Get it? Popping up? Stereoscopic?
Sorry, I've had a bit too much sun.
Moving on: I've had a long and difficult relationship with handheld gaming devices - a history with which I will not bore you right now. That being said, I have recently found myself in possession of a 3DS and while the current selection of games doesn't exactly leave me overwhelmed with options, something totally unexpected - something other than the Ocarina of Time - has me hooked on the little system: .MPOs. "Whatever do you mean?" you may ask. Simple: 3D jpegs.
In full disclosure, I'm a photography nut. Actually, I'm a photography something-else-that-rhymes-with-"ut", but this is a family site. I have no fewer than ten cameras in my den, ranging from a 50 year-old twin-lens reflex beauty (which takes pictures that absolutely spank the modern cameras I've played with...sigh...) to a "prosumer" Canon body that I bought during my recent near-wholesale capitulation to digital photography. Now, to add to my collection, I have a stereoscopic camera - my 3DS. It may not be a Mamiya, but it's opened me up to a new way of taking, and viewing, pictures.
More, after the jump.
Early on in the 3DS' prenatal stages I'd read that it would come with a stereoscopic camera, and that got me very, very excited. I'd seen that 3D films done by the right people (James Cameron, Pixar) could be incredible in a way that reminded me of the early days of CGI, when the right directors (James Cameron, Steven Spielberg) worked it beautifully, and the wrong directors messed it up horribly (come to think of it, that's still true). But when I heard that the quality of the 3DS' stereoscopic camera wouldn't be much better than that of a run-of-the-mill built-in webcam I was a bit disappointed. In hindsight, I don't know why. The 3DS isn't big enough to house a truly powerful camera. Sure, the megapixel count could be higher, but any number of megapixels won't make up for a small sensor and wee little lenses. I see that now, but earlier on in the 3DS' lifespan I'd lapsed into that tired, fancier-is-better mentality when it comes to cameras.
Now that I have Nintendo's newest console, I see that I was wrong. In fact, by inserting a third dimension in to photography, the 3DS' under-powered camera may just help broaden a niche market I'd never been aware of: Stereoscopic photography. In fact, in the few months that the 3DS has been out, galleries of 3-D images have been bubbling up online.
As of the writing of this article, 3Dporch.com has had over 30 000 3DS images uploaded. And not only can you view pictures taken with the 3DS, but you can view images from other, more powerful 3D cameras as well. Not every shot is overwhelming, or even terribly artistic, but you can see that some people are getting a handle on the third dimension much faster than others. These two shots are of subjects that just don't quite pop in 2-D. Not bad, but not stunning either, and the site's jiggly-motion 3-D forcing effect doesn't do them any justice. But check them out on your 3DS. You'll find that in the transition to 3-D the eye finds its subject. In one, a chaotic background is drawn away from the foreground, and in the other a spray of white truly jumps out. The 3DS-only galleries tend to more to the amateurish side, but many contributors are adventurous, whimsical, and clearly getting a handle on what makes 3-D picture taking different. Others, meanwhile, are using the 3-D effect to add character to images we're already familiar with.
What is perhaps most intuitive about taking a picture in 3-D is that you can use both of your eyes. In traditional photography, the picture must be composed with two dimensions in mind - this is one of the things that makes simply pointing-and-shooting a recipe for messy, ugly pictures. But we humans (most of us, anyway) see in three dimensions, so even with the fuzzy picture quality of the 3DS' camera, there is something real about the images that it takes that can't be captured by a regular camera.
Searching for .MPO galleries on Google still brings a mish-mash of results (including a few very NSFW galleries...), but with the 3DS' much-welcomed price drop more should be on the way.