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8K VR180 sample video with Canon RF 5.2mm 2.8L Dual Fisheye (updated)

8K VR180 with Canon RF 5.2mm
8K VR180 with Canon RF 5.2mm

Canon RF 5.2mm 2.8L Dual Fisheye is the world’s first VR180 lens for a single full frame sensor.  Here’s an 8K VR180 sample video, a primer on VR180, why it’s important, and what this lens could mean for the 360 and VR market.

Canon RF 5.2mm sample video (8K VR180)

Here is a sample VR180 video:

There are several ways to view the VR180 video stereoscopically:

  • Oculus Quest, Quest 2, or other VR headset such as Playstation VR or Valve Index: use the YouTube app in your VR headset and look for this video.  You can try searching for “canon front row.”
  • With a Google Cardboard viewer: use your smartphone’s YouTube app (not browser).  When the video loads, tap on the Google Cardboard icon and insert your phone in your Google Cardboard viewer.

What is VR180; difference from 360 video

You’re probably familiar with 360 videos that let you look up, down, left, right or even behind you.  When you look at a 360 photo or video in a VR headset, it surrounds your view.  However, most 360 photos and videos look flat, like like wallpaper or a movie projected on the inside of a sphere.

Fortunately, there are stereoscopic 3D 360 photos and videos.  Not only can you look around you, but what you see will have appear to have depth.  They are like 3D movies and 3D photos but you can look anywhere around you.

The problem with 3D 360 is that it’s difficult to stitch smoothly and arguably even more difficult for storytelling.  Viewers can see anywhere around them and many complain of feeling confused about where to look.  The creator has to use techniques to carefully guide the viewer and direct their attention.

Is there a way to get a view that is more immersive like 3D 360 but without its disadvantages?  That’s the reason Google created the VR180 format in 2017.  VR180 is essentially a 3D 180 format.  The video fills the audience’s field of view, and at the same time, the video is stereoscopic and has the illusion of depth.  Unlike a 3D 360 video, however, the photo or video is only in the front hemisphere of the audience’s view.  They can’t see anything behind them.  You can think of it like a 3D IMAX or stereoids, or similar to the view in some theme park rides such as Disney California Adventure’s Soaring Around the World.

Yet another advantage of VR180 is that it is more convenient to watch without a VR headset.  With the action happening in front of the camera, a viewer who pulls up the video on their smartphone doesn’t have to swipe their screen to look for the right direction, which can be tedious.  They can simply watch it like any other non-360 video.

Because of these advantages, I believe that VR180 is the most practical format for creating and viewing immersive videos.

Introducing Canon RF 5.2mm 2.8L

Until now, all VR180 cameras and rigs have used two lenses and two sensors.  The photos and videos must have the same settings and must be synchronized.

Canon RF 5.2mm 2.8L is the world’s first VR180 lens that is designed for a single full frame sensor.   This means that creators don’t have to worry about using the same settings or synchronizing the audio or video.

Canon Dual Fisheye Lens Specifications

Aperturef/2.8 to f/16 (electronic adjustment)
FocusManual focus
Focal length5.2mm
MountRF mount, compatible only with EOS R5
Field of view190 degrees
Interpupillary distance60mm
Minimum focus distance7.9 inches / 0.2 meters
ConstructionEach lens has 12 elements in 10 groups
Special elementsEach lens has two UD glass elements
Video resolution8192 x 4096, 30fps (with EOS R5)
Video bitrate2600mbps in Raw video
(with EOS R5)
Recording durationUp to 20 mins.
Price$1999, available December 2021

Here is a short product video:

The Dual Fisheye lens works only with the EOS R5 8K mirrorless camera.  Canon has software that will convert the dual fisheye photos or videos into side-by-side equirectangular VR180 format.  The software will be available on the desktop as a standalone app, or as a plugin for Premiere.  Each software will cost $5 per month.  Alternatively, third party software and plugins can also convert a dual fisheye video into a VR180 format.

Canon's software will convert the dual fisheye into side by side equirectangular VR180 format
Canon’s software will convert the dual fisheye into side by side equirectangular VR180 format

Here is a more detailed look at the Canon Dual Fisheye lens.

What does this mean for the 360 and VR market?

Until now, the future of VR180 had been murky because Google abandoned the format.  They had entered into partnerships with camera manufacturers and even trained influencers to create VR180 videos.  Other camera manufacturers also created VR180 cameras, such as the Kandao Qoocam, Insta360 EVO, and Vuze XR.

But in 2019, Google ceased their VR180 efforts and with the exception of the Lenovo Mirage, most of the VR180 cameras their partners planned to make never made it to production.  Meanwhile, the Qoocam, EVO, and Vuze XR continued to sell but after they were sold out, they were discontinued.

Although VR180 consumer cameras all but disappeared, professional 360 shooters continued to create VR180 content, which were published on apps such as Oculus TV, primarily using DSLR or mirrorless rigs.

Apparently, Canon believes that the VR180 market still has potential.  Last year, they patented a VR180 lens and to everyone’s surprise, they went on to release it.

The Dual Fisheye lens is $1995, and works only for the EOS R5, which is $3899 without a lens.  At this price, the cost is comparable to that of the Z Cam K2 Pro ($6000), which uses two Micro Four Thirds sensors to capture 6K VR180.

What about consumers?

The price of the Dual Fisheye lens and R5 body limits the market to professionals.  How about for consumers?  Canon may be testing the market and if there are signs of increasing demand, they could easily create a VR180 camera for consumers, now that they have the software for it.

I believe the fact that Canon has now entered the 360 and VR market is also itself significant.  Do they have other cameras planned?  With the exception of the Nikon Keymission 360, none of the largest camera manufacturers had ventured into 360 or VR.  But perhaps Canon saw that the interchangeable lens market and compact camera market are shrinking, while the 360 camera market is doing better, or even thriving.  Perhaps they might produce a 360 camera as well.

Meanwhile, going back to VR180, there are also 360 camera manufacturers that can produce a new VR180 consumer camera.  At CES 2019, Insta360 announced a VR180 lens called the 3D Mod for their modular Insta360 One R camera.  I even got to see a prototype of it.   It’s been more than 2 years since that announcement, and the 3D Mod still hasn’t been released.  The Insta360 website still says “Coming soon.”

The issue is not in the difficulty of producing such a camera.  If anything, it is simpler to create a VR180 camera than a 360 camera.  The only issue is whether there is sufficient demand for it.  Perhaps Insta360 will see the same potential for VR180 that Canon saw in announcing this lens.  If you’re interested in a VR180 camera or VR180 lens, post a comment below and let Canon, Insta360, Kandao and other camera manufacturers know we want it.

Insta360's website still shows the 3D Mount "coming soon"
Insta360’s website still shows the 3D Mount “coming soon”

About the author

Mic Ty

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  • For me, VR180 stereo is much more immersive than VR360 mono content. I will get the new Canon lens, I wish the would also work on their other (cheaper) cameras. I also hope for a new Insta360 VR180 consumer camera.

    • I completely agree that it is more immersive. Congrats on getting the new lens! I wish I could afford the Canon R5 haha. As for insta360, the only question is demand…

  • Footage looks great even without watching in VR! It’s important for clients, that the footage is usable on regular old Youtube and TV’s, yet not exclusive to VR only. Hopefully Canon will upgrade the camera software to 8k60p for VR. Hopefully this will enable more professionals to film higher grade content so that the VR 180 format doesn’t die off. Unfortunately, the subscription based software is a major turnoff…especially since most camera owners will only consider filming in VR 180, once or twice a year.

  • Preordered mine yesterday here in Sweden, we’ll kinda reserved a pre order ;). I use 2 R5s daily and one is normally used with my 600mm only but I’ll have an R3 in November which means I can have a dedicated R5 for VR as well. Happy days! Makes me want the R1 even more now.

  • It’s like the worst of both worlds. 8k but at 30 fps. 60fps but at 4k… The camera is the bottleneck, they should have a better camera that can support at least 6k at 60fps at the very least. Hopefully this will get more interest and products for the 180VR creators though.

    • I think you could just as easily flip that around and say it’s the best of both worlds. It’s 30fps but 8k or it’s 4k but 60fps. 🙂

      • For most VR applications 30P is vomit heaven. I am going to be somewhat cynical Mic as I think Metichemsi is correct, the camera here may be a bottleneck. 4K is simply not enough resolution, mushy blur even at 60p. And honestly what is the actual real output on this 8K sensor as these Fisheyes are not using the full image circle of 4K. How does this really compare to a K2Pro or a dual BGH1 setup. “Now I am also sure that Canon will release another higher resolution camera that will be able to utilize this lens and one thing for sure is that these optics will be timeless so there is that. There are many other compelling reasons to be intrigued as far as professional production and post workflow, software and just canon getting involved, but I need to see some raw footage first. That YouTube video isn’t cutting it. Great info either way and thanks for your content in this space!

    • With Canon now having stacked sensor technology (Introduced with the R3), I expect Canon in future will make RF-mount cameras with even more impressive video-specs. Also in their Cinema line of – even more expensive – cameras dedicated for video production… If there just wasn’t this annoying Covid supplier/production crisis slowing down development/launch of new products :-/ ….

      Here’s what rumored next for the Canon Cinema EOS line:
      https://www.canonrumors.com/whats-next-for-the-canon-cinema-eos-line/
      (Canon Rumors has earlier rated the source of this rumor as a highly reliable source)
      I bet at least the 8K fullframe video camera (with 8K/60p) will be compatible with the new VR lens too. But it wont be a cheap consumer camera…

  • The price will mainly seem high for those who do not already own an R5. If you already are shooting with an R5, then it’s just another (moderately expensive) lens.

    But the question then is: How many R5 users will be interested to shoot VR 180 ???

    In that respect, I think Canon is missing the mark because it is not directly addressing the people that wish to specifically shoot VR180. It is only addressing R5 owners that wish to do so. And that number is far smaller.

    As to a consumer VR180 camera, as I have mentioned in the past, I am involved with a Chinese company that has designed a next generation compact and affordable VR180 camera that should be released next year.

    I don’t care for the Insta380 R 3D edition mainly because it was not conceived from the ground up as a 3D camera. It mainly tries to put together components from a 2D system and thus fails at being a truly efficient design as a 3D camera.

    • Hi Francois. I think the market is professionals. For professionals who want 8k vr180, then the $6k cost is not out of this world. I hope that the demand for vr180 increases so we’ll see more alternatives. Or even if they bring back the EVO I think that would be good enough 🙂

      • I don’t quite agree here in that pros will already have a pro DSLR they are working with or a system that suits them best and it may not be the R5. Would they really consider buying an R5 as well just to shoot with this lens ? I am not so sure.

        Another point is that there is a vast difference between a “pro” photographer and one that is experienced with 3D. I have forty years of experience behind me shooting 3D and it’s all about understanding spatial composition. When a pro photographer is using a full-frame camera, it is all about shallow depth-of-field and focusing on the subject within a 2D context. For that same photographer to suddenly jump into 3D when he has never had an interest or experience in it before is in my view highly unlikely.

        As for a dedicated pro VR 180 photographer (of which there are very few), they probably already have a system they are happy with or are looking for a next generation integrated system. Not sure a DSLR with a 3D lens would fit the bill.

        In the end, the pro photographer who already owns an R5 will ask himself how likely is he to find clients who want content that can strictly be viewed in a VR headset. If this means using this lens only a couple of times a year, it may not be worth the investment.

    • Thanks for sharing the info on another consumer VR180 camera. Any other details on it? What do you think about the photo resolution? With current consumer VR180 cameras being at 6000×3000 pixels, I believe 8000×4000 is the (future) way to go for VR180 on Oculus Quest 2. I have some rendered game screenshots in VR180 in that resolution and it looks great.

      Anyhow, I am happy Canon is doing this and I will use their dual fisheye for photography. For video, as others pointed out, the specs regarding frame rate on the R5 are not what you would desire for VR.

      • Hi Daniel…

        Unfortunately, due to NDAs I cannot reveal anything about the new consumer VR180 camera being developed. It’s not likely the resolution of that one will be over 5.7K. The problem with going higher – to 8K – is that sensors tend to overheat. Thus, cameras using 8K sensors often require ventilation or some other form of cooling. This is harder to implement in a consumer camera. Mind you, the same company is also developing a Pro 8K camera.

        But, who knows, maybe Canon’s VR180 lens will inspire other companies to develop similar but more affordable products.

        • Thanks, very interesting. Is the heating issue something that might go away in a few years? Like CPUs getting smaller and producing less heat compared to their bigger versions? Or is it not possible to make it much smaller as a certain amount of light has to hit a larger sensor?

          • “Is the heating issue something that might go away in a few years?”

            Well, one thing for sure, everyone is working on this issue at the moment because as 8K becomes the new standard, solutions must be found since the overheating issue ends up being quite a large stumbling block. The company I am working with has found a go-around to that problem. But again, I am not at liberty to elaborate !

          • I just recently heard that Canon is about to release an updated version of the R5 to be named “R5c” and that, apparently, it has been updated specifically to deal with the overheating issue by providing what they call “active cooling”. This should be released in early to mid 2022.

    • I know, it’s sad. But it’s very easy for Canon to create a compact vr180 camera like the lenovo mirage. If they see the demand for it, I think they’ll do it.

      • Funny ! That was exactly my thought today and I posted it on a 3D forum this morning. I wrote: ” One thing I do wonder about, however: Is Canon working on a consumer pocket VR180 camera ? Given how much thought they put into that pro version, it may very well be a possibility.”

        I think that Canon – like most other “standard” camera manufacturers – may be looking to produce compact cameras that can do things that phone cameras cannot !

        • Great minds think alike haha! I think a consumer vr180 camera is easier to produce, but the demand for creating VR180 is more questionable. Meanwhile, on the professional side, the demand for creating vr180 is present in at least one industry, which almost anyone can guess.

        • “but the demand for creating VR180 is more questionable”

          I think that consumers would appreciate such a camera to record travel memories since the possibility of recording the entire field of view becomes particularly attractive when in picturesque surroundings. Say you visit Venice or Rome, the effect of being able to take that feeling of being immersed in amazing surroundings back home with you would be very attractive. Same for a visit to Burning Man or… Disney !

          • Yes, for me, VR180 is the best way of preserving memories. But most consumers haven’t even heard of VR180. When more people have VR headsets, I think a percentage of them will wonder about capturing their memories for viewing in VR and only then will VR180 have a chance among consumers.

  • A lot of the projects I’m working on currently are VR180 and I’m definitely seeing an increase in demand for it. I personally like VR180 and as someone else has said, I think it’s great for capturing family memories (especially if loved ones pass away) as well as professional use. I hope Google and others return in time and more camera / lens options are always very welcome. This looks like a very exciting lens to me – it will really shine when it can be used on a wider range of bodies to enable more frame rates & formats.. Nice work as always Mic – really appreciate you keeping us posted on new tech!

  • Super interesting, I love VR180! It seems a bit wasteful to use only half of a real 8K sensor when 2 4K sensors are just as good. Also Canon doesn’t have 8K 60fps, which is ideal for VR180. I still believe something like a Z CAM makes more sense on a gimbal. I wish we had VR180 on a smartphone, it just needs 2 fisheye lenses at a distance. I think VR glasses will be much more comfortable and without any vertigo in the near future. I also think it doesn’t matter what you shoot with, as long as you create content. In the future AI will be able to improve image quality as long as you have something, anything.

  • In spite of all the pros and cons regarding this new lens, one thing I can say for sure: That lens configuration is a masterpiece of optical design ! I never would have thought that it would be possible to fit two fisheye lenses in such a compact single body. The optical designers at Canon are geniuses !

  • Yes it is a bit absurd that insta 360 hasn’t followed through with their R camera stereoscopic version . It was the reason I bought the camera. And they will not confirm that they are actually going to release it or not.

  • Thanks for the article, Mic.

    This looks like it could be a popular setup, having 8K quality, a simplified post-production process and the ability to shoot with Canon’s familiar (to many) architecture. They could be on to a winner!

    The 8k 30fps limit is a little disappointing but quite understandable. It’s a shame they couldn’t bump the 60fps to 5.7 or even 5.2 but hopefully, that’s still to come in the next-gen iteration.