sony's technology combines a new optical system for single lens 3D camera which captures the left and right images simultaneously with existing high frame rate (HFR) recording technology to achieve 240fps 3D filming.

Sony describes the benefits of its new system over existing systems:
In existing half mirror 3D camera systems with separate lenses for the left and right eyes, the parallax range is adjustable, enabling the depth of the 3D images to be modified . However, when operating the zoom and focus functions of such systems, the sensitivity of the human eye, in particular to differences in the size and rotational movement of dual images, as well as any vertical misalignment or difference in image quality has meant that complex technology has been required to ensure that each camera lens is closely coordinated, and there are no discrepancies in the optical axis, image size, and focus. The introduction of a single lens system resolves any issues that may occur as a result of having different optical characteristics for each eye. Furthermore, by using mirrors in place of shutters, incoming light can now be simultaneously separated into left and right images and recorded as it reaches the parallel light area (the area where diverging light from the point of focus on the subject matter becomes parallel) of the relay lens. The separated left and right images are then processed and recorded with the respective left and right image sensors. As there is no difference in time between when the left and right eye images are captured, it is possible for natural and smooth 3D images to be captured, even of scenes involving rapid movement.

Technological Features of the new system include:

  • New single lens optical system
    • Captures left and right images simultaneously to deliver natural and smooth 3D images with no accommodation-vergence (accommodation: focusing the lens on the eye, vergence: aligning the direction of both eyes on the subject) conflict.
    • Eliminates the need for lens synchronization, ensuring easily accurate control of 3D zoom and focus functions.
    • When polarized glasses are not used, viewers will still be able to see natural 2D images, as the disparity of the images for left and right eyes are within the range that human eyes can recognize as a blur.
  • 240fps image capture to realize high quality motion images
    • Realizes high quality capture of 3D content including fast-moving subject matter such as sports.

Sony's prototype to be demonstrated at CEATEC JAPAN 2009