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Camera Accessories

This lens turns a GoPro into a 3D camera (hands-on)

All you need is a GoPro and the Vitrima lens to start creating 3D content for VR viewing.

Sarah Tew/CNET

GoPro cameras are good on their own, but what really drives them, what makes them so versatile, is their range of accessories. That's what transforms them into something useful for your specific needs. For startup Vitrima, the goal was to turn a single GoPro camera into a stereoscopic 3D camera.

The Vitrima 3D GoPro camera lens uses mirrors to split the image coming into a Hero3 or Hero4 camera into left and right images. Its successful Indiegogo campaign is about to end and the company is already ramping up to start shipping to backers. You can grab one today before it ends for $89 (about AU$120 or £70), otherwise the lens will be about $129 when it's widely available this fall.

Traditionally, you'd need two GoPro cameras to create a stereoscopic image and then you'd have to take the individual clips and combine them with software to create the effect. (GoPro even makes a housing for this purpose.) The Vitrima bypasses that, instantly splitting the image the second you drop your camera into its attached housing.

The current design requires the camera to be set to a narrow field of view, which in turn limits your top resolution to 1080p. But you can still use whatever frame rates are available, including 120fps for slow-motion clips.

The video above was shot with a preproduction Vitrima lens I tested. It's mounted to my chest since there was just a bit too much movement when I mounted the big lens on my helmet. The steadier you can keep the camera the better, of course, and that's especially the case here with the narrower view.

Though the lens and housing I tested were generally well built, the latch on top was difficult to open and eventually broke. Vitrima says it has fixed this for the final production lenses. It has also made the power button easier to use -- good news since that button was near impossible to press on the preproduction unit because of its position behind the lens. The lens will also be waterproof and shatterproof when it ships. Also, if you don't need the waterproof housing, Vitrima is offering a lightweight version that attaches directly to your GoPro's lens.

Though you can watch the video using Google Cardboard or a similar viewer, the best experience is with a headset like Samsung's Gear VR. If you have a 3D headset, you can view the above clip on it or find more clips to try out by visiting Vitrima's YouTube channel.

While the results might not be as good as shooting with two cameras, Vitrima's lens is certainly cheaper and requires a lot less effort. It's another great tool for expanding your GoPro's abilities.