Nintendo 3DS Camera App Tips & Tricks: The Art of taking wonderful 3D photos

The 3D Camera App. Often an underrrated feature of the Nintendo handheld, but truly unique and spectacular if you know how to use it well. Let’s start with the basics:

The Nintendo 3DS uses two cameras to take the 3D photos. The way this works is by taking two slightly different images (because of the distance between the two cameras, that is, a few centimeters) and then superimposing them.

Usually this would produce a blurred image with no 3D properties, but that’s where the magic of the N3DS screen comes into play. The Parallax Barrier makes it so that each eye receives only one of those images. The brain is used to “merging” the input that each eye gets from the real world to obtain a 3D image (you’ll notice that it’s more difficult to judge distances if you close one of your eyes, try for example pouring some tea in a cup). For this reason, the brain merges the two images (photos) and you see the 3D picture.

With the 3D technicalities out of the way, let’s see which are the best ways to obtain impressive pics with our (admitedly low-res, only 0.3 MP) camera. Because of the general poor quality of the photos, you’ll want to use the Nintendo 3D’s camera only on certain occassions, when the situation warrants it. And that is, most of the time, just close-up pictures.

In the following analysis you’ll notice that the camera doesn’t work well for “landscape” photos (very far away) and you are better off using your Reflex camera or your iPhone.


How to make a good 3D photo. Examples:


First of all I recommend that you download the following file which contains the 3D photos that I’m going to talk about. Put them on your handheld’s SD Card (inside de DCIM folder, it’s actually quite easy!) and follow the guide with the 3D photos in front of you. Otherwise you (obviously) won’t be able to see the “3Dness” on the computer.

3D Photos Download:


DISCLAIMER: In all cases I’ll be talking about the quality of the 3D effect, NOT the quality of the photo per se, which is usually quite low.


There are different types of 3D photos that you can make but most of them fall in the following three categories, or somewhere in between: Deep, Standout and Plain

In the “deep” category you would find the pics in which you can feel a definite sense of profundity, as if you were looking at a little box and you could reach out your hand to take something from it. This is the most common form of 3D and it’s also the most pleasing one. It’s also quite amazing to see too.


Let’s see an example (take out your Nintendo 3DS to see the 3D effect):
















Here you can see an example of a good “deep” 3D Photo. The first object is at around 1 meter and then you have a myriad of other objects at different levels of depth (but, and this is very important, quite close to each other) providing the pic with a sense of continuity.

Most of your 3D photos will be like this, just make sure not to be too far away from the first object.


Works best for: everyday regular situations with mid-close objects/people.





The beach from where I live (somewhere in Spain) at 6 00 in the morning.













This photo shows us what happens when you combine a landscape with a close object like this bar. The close object emphasizes the general 3D effect and makes the photo much more spectacular. This way the landscape feels like it’s really far away.

To make a photo like this just find a good natural setting and make the photo with a close object (like a fallen tree) at the bottom of the pic.


Works best for: beautiful landscapes which otherwise would seem very plain on the Nintendo 3DS.





Mmmmm.... ice cooled beers













This is a great example of a “standout” 3D photo where you have the beer bottle on the left almost coming out of the screen (it feels like you can almost grab it right?). This is probably the most impressive form of 3D, although the eyes can take a while to get used to the effect.

To make a photo like this you must choose a series of objects which are very closely positioned (so that many “3D layers” are created). Be sure than the background also has some things going on. Take the pic from around 10 cm and… voila! now you have a 3D photo that you can almost “touch”!


Works best for: very close objects with multiple layers (food, action figures, toys, gadgets…)




Sunrise at the Catalonian coast













Even though it’s still quite a beautiful picture this is the type of photo that you must not take with your Nintendo 3DS. Because of the lack of “3D layers” (only the landscape at the background), the 3D effect is almost negligible and you’ll be better off with your iPhone/HTC cameras which have a much higher resolution.


Works best for: don’t use the Nintendo 3DS to take this kind of photos, just use a normal camera with a higher MP count


Buy wait! You can spice up your “plain” photos with…




A boat in Barcelona













If you really want to take a photo like this with your N3DS, try to create at least two 3D layers (in this case with the seagulls) to make the pic a bit more impressive.


Works best for: increasing the 3D effect in relatively far away photos


Final Tips


-Remember that you can edit the photos with the Grafitti mode to add colors, icons and much more.

-The 3D effect can be adjusted in your own photos. Just move the analog stick to the left if you want to increase the “standout” effect (the images move closer to each other) and to the right if you want to make the 3D photo “deeper” (the images get even more separated).

Don’t abuse this feature, though. If you make it too deep then you’ll feel that your eyes become very crossed and this could cause some minor discomfort and headaches.

-The front camera can also be used in conjuction with the back cameras to “melt faces” and produce some hilarious results.

-In case of doubt the ideal distance for a regular 3D photo is always 30 cm.


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