So far, consumer 3D camcorders have generally hedged their bets by providing the third dimension as an addition to otherwise essentially 2D models. Panasonic’s HDC-T750 came with an attachment, and this is now just an optional extra for the HDC-TM900 and HDC-SD90. JVC, however, has decided not to do 3D by halves. The Everio GS-TD1 does shoot 2D if you want, but its primary focus is 3D, with hardware specification arranged accordingly.
You may have noticed that human beings have two separate eyes, rather than two lenses feeding a single eye. Yet the latter has been the approach taken by previous consumer 3D camcorders, with just a single sensor fed by a dual-lens arrangement. The GS-TD1, in contrast, has two parallel optical systems. There are twin lenses feeding a pair of 1/4.1in back-illuminated CMOS sensors, each with 3.32Mpixels.
This setup gives the GS-TD1 an important set of features that the Panasonic offerings lack. First, there’s no need for calibration as the 3D lens is permanently attached, so you’re always ready to shoot as soon as the device is powered up. Second, and perhaps more significantly, the twin lenses mean you can actually zoom in 3D mode. There is only a 5x factor available when shooting 3D, which is still a little miserly, but this extends to 10x in 2D mode. Even 5x is preferable to the fixed framing offered by Panasonic’s consumer 3D models so far.
The final benefit of JVC’s dual approach is that the GS-TD1 doesn’t natively record side-by-side 3D, which squeezes two anamorphic frames into a single Full HD resolution, although it can for maximum compatibility. Instead, two Full HD video streams are captured, promising much greater detail in 3D mode. To take advantage of this, the GS-TD1 records at a maximum data rate of 34Mbits/sec in 3D mode, although 2D mode is still limited by the constraints of the AVCHD standard, so tops out at 24Mbits/sec.