Canon just announced its highest-end mirrorless camera ever, the $6000 EOS R3 (shipping November). The R3 has a 24 megapixel stacked BSI sensor and is capable of capturing blackout-free 30 FPS with full autofocus and auto exposure. Perhaps the most exciting feature is the eye-sensing autofocus that positions the initial focusing point wherever the photographer looks.
There was a time when DSLRs had unambiguously better performance for sports and wildlife photography than mirrorless cameras, especially for autofocus tracking on fast-moving subjects. But in recent years – beginning with the Sony A9 series and continuing with the the Sony A1, Canon EOS R6, and Canon EOS R5 – mirrorless cameras have been rapidly catching up and even eclipsing their older brothers for those genres. The EOS R3 feels like it was built specifically to push that trend even further.
To be specific, the EOS R3 retains the highly regarded 1053-point Dual Pixel AF system found on the Canon EOS R5 and R6, adding some useful improvements along the way. Canon says the EOS R3 is capable of autofocusing in -7.5 EV conditions, compared to -6.5 EV on the R6 and -6 EV on the R5. (Note, though, that these figures are measured with an f/1.2 lens; at the usual f/2 standard used by most manufacturers, the values are -6, -5, and -4.5 respectively.)
The EOS R3 also adds an eye-sensing autofocus mode whose sky-high potential can hardly be overstated. In essence, rather than focusing where you position a focus box in the viewfinder, the R3 focuses where you look. Well… sort of. I’ll let Canon explain:
“The EOS R3 camera will provide photographers with the ability to select the initial area for AF tracking by simply looking directly at the viewfinder location where they want to begin AF. With Eye input AF2 and Servo AF activated, the camera will focus on and track moving subjects at that location in the frame. When Face Detect + Tracking is active, the camera will continue to follow moving subjects around the entire active AF area.”
In other words, this feature is a way to point to the initial area of the frame where you want to begin autofocus. After that, Canon’s usual focus tracking algorithms will do the heavy lifting to follow your subject around the frame. It’s hardly a bad result considering that Canon’s existing tracking algorithms are so good, but it’s not quite the “mind reading” autofocus that I’ve seen some people hope for or describe.
Will Canon eventually expand this feature so it’s not just about initial focus acquisition, but the entire tracking process as well? I’d be shocked if they didn’t – though whether such a feature makes it into the R3 via a firmware update or is reserved for a future camera is anyone’s guess. In any case, the technology is there, and that’s why I say the potential is sky high. If eye-sensing autofocus works well enough in the future, it could all but replace existing autofocus algorithms for 99% of photographers.
But enough about that. Let’s take a look at the full list of specifications for the Canon EOS R3 to see what this camera is capable of.
Canon EOS R3 Specifications
- Sensor Resolution: 24.1 MP
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-102,400
- Sensor Type: BSI stacked CMOS
- Sensor Size: 24.0 × 36.0 mm full frame sensor
- Optical Low Pass Filter: Yes
- In-Body Image Stabilization: Yes, up to 8 stops depending on lens
- Image Processor: DIGIC X
- Viewfinder: 120 FPS blackout-free EVF, 100% coverage, 0.76× magnification, 5.76 million dots
- Built-in Flash: No
- Storage Media: 1 CF Express, 1 SD (UHS-II)
- Max Continuous Shooting Speed: 30 FPS (electronic shutter), 12 FPS (mechanical shutter); full-time autofocus and auto exposure
- Buffer Capacity: 150 images (at 30 FPS); 1000+ images (at 12 FPS with CF Express card)
- Shutter Speed Range: 1/8000 to 30 seconds
- Shutter Rating: 500,000 shots
- Focus System: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II with 1,053 AF; Eye-sensing AF for initial lock-on
- Dedicated Subject Tracking: Yes – heads, faces, eyes, some animals (dogs, cats, and birds), some cars & motorcycles
- Low Light Focusing (f/2 Standardized): -6 EV
- Video Maximum Resolution: 6K RAW up to 60 FPS; 4K up to 120 FPS
- LCD Type: 3.2″ touchscreen, fully articulating, 4.15 million dots
- Battery Life: 760 shots (CIPA)
- Weight: 1015 grams (2.24 pounds) body only, includes battery and card
- Dimensions (L×H×D): 150 × 143 × 87 mm (5.9 × 5.6 × 3.4 inches)
- MSRP, Body Only: $6000
- Complete Specifications: Canon EOS R3 at Canon USA
While the standout features are the ones meant for sports and wildlife photography – 30 FPS, no viewfinder blackout, 150 (or 1000+) image buffer – there’s something for other potential customers as well. Video shooters who may have been expecting slow motion 4K video will be happy to know that the R3 also does 6K slow motion video! 6K video is 6144 × 3160 pixels per frame (AKA about 19 megapixels) whereas standard 4K is 3840 × 2160 (about 8 megapixels). The ability to shoot 6K video at 60 FPS slow motion is something previously found only on dedicated cinema cameras and could open up many creative possibilities in the right hands.
Many of the EOS R3’s other features are somewhat expected of such a high-end camera, but it doesn’t make them any less useful. The specified 8-stop image stabilization is carried over from the EOS R5 and R6, and it’s just as impressive now as it was then. So too with the top-of-the-line 5.76 million dot viewfinder, which refreshes at a rate of 120 FPS (AKA almost no lag at all) and sports a large 0.76× magnification. Likewise, the EOS R3 ticks the boxes on necessary features for pro-level camera like dual card slots and a relatively long battery life of 760 shots.
The EOS R3 has the usual form factor of most flagship cameras with the integrated grip and vertical controls. In this case, the entire camera body is machined from one piece of magnesium alloy for increased durability, and the weight savings of mirrorless actually make it a much lighter camera than may have been expected. At just over a kilogram / 2.2 pounds, the EOS R3 is closer in weight to the 5D Mark IV (890 g) than to the 1DX Mark II (1440 g).
And then there’s the sensor. In a world of 40+ megapixel cameras from almost every manufacturer, and Canon’s own EOS R5 with 45 megapixels and 20 FPS shooting, does the EOS R3 really hold its own? It all depends on what you’re after. For many photographers, 24 megapixels is more than enough for any reasonable subject, and other considerations like autofocus performance are of much greater importance.
Also, keep in mind that the EOS R3 has Canon’s first ever BSI (back-side illuminated) stacked sensor. BSI sensors in general can capture light more efficiently than traditional front-side illuminated sensors, often leading to better dynamic range and noise performance. Stacked sensor designs, on the other hand, allow for faster readout than traditional designs (hence the high FPS and lack of viewfinder blackout). Whether the EOS R3 actually has better image quality than the EOS R5 or R6 remains to be seen, but if it does, the new sensor design will be the reason.
We can’t wait to test the Canon EOS R3 at Photography Life and compare it against other sports-oriented mirrorless cameras on the market (including the upcoming, higher resolution Nikon Z9). In the meantime, if you want to purchase the Canon EOS R3, it is probably a good idea to pre-order it to secure a place in line. With all the supply chain issues across the world in recent months, it’s difficult to know if Canon will be able to produce the EOS R3 in enough quantity to reach initial demand.
Here are our pre-order links to B&H and Adorama. The EOS R3 is scheduled to begin shipping in November:
Below is Canon’s formal press release.
The EOS Revolution Continues: Canon Officially Announces the Company’s Most Technologically Advanced Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera, the Professional-Grade EOS R3
MELVILLE, NY, September 14, 2021 –
Building on the success of the EOS R camera series, Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced the next leap forward in full-frame mirrorless cameras – the professional-grade Canon EOS R3. The new camera leverages the advancements in technology that Canon has developed since the original EOS R launch in 2018 and bridges the gap between the immensely popular EOS R5 and the world-renowned Canon flagship EOS-1D X line. The EOS R3 is the first “3” series camera from Canon since the widely used EOS-3 film camera launched in 1998.
The EOS R3 camera’s features greatly emphasize superb AF performance and speed with fast-moving subjects. It was designed to meet the reliability and durability demands of professionals, even when working in some extremely challenging conditions.
“The launch of the EOS R3 sets a new benchmark for the Canon EOS R camera system. Canon listened carefully to the voices of professionals when developing a camera to meet their standards,” said Tatsuro “Tony” Kano, executive vice president and general manager of Canon U.S.A.’s Imaging Technologies & Communications Group. “The EOS R3 is a monumental evolution in digital imaging technology. I look forward to seeing the camera in action on the sidelines of sporting events and in the hands of nature and wildlife photographers across the globe.”
The core of the EOS R3 features a Canon designed and manufactured 24.1-megapixel back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor. The sensor is the first of its kind from Canon, and when combined with the DIGIC X processor, delivers a high-speed readout allowing for continuous blackout-free shooting1 at up to 30 fps in electronic (silent) shutter mode and up to 12 fps in mechanical shutter, with minimum rolling electronic shutter distortion. The combination also increases the high sensitivity, light-capturing efficiency of a native ISO range of 100-102400, expandable up to 204,800 for still images. Like the EOS R5 and R6, the camera features the improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF II with 1,053 AF Points and evolved EOS iTR tracking down to EV -7.5 for subjects such as eye, face, head, animals2, and select cars and motorcycles. In addition, the camera features up to 8 stops3 of in-body image stabilized (IBIS) shake correction.
Leveraging technology and performance feedback from the popular EOS R5 and EOS R6 cameras, the EOS R3 uses Deep-Learning technology to further enhance eye and body detection for even better performance during portrait and action-type shooting. Featuring a new 5.76-million-dot and 120fps blackout-free1 Electronic Viewfinder, the EOS R3 camera will provide photographers with the ability to select the initial area for AF tracking by simply looking directly at the viewfinder location where they want to begin AF. With Eye input AF2 and Servo AF activated, the camera will focus on and track moving subjects at that location in the frame. When Face Detect + Tracking is active, the camera will continue to follow moving subjects around the entire active AF area.
The EOS R3 camera doesn’t just capture spectacular still images, it also packs impressive video specs as well. The camera is capable of shooting 6K 60p RAW and 4K 120p 10-bit uncropped video with Canon Log 3 support, in addition to the possibility for oversampled 4K and RAW movie internal recording. Canon Log 3, which is frequently used in cinema production, helps to reduce the possibility of highlight blowouts. What’s more, the features such as industry standard BT.709, BT.2020 color gamuts, and cinema gamut help to maintain color and tonal consistency. Coordinated 5-axis IBIS helps to correct operator motion or shaking providing dependent video capturing even when using a lens without built-in Optical IS.
Additional features of the EOS R3 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera include:
- Canon’s next-generation Multi-Function Shoe that is compatible with a variety of accessories including the Speedlite EL-1, and new accessories such as the ST-E10 Speedlite Transmitter, External Mic and Smartphone Link Adapter
- One-piece magnesium alloy design, integrating the body with a vertical grip section
- Weather and dust resistance equivalent to EOS-1D camera models.
- Mobile File Transmitter application for iOS® and Android® devices allows photographers to transfer their images quickly and easily without the need for wired LAN equipment
- Built-in Wired LAN, 5GHz Wi-Fi®, USB and Bluetooth® technology
- Dual-card slots, supporting one CF express and one UHS-II SD
The Canon EOS R3 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera is scheduled to be available in November 2021 for a suggested retail price of $5999.00*. For more information, please visit usa.canon.com.
About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions to the United States and to Latin America and the Caribbean markets. With approximately $30.4 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranks third overall in U.S. patents granted in 2020† and is one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies in 2020. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company’s RSS news feed by visiting www.usa.canon.com/rss and follow us on Twitter @CanonUSA.
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†Based on weekly patent counts issued by United States Patent and Trademark Office.
* Specifications, availability and price are subject to change without notice. Actual prices are set by individual dealers and may vary.
1 Blackout(s) may occur in some cases; such as when the built-in memory is full or when the flash battery is fully recharged after the battery ran out during continuous shooting.
2 Effectiveness varies depending on the subject. In some cases, dogs, cats or birds may not be detected, while some animals other than dogs, cats or birds may be detected.
3 When combined with certain IS lenses such as the RF24-105mm F4 IS L USM, or when used with certain non-IS lenses as well. See individual lens product page for more information.
The more advanced a camera becomes, the more irrelevant the photographer is. This is auto mode for pros, or it lays the path to.
If they create a perfect camera with 100fps, 100mb resolution, with perfect autofocus, absolute white balance, 1mil iso, then even a monkey can take stunning photos.
People are on their way to become irrelevant. They create sophisticated machines that makes them non necessary for almost anything. No more self discipline, learning, hard work, talent, anticipation, what for?
Take your perfect machine and make a milion pictures at 100fps.
There are so many photos at this moment, that nobody cares anymore. So many AI sophisticated software that with a good phone you can be a good photographer.
This is just madness, zero fun and you can see that from the dpreview.com comments, for instance.
No good music for decades, no movies, no books, no nothing but machines, better machines that produce no value.
Human spirit is gone, welcome to industrial photography. You will like it.
I’ll probably say something obvious, but here I go: the camera is just a tool. It matters little how perfect that tool is. The end result depends on your vision. In the same way you say that “even a monkey can take stunning photos”, a word processor in a lightning fast laptop should allow the same monkey to write fantastic books.
Loreaca is kind of right, though, a little bit. The quality of entertainment and art (in my opinion) is spiraling down. Consumerism may not be the only culprit, but it is definitely one.
A better camera won’t make you a better photographer, but you can’t deny that many in this community (and others) are obsessing about gear. And even when not, pursuing a great photograph is now more about technical greatness than making a meaningful impact or telling a story.
I mean, look at Fstoppers. There are many marvelously executed shots, yet, they are not much more than pretty postcards.
Maybe worth writing an article about that? :)
The statement is true in theory, but not true in practice. The more sophisticated the tool, the less sophisticated the user. They say that the sum of both is always constant.
For instance, when having an old Nokia I knew hundreds of phone numbers, now I know none.
If autoiso, auto wb, auto everything, in time you will forget about them. It’s only natural.
In your example (and it’s applicable to me too), our memories are not being challenged enough thanks to the devices now available – whether it is phone numbers or remembering directions without needing to refer to Google Maps (one of the reasons I keep my little kids away from devices – I want to have them develop their imaginations!). However, there is no denying that enhanced technologies have enhanced our horizons too. We have genomic sequencing and other developments that are allowing us to delve deeper into biology than was even considered possible a couple of decades ago. Regarding photography, we can photograph things like the Milky Way and landscape in a way that Ansel Adams could not have even considered doing thanks to the capabilities of new sensors. What we must tell ourselves is to use the technologies available to expand our vision. Mozart and Beethoven used the developments in instrumentation available (clarinet, piano, for example) to increase the scope of the music they composed, to cite another example. New tools in the hands of those who recognize their utility can be powerful indeed.
In the recent history there was no Beethoven, no Mozart, only Cernobal, Fukushima and others like that. I still like Alien 1 more than all the current movies of such kind. I don’t even want to say anything about biology and stuff.
In Asimov’s novels there is a barrier for a technological civilization that is difficult to cross. Most of them implodes as tyrannical government use badly the power of science, or, more SF, the machines comes alive and kill the race.
In our case, the human values are forgotten, and the technology is very badly used. Our kids spend years in front of a tablet and zero time with friends, playing games. This is the road to nowhere.
Regarding photography, I personally find no pleasure in shooting with such a perfect tool. I understand that are people who really needs it, but I don’t really care anymore. I lost confidence in human race these days.
I’m sorry for such a perspective on this website, but you cannot express these feelings on DPreview and not get killed :). Here I really appreciate the editors and the viewers and I want to salute you all.
That’s not always true. I for one don’t remember phone numbers anymore, but I learned how to create shortcuts on my iPhone to automate certain things (shortcuts is like a simplified programming language if you haven’t heard).
So in one area, I am not engaging my brain anymore but in another am engaging it more and learning something useful that can be carried over to other fields like real programming. Just, got to always remember to challenge yourself, then you won’t be forgetting the skills.
And there’s always a full-manual mode on modern cameras anyway, so you don’t have to use the automation if you don’t want to. :)
I’m curious.how many improvments on these new models make its way to the ambitionated amateurs and pros. Focus selection and precision is one possible area of improvement for any manifacturer – and Canon (re)introduced with eye AF a quite interesting concept. I’m waiting reallife experiances, with bright or dark envrironments, with glasses and fast moving or stillife subjects.
Right now choices are though, with Sony A1, Nikon Z9 and Canon R3 getting available to the public until end of the year.
The lenses are the big questuon – when will what be available, at what pricepoint ? In order to switch the current system (such as any dslr) to mirrorless everything must be available which is needed for the planned usage. Their premium technology will find its way to cheaper cameras. . but the lens mount will be the same . So I am waiting how the big vendors showcase their level of perfection
Sooo many words, just to share with us that you’re… waiting?
Most of this tech finds its way to lower-end cameras eventually, but frankly it will be a while before the situation you describe comes to pass. Canon and Nikon have made a lot of progress with their mirrorless lens lineups in recent years, but they still have a way to go before they’re as complete as their DSLR lineups.
The consumer/enthusiast market is shrinking thanks to mobile phone camera onslaught. How many folks want to really learn photography, then learn file management, then learn post-processing and finally invest in a good camera, a good laptop/desktop and lots of good external SSDs. I really do not want to let go my D5500 simply because of learning the camera again. I do not have time and I am sure lot of folks don’t either because of their job pressures. Its better to enjoy the photos you take, process and keep it safe once and forever. Of course, cameras like R3 are targeted towards pros, but i think, a good percentage of people buying this camera will not fully even know what it is capable of. My 2 cents. No offence to nobody.
No offense taken, I think you’re absolutely right. Most cameras these days are capable of doing far more than 99% of photographers will ever realize. It’s better to stick with a camera you know than to jump ship because of higher specs. The more your camera gets out of your way when you shoot, the better your photos will be.
Nice sum up Spencer. Looking forward for your review and verdict.
Thanks Amit! I’m excited to test it out.
What, no comments? I’m curious as to how this compares to the Sony alpha A1, and what the Z9 is going to be like. And who spends $6-7k on a camera body?? Elite sports & wildlife photographers?
1. I am not in market for a 6000$ camera and likely so are very few here on this site.
2. Regarding the Alpha 1 and it’s performance…see number one ;)
3. Z9 will be there with those 2 above so same applies.
3. Mostly big news agencies, military, police, security firms and those very few photographers that can say that their meals come from photography nowadays. Not many “happy amateurs” buy these since they are huge to begin with and cost like a small car with lenses. You need to have a need for this sort of camera before clicking home one or 5 of these on the web ;)
It may not be generating as much interest on our site because we mainly write about Nikon at the moment. But we’ll be writing more about Canon and the R3 in upcoming months, including comparisons against the A1 and Z9.
Thank you Spencer for your continuous efforts to inform us with clarity and unbiased competence.
I would like you make a comparison also with the previous DSLR flagships, like the Canon 1Dx III and especially Nikon D5/D6. My concerns are about real AF speed & consistency (e.g. no distractions with obstacles like branches), the capacity to properly follow subject with relevant motion (e.g. instant jumps or appearance) and high ISO image quality (above 3200 ISO).
My little experience with the D850 is that in poor light conditions for wildlife and long lenses, both image quality and AF results suggest me to take out the single digit flagship, which gives me reasonably good pictures up to 25-40k ISO, but in emergency also 102k with 400/2.8 AF-I, as I did once in a concert for the unlit attending people :-)
I will be very curious to see if in real life action the Z9/A1 vastly beats the D5/D6 as it is expected and told in the announcements, or even this R3 with reasonable 24MPixels.
When you’ll test the Z9, I suggest to pair it with 400-600-800mm + TCs, to have a real test about potential gains at high speed with relevant lenses for reach and acuity.
I think this is a great camera for even wildlife shooters. But it’s a gem for sports. I recently started shooting sports and the eye tracking could be of great use for a volleyball game.
The video features are great as well, 6K 60fps internal 10 bit raw? That’s better than 8K 30fps I think. My monitor is 5K anyway.
If I was a Canon shooter, I’d definitely get this one for sports/wildlife.
But I’m in the Nikon camp, and saved for the Z9. So I hope that Z9 can match these specs while being a 45MP camera.
I’m also in the Nikon camp, but Canon has just made what I want – a 24MP built in grip camera. I’m hoping the Z9’s mRAW files hold up. I’m a wedding shooter and these sports cameras appeal to me for the larger battery, low light focus, etc. I just don’t understand enough technically to know if mRAW will be sufficient for my needs – medium editing, printing at 20×24 largest, etc.
It would be nice to occasionally have the 45MP but for most of my shooting I don’t want it for the computer load and storage space needed.
I’d love to see an article here detailing Nikon’s mRAW. I know they have it on the D850.
Steve, you may find our explanation of mRAW in the D850 review to be what you were looking for: photographylife.com/revie…kon-d850/4
From reading your article it sounds like Nikon is capable of making a “3 in 1” camera here with the Z9. A slowed down buffer doesn’t bother me as a wedding shooter. As long as the files hold up (12 bit is fine for my needs) I’m good.
I assume the Z9 will do the same as the D850, if not better. After all, they must know many of their sports shooters who own the 20MP D5 / D6 cameras may want to stick with a lower MP count.
I hope this comes to pass.
I agree about 6K 60p. Considering the very small number of 8K displays, the biggest reasons to shoot higher than 4K are to crop and to downsample. 6K can still do both of those in spades. And 60p slow motion is useful for a wide variety of work.
I’d be surprised if the Z9 didn’t have comparable or better specs than the R3 (maybe not in terms of 6K, just overall). It seems like Nikon is trying to challenge the Sony A1, which is the only camera currently on the market that has higher specs than the R3. Here’s hoping they succeed.