Friday, August 19, 2011

Sony Digital Binoculars - DEV-3 & DEV-5

Sony has announced two new digital binoculars; the DEV-3 ($1,399) and the DEV-5 ($1,999). They support HD video, can capture 7.1 megapixel stills, and have f/1.8-3.4, 0.5-10x optical zoom lenses, and a pair of 1,227-dot viewfinders. They are expected to be available in November

A couple of sites have already had a chance to spend some time with these binoculars;
Using the double electronic viewfinders was easy when looking through the binoculars, zooming in and recording video. However, using them to scroll the menu system and playback footage was difficult to get used to. The optional added 5-inch LCD on the top made a huge difference to the usability of these binoculars. [1]
and there's already a video on YouTube from the Swiss Video Academy (with English captions): Sony DEV-5 / Digital Binoculars - First Look Review

And as others have noted, they look like they came out of Star Wars!

It's probably not surprising that Sony would think to add 3D capabilities to binoculars. The devices seem to be based on the same basic platform as the 3D camcorders from Sony (the HDR-TD10 [$1,499]). They seem to include most of the same functionality, including HDMI out and SD card/Memory Stick recording.
"Binoculars, being stereoscopic in nature, really lend themselves to 3D technology," [senior product manager, Phil Bouchillon] explained. Indeed, with separate sensors and lenses in each eye of the device, Sony would have been remiss to pass up on 3D video recording capabilities here. [2]
Given that they have the same focal length range as the HDR-TD10, I really wonder whether, if you're interested in dabbling in 3D, these binoculars might not be a better choice:
  1. They may be less conspicuous
  2. As binoculars, they have another use
  3. May be easier to use in bright outside light
On the other hand, walking around filming, with these held to your head, may seem a bit odd...

1: Photography for Beginners: Sony DEV-5/DEV-3 Hands on Preview
2: Digital Camera Review: Sony DEV-3 and DEV-5 Binoculars Record Stills and HD Video
3: Engadget: Sony Digital Recording Binoculars look like military night vision goggles, cost almost as much
4: PC World: Sony Video Binoculars Hands-On: DEV-5 and DEV-3 Are Straight Out of 'Star Wars'

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