Canon looks to be very much in step with the rollout of major headsets like the Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro. It has just revealed a consumer-friendly hybrid camera, built to produce content in both 360° and 180° VR modes.
Moreover, at IBC 2023, Canon not only showed off a prototype (in a glass box) but showed off some specs: it will capture 8K 30fps, 4K 120fps, and offer live streaming.
• Some of the best Canon cameras already embrace 180° 3D VR
The prototype's design bears a resemblance to the Canon PowerShot V10 but possesses a hinge, enabling one of the lenses to be rotated from back-to-back mode (which would capture full 360°) to a side-by-side position like human eyes, reminiscent of the Insta360 Evo. Presumably this mode would work like other 360 cameras, while the 180 would be stereoscopic like Canon's own Dual Fisheye lens.
The Canon RF 5.2mm f/2.8L Dual Fisheye is a tool already well-established in the 3D VR creation market, but it requires a Canon EOS R5 (for 8K) or Canon EOS R6 Mark II to work – a not inconsiderable cost. What might at first seem somewhat like a Heath-Robinson approach is, in fact, its chief virtue for creators, though; by using a single camera (a single sensor at that) there is no chance of synchronicity issues.
Personally, I tend to think of 360° cameras as offering the chance to recompose video after the fact. But VR180 live streaming is a growing trend, supported by TikTok, so creators can share their view as go. There is already a 6K device in this space, the Calf camera, for $1,499 / £1,250, but nothing from a name as big as Canon yet. Despite the heft of its brand, however, Canon seems to be planning to charge less.
According to an interview with Alex Baker from DIYPhotography, Canon is looking at under $1,000 (about £820 / AU$1,590) – though couched with the words "probably" and "maybe." Under the price of the Canon EOS R8, anyway. Another way of looking at it is the most obvious competitor, at least in 360 terms, which is the Insta360 One RS, which has 1-inch sensors (but can't do the 180VR mode). That goes for a little below that price.
The only remaining piece of the puzzle for Canon – should you decide to keep your money in your pocket until we know more – is what the company will offer to compete with Insta360 or GoPro in terms of editing software, if anything.
Check our guides to the best 360-degree cameras or the best or – if viewing is the issue – take a look at our guide to the best VR headset or – fun fact – did you know you can use some of the best FPV goggles to view 3D images?