Canon RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM Dual Fisheye Lens Announced

Canon announced a new dual fisheye lens for VR applications on APS-C cameras. The lens is currently compatible with the EOS-R7. The Canon RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM Dual Fisheye lens’s main role is to lower the threshold of VR content, allowing more content creators to venture into this world. Like its older full-frame sister, the Canon RF 5.2mm f/2.8, the new lens utilizes equidistant projection, making it ideally suited for virtually hassle-free VR production, with no complex syncing needed.

VR motion capture is quite a challenging endeavor. It requires wide-angle coverage, sufficient resolution, and perhaps the trickiest feat – precise synchronization between two parallel lenses and capture devices. One could try to rig two GoPros together and press both Rec buttons simultaneously, but professional footage will require precisely aligned recording, so there’s not the slightest dissonance between both streams.

Canon RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM Dual Fisheye lens. Image credit: Canon

The Canon way

To simplify both frame synchronization and focus synchronization, Canon opted for a single-sensor solution. The 8K-capable EOS-R5 was the camera of choice. Mounting the RF 5.2mm f/2.8 Dual Fisheye lens, the camera has two separate image circles projected onto its large, high-resolution sensor. With a unified focus mechanism and one sensor capturing both video streams, Canon managed to overcome most VR challenges, creating one of the most streamlined, easy-to-use VR platforms. While more affordable than some alternatives, this system would still set you back several thousands of dollars, $2000 for the lens and around $3000 for the camera, be it the EOS-R5 or the EOS-R5C.

Canon RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM Dual Fisheye lens. Image credit: Canon

Enter the RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM

The RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM is a scaled-down version of its full-frame stablemate but has some unique tricks up its sleeve. The angle of view is slightly narrower at 144° (compared to 180° on the RF 5.2mm f2.8), the aperture is f/3.5, and it lacks the “L” monicker, and probably some build quality perks associated with it. It does, however, include an STM motor and is capable of single-shot autofocus, as well as easy right-left focus adjustment via the focus ring. A rear gelatin filter holder is also included.

Canon RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM Dual Fisheye lens. Image credit: Canon

EOS-R7 only

The RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM is compatible with the Canon EOS-R7. This unique compatibility stems from the higher resolution offered by the EOS-R7. With 32.5 megapixels crammed onto its APS-C sensor, it’s Canon’s highest resolution APS-C camera. While the camera can only output 4K footage, its sensor oversamples it from a full 7K resolution. The upcoming EOS-R7 firmware update will be necessary for VR shooting with the lens. Also just announced by Apple, is the compatibility of this lens/camera system with their Vision Pro, as this new lens is designed to make shooting spatial video easier for content creators.

Price and availability

As mentioned in the company’s 2024 strategy statement, Canon is poised to broaden the scope of VR capture. The new RF-S 3.9mm f/3.5 STM Dual Fisheye lens does just that. With a price tag of $1,099, it will be one of the more affordable VR rigs around. Shipping is due this month, June 2024.

Will this lower threshold help you take the foray into VR content production? Do you believe it is a viable future for video content? Let us know in the comments.

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