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My Week and a Half with the 3DS

Nintendo 3DS Camera: An In-Depth Look

by Neal Ronaghan - March 19, 2011, 7:20 pm PDT
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What else is new in the camera application outside of 3D picture taking?

Nintendo added a inward and outward-facing cameras to the Nintendo DSi when it launched in 2009. Now, two years later, their newest handheld carries on that tradition, this time with two outward-facing cameras that can take 3D pictures. Unfortunately, they're still 0.3 megapixel cameras.

The application, understandably named Nintendo 3DS Camera, streamlines and removes a lot of what was in the DSi version of the camera. The DSi featured 11 different ways to shoot pictures, including a standard camera and some weird ones that rarely worked, such as one that would make the subject "emote" by scrunching up their facial features. The 3DS application only has seven different ways to shoot pictures, which are listed below:

  • Normal: This is pretty self-explanatory. Use this to take regular old pictures in 2D or 3D.
  • Sparkle: Blowing into the microphone in this mode puts a variety of sparkly crap on the screen. It's similar to the Graffiti mode on the DSi, but with a lot less control.
  • Merge: You have to line up two pictures of people using the inward and outward-facing cameras. The worst part about it is trying to get the same lighting for each subject. The DSi had a version of this, but it was very difficult to get to work. This one often comes out poorly, but it actually works and it is always good for a laugh.
  • Dream: I'll let Nintendo explain this one: "Add a hazy, dreamlike quality to photos." Whatever that means.
  • Low Light: This actually makes sense from an actual picture-taking background, which is weird for Nintendo's camera applications. It indeed does work better in low light.
  • Pinhole: Another neat stylistic lens that lightens the center and darkens the edge.
  • Mystery: Mystery is the secret best part of the 3DS camera. All that appears on the top screen is a black screen with a question mark. When a face comes up on screen, you'll see a rough outline of a cartoon face. Take a picture and the system will use a random camera setting, some of which don't seem to appear in the application.
Examples of face merging

The graffiti mode that was in the DSi makes a reappearance in the photo gallery. You can doodle all over pictures you already took (or come from other games, such as Face Raiders or Pilotwings Resort). Making a return are the silly icons you can use, such as puppy paws that make cute dog barks and music notes that actually follow scales across the touch screen. New to the 3DS are the 3D depth effects. So you can make it look like something's ready to pop out of the screen, or place a heart like it is sunken into the screen. Largely, this is all superfluous, but when my nieces are over the age of 6 and their parents let them use my 3DS, I know they will enjoy this.

It is weird that the 3DS camera application is missing features that the DSi application contained. I wouldn't say the 3DS application is lacking because of the absent features; As it stands, it's a fun little addition to the system, offering a nice mix between goofy gimmick picture taking and mildly legitimate photography features. Will you be able to use this as a real camera? Not really, but it could definitely breed photographers in the same way Game Boy Camera and Pokémon Snap did.

A mystery picture that appears to combine pinhole with something spooky


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