It looked like 2021 was going to be somewhat of a dry year for virtual reality content creators, and then out of nowhere, Canon drops the RF 5.2mm f/2.8 L Dual Fisheye lens aimed squarely at creators of 180 VR content. It's now possible to more easily shoot this kind of content in 8K, but beyond that, what other new features does it bring to the table? Expert VR content creator Hugh Hou explains.
In a video preview, Hou finally breaks his silence about a lens he's been able to preview, and according to him, it's a doozy. By creating this lens and aiming it at the RF line of cameras, Canon solves a few problems that have plagued VR content creators. Chief among the reasons for this, Hou mentions, is that by using the one sensor of, say, a Canon EOS R5, many common issues are solved. Workflow is faster and more efficient without having to combine images from two different sensors, and vertical parallax issues are non-existent since the image for both eyes is created from the one sensor. By using the 8K footage from the camera, each eye gets a 4K image. There's also less chance of footage "drifting" over time since you're not using two sensors and lining up video.
Canon's strategy also futureproofs things a bit. The lens comes in at an affordable (for the VR space, anyway) $2,000, and while it will work with today's cameras, it will work even better when Canon eventually releases cameras with faster frame rates for more fluid motion. The R5 tops out at 8K 30 fps, and so, a future camera that can shoot 60 fps hooked up to this lens will make things look even smoother. In theory, Hou says, the lens should also work with the R6 and R3. The lens is also compatible with raw video workflows on these cameras.
While Canon provides software (that is, unfortunately, looking to be subscription-based), there will also be plugins for popular software such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Mistika VR.
One of the other firsts that Canon covers with this camera is the ability to use gel ND filters with this lens. This means that you can add motion blur to your footage where other cameras are limited in this regard.
So, it looks like Canon might have a whole new market in its hands with this lens, incorporating an approach and feature set that VR content creators could find very appealing. What do you think of Canon's VR strategy with this lens? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.