Canon released a unique, incredibly niche lens aimed at VR content creators in the latter half of last year, the RF 5.2mm f/2.8L Dual Fisheye 3D VR Lens. How does it stack up against the competition? Is there competition in this space?
If there's anyone qualified to answer those questions, it's virtual reality filmmaker and YouTuber Hough Hou, who seems to have used just about every virtual reality camera and tool out there. In this video, he takes a look at the lens as it performs on the Canon EOS R5, the only official camera that supports the lens, versus an FM Duo 12K, the Z Cam K2 Pro, and the consumer-friendly Insta360 EVO. Along the way, he also issues an entreaty to EOS R3-owning viewers to try out the lens on their cameras and let him know the results. He tries it out on a smaller sensor Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera as well as a Red V-Raptor 8K with mixed results because of a lack of official support of the lens. That said, as he points out, if it mounts, there's probably a way outside of Canon's official VR Adobe Plugins to stitch the footage together.
As expected, the Canon lens' glass is what makes it shine: there's no chromatic aberration or flaring, which even the $20,000 FM Duo 12K exhibits. That's amazing when you consider the entire setup (camera and lens) is $5,900. It also handily beats the Z Cam and Insta360 cameras in this department.
The setup is also one to consider if you're going to shoot in harsh environments. As part of the two music videos that he shot to test out the lens, he was sometimes near waterfalls with all sorts of spray around him and the lens, which added to the VR effect but also drenched the lens and camera without any ill effects.
Content with this combination is still pretty slim, and most users don't have the VR headsets necessary to view such videos. Whether the genre of filmography picks up steam or fades away remains to be seen, but certainly, it helps to have a lens that can grow with you that won't break the bank (compared to the FM Duo, anyway). Check out Hou's video for the full scoop on the lens as well as a tutorial about how to get the most out of the lens without Canon's software.