Does This Lens Look Funny To You? Diving Into VR180 3D Video (And Stills)

Tell me, what seems off about this lens to you?

If you’re answer was, “That’s not one lens, it’s two!”

You are an astute observer indeed!

This lens, the Canon RF 5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye Lens, is two in one, allowing it to capture images and footage more or less the same way your two eyes do.

And what is so exciting about that is the ability to film virtual reality (VR) 180 (180° field of view) footage in 3D on a single sensor and with the awesome power that is the Canon R5 camera. No more wearing those blue and red glasses!

This also means editing the VR180 footage is almost as simple as editing standard single lens footage. And what comes out of it needs to be seen to be believed. I could show you a sample but if you don’t have a VR headset, like the Meta Quest 2, you would only be able to view it on a phone or computer and scroll around. Which is nothing like the VR headset.

I’ve been eyeing VR headsets ever since Apple announced their (really damn expensive) upcoming Vision Pro. While they have always been in the back of my mind as a ‘cool thing’ their utility and image quality was lacking in my mind. And it still is for the most part.

The headset I bought is $300 off the shelf. Meta (who bought Oculus, which manufactures the headsets) also has a Pro version for $1000 and its quality is better but not a lot. Not yet.

I liken the quality of the Quest 2 to something like DLSR images from 2005. Good, but you can get a better print from film. The resolution is something close to 1900×1900 pixels per eye. What I’m planning to happen when true 4K screens start appearing in these units is something closer to a 2015 quality DSLR. Or maybe even better.

With that anticipation, I’m starting at the low end of the scale to get my feet wet. A great feature of the Quest 2 is the ability to directly load video either from the Canon (after a slight bit of editing) or from my Insta360 camera I use to make virtual tours for clients. I don’t have to post stuff just to see it and I can try it out before I post it online (look for future videos to appear on my YouTube channel, which will show a 2D version for those without the headset.

So far my experience with the Quest 2 has led to a number of, “Oh Wow!” out loud exclamations. I’ve been impressed with the ability of this unit to make you feel you are ‘there’. Even images as simple as Google Streets Views (via an app like Wander) give a real sense of place for someone who appreciates the visual medium like me.

My goal with the VR180 content I create (and some 360° stuff as well, it’s just not the same quality as the 8K footage from the Canon camera) is to transport viewers to beautiful, interesting, weird and cool places around the world. And more often around the US.

The 3D effect of having two lenses to record means the image, when viewed in a headset, is in 3D. Close things really look close and the sense of space is expanded. It’s just not the same as viewing a 2D image in a headset. It has volume and that makes a huge difference.

A note on the nomenclature: VR180 basically means you see 180°, which means, if the lens is pointed forward, it’s the same as looking forward and being able to see 90° to your right and 90° to your left, like when you keep your head still and glance sideways with just your eyes. VR360 is a true 360° view where, if you are standing, you can turn around and look in all directions.

Virtual reality isn’t for everyone and I can see the novelty wearing off for most after a first look. But my barber swears by it as he has no desire to travel far and wide, but he can do that to a high extent inside the headset. Also, gamers were the early adopters as it gave a real feel to first person games (even making some people sick if they aren’t used to it). It’s been around and it is great to see the quality of real-world content increasing.

And while it looks dorky from the outside (no one has seen me wear it yet, and they hopefully never will especially if they have a camera in their hands) the ability to stream Netflix, YouTube and other providers and watch what appears to be a full size movie theater screen from anywhere there is an internet connection is pretty cool. You can surf the web, do work, etc. Not that you want to do all of that, but the unity is growing.

The quality will only improve over time. That’s the part I am preparing for now. Excitedly.

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