Just in time for CES 2013, Samsung is introducing a new camera that has the capability of recording both stills and video in 3D using a single lens. This technology may not rival what James Cameron is doing, but it’s a clever technique of capturing basic 3D.

The Samsung NX300’s a big revamp of last year’s NX210 including a lot of common sense improvements to Samsung’s mid-range mirrorless camera. And then there’s the 3D photo and movie mode. Nobody asked for a brilliant new technology that uses a single lens to capture 3D images, but Samsung made it anyway. And it actually works!

The NX300 is the first mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera to shoot 3D. So how does it work? To use it, you’ll need the special new $600 45mm f/1.8 2D/3D lens. As the name implies, it can shoot both 2D and 3D footage. When you flip the switch on the side of the lens from 2D to 3D, a two little liquid crystal doors appear as above

When shooting video these little doors alternate blocking light from one side and then the next at 30-rotations per minute. The 3D effect is created by interlacing the images from each of the perspectives.

Even though it seems like such a small difference in perspective could possibly create a 3D effect, it actually works. It’s not Avatar, but based on the footage and images that Samsung showed us, the effect absolutely works. The subject in focus appears physically distant from the background. The third dimension is more of a sense of depth than of objects jumping off the screen at us. At times it can look a little hokey, and sometimes when there’s an object in the foreground that’s out of focus the effect can be weird.

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This is interesting from a technological standpoint. I guess people really want to shoot 3D. I’m not one of these people.

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