Sony Bloggie 3D – Form over function
These days 3D is all the rage. Just about every movie is released in 3D, old ones are remade and it’s even spilled over into user electronics, with phones, tablets and televisions now capable of it. So the next logical step would be for consumers to also be able to create 3D content.
- 1080p/30fps full HD recording in 2D and 3D
- 2.4” glasses-free 3D display
- 1/4″ Exmor CMOS Sensor
- 4MP Photos in 2D and 3D
- 80GB internal storage
- Retail Price: +/- R2999
The Sony Bloggie has been quite popular for a while now, and the newest version sees a 3D variant added to the line-up. The problem is that video on cameras have shot up in quality, with Sony probably being the main culprit with its line of Exmor endowed cameras. Is there still a use for a device like the Bloggie today, and will the 3D version help its usefulness at all?
On the Outside:
The Bloggie 3D is a very stylish device, and with its angular body, seems to be able to fit into Sony’s Experia line-up of cell-phones very easily. The front is very minimalistic in its design with a screen, the round joystick like button for navigation, and the big video record button. On second glance you notice the play button and 2D/3D switch buttons, discreetly positioned next to the screen.
On top is just the power and photo buttons. The bottom has a mini-HDMI port and a clever USB connection that flips out when needed.
The back is adorned with two lenses within a silver bevel, with the rest of the back a matte finish.
The Bloggie 3D really comes across as a very stylish device and build-quality feels very good.
The screen is part of what makes the Bloggie 3D unique. It’s a hybrid 2D/3D screen. The screen will switch, depending on which mode you are shooting in. In 2D mode, the screen looked over-sharp with a lot of aliasing (jagged edges). The colour reproduced seemed reasonably accurate.
When switching to 3D mode, you realize the problem with glasses-free 3D. It’s just not any good yet. It reminds me of those old toy watches you used to get, where, as you change the angle you are viewing it from, the picture you see changes. You do actually see the 3D effect created, but the screen is so small (a tiny 2.4”), you cannot see any faults. Colours on the screen are terribly washed out, with a yellowy tint.
The other problem with the screen crops up when zooming with the Bloggie 3D. Something I found out only when looking at the footage on a computer screen was that the Bloggie 3D only zooms digitally, and not in a good way. When shooting and previewing on the diminutive screen, the footage looked good, but when opened up on a big screen, the zoomed-in footage was just plain nasty!
The Bloggie 3D also has an add-on lens that makes the camera shoot a full 360 degrees. It is very easy to connect and the camera automatically figures out that the lens is connected and switches to 2D mode if in 3D mode.
The Bloggie 3D charged quite quickly and the battery lasted quite long. I never had to recharge it throughout the review period.
On the Inside:
The menu system in the Bloggie 3D is functional and has a fairly easy lay-out to get used to. It is nothing as stylish as any of the recent Sony compact cameras.
Changing settings was easy and viewing the footage and photos shot was also hassle-free. There aren’t a whole lot of things to change within the menu structure, but the whole interface was snappy and responsive.
This is unfortunately where the bad news starts.
The video was atrocious. The Bloggie 3D’s videos is output as 1920×1080 full HD, but in reality the footage produced is basically half of that (960×1080) and then stretched in the 3D viewing process. You can see what I mean when watching the sample video.
The video showed bad lens faults, with chromatic aberrations being quite pronounced in high contrast scenes, as well as nasty flaring when pointed at light sources like the sun.
The 3D video also lacked any sharp detail due to its very low data rate, at around 15Mbps. The footage also showed a lot of compression artifacting, with a great loss of detail in shadow areas. Shooting something like a painted wall seemed fine, but something like a tree with lots of detail was just too much for the camera.
2D video could only be shot at 1280×720, but showed much more detail than in 3D mode. That still doesn’t mean it was good.
Focus didn’t seem too bad, but due to the lack of detail didn’t need to be. White balance was quite accurate and colours reproduced were very natural.
The image stabilisation wasn’t bad, but also wasn’t very good. The camera just couldn’t seem to manage excessive movement very well.
Through the Sony Bloggie 3D software (which was good), you can convert 3D footage to 2D footage and the resultant video was output as .mp4, same as the original video.
When shooting the 360 degree video, the resultant 1920×1080 video comes out as a circle within the video. The Sony Bloggie 3D software lets you “unwrap” that footage. The result is a strange thin little video in 1280×720 and saved as a .wmv format. The problem though, is that the circle isn’t created in the centre of the video, which means you see part of the camera in the frame and the “unwrapping” process isn’t wholly successful.
See the below video for the 360 degree video.
Audio didn’t sound better than any compact camera and would for most applications be pretty useless, especially if you were to use this device to blog with.
The story doesn’t get better with photos. The 3D variant stills have a nasty red hue over the whole photo, compared to a 2D version. To view the actual photos in 3D mode, the cameras makes a special format that can be viewed on 3D capable devices.
The photos also seemed to suffer from a loss of detail and artifacting. 3D photos were also limited to 1920×1080, whereas 2D photos could be taken at 5MP.
The Bloggie 3D turned out to be a pretty useless product in today’s world.
The video is terrible, especially when compared to the new raft of Sony’s compact cameras. And the 3D effect, although not bad, is pretty useless in South Africa, where there just aren’t 3D devices to leverage this with. I could not find a single person I know who had a 3D device on which I could watch these videos or photos. My only reference was the tiny screen of the Bloggie.
The photos seem to be the only thing that you would actually be able to use in your blog. They aren’t great, but would suffice for blogging and social media purposes.
The Sony Bloggie 3D is a gimmicky device. The 3D is all but useless as a real world application and the 360 degree video just isn’t anything more than a party trick. At R2999 the Bloggie 3D is a very expensive device.
I would recommend just about ANY other Sony compact camera over this device, especially those with the EXMOR sensor. They would also be much cheaper.