The new Canon EOS R3 is finally here! Canon has slowly leaked specifications since revealing its development, but now we know specifics.
It is a very exciting camera for Canon wildlife photographers. Although it lacks the ‘R1’ moniker, all signs point to the R3 as being a flagship model – it’s likely a higher resolution R1 does surface eventually, but there is no sign of that right now.
The EOS R3 features a Stacked 24MP CMOS sensor, which allows for extremely fast shooting speeds up to 30 fps, excellent AF, and minimal rolling shutter. The R3 also features some exciting new technology, highlighted by Canon’s new Eye Control AF.
Canon EOS R3 – $5,999 – Available November 2021
- 24MP Full-Frame Stacked BSI CMOS Sensor
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, Eye Control AF
- 6K60 Raw and 4K120 10-Bit Internal Video
- 30 fps E. Shutter, 12 fps Mech. Shutter
- 5.76m-Dot EVF with 120 fps Refresh Rate
- 3.2″ 4.2m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD
- Sensor-Shift 5-Axis Image Stabilization
- Multi-Function Shoe, Built-In Vert. Grip
- CFexpress & SD UHS-II Memory Card Slots
- Wired LAN and 5 GHz Wi-Fi Support
Stacked CMOS Sensor
All of the impressive high-speed specifications of the R3 are due to the newly-developed stacked CMOS sensor. The sensor is Canon’s own and should be excellent. The sensor is 24 MP, which is a little bit of a surprise, as many thought Canon would go after the Sony A1. But, it’s likely we see a higher resolution version or hybrid of the R3 down the line.
The whole sensor is used as an AF sensor, implementing Canon’s great dual pixel AF technology, which functions similar to human eyes with left and right-looking pixels.
The new chip is lightning fast – enabling 30fps continuous shooting, 60 AF/AE calculations a second, 6K60p video, and EVF with a 60-120 Hz refresh rate plus blackout-free shooting.
New AF Technology
The autofocus system in the R3 is new and is based off what we’ve seen in Canon’s other mirrorless cameras. So, expect the AF system to be even better than the R5. In the R3, there will be a variety of points and zones, all of which can be used to start AF tracking, which is new.
The R3 can detect eyes, faces, and bodies with automatic switching; and Canon has pushed the system hard to be able to detect eyes in very challenging conditions. We also see animal and motorsport detection systems in the R3.
The most innovative new AF feature is the reintroduction of Eye Control, a system created by Canon in the 1990s. The camera monitors the position of the user’s eye and places the AF point over where the eye is looking. With a little calibration, Canon says the system should work seamlessly for most. Initial users say that the Eye Control feature is not a gimmick and is a very exciting new feature to not be taken lightly.
Body & Design
The R3 is a sleek looking dual-grip camera and it is easily comparable to the recent 1D X III, plus the R3 is smaller.
The R3 is a great body, with excellent design and ergonomics. It has the same joystick and smart controller as the 1D X III. In tandem, the two work excellent for quick AF positioning. The smart controller uses an infrared sensor to track the movement of the thumb across the controller.
The R3 also has a fantastic 5.67M dot EVF panel. We’ve seen a 5.67M dot in other Canon cameras, but this one is supposedly new. It will feature a high refresh rate at up to 120fps and accommodate the new infrared Eye Control AF technology.
A first for Canon’s dual-grip, is the introduction of a articulating LCD with the R3, which aids the R3’s ability to capture high quality video, as well as stills.
CIPA rates the R3 at 440 shots per battery charge. That’s a very low number that might be of concern, but the CIPA numbers are also not very reliable.
The R3 has two card slots – one CFexpress Type B and one UHS-II SD card slot.
The R3 is also going to be a video powerhouse. It is capable of capturing massive 6K60p footage in RAW! It also can do 4K DCI footage at up to 120p, with C-log formats. Those are extremely strong video specs and I expect the R3 to be a go-to camera for many videographers. The only question is, will there be video limitations? You will need a super-fast CFexpress Type B to take advantage of the highest video quality modes, but the bigger question is temperature control. Canon says overheating won’t be an issue and some modes do have limits (6K ~ 60 minutes), but we will see when the R3 is tested.
Overall, this camera looks to be another strong release for Canon. Many will compare it to the Sony A1. The A1 does offer 50 MP and 8K video, but does not have the built-in vertical grip, Eye Control AF, and other features of the R3 might exceed the A1 (we’ll know after release).
It can be argued that it is priced too aggressively at $5,999, but that has been Canon’s strategy with the mirrorless line. And, it seems to be working as Canon has had great sales with the R5/R6 and RF lenses.
This is going to be an awesome wildlife camera with blazing fast speeds and potentially the best AF system on the market. The built-in grip will be great for vertical shooting, AF acquisition, and ergonomics.
If you are interested in video, the R3 has great video features, although storage and card speed will be limiting (6K RAW video files will be massive). I think the R3 looks to be a great camera. 24 MP isn’t an ideal, but it’s honestly more than enough for almost anyone. I do like 45 MP + for wildlife because of the cropping potential, but 24 MP should still be excellent.
Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin. His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special. Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image.
Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world.
As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals.
You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com