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March 10, 2011

3D Fantasies or Shape of Things to Come? (1 in 4 enthusiasts to buy 3D camera within next year?)

The Consumer Electronics Association (a trade group of 2000 technology companies) has released a new study on 3D digital imaging, with a summary press release available online at Imaging Insider et al.

The report summary says that within the next year (2012) roughly 1 in 4 "digital imaging enthusiasts" will purchase a 3D digital camera (camera, not camcorder). This is a pretty bold statement, considering at the moment you can count in one hand the number of true 3D digital cameras in the market.

The press release does not define "digital camera enthusiasts", so there is some elasticity there :) However, no matter how small this group is, it is hard to imagine such a high percentage in such a short time - especially considering how not-easy it is to display and view 3D content.

The numbers at the moment are just not there - out of 330+ new cameras announced in 2010 and 2011 from the major manufacturers, only one is true 3D camera, the Fuji Real3D W3. Add to that the Rollei and may be 1-2 more rebranded models from second/third-tier manufacturers. There's also the 12.5mm Panasonic M43rds lens, but what else?

It would take a 3D Big Bang with most (if not all) the major manufacturers involved in order to reach the "1 in 4" number. Certainly the makers of mass-market consumer electronics manufacturers (Sony, Samsung, Panasonic) have a bigger stake in 3D than other manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Leica, etc), so they could make a big push.

Since this is coming from a trade group, it is possible this is based on what the manufacturers are already planning to release in the next few months, so we could be seeing a flood of true 3D digital cameras, and/or digital cameras with 3D modes at Fauxtokina 2011 and CES 2012.

This may be upgraded from wild fantasy to something more realistic if they also count cameras with a "3D mode" but without actual 3D technology (eg dual-lenses, dual-sensors, etc).

The full report costs $999, unless you are a CEA member.

+ "Fauxtokina" refers to the same time period time-wise as Photokina but during non-Photokina years (odd-numbered years like 2011)

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