by Hugh Hou
Download Canon EOS VR System Real-World Source Footage HERE.
The download includes 2 8K source footage shot on Normal mode and 1 footage shot on C-log 3 in cinema garmut. It also included RAW and jpg images of VR180.
For testing purpose only. Enjoy!
After several days of VR180 music video shooting with the Canon RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye lens using the Canon R5 body, in both a studio-controlled environment and out in nature in front of a waterfall, I learned so much of this VR180 setup in a practical, hands-on kind of way. And I have so much information I want to share with you. So don’t hit the buy button just yet until you watch this in-depth review all the way tho and understand what you are getting yourself into:
Watch the real-world sample in 8K VR180 on YouTube VR or Oculus TV here:
So from a design standpoint, why the Canon VR180 system is better than Z Cam K2Pro, FM DUO, Insta360 EVO, or any system that comes before it? Because this dual fisheye lens allows a single big full-frame sensor to capture both left and right eyes — so the images are perfectly genlocked with exact exposure, white balance, and color.
Another reason is potentially upgradeable. So your investment holds its value. This is just a lens, like another lens, you can put on to a different camera body. Right now, this dual fisheye lens only works with Canon R5. But it is safe to guess that it will also work with Canon R5C, which will be released by the time you watch this video. I tested it on my Canon C70, which is a super 35 sensor cinema camera, it works. You see the dual fisheye image. But it is cropped. If you have a full-frame sensor, like the Canon R3, the upcoming R1, or better, the NEW RED Cinema camera — V-Raptor, it will potentially work — thanks to the lens full manual focus feature. If you have a Canon R3, let me know if that works for you.
Using an unsupported camera means you will not be able to stitch using the official Canon VR Utility App or the official EOS VR Plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro. But in the upcoming tutorials, I will teach you how to stitch it with the Mistika VR solution, or better, with Davinci Resolve Fusion using the free Karta VR plugin.
So essentially, you are only spending $2000 more to have a VR180 feature. Not a bad deal — for the professional content creator at least.
The Dual Fisheye lens is built on Canon R5, which has a total 8192 x 4096 resolution. It is higher than Z Cam K2 Pro, Insta360 EVO, and Vuze XR. It is not higher than FM DUO tho — which is 12K.
From a usability standpoint, this lens is very easy to use. There is one giant focus ring in the middle to focus both left and right lenses together. It is manual focus, like any other cinema lens. But it is very easy to focus, as I will show you how on the tutorial part. There is a trick to it to help you nail focus every time you shoot.
You do need to use an included Hex Key to make sure the left and right eyes are in the exact same focus. Especially when you first received the lens. People worry the left and right lenses will drift focus easily. This is not the case. After adjusting the focus once, I brought this bad boy with me hiking to a remote filming location near a river and climbed up in front of a massive waterfall. Then the next day, I took an 8-hour fly back to Los Angeles, went directly to a nightclub to film another VR music video all day. And in here, Kimchi actually bumps into the lens when I am filming a test the next day. It is still perfectly focused, no problem. Yes, it is recommand to check your left and right focus every time you shoot. But you rarely need to adjust them.
Talking about a waterfall, this is the only weather sealed and splashproof VR180 setup in the market. If you are an outdoor videographer like me, love to push the limit, this is a great outdoor VR180 camera, just like the Insta360 EVO.
So the dual fisheye lens is very nice in theory and very easy to shoot with, but how is the actual image quality? Let’s find out.
If you have not already, you should check this video on your Oculus Quest 2 VR headset:
From top to bottom, we have FM DUO in slog 12K downsample to 8K, Canon in Clog 3, Z Cam K2Pro, and Insta360 EVO:
We go ahead and zoom in 400 percent on Keeley and the focus chart. You can tell the FM DUO has the best details b/c of its 12K resolution. But Canon comes a close 2nd. K2 Pro breaks down on Keeley’s face in that distance and her lips are losing in detail. EVO is the worst. Keeley just looks like a Minecraft character.
Considering FM DUO is a $20,000 US dollars camera, the Canon is doing pretty good. Both Canon and K2 Pro have visible digital noise tho. This is b/c we are shooting at Clog 3. It is okay to have some noise in a cinema camera. We can easily remove that in post-production.
On the edge of the lens, FM DUO has Chromatic Abberation. Canon and K2 Pro does not have Chromatic Abberatin issue. But K2Pro is not as sharp as Canon on edge. You can see this pixel pattern shown in the K2Pro around the green light tub.
Let’s go a little more technical to exam the raw fisheye inside the Canon R5 body.
There is a 60px gap between the left and right image circles. A usable fisheye circle is about 4015 pixels. This includes the lens. This means the final resolution of 8192 by 4096 output provided by EOS VR Plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro is slightly upscaled render. Basically, the final height of the image, should be smaller than the height of the original image circle. But here, 4096 is larger than 4015. So the Canon official render is an upscaled image. This is a very normal practice for all manufacture, so it is totally okay.
You will see the right lens in your left image circle and vise versa. Compared to FM DUO or Z Cam K2 Pro — the sticking out part of the lens is a lot smaller in Canon.
Because the edge of the lens in a VR180 SBS stereo setup has 0 parallaxes, we can easily copy the right eye image to cover the left lens and left eye image cover the right lens like so. So, in theory, and in practice, we can remove the lens in post-production to get the full 180-degree FOV. I will show you in my next tutorial how.
This is a side-by-side stereo rig. If you turn your head to look to the left or right, the stereo disparity is not the same as real-life — compared to a circlar 3D camera rig like the Insta360 Titan or Kandao Obsidian Pro. You lose stereo and see vertical disparity whenever you turn your head inside the VR headset. So in filming, you never want to put your talents too far away from the center to minimize eye strain within VR. If you don’t know what I am talking about, watch my original explanation here on Demystifying VR180 — parallax issues, the workflow and techniques. This is something you need to understand before buying this lens.
You also see 1 to 2 pixels vertical misalignment here. But it is totally okay. The lens communicates with your Canon R5 body and generates meta to adjust this vertical misalignment to remove vertical parallax in the final render. You can find this feature after importing the footage in Premiere, under Effect Controls, on the Source tap. Right here, make sure the Parallax Correction is turned on.
If you do not use the official plugin, then you need to manually correct the Parallax inside Mistika VR, PTGui, or Davinci Resolve Fusion. I will explain how in great detail in my next VR180 with ANY CAMERA post-production tutorial.
So, in conclusion, the Canon RF5.2mm is a great lens to purchase if you know what you are doing in VR180 filmmaking. It is more affordable than investing a full VR180 camera setup — like the $20,000 FM DUO.
If you don’t know what you are doing in VR180 filmmaking or you don’t know how to use the lens correctly, stay tuned for the second part of the in-depth shooting tutorial coming up next. Link right here:
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