Best cameras for video/ 3D Everywhere

July 30, 2010

These days almost every camera has that capability, according to NPD, a market-research firm.

The final episode of the TV show "House" was shot not with a $100,000 film camera, but with a digital SLR camera that costs less than $3,000! It's the Canon 5D Mark II. Granted, it was outfitted with professional lenses and other equipment. Consumer Reports' testers say it's a fine camera, but how about the video quality of less expensive point-and-shoots?

Consumer Reports rates the video quality of digital cameras. Some point-and-shoots do a much better job than others, both in bright light and in more-challenging low-light scenes.

It turns out that you don't have to pay a fortune to get a digital camera that shoots decent video. A good choice is the Canon PowerShot A495. It's a Consumer Reports Best Buy, at $130.

It shoots video in standard definition. If you want a camera that shoots high-definition video, it will cost you more. Consumer Reports says a good choice is the Canon EOS 7D, which costs around $1,800.

3D Everywhere

When it comes to 3D, movie theaters, move over. Major League Baseball is just getting into the act. And there was plenty of fanfare around this summer's World Cup broadcast in 3D. DirecTV has recently launched several 3D channels. Beyond TVs, 3D is popping up in all sorts of products.

At Consumer Reports' labs, 3D games are creating quite a buzz. Video games are just one of many 3D products now on the market. There are also 3D laptops. But Consumer Reports' tests on the Acer Aspire 5738DG-6165 show the 3D effects aren't very exciting and the viewing angle is very limited.

But Consumer Reports' Terry Sullivan says the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W1 3D point-and-shoot camera is more promising. It is pricey at $600, but it shoots 3D photos and videos. Sullivan was impressed that you can watch 3D video on this camera without needing to wear special glasses. But you have to shoot it horizontally, not vertically. However, Consumer Reports says take a pass on the camera's $500 3D digital frame. Tester Rich Fisco saw double images and experienced eyestrain.

And what about those latest 3D TVs being tested at Consumer Reports? They include a 63-inch plasma from Samsung and a 40-inch Sony LCD. Testers are still finding that plasma is a better technology for 3D. And bigger is definitely better for 3D's immersive experience with movies and video games.

Consumer Reports' advice: If you're looking to buy a high-end TV right now, go ahead and get one that's 3D. Top rated are the Panasonic VT-20 and VT-25 series, which start at about $2,500. But be aware that there are other expenses, such as additional glasses, which cost more than $100 a pair. And you'll need a 3D Blu-ray player for movies, which costs $200 to $400

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