Canon has announced a new RF lens, but it’s not exactly one you’ll be using for your average photographic endeavors. This new lens is a 5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye Lens is the world’s first digital interchangeable lens that captures stereoscopic 180º images onto a single sensor for processing in virtual reality (VR) post-processing software.

The lens features a unique folded optic design that consists of 24 total elements in 20 total groups (12 elements in 10 groups for each of the two lenses), including four ultra-low dispersion elements and an array of Canon’s proprietary coatings. The offers an aperture range of F2.8 through F16 and has an interpupillary distance (the gap between left and right lens) of 60mm. The minimum focusing distance is 20cm (7.9”) and it includes a built-in gelatin filter holder for slipping in a neutral density filter in bright environments.

Canon notes this lens works particularly well with its EOS R5 camera, especially when recording 8K video at 30 frames per second (fps) and 4K video at 60 fps. Photographs and video captured with this lens must be processed using a VR-specific workflow. Canon says it will soon release a subscription-based EOS VR System software, as well as a Canon EOS VR Plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro, both of which will be able to process the images from these lenses.

The resulting images should be compatible with most VR headsets and applications, but Canon particularly references Oculus’ Quest 2 headset, which is one of the best-selling headsets on the market.

The Canon 5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye Lens is set to be released in late December 2021 for $1,999. Neither the EOS VR Utility, nor the EOS VR Plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro have a price yet, but Canon says the software is ‘currently in development’ and expects to announce further availability and details in ‘early 2022.’

Virtual Reality Through a New Lens: Canon Introduces Their First Dual Fisheye Lens for Stereoscopic 3D 180° VR Capture in 8K

MELVILLE, NY, October 6, 2021 Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, has introduced its first product designed to empower the next generation of immersive storytellers. The new RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye lens brings stereoscopic 3D virtual reality (VR) capture* to the EOS R5 camera as part of the EOS VR System, which also includes a future firmware update for the EOS R5 camera to support use of this lens with new VR shooting specific functions, as well as new upcoming Canon EOS VR software solutions for conversion and processing. As the world’s first digital interchangeable dual fisheye lens capable of shooting stereoscopic 3D 180° VR imagery to a single image sensor** the complexities of virtual reality production and the ability to view the content in full capacity, are greatly streamlined for seasoned professionals and newcomers to the craft. In order to truly experience the captured content by this system in its truest form, a compatible VR headset is recommended for use such as the Oculus Quest 2, allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in the content — by simply moving their head to provide a vivid, incredibly wide view.

“At Canon, we innovate so creators can push artistic boundaries, and this commitment to innovation is what led us to introduce the new RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye lens. As Canon’s first entry into the world of virtual reality image capture, the EOS VR System represents an important milestone in our company’s rich history as a lens manufacturer and welcomes a bright future for VR content creation,” said Tatsuro “Tony” Kano, executive vice president and general manager of Canon U.S.A.’s Imaging Technologies & Communications Group. “This new RF lens produces a stunning 8K virtual reality image and sets itself apart through its simplified workflow. Our goal is to make immersive storytelling more accessible for all.”

The RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye features high-quality L-series optics engineered with an interpupillary distance of 60mm for delivery of 3D imagery in VR with natural parallax closely resembling human vision when viewed through a compatible headset. With a 190 degree field of view captured from two separate optical systems they deliver outstanding results for 180° VR viewing platforms. With subwavelength coating technology offering impressive flare control in backlit conditions, VR creators can have freedom to shoot regardless the time of day, or position of the sun. The dual fisheye design provides versatile exposure control with a maximum aperture of a bright f/2.8 to a deep depth of field of f/16 with electronically controlled apertures allowing the dual fisheye lens to operate just like other RF mount lenses. Between the dust and water-resistant sealing and fluorine coating of the lens and the robust build of the EOS R5 camera, this System delivers peace of mind even in challenging weather conditions. Canon’s free Camera Connect app and Canon’s EOS Utility program both will be updated in the future to offer remote-control live view functionality for monitoring purposes while on-the-go.

The EOS VR System’s convenient workflow is a standout feature. Accomplished by recording left and right fisheye images to a single full-frame image sensor, this design helps to solve common VR challenges of stitching and synching, by outputting one single image file. Canon is currently developing two paid subscription-based software solutions as available options for completing the post-production process. Canon’s EOS VR Utility will offer the ability to convert clips from dual fisheye image to equirectangular and make quick edits, as well as select the resolution and file format before export. With the EOS VR Plug-In for Adobe® Premiere® Pro, creators will be able to automatically convert footage to equirectangular, and cut, color, and add new dimension to stories with Adobe Creative Cloud® apps, including Premiere Pro.

Compact, lightweight, and portable, the RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye is easily packed in a camera bag to help the creator tell unlimited virtual reality stories.

Additional features of Canon’s first interchangeable, stereoscopic 3D 180° VR 180 lens include:

  • Close-focusing distance of 7.87-inches/0.2m is possible – max magnification is 0.03x.
  • Aperture range of f/2.8 to f/16 with a 7-blade aperture and simultaneous electro-magnetic diaphragm for both left and right lenses.
  • Built-in Gelatin Filter Holder – allows ND gel filters to be used in bright environments if a bright aperture is desired.
  • Fluorine Coating on the front lens elements, with a dust and water resistant design.
  • Extremely compact size – allowing it to be used in different types of productions.

Pricing and Availability

The Canon RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye lens is scheduled to be available in late December 2021 for an estimated retail price of $1,999.00***. In addition to the lens, both of Canon’s EOS VR Software solutions (EOS VR Utility and the EOS VR Plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro) are currently scheduled to be available in late December 2021. Both software solutions will be available as a paid subscription based model, but will offer free trial periods (details to be disclosed at a later date) as well as the ability to process still images and certain clip lengths for free. For additional information, please visit usa.canon.com.

* When paired with the Canon EOS R5 camera equipped with an upcoming firmware update version 1.5.0 or later, and with use of Canon’s EOS VR Utility or EOS VR Plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro paid subscription-based software solutions (both currently in development – availability and details to follow on or about early 2022. Viewing in 3D requires a compatible Head Mount Display.

** As of October 5th, 2021, among all lenses for digital interchangeable lens cameras (based on Canon research). Must be paired with the Canon EOS R5 camera equipped with firware update version 1.5.0 or later and utilize Canon EOS VR Software solution(s) (paid subscription).

*** Specifications, availability and prices are subject to change without notice. Actual prices are set by individual dealers and may vary.

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