German optics innovator Minox has been around for a number of years and is generally known for its miniature cameras and binoculars. Its booth at this year's Photokina was positively buzzing with enthusiasts trying to catch a glimpse of its entry into the world of 3D photography, the PX3D compact camera. Just a concept piece at the moment, the eye-catching camera sports four vertical lenses and promises glasses-free, three dimensional image enjoyment.

Not only has Minox doubled up on the usual number of lenses found on a 3D photo camera but the company has also positioned them one on top of the other. Each of the camera's 9mm focal length, 5 megapixel lens modules is said to have a slightly different perspective and, as you might expect, all of the lenses fire at the same time. Due to the precise nature of the lens alignment, there's no zoom capability and no video on offer either.

However, according to Minox, users of the PX3D will have the power to choose which of the four snapped images to use in the final, single, merged three dimensional photo and should be able to test out different compositions during playback. Each of the modules can be set to individual exposures and focal points – which could be useful for HDR photography – and each of the non-3D frames can be saved as a separate JPEG image or merged into one, as desired.

Three dimensional photographs will be stored as AVI files and the system will allow for glasses-free viewing, although the company hasn't revealed exactly how this will be possible. Whether this will involve some sort of parallax or brand new technology remains to be seen. Minox simply states that "generally every conventional PC can play the 3D photos." Also, users won't need to decide ahead of time whether to shoot in standard or 3D mode, such things can be decided in retrospect.

Developed in partnership with 3D-Competence, who has taken its know-how from the automobile sector and used it for specialized photographic applications, and a concept piece at the moment, Minox sees a commercial production model of the PX3D perhaps appearing as early as next summer at a likely price of EUR500 (US$682). We'll keep you posted on developments.

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