Calf is a new 6K VR180 (3D 180) camera. Here are its specifications, features, price, and sample videos, as well as a hands-on review by Hugh Hou.
The world of virtual reality is evolving, and the Calf Camera is a testament to this progression. The Calf Camera is a 6K 50fps VR180 camera, comparable in size to a consumer mirrorless camera. It is produced by Changba, a well-known social media platform in China. With their new camera, they aim to bring live VR streaming to the metaverse, opening up new possibilities for content creators and consumers alike.
Unlike other VR180 cameras such as the Insta360 EVO or Vuze XR, the Calf Camera eliminates the need for stitching. It allows users to edit VR180 content for free in the cloud using a VR headset. Moreover, it supports live streaming on platforms like Pico and the new Meta Quest social app in 6K 50fps, making it an ideal tool for influencers and live streamers.
Here’s a hands-on review by our friend Hugh Hou. (Please note: I myself have not reviewed the camera at the time of this writing, so I can’t offer my own opinion on its quality.)
Specifications and features
- Size: 136×74.6×71.89mm
- Weight: 850g
- Display screen: 3.5 inch (diagonal) TFT-LCD
- SD Card storage: up to 512GB
- RAM: 8GB LPDDR4X
- Flash storage: 8GB EMMC
- Image sensor: 1/2.3 inch SONY IMX577 12.3mp sensor
- Two 34mm diameter custom fisheye lenses
- In-camera stitching (no stitching required)
- Cloud editing and live streaming capabilities
- Compatible with Canon LP-6 battery
- Supports USB-C Mic and 3.5mm jack for lav mic
- Four 1/4-20 mounts for accessories
- Uses regular size SD card
- Large back LED screen for control and playback
- Full metal body with a quiet fan for cooling
In addition to the camera, Calf offers a free VR180 social media app, similar to TikTok but in 3D 180. This platform features short, scrollable videos and allows users to subscribe to creators for long-form content. With the upcoming release of Apple Vision Pro, the demand for content in the immersive 180 format is expected to surge, and Calf is well-positioned to meet this demand.
Sample photos and videos
Calf provided sample photos and videos for download here. Here is one of the sample photos which I uploaded to Orbix360. If viewed on a laptop screen, the image appears to have noticeable compression artifacts. The dynamic range seems to be typical for 1/2.3-inch size sensor, with blown skies in this outdoor scene.
Indoors, the Calf’s dynamic range fares better.
One issue is that the field of view appears to be a bit less than 180 degrees. The Calf team may have intentionally chosen a lens with a smaller field of view to increase the number of pixels per degree.
Price and availability; where to buy
The Calf will retail for $2099, which is very high for a VR180 camera with 1/2.3 inch sensors, in part because of the higher build quality with metal frame. The price puts it outside of the reach of most consumers but it is still a much more affordable option compared to the Canon R5 with Dual Fisheye Lens. On the other hand, the Canon R5 and Dual Fisheye Lens has far better image quality and would hold its value better.
Caveat Emptor; Understanding Crowdfunding
The Calf is not yet available for sale but there is a Kickstarter campaign that is ongoing as of the time of this publication, where you can back the project for $1499. Please note that backing a project on Kickstarter, Indiegogo or any crowdfunding site is NOT the same as pre-ordering it. Rather, you are sending money to them to help them produce the camera in return for their promise to send the ‘perk’ to you (in this case, the camera). However, many crowdfunding projects have been delayed (sometimes several years) or have failed to deliver the perks together, leaving backers with no legal recourse. In this case, it is encouraging to see that Calf at least has a functional prototype, which generally means they are further along their manufacturing process. However, there have been occasions where a crowdfunding campaign failed even after showing prototypes that they sent to reviewers.
In conclusion, the Calf Camera is a promising new entrant in the VR180 camera market for indie filmmakers, offering impressive features and quality that make it a worthy consideration for anyone interested in immersive content creation. Meanwhile, you may also want to take a look at the new prototype Canon 360 and VR180 camera and if you have a limited budget, also check out Kandao EGO, which can capture 3D video with similar detail as Calf because of its smaller, non-VR field of view.