Panasonic Lumix 3D1 announced, we go hands-on

Panasonic has announced the launch of their first dedicated 3D compact camera. The DMC-3D1 will offer a two lens arrangement and arrives claiming to be the "world's smallest". Of course, it only really faces the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 by way of competition. 

We first saw the concept 3D camera back at IFA 2011 and the retail model - which we managed to get our hands-on prior to the launch announcement - looks to be the same. 

It offers a two lens system, with each lens offering a 25mm wide angle with 4x optical zoom. You get two 12-megapixel sensors, offering Full HD 3D video, or 8-megapixel 3D MPO stills.

Control comes in the form of a 3.5-inch touchscreen around the back, with a switch to move from 2D and 3D shooting. This isn't a lenticular display like you'll find on the Fujifilm, so you won't be able to view the 3D effect on the back of the camera, you'll have to hook-up to a TV, via the HDMI.

You'll be able to dual shoot with those lenses too, so if you are in 2D shooting, you'll be able to capture stills with one lens whilst capturing Full HD video with the other. 

The most surprising thing about the Lumix 3D1 is just how compact it is. The Fujifilm rival is a fairly large lump of a camera, but the 3D1 is comparable to a regular compact, easily pocketable. The 3D1 measures 108 x 58.5 x 24.1mm and weighs 193g.

Our time with the prototype was brief so we didn't really have time to get to grips with the user interface. The lack of buttons means you'll be spending a lot of time prodding that screen on the back, but we had no problem snapping off a few shots. 

With 3D screens starting to appear in more homes, there is certainly a wider 3D ecosystem than there ever had been previously. Panasonic have previously offered 3D capture on their G series cameras through a dedicated 3D lens, but you'll now find the likes of 3D sweep panorama from Sony and 3D phone cameras from HTC and LG. 

We still think the Lumix 3D1 is a very niche offering and despite the compact size, the lack of lenticular display might see the Fujifilm being the more popular choice.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1 will be available from December 2011, at hefty £499.

The Lumix 3D1 launches alongside a new G series compact system camera, the Lumix GX1. We will of course be bringing you a Panasonic Lumix 3D1 review when we get the camera in our labs.