I hope everyone had a great Labor Day! With the weather cooling off, it’s a better time than ever to go outdoors for some sunshine. While you are enjoying the outdoors, how about grabbing some snapshots to record the good times? Enter the new DXG-018 3D digital camera. Yes, I did say 3D. How in the world can something be 3D you may ask? Simple, it has 2 lenses. I remember the 3D View Master photo reels back when I was in grade school. Surprisingly, 3D used to be a bigger buzz word – and then it just quietly slipped away…until recently. Today, you’ll find 3D movies (without the need for blue and red filters), 3D TV, and now we finally have affordable 3D consumer point and shoot cameras! DXG provided us with the DXG-018 camera. This lightweight point and shoot camera is small and easy to use. But how well does it perform? Read on past the jump and find out!
The DXG-018 comes in several colors – pink, lavender, green, orange, and yellow. DXG sent us the yellow one for testing. From the packaging, you can actually look at a sample 3D image to see what this camera can potentially do. The sample image is superb.
Here’s the back of the packaging for those who are interested. Let’s dig into this packaging and get to the goodies!
Opening up the package we find the manual, 3D viewers (3 total), a USB cord, the camera itself, 2 AAA batteries, and a wrist strap to attach to the camera.
DXG thinks of cool things to include – like the batteries and a wrist strap. It just makes the camera easier to use…and almost ready to use right out of the box! It would have been so nice if they included an SD card. Bring your own – without the SD card, the unit can power up, but will not be able to take any photos as it does not have any internal memory. For the purposes of this review, we used a 2GB Micro Center SD card.
The bottom of the camera has a sliding panel which reveals the SD card slot as well as the mini USB port. Right next to the hinge of the swinging panel is a tripod mount.
Here is the top of unit where we can see the main power switch as well as the shutter button. The shutter button is also used for menu navigation which we’ll talk about briefly below.
On the back of the camera, you’ll find the LCD viewfinder. This viewfinder is odd as it is in a 4:3 dimension whereas photos taken are in a more 16:9 format. You’ll find the bulk of the controls for the camera here (the rest are on the top) as well as the battery compartment. The menus are easy to navigate. There are two major categories – “Capture Settings” and “Camera Settings”. Pressing the “Mode/Menu” button gets you into the menu system where the “Select” button cycles choices, the “Mode/Menu” button confirms choices, the" “Esc/Playback” cancels or closes a submenu or menu, and finally the “shutter” button toggles between the two major categories.
Options for the camera include:
- Resolution (Choice of VGA or 1.3M)
- Exposure Value
- White Balance
The camera also has settings to:
- Auto Power Off (About 3 mins. before this activates – this timing cannot be changed).
- Revert all settings to Default
This is the image that is taken by the camera. It automatically provides the white areas and dotted lines to cut in order to fit the printed photo into the 3D viewer. This particular image was touched up in GIMP as the original photo was way too dark. I did not have the opportunity to retake this shot adjusting white balance from the camera. I guess that’s what photo editing tools are for…(the rest of the photos were not modified and are the ones directly from the camera – resized within Windows Live Writer for 450 pixels in width). I would have liked to see a flash as well as a larger LCD viewfinder which shows the proper aspect ratio.
Here’s a photo of the botched radiant barrier job which I’m working on for one of the many indoor test shots. This particular photo had natural lighting, thanks to a skylight.
A darker indoor shot relying only on the yellow lights of UTD’s conference center.
And of course, here’s a photo of my neighborhood.
Printing / Transferring the Photos
Printing the photos was a piece of cake. There are 3 ways to accomplish this:
- Connect the camera to the printer using a USB mini cord.
- Connect the camera to a computer using a USB mini cord.
- Take out the SD card and insert it into a computer / printer SD card reader.
The prints created from this camera were a bit disappointing. We used HP photo paper and a HP Photosmart Touchsmart AIO printer. The photos were grainy despite many shots taken of both indoor and outdoor locations with different lighting conditions. I was never able to reproduce pictures with the quality of the sample photo from the package. Talking with DXG, I was able to find out that the photo printer they used was a dye sublimation printer. Differences in this printing process may have affected the quality of my prints – although it still cannot account for the graininess seen within the photo editing software that I am using. Despite the many lighting conditions I have tried, including bright sunlight, I have not been able to come close to the same quality of the sample print. As such, I’m thinking the sample photo was taken in a very controlled photographic environment and the use of a higher quality professional grade (rather than my high end consumer grade) printer. Ways in which DXG can resolve this problem is having a better image processor in the camera. This would undoubtedly increase the price of the camera. Personally I’m willing to pay more for quality. Given these considerations, I am disappointed. For the price of a camera and the novelty of 3D, I still think this is a great and fun toy. Additional 3D viewers are available from DXG in a 5 pack for $12.99.
The 3D Viewing (The BEST part!)
The photos (after cutting them to size from 4×6 photo paper) are simply inserted into the viewer….and voila! You may need to adjust the viewer as you peep into it before the image suddenly pops out! In some photos you can see multiple layers of depth which is simply amazing! I started an album of 3D photos where I would just take out a print and reuse one of the viewers. Sadly, I am not able to show 3D without the glasses and you’ll just need to take my word for it!
The DXG-018 3D camera is a $69.99 toy. If you are looking for a high quality camera for taking photos on your vacation, you should consider another camera. However, if you are looking for a camera for the kids (or for the kid in you) where you want to play around with 3D, and are willing to take a hit on quality, this camera might just be the thing for you! Considering I’ve seen “Spider Man and Barbie” point and shoot digital cameras being sold before at Micro Center (a couple of years back) for $60, the key selling point for this camera is its 3D capabilities and in my opinion would be worth the extra $20 for such a cool feature. Other 3D cameras out there require special printing services which cost an arm and a leg – you certainly get what you pay for! I am looking forward to seeing what DXG will come up with next in the 3D arena – perhaps something in the “prosumer” market.