180-degree VR cameras: Which delivers the best image?
Which 180-degree VR camera offers the best image? A VR vlogger lets you compare image quality directly in VR.
Hugh Hou is a VR vlogger who shoots all his videos in a stereoscopic 180-degree format. He maintains channels on YouTube and Oculus TV where he posts camera tutorials, hardware tests, and tips and tricks for budding VR filmmakers. If you are interested in VR video technology or want to start shooting immersive videos on a professional level yourself, Hou is the right address.
VR cameras are still a niche market. That made it all the more surprising that Canon introduced its VR lens for the Canon EOS R5 in 2021: the Canon RF 5.2 mm F2.8 L dual fisheye lens. The camera accessory is designed for stereoscopic 8K shooting in VR180 format, which is perfect for Meta Quest 2.
VR Cameras image quality - see for yourself
Just before Christmas, Hou posted a YouTube video in which he tries out Canon's VR camera system for the first time and presents footage he shot himself. This was followed a bit later by the video's release on Oculus TV. The cached version reproduces the image quality more accurately because it is free of compression, unlike Youtube.
The result is impressive: The combination of a professional camera and special lenses delivers sharp images for VR standards, captures an amazingly large color spectrum, and reproduces the surroundings quite well even in low light.
Meanwhile, Hou published three more videos about the fisheye lens: a 15-minute detailed test, a tips-and-tricks video, and a video comparison with the following VR cameras:
- Canon EOS R5 with Canon dual fisheye lens: circa 6.000 Euro
- FM DUO: circa 20.000 Euro
- Z Cam K2Pro: circa 6.000 Euro
- Insta360 EVO: circa 400 Euro
The Insta360 EVO is the only one aimed at consumers, but it is no longer sold. I had tested the hybrid VR camera in 2019 and was thrilled with the quality of the 180-degree photos. The immersive videos, on the other hand, were not convincing, which is also House's conclusion: If you want to vlog in VR or shoot respectable movies in a 180-degree format, you have to reach for a professional device. And as expected, they are not cheap.
Canon offers the best VR 180 image quality
In the comparison video, Hou films the same scene one after the other with all four cameras. The scene is a living room with a garden in the background and near, far, moving, and glowing objects. By switching from one camera to the next, the image quality can be compared directly.
While the FM Duo still captures the most detail thanks to its 12K sensor, the image looks the most balanced and sharp overall with Canon's solution. This weighs even more, as Canon's VR camera system is three times cheaper than the FM Duo. Furthermore, the EOS R5 also offers a professional 2D camera and is not limited to the VR format.
But it's best to watch the comparison video yourself: With Quest 2 via Youtube VR or even better via Oculus TV. For the best quality, I recommend downloading the Oculus TV version. I describe how to do that in my Quest 2 tips article.
New VR camera for consumers
Hopefully, as VR glasses become more prevalent, VR cameras will evolve more quickly in the next few years and consumers will have more choices in the future. At 6,000 Euros or more, Canon's solution and the other manufacturers' cameras are only for professionals.
According to Hou, a new 180-degree camera for consumers will hit the market in 2022. However, the announcement is still to come, he said. More recommended Canon videos from Hou are listed below.
First footage with the Canon EOS VR system:
Test of the Canon EOS VR System as well as tips & tricks: