While Canon has previously dabbled in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology with devices like the MREAL Display MD-20, its latest announcement offers a far more serious stab at entering the market. Canon has just announced a brand new EOS VR system that features a dual fisheye lens with an RF mount, designed exclusively for its EOS R5 camera.
At the centre of this new system is the unusual Canon RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye lens, the company’s first interchangeable lens designed for stereoscopic 180° VR capture. The pair of ultra-wide 190-degree field of view (FoV) lenses project two images onto the camera’s single, 45-megapixel sensor, allowing creators to capture 8K (8,192 x 4,096) resolution 3D images and video. The lenses have an interpupillary distance of 60mm to resemble normal human vision, which should make for comfortable content viewing.
There are some other quirkier features that should interest both photographers and VR content creators alike. There’s a manual focus ring that focuses both lenses at the same time, however, the right lens can be independently adjusted using an Allen key. Plus, as this is an L-Series lens, it comes with all the bells and whistles pro Canon users would expect, an aperture range of f/2.8 – f/16, coatings to suppress ghosting and sunlight flare, two UD elements per lens to correct for aberrations and dust and splash resistant seals. It even has a rear-mounted gelatin filter holder for pre-cut ND gels.
So that’s the hardware but as a 360°/180° creator knows, the software is a big part of the equation. Canon’s aim with the RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye lens is to make the whole process as simple as possible. This is why the EOS VR system will utilise Canon’s newly developed software application EOS VR Utility and an EOS VR Plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro to streamline the post-production process, both of which are subscription-based. Canon will also update its EOS Utility and Camera Connect App for remote control and live image previewing.
Because the whole setup puts both images onto a single sensor only one file is created, removing the issue of stitching and syncing multiple images. These two images are circular initially, with the EOS VR Utility software converting them into a side-by-side equirectangular 180° VR format for viewing on VR headsets.
The Canon RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye lens will retail for £2,099.99 GBP/ €2,399.99 EUR / $1,999 USD, coming to market in late December 2021. Considering the standard price for the Canon EOS R5 is £4,299.99, the entire set-up will cost you a rather substantial £6,399.98, then again it is a pro kit and if you already own the camera just buying the lens could be a good investment if you’re interested in this growing field.
For comparison, a 360° camera like the Insta360 Pro 2 starts from £4,599 and does offer all-around recording but doesn’t offer the compact versatility the EOS VR system seems to provide. For continued updates on Canon’s new EOS VR system, keep reading VRFocus.