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Here’s everything we know about the Canon EOS R3

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Introduction

Canon has announced further specifications of its forthcoming EOS R3, giving a clearer picture of what the camera will offer when it is officially released.

The latest bit of drip-fed info makes the EOS R3 look more like a ‘mirrorless 1D X’ than we’d previously assumed, and in fact potentially a fully-fledged sports/photojournalism camera. Canon says the R3 represents ‘a new class, between the EOS R5 and the EOS 1D X series,’ but from what we now know, it seems like it’ll be pretty close to the latter.

Rather than just tell you about the extra details it’s revealed, we’re going to cover everything that we know so far, as well as reading between the lines a little bit about what’s not been said.

30 fps shooting with Raw

Canon had already revealed that the Stacked CMOS sensor in the R3 would be fast enough to allow 30 fps shooting in the camera’s electronic shutter mode. The latest update makes clear that this will include Raw image capture, which is presumably meant to indicate that it’s one of the camera’s main drive modes, rather than a frame-grab-from-video mode with some feature restrictions.

We’ll have to wait until we have the EOS R3 in our hands before we find out whether it has to switch to a lower bit depth (potentially limiting dynamic range) to achieve this fastest speed.

High-speed electronic shutter

Canon had already said that the move to a Stacked CMOS sensor will give ‘very low [rolling shutter] distortion’ when using the electronic shutter. The company’s latest update goes further than this and makes clear that EOS R3 can use flash in electronic shutter mode.

Canon hasn’t revealed the flash sync speed, though. This is critical because the flash sync speed represents the shortest exposure time for which the entire sensor is exposed at the same time (at faster shutter speeds there’s an increasingly narrow slit between the first and second shutter curtain). For an electronic shutter, the maximum sync speed is defined by the readout rate of the sensor, because this acts as the second curtain, so the flash sync speed ends up telling you the rolling shutter rate, as well as how the camera behaves with flash.

Based on the fact that the R3 is a high-end body, and that Canon tends to be quite conservative in terms of making sure it only offers features that are useable, I’d predict that it will be a shutter speed fast enough to make flash use practical (I’d hope that a ‘faster than 1/100th sec’ would be a conservative guess).

Autofocus

Canon has already said that the R3 will still use the company’s Dual Pixel AF system with an enhanced version of the eye/face/body detection AF system used in the EOS R5. This is based on machine learning, where a algorithm that’s been ‘taught’ with a large number of images generates a subject recognition ‘model’ that’s used by the AF system. The initial announcement also said the R3 would be able to recognize other types of subject.

The company has confirmed that the EOS R3 will also be able to recognize cars and motorbikes as part of a mode designed for motorsport shooting. Olympus has already demonstrated that such a mode can work well, with its E-M1X.

Canon has said the R3’s AF will operate down to -7.0EV, which is ridiculously low. The company hasn’t given details about which lens is required for that figure, but its previously quoted figures for its mirrorless system are based on F1.2 lenses, which automatically makes the figure look impressive (1.5EV more than companies that quote the use of F2 lenses). It’s also worth noting that these figures don’t guarantee the AF in these extreme low-light conditions will still be fast enough for non-static subjects, but Canon cameras haven’t been too bad in that regard in the past.

Video

Canon’s first reveal didn’t mention anything at all about video, but it seemed inevitable that Canon would use the camera’s high-speed sensor to product generate video.

Sure enough, the latest update promises oversampled 4K footage with the option of both Canon Log3 or internal Raw movie capture. The fast readout rate promised by the Stacked CMOS sensor should help keep rolling shutter under control.

In addition, Canon says that the AF tracking modes for tracking people, animals and motorsport will all be available during movie shooting.

Body with integrated grip

The EOS R3 will use the same LP-E19 battery as used in the EOS-1D X Mark III

From the images we’ve already seen, we already knew that the camera is going to have a dual-grip body and Canon has said it’ll have build quality and weather-sealing up to the standard of a 1D X model. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that it’s now confirmed as being a magnesium alloy body.

What’s interesting is that despite appearing to be smaller than the EOS-1D X III, the R3 will also use the same large-capacity LP-E19 battery. It’s a 30Wh battery (nearly twice the capacity of the EOS R5’s LP-E6NH) which should see the R3 deliver plenty of shots per charge, even if its reliance on live view means it can’t be expected to provide DSLR levels of stamina.

Other body and handling details

The newly released images show that the camera will have EOS R5-style three-dial operation: one behind the shutter button, a second on the camera’s shoulder and a third on the back face of the camera.

It’s also been revealed that the R3 will have both AF joysticks and infrared Smart Controllers, just like the 1D X Mark III. We found the Smart Controllers, which measure fingertip movement, provided a really effective means of taking fast but precise control over the 1D X III’s AF points. It’ll be interesting to see how well they work with the more numerous and finely spaced AF points of a mirrorless system.

This combination of R5 and 1D X III control points is presumably what Canon means when it promises: ‘1-series operability and R5 usability.’ On top of which there’s Eye-input AF, of course.

More details

Beyond this, the EOS R3 becomes the first dual-grip Canon camera to include a fully-articulated ‘vari-angle’ display. The images Canon has released make clear it’s a 3.2″ display but no details have yet been given about the resolution of the panel being used.

Canon confirmed that R3 will use CFexpress and SD cards. Given the company’s use of CFexpress Type B cards, it’s a reasonable assumption that it’ll stick to using this larger (and faster) format.

Image stabilization

As you might expect, the EOS R3 will feature the in-body image stabilization first seen the the EOS R6 and R5. Like the systems employed by Panasonic and Olympus, the in-body IS can work in conjunction with the in-lens stabilization mechanism of any of Canon’s stabilized RF lenses. Unlike some systems that share out the stabilization, with the lens correcting movement in some axes and the in-body system correcting others, in Canon ILCs, both systems work together and share movement information back and forth.

This allows Canon to claim up to 8.0EV of correction, when assessed using the standard CIPA testing methodology. We rarely experience as much benefit as CIPA numbers imply, but we’ve certainly found that higher numbers indicate better performance, which suggests the R3 will offer much more effective stabilization than was possible in the company’s DSLRs.

Communication

Canon had said the R3 will be compatible with Mobile File Transmitter, an app for Android and iOS that will be launched alongside the camera. This promises wired connection (for iOS at least) or wireless communication.

In addition, Canon says the EOS R3 will also have a built-in LAN connection, for communication of images when shooting from the sidelines of major sporting events. It’s another pro-focused feature that suggests Canon doesn’t intend to leave much of a gap between the R3 and the 1D series of cameras, despite explicitly saying it sits below them.

New accessory shoe

Canon hasn’t said what its new ‘accessory shoe’ will be used for, but an add-on audio input module would be useful for videography.

Canon says the camera will come with a new ‘accessory shoe’ that ‘supports new accessories.’

The company has previously made cameras, such as the EOS M6 Mark II, that have had a series of connectors along the front of the flash hot shoe. In the case of the M6 II, this was designed to support an electronic viewfinder, but that would seem unnecessary on a camera that will already have one built in.

The other common use of hot shoe connectors is the ability to add accessory microphones: both Panasonic and Sony offer accessory audio modules that allow high-end mics with XLR connectors to be attached and controlled.

The R3’s video specs sound as if they might deserve a high-quality audio accessory but we’ll have to see what sorts of ‘new accessories’ Canon’s engineers have in mind.

Reading between the lines

At this point, we know a decent amount about the EOS R3. We don’t know the fine detail such as screen resolution, buffer depth or video frame rates, but we can get a pretty good idea for what the camera is going to be capable of.

We can also make some assumptions about the camera’s pixel count. The promise of oversampled 4K suggests a sensor with fewer than the 45MP needed to deliver 8K (or, at least, deliver the DCI 8K Canon seems to prefer). Add this to the promise of better low light AF than the EOS R5 – one of the few things that directly benefits from larger pixels – and it’s fair to assume it’ll be a lower pixel count camera. 24-32MP would be our guess.

Sadly Canon still hasn’t narrowed down exactly when the R3 will finally be announced. We’re sure it’ll be in use at the Olympics in Japan this summer, but the question is whether it’ll be there for the purposes of final beta testing or in its officially released form. Either way, we hope the next update will provide full details of specs, price and availability.


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