Canon to Release an RF 5.2mm f/2.8 VR Lens: Report

Canon will reportedly soon release a dual 5.2mm f/2.8 L fisheye lens designed for the creation of virtual reality content.

The original report by Nokishita stated that a 5.2mm f/2.8 lens would be Canon’s next RF addition, which was met with excitement and confusion, as the usability of a lens that wide was not immediately clear.

The tweet above reads, translated, “The next RF lens that Canon will announce will be 5.2mm F2.8 L. Check out the unreleased lens cap 5.2 on Canon’s latest accessory list.”

Nokishita would later report that the official name of the product would be the “RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye” and that it would be for virtual reality (VR).

Some outlets postulated that the lens could be part of a dual-lens stereoscopic system that Canon has patented at least two separate times: one in September of 2020 — as noted by Canon News — and another more recently in April of 2021 — referenced by Asibonet. Both patents describe a stereoscopic optical imaging system that pair two wide-angle lenses together that then converge into a single barrel that connects to a mirrorless camera — likely an RF camera body.

Stereoscopy is a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image using binocular lenses. A stereoscopic system would place two identical lenses a fixed distance apart — close to the distance between human eyes — and record footage simultaneously.

The idea behind this design is that VR footage captured with a single lens system is not as easy for a viewer using a headset to enjoy because, without a stereoscopic effect, it can become tiring or unpleasant to watch for long periods of time. In the more recent patent application, Canon specifically states that the goal of the design is to make it more “comfortable” for a viewer to enjoy content captured with the lens.

Canon also states that in order to obtain a more natural stereoscopic feeling that is similar to the human eye, the distance between which is on average between 60 and 65mm, it was necessary to make the aperture of the lens mount larger than 60mm, therefore the lens device and the camera are larger. This description is likely the reason that Canon is going with the RF system as it is capable of providing both a large mount and a large sensor.

While the purpose of this lens seems niche, the branding of it as an L-series lens makes it seem as though it will be more widely available than something more experimental or even more industrial in application like Canon’s $38,400 mixed reality headset. Whatever the case, if this report is true, Canon will certainly clarify more when the lens is officially released.