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The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster

October 13, 2021

Andy Westlake puts the Canon EOS R3 and its Eye control AF through its paces with a day shooting high-speed motorsport

All the sample images in this article were shot using a pre-production beta model of the Canon EOS R3, and may not reflect final image quality. They’re out-of-camera JPEGs edited ‘to taste’, including cropping, brightness, contrast, and saturation adjustments, etc. 

Canon EOS R3 fitted with the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM lens

Canon’s latest mirrorless model, the EOS R3, is designed for shooting high-speed sports and action

Canon EOS R3 at a glance:

  • £5,879 body only
  • 24MP full-frame stacked CMOS sensor
  • 30 frames per second shooting
  • 1/64,000 sec top shutter speed
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilisation
  • AI-based subject recognition AF
  • Eye control AF

I’ve been lucky enough to test some remarkable cameras this year. Early on there was Sony’s phenomenal Alpha 1, which can shoot 50MP images at 30 frames per second. Then there was the superb Fujifilm GFX100S, whose 102MP medium-format sensor makes it a landscape photographer’s dream. But when Canon offered me the chance to try out a beta sample of its new EOS R3, I got an extra shiver of excitement.

Because while this high-speed, pro-spec sports and action camera may ‘only’ be capable of shooting 24MP images at 30fps, it’s got some really exciting new features of its own. Most importantly, it’s got Eye control AF. This means it can detect what you’re looking at in the viewfinder and focus on it.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 1

The EOS R3 can be set to focus on whatever you’re looking at in the viewfinder

At this point, Canon fans who know their history will be muttering under their breath that I’ve got it all wrong, and eye control isn’t actually new. On one level, they’re absolutely right, as the firm first introduced this futuristic-sounding technology almost 30 years ago, on the EOS 5 in 1992.

Canon then went on to use it in several more 35mm SLRs during the 1990s, including the mid-range EOS 50E and, most notably, the high-end EOS 3 in 1998. As it happens, I used these two cameras for the majority of my film photography, and still own both. This is exactly why I’m so excited by the EOS R3.

What is Eye control AF?

Eye control AF is, at heart, a simple idea. The camera uses an array of low-power infrared LEDs to illuminate your eye and determine whereabouts you’re looking in the viewfinder. Back in the film days, this was simply a method of selecting your autofocus point, and on the EOS 50E which only had three to choose between, it worked perfectly. With the EOS 3’s 45-point system I found it rather less reliable, but I still used it all the time, as it was quicker and more intuitive than the alternative of pressing a button and spinning control dials.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 2

Canon previously used Eye control AF on several 35mm film SLRs, most famously the semi-pro EOS 3 (left)

On the EOS R3, things are a bit different. Aside from anything else, the camera doesn’t really use an array of discreet focus points, as SLRs did; instead, like other mirrorless models, it can autofocus anywhere in the frame. Secondly, its AF system is based heavily on subject recognition, meaning it can be set to detect people, animals or motor vehicles, and then specifically focus on them while ignoring anything else.

Again, this isn’t new; Sony has had great success with its Real-time Eye AF for portraits, while the Olympus OM-D E-M1X can recognise birds and various kinds of vehicles. But there’s often been a practical problem with these systems: if you have several possible subjects for the camera to choose between, it’s not always easy to get it to lock onto the one you want. This is where Eye control AF promises a significant advantage.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 3

Subject detection can be easily set between humans, animals and vehicles directly from the Q Menu

To try out the system, I first needed to find a suitable subject. You can, of course, shoot anything you like with the EOS R3, but with the best will in the world, you’re not going to learn much about it by shooting portraits or landscapes. Luckily, I live close to the famous old racing circuit at Brands Hatch. So I found myself driving there on a misty Saturday morning to photograph motorbike racing, armed with the EOS R3, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 RF lenses, and a stack of memory cards. Oh, and after a last-minute request to Canon, I also had the decidedly unusual RF 800mm F11 IS STM lens to play with.

Canon EOS R3 – a quick recap

Before going any further, let’s take a step back and remind ourselves of the EOS R3’s main features. It employs an all-new 24MP full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, which enables not only the headline 30fps shooting speed, but also a silent electronic shutter that promises minimal rolling-shutter distortion. In addition, it boasts a world-record fastest shutter speed of an action-freezing 1/64,000sec. Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF facilitates phase-detection autofocus anywhere in the frame, while its AI-based subject recognition technology provides settings for focusing specifically on people, animals, and now motor vehicles.

Canon EOS R3 sensor

The EOS R3 is built around a new 24MP full-frame stacked-CMOS sensor

In design terms, the R3 is one of only a few mirrorless models with an integrated vertical grip for more comfortable use with large telephoto lenses, alongside the Olympus E-M1X and the Nikon’s upcoming Z 9. Its control layout borrows heavily from EOS-1D series professional DSLRs, while adding all the interface updates that we saw in the brilliant EOS R5 and R6.In fact, though, the design lineage goes back much further; almost all the controls that were on the EOS 3 are still to be found on the R3, and in pretty much the same places, too.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 4

The viewfinder is surrounded by a huge eyecup. Beneath it is a superb fully articulated LCD.

For composition, you get a superb 5.76m-dot EVF that offers 0.74x magnification. It’s surrounded by a huge, deep eyecup, which is necessary for Eye control AF to work reliably. New to the EOS R3 is an ‘OVF simulation view assist’ function, which rather than previewing the final processed image, mimics the experience of using an optical finder in terms of colour and contrast, and does so extremely well.

Underneath the EVF is a stunning 3.2in, 4.2m-dot fully articulated touchscreen, with practically every aspect of the camera’s operation being seamlessly integrated into the touch interface. This means you can change most settings using either the physical controls, or by touch.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 5

AF tracking is toggled on or off using the upper, convex button on the front, which is duplicated across the two grips.

Overall, anybody who’s used a high-end Canon camera over the past decade should be able to pick up the EOS R3 and get started almost straight away. But there’s one really important thing to do first, which is calibrate the Eye control AF. Thankfully, this is a simple process that only takes a minute; the camera instructs you to look left, right, up and down, while measuring your eye position at each point. Canon advises repeating it in a wide range of lighting conditions, which allows the camera to build up a thorough understanding of your eye structure and how it changes according to the ambient light.

More about the Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM lens

You need a long lens to shoot motorbikes, and my first thought was to try the RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM. Unfortunately, Canon couldn’t lend me one at short notice, but provided the 800mm f/11 instead. This unusual design combines a fixed aperture, diffractive optics, image stabilisation and a collapsing barrel design to make a relatively affordable (£999) and portable ultra-telephoto, that can easily be used hand-held.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 6

Canon’s unique RF 800mm F11 IS STM lens is remarkably lightweight and affordable

I didn’t have especially high hopes for it, but ended up being pleasantly surprised, in particular with its ability to keep up with the EOS R3’s autofocus. It’s decently sharp, too, with its main optical flaw appearing to be reduced contrast when shooting into the light. The small aperture does, of course, often require you to use high ISO settings, especially given the fast shutter speeds often required. But with modern full-frame sensors, that’s no problem at all.

Canon EOS R3 and RF 800mm F11 IS STM motorcycle racing sample image

Canon EOS R3, RF 800mm F11 IS STM, 1/2000sec at f/11, ISO 2000.

The available autofocus zone is also reduced to a central square, so you have to pay more attention to keeping your subject covered, while the minimum focus distance is a lengthy 6m. But these are all acceptable compromises to get a full-frame 800mm that’s less than a third of the weight and a twelfth of the price of its high-end EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM cousin.

Shooting motorsports with the Canon EOS R3

Before setting out, I configured a custom mode for high-speed action, combining shutter priority with high-speed continuous shooting, servo AF, vehicle tracking, and eye control AF. But in fact, this was almost superfluous, because Canon makes it quick and easy to change all these settings with the camera up to your eye.

Canon EOS R3 motorcycle racing sample image with panning

Here I used a relatively slow shutter speed and panned with the subject. Canon EOS R3, RF 800mm F11 IS STM, 1/200sec at f/11, ISO 125

Tracking is enabled using a button on front, eye control can be toggled on and off using the SET button, and subject selection is accessible from the Q menu. It’s all very user friendly, and much easier to set up than the Sony Alpha 1 or Alpha 9 II.

The big question, of course, is whether Canon’s Eye control AF, subject detection and AF tracking all work together seamlessly. The answer is a resounding yes; in fact, it’s an incredibly intuitive way of shooting. You simply look at the subject you’re interested in and half-press the shutter, and the camera locks on instantly, outlining the subject in blue and tracking focus on it.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 7

Eye control AF is a brilliantly effective way of choosing between two possible subjects. Canon EOS R3, 1/2000sec at f/11, ISO 1250

For example, when I saw two bikes climbing up Hailwoods Hill, I was able to shift the camera’s attention to the chasing rider simply by looking at him; other AF systems would focus on the leader by default. This works so well that after a few minutes, you almost forget it’s even happening; the AF system just does your bidding with no need to touch a joystick. For this kind of fast-paced shooting, it’s a revolutionary feature.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 8

Canon EOS R3, RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM at 200mm, 1/2000sec at f/5, ISO 100

Canon’s continuous AF also works astonishingly well. In fact, I got a near-perfect hit-rate of in-focus shots, regardless of whether the subject was approaching or leaving the camera, or front- or back-lit. It also continued to work while zooming the lens, which isn’t always the case. Amazingly, it worked almost as well with the 800mm f/11 as it did with the 70-200mm f/2.8.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 9

The camera has no problem tracking focus on subjects travelling away from the camera. Canon EOS R3, RF 800mm F11 IS STM, 1/2000sec at f/22, ISO 2000

With most cameras, engaging the fastest drive speed via the electronic shutter comes with significant compromises. Rolling shutter distortion tends to be problematic, and continuous AF will often be unreliable or stop working altogether. But neither is a problem with the EOS R3.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 10

Canon EOS R3, RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM at 200mm, 1/64,000sec at f/3.2, ISO 6400

I stress-tested for rolling shutter effects by shooting bikes driving past at high speed with the camera position held fixed, firing off bursts when I heard one approaching and relying on the blistering 30fps speed to capture it in frame, which worked every time. On examining the resultant files, not only is there no image distortion worth mentioning, but by employing the 1/64,000sec top shutter speed, I also captured pin-sharp shots. If you look really closely there are some jagged artefacts on diagonal edges, but this is nit-picking.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 11

This 30fps thumbnail sequence shows the bike travelling through the frame. With a slower camera, you’d be really lucky to capture it.

A white frame flashes around the edge of the viewfinder during burst shooting, which gives a useful visual confirmation that the shutter is firing. Of course, 30 frames per second is demanding on data throughput, but this is where the CFexpress card format pays off.

I used a 64GB Lexar Professional Type B card with a rated 1000 MB/s write speed (fully 3x quicker than my fastest SDs), and it swallowed large bursts of JPEG and raw files effortlessly, without the camera ever perceptibly slowing down. Using the matched Lexar reader, I was also able to copy a card’s worth of files in less than seven minutes. For less demanding work, you can still use SD cards in the camera’s other slot.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 12

Files can be recorded either to UHS-II SD cards, or the super-fast CFexpress Type B slot

One area where mirrorless cameras still tend to get flak is with regards to stamina. In this respect, the EOS R3’s rating of 620 shots per charge when using the EVF may look like its Achilles’ Heel; after all, that equates to just 21 seconds of burst shooting. But this really reflects the fact that the CIPA battery life test is based around shooting single frames at distinct intervals, and is completely irrelevant for high-speed bursts.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 13

The battery may only officially be rated to 620 shots per charge, but if you mostly shoot bursts with the electronic shutter, it’ll deliver over 10,000 shots

Shooting mostly JPEG files at 30fps (as raw support isn’t yet available at the time of writing), I returned home with over 9000 shots and the battery still registering over 30%. With such a huge number of files, I also appreciated the ability to apply star-ratings using a dedicated external button, which are then recognised in imaging software such as Lightroom.

Canon EOS R3 – initial impressions in real-world use

With this being a Beta sample of the EOS R3, I can’t do the usual testing and image quality assessment that you’ll find in our full reviews. Instead, I can just show some pictures and give my initial thoughts on how well Canon’s new tech all fits together. Needless to say, I’m seriously impressed.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 14

Even with a consumer telephoto, the EOS R3 convincingly demonstrated the capabilities of its Eye control AF

Using the EOS R3 reminds me of when I first picked up the original Sony Alpha 9 and realised that mirrorless cameras had completely surpassed the capabilities of DSLRs with regards to shooting speed and autofocus. Now, Canon has more than matched that technology, but made a camera that offers vastly superior handling while being much easier and more intuitive to use. Indeed what impressed me most is just how easy the EOS R3 made it to get perfectly-sharp shots, time after time; using it almost feels like cheating. This is the camera that the Alpha 9 II wants to be when it grows up.

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 15

Canon EOS R3, RF 800mm F11 IS STM, 1/125sec at f/11, ISO 100

It’s certainly an exciting time to be a photographer, with camera technology advancing at an extraordinary rate. Alongside the Sony Alpha 1 and Fujifilm GFX100S, the Canon EOS R3 shows the boundaries being pushed further than ever before. And let’s not forget, the Nikon Z 9 is still to come. We may be mourning our favourite old SLR systems, but their replacements are absolutely extraordinary, and with the EOS R3, Canon is right back at the head of the pack.

Post-script – animal detection AF

The Canon EOS R3 doesn’t just recognise motor vehicles, but animals too. For example, it easily detected this ring-necked parakeet’s body and head:

The Canon EOS R3 is a motorsports monster 16

Canon EOS R3, RF 800mm F11 IS STM, 1/8000sec at f/11, ISO 1600

Here’s a cormorant on its take-off run, again recognised and tracked by the camera:

Canon EOS R3 cormorant taking off

Canon EOS R3, RF 800mm F11 IS STM, 1/100sec at f/11, ISO 16,000

And finally, remarkably, here is a bee captured in mid-flight, using autofocus.

Canon EOS R3 bee in flight sample image

Canon EOS R3, RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM at 200mm, 1/2000sec at f/3.2, ISO 500

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Skylum Luminar AI Update 5 Finally Fixes Canon EOS R5 RAW Bug

Skylum Luminar AI Update 5 Finally Fixes Canon EOS R5 RAW Bug

Skylum Luminar AI Update 5 Finally Fixes Canon EOS R5 RAW Bug 17

Skylum has announced an update for Luminar AI that adds one new feature, addresses multiple bugs, and fixes a major issue with the platform’s ability to properly read Canon EOS R5 files.

While Skylum has been working through pushback from consumers regarding the launch of Luminar Neo and subsequent retirement of Luminar 4, the company did specifically say that it would be working on enhancing the experience of Luminar AI rather than focusing on new features.

Lunimar AI Update 5 makes good on that promise and adds a set of bug fixes to the application, including the crippling Canon EOS R5 RAW file issue that resulted in the company removing the R5 from its list of supported cameras. That changes today, as Skylum says that the R5 RAW file issue has been fixed.

For months, Luminar AI was unable to properly read Canon R5 RAW files since it launched claimed support for the camera as part of Luminar update 4.3.3 six months ago. Photographers started noticing issues with images captured with the R5 in the platform for more than two months before Skylum removed official support for the camera while it worked on fixing the issue.

In short, photographers noticed that R5 files would be imported in what can only be described as “overly contrasty” and there was no way to use Luminar AI to make the photos look correct.

Skylum Luminar AI Update 5 Finally Fixes Canon EOS R5 RAW Bug 18
Image as imported to LuminarAI
Skylum Luminar AI Update 5 Finally Fixes Canon EOS R5 RAW Bug 19
Image as imported into Lightroom.

At the time, a Skylum representative said that it was aware of the issue.

“We are aware that for Canon R5 images, there are specific cases with options like ‘double pixel’ and/or HDR settings,” Skylum said. “In these few cases, the user may experience issues when opening these images. The issues do not apply to most Canon R5 photos; that is why we consider the camera to be supported.”

More than four months later, the company tells PetaPixel that the camera is now finally supported and retains full information in the highlights and shadows.

Additionally, Luminar AI now supports the Olympus E-P7, Panasonic DC-GH5 II, and the Pentax K-3 III. The company adds that it has also caught and fixed seven other minor bugs on macOS and seven bugs on Windows that it says could “lead to unexpected results.”

Skylum also added a new enhancement to the Sky Replacement technology called “For This Photo.” It’s a minor but arguably useful update that uses content-aware technology to recommend the best sky for a particular photo and include recommendations from the skies collection on the Luminar Marketplace.

This update is free and users will be prompted to install the update the next time they launch Luminar AI.

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A Review of the Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Camera

A Review of the Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Camera

The Canon EOS R5 received most of the fanfare when it was first announced alongside the EOS R6, but the latter is no slouch, and in some ways, it might be the more appropriate and balanced camera for a lot of photographers and filmmakers. This great video review takes a look at the camera and the kind of performance you can expect from it in the real world. 

Coming to you from Taylor Jackson, this excellent video review takes a look at the Canon EOS R6 camera. The EOS R6 looks like an excellent all-around camera, particularly for those who do not need the 45 megapixels or 8K raw video found in the EOS R5. Its features include:

  • 20-megapixel sensor
  • ISO range of 100-102,400
  • In-body image stabilization with up to eight stops of compensation
  • 1,053 autofocus points
  • Fully articulating rear LCD touchscreen
  • 3.69-million-dot EVF with 0.76x magnification
  • 20 fps continuous burst rate using electronic shutter
  • 12 fps continuous burst rate using mechanical shutter
  • 4K at 60 fps and 230 Mbps
  • Dual UHS-II SD slots
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Altogether, the EOS R6 looks like a very balanced and capable camera at a more affordable price than the EOS R5 or upcoming EOS R3. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Jackson. 

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Canon Confirms the EOS R3 Is Not a Flagship Camera

Canon Confirms the EOS R3 Is Not a Flagship Camera

The Canon EOS R3 is one of the most technologically advanced cameras that Canon has produced. Improvements to the autofocus alone put the Canon EOS R3 ahead of almost every camera that Canon has ever produced. Despite this, Canon maintains that the EOS R3 is not a 1 series flagship camera. 

The Canon EOS R3 is the priciest RF mount camera to date. With a price point of almost $6,000, it sits uncomfortably close to the Canon 1D X Mark III, the current Canon flagship camera. The Canon EOS R3 includes a number of improved features, such as video quality, autofocus, and a significant jump in the number of frames it can capture per second, albeit with the electronic shutter. However, the Canon EOS R3 is still not considered a flagship camera by Canon. 

In a recent discussion with Canon, it was confirmed that the EOS R3 camera does not replace the Canon 1D X Mark III to become the new flagship. The key reason it’s not considered a flagship camera is that the 1D series cameras are designed to operate in far more challenging conditions. Although the EOS R3 does have similar weather-sealing when the hot shoe cap is attached, it may not be as capable in tougher environments.  

Interestingly, this could end up being a challenge for Canon. If a $6,000 camera is not a flagship camera for Canon, what will an actual 1 series RF mount camera cost? Also, what kind of features could we see in a potential 1 series RF mount camera?

It is, however, important to mention that there are a few features the 1D X Mark III holds over the EOS R3. These include a larger buffer and the ability to shoot much faster using the mechanical shutter. The 1D X Mark III can manage 20 frames per second for up to 1,000 images, whereas the EOS R3 can only manage 12 frames per second with the mechanical shutter. It’s also limited to a maximum of 150 images when shooting at 30 frames per second with the electronic shutter. 

In general, photographers that shoot with 1 series cameras expect zero compromises. And based on what the EOS R3 can do, Canon may have something remarkable planned for its first-ever RF mount flagship camera. 

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Canon EOS R3 Hands-On Photos

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On Photos

We’ve been getting hands-on with the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera at The Photography Show 2021.

| 
Canon EOS R3 in Mirrorless Cameras

97593 1631968140 (1) | 1/33 sec | f/1.7 | 4.7 mm | ISO 488
 

Canon has officially announced the EOS R3 and they’re giving those who attend The Photography Show 2021 the chance to get a first look at this new high-speed mirrorless camera.

Stuart Fawcett was given the opportunity to do just that when he visited the Canon stand at The Photography Show 2021 this Saturday just gone where he described the Canon EOS R3 as a ‘beast of a camera for new and sports photography’. 

 

97593 1631968172 | 1/25 sec | f/1.7 | 4.7 mm | ISO 396
 

EOS R3 Key Features:

  • New Canon-developed 24.1 megapixel back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor
  • 30fps with AF/AE tracking
  • Shutter speed offering a range of 30 seconds to 1/64000 of a second when using the electronic shutter
  • Eye Control AF point selection
  • AF tracking of people, animals (including birds) and motorsports (racing motorbikes and racing cars)
  • Full width 6K 60p RAW video recorded internally to a CFexpress card
  • Focus in light levels as low as –7.5 EV 

 

97593 1631968199 |
 

On the EOS R3, Stuart says focusing looks good and he likes the flip-out screen, double grip and EVF. The deep grip makes it really easy to get a good hold of and the top small display is handy for when you want to quickly check settings. All dials/buttons fall nicely into place when in use and the tilting display is great for tricky shooting situations. 

Stuart compared it to his trusty EOS 6D, released way back in 2012, and the EOS R3 looks much more substantial and robust, which isn’t a bad thing, and you can tell a lot of thought has gone into its design. 

 

97593 1631968221 | 1/33 sec | f/1.7 | 4.7 mm | ISO 391
 

As well as the Canon EOS R3, the 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM and 16mm f/2.8 STM were on display and Stuart says the 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM focuses fast when used with the EOS R3 and images looked good on the LCD – it’s a nice contender. 

 

Canon 16mm f2.8

 

Canon 100-400mm

 

ePHOTOzine will be writing a full review on the Canon EOS R3, 100-400mm and 16mm lenses as soon as we can. For more information on what’s happening at The Photography Show, have a read of Stuart’s blog

 

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Canon EOS R3 Hands-On Photos

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On Photos

We’ve been getting hands-on with the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera at The Photography Show 2021.

| 
Canon EOS R3 in Mirrorless Cameras

97593 1631968140 (1) | 1/33 sec | f/1.7 | 4.7 mm | ISO 488
 

Canon has officially announced the EOS R3 and they’re giving those who attend The Photography Show 2021 the chance to get a first look at this new high-speed mirrorless camera.

Stuart Fawcett was given the opportunity to do just that when he visited the Canon stand at The Photography Show 2021 this Saturday just gone where he described the Canon EOS R3 as a ‘beast of a camera for new and sports photography’. 

 

97593 1631968172 | 1/25 sec | f/1.7 | 4.7 mm | ISO 396
 

EOS R3 Key Features:

  • New Canon-developed 24.1 megapixel back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor
  • 30fps with AF/AE tracking
  • Shutter speed offering a range of 30 seconds to 1/64000 of a second when using the electronic shutter
  • Eye Control AF point selection
  • AF tracking of people, animals (including birds) and motorsports (racing motorbikes and racing cars)
  • Full width 6K 60p RAW video recorded internally to a CFexpress card
  • Focus in light levels as low as –7.5 EV 

 

97593 1631968199 |
 

On the EOS R3, Stuart says focusing looks good and he likes the flip-out screen, double grip and EVF. The deep grip makes it really easy to get a good hold of and the top small display is handy for when you want to quickly check settings. All dials/buttons fall nicely into place when in use and the tilting display is great for tricky shooting situations. 

Stuart compared it to his trusty EOS 6D, released way back in 2012, and the EOS R3 looks much more substantial and robust, which isn’t a bad thing, and you can tell a lot of thought has gone into its design. 

 

97593 1631968221 | 1/33 sec | f/1.7 | 4.7 mm | ISO 391
 

As well as the Canon EOS R3, the 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM and 16mm f/2.8 STM were on display and Stuart says the 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM focuses fast when used with the EOS R3 and images looked good on the LCD – it’s a nice contender. 

 

Canon 16mm f2.8

 

Canon 100-400mm

 

ePHOTOzine will be writing a full review on the Canon EOS R3, 100-400mm and 16mm lenses as soon as we can. For more information on what’s happening at The Photography Show, have a read of Stuart’s blog

 

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates:
Amazon UK,
Amazon US,
Amazon CA,
ebay UK

It doesn’t cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

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Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1 and A9 II

Canon EOS R3

The Canon EOS R3 is Canon’s flagship mirrorless camera, and as such we thought it would be worthwhile to have a look at it in detail and compare it to Sony’s flagship mirrorless cameras, so let’s dive right in and compare the Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1 Vs Sony A9 II, three flagship mirrorless cameras, all designed for high-speed continuous shooting with sports photographers in mind.

15 things you need to know about the Canon EOS R3 compared to the Sony Alpha 1 and A9 II 

Another camera that would be worth looking at in a future comparison would be the Nikon Z9, but as this has not yet been officially announced with full specifications, we cannot compare it yet.

Make sure to read our Canon EOS R3 Hands-On Preview

Canon EOS R3 vs Sony Alpha 1

Canon EOS R3 vs Sony Alpha 1 – Sensor on display

Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1 Vs A9 II Sensor Technology and Features

Image Sensor:

  • R3: 24.1MP FF stacked BSI CMOS sensor
  • Sony A1: 50.1MP FF stacked BSI CMOS sensor
  • Sony A9 II: 24MP FF stacked BSI CMOS sensor

The Canon EOS R3 has a 24MP sensor, which Canon say is the ideal resolution for sports photographers who need to send images as quickly as possible to news agencies. Often the first person to get the photo in, is the one who gets published.

What is a stacked sensor? A stacked sensor has internal memory built-in that enables faster readout from the sensor, meaning the camera can shoot at a faster continuous shooting speed. BSI = Backside Illuminated Sensor, giving improved noise performance compared to non-BSI sensors.

Image stabilisation:

  • R3: 5-axis sensor-shift, up to 8 stops, with optically stabilised lens
  • A1: 5-axis sensor-shift, 5.5 stops
  • A9 II: 5-axis sensor shift, up to 5 stops

Canon’s 5-axis image stabilisation system moves the sensor to counter any camera shake, and this works in combination with Canon’s lenses with Optical Image Stabilisation, giving up to 8 stops of image stabilisation. Sony’s system works in the same way, but Sony only quote the amount of stabilisation for the camera with a lens without optical image stabilisation. The Sony Alpha 1 uses the sensor-shift system  to create high-resolution images using multiple shots, this means you can put together high-resolution images on your computer later, giving you 200MP images.  

ISO range:

  • R3: 50-204800 (extended)
  • Sony A1: 50-102400 (extended)
  • A9 II: 50-204800 (extended)

The ISO range available from all cameras is very good, and as with most cameras, sticking to the lower ISO speeds is likely to give you the best results. It’s unlikely you’ll need to use the highest ISO speeds, but there could be situations where you need better low-light performance, and it’s likely that the 24MP cameras are going to give better results than the 50MP Sony Alpha 1.


Canon EOS R3

Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1 Vs A9 II Shooting and Focus

Continuous shooting:

  • R3: 30fps (electronic) with AF/AE tracking, 150frame buffer, or 1000 when shooting 12fps mechanical shutter
  • A1: 30fps (electronic) with AF/AE tracking, 10fps mechanical shutter, up to 238/400 raw/JPEG shots (JPEG Fine L)
  • A9 II: 20fps (electronic) with AF/AE tracking, 10fps mechanical shutter, up to 239/361 raw/JPEG shots without slowdown (JPEG Extra fine L)

Both the Canon EOS R3 and Sony Alpha 1 offer 30fps continuous shooting with AF/AE tracking, however what’s particularly impressive about the Sony Alpha 1 is that this is at double the resolution, as the camera is shooting 50MP images, compared to the EOS R3’s 24MP images.

Shutter speeds available:

  • R3: 30-1/8000s (mechanical), 1/64000s (electronic)
  • A1: 30s – 1/8000s (mechanical), 1/32000s (electronic)
  • A9 II: 30s – 1/8000s (mechanical), 1/32000s (electronic)

All cameras offer the same shutter speeds when using the mechanical shutter, and the Sony cameras offer up to 1/32000s when using the electronic shutter. The EOS R3 goes one step further by offering shutter speeds up to 1/64000s!

AF system:

  • R3: 4779 AF points – phase detection
  • A1 – 759 AF points – phase detection, 425 contrast detection
  • A9 II – 693 AF points – phase detection, 425 contrast detection

The Canon EOS R3 features 4779 AF points, phase detection, with eye-detection AF for both animals (including birds) and humans, plus vehicle detection. It also features eye-control focus, where the camera will focus on the subject that you are looking at. Focus is sensitive down to -7.5EV with an f/1.2 lens.

The Sony A1 features 759 AF points, phase detection, covering 92% of the frame, and is sensitive down to -4EV with f/2.0 lens. Eye-detection AF works with humans, animals and birds for stills photography. Video is limited to humans only. You also need to select before shooting whether you want to shoot humans, animals, or birds, as the camera does not automatically detect these without first being told what you are shooting.

The Sony A9 II feature 693 AF points, phase detection, 93% coverage of the frame, sensitive down to -3EV with f/2.0 lens. Eye-detection AF works with humans, and animals, but not birds. You also need to select between animals and humans before shooting.


Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1

Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1 Vs A9 II Screen, Viewfinder and Video

Screen:

  • R3: 3.2inch 4.2m dot fully articulated touchscreen
  • A1: 3.0inch 1.44m dot tilting touchscreen
  • A9 II: 3.0inch 1.44m dot tilting touchscreen

The high-resolution of the Canon EOS R3 screen, at 4.2m dots and the ability to move the screen to any position you want simply goes to show how dated the screen is in the Sony Alpha cameras, particularly the Sony Alpha 1 which, as a flagship £6499 camera, should have a much better screen.

Viewfinder:

  • R3: 5.76M dot, 0.76x magnification, upto 120fps refresh
  • A1: 9.4M dot, 0.90x magnification, upto 120/240fps refresh (normal/reduced size)
  • A9 II: 3.69M dot, 0.78x magnification, upto 120fps refresh

The Sony Alpha 1 clearly has the highest resolution, and largest view, as well as offering the fastest refresh rates, with the ability to increase the refresh rate to 240fps albeit at a reduced size with 0.7x magnification. The Canon EOS R3 remains very impressive though, with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that has a 5.76M dot resolution, and 0.76x magnification, it’s likely to give an excellent view.

Video:

  • R3: 6K up to 60fps, 4K UHD up to 120fps
  • A1: 8K 30fps, 4K 120fps
  • A9 II: 4K UHD, upto 30fps

With 6K video recording at upto 60fps, and 4K UHD video at upto 120fps, the Canon EOS R3 will keep most videographers very happy, however, for those looking for 8K video recording, they’ll need to look at the Sony Alpha 1 or the Canon EOS R5. A 24mp sensor simply doesn’t have a high enough resolution to support 8K video recording.


Canon EOS R3 with 70-200mm lens

Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1 Vs A9 II Memory, Ports and Connectivity

Memory card slots:

  • R3: Dual: 1x CFexpress type B, 1x UHS-II SD
  • A1: Dual UHS-II SD / CFexpress type A
  • A9 II: Dual UHS-II SD card slots

Support for SD cards comes with all cameras, and they support UHS-II SD card, which give quicker read and write speeds. CFexpress cards give even quicker read/write speeds, as well as more solid construction, but these cards tend to be noticeably more expensive than SD cards.

Ports and Connectivity:

  • R3: 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit Ethernet port, FTP, Microphone, Headphone, HDMI, USB
  • A1: 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Gigabit Ethernet port, FTP, Microphone, Headphone, HDMI, USB C 3.2 Gen 2 (10GB)
  • A9 II: 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, Gigabit Ethernet port, FTP, Microphone, Headphone, HDMI, USB

All cameras offer various connectivity options, with the newer Canon EOS R3 and Sony Alpha 1 benefitting from Bluetooth 5.0. The Sony cameras support NFC which can make connecting to a smartphone quicker, but not having it on the EOS R3 is no big loss. Being able to connect to ethernet will be useful for sports and news photographers, whereas HDMI connection will be useful for video.

Battery life:

  • R3: 860 shots (LCD), 620 shots (EVF)
  • A1: 530 shots (LCD), 430 shots (EVF)
  • A9 II: 690 shots (LCD), 500 shots (EVF)

The Canon EOS R3 offers the best battery life out of the cameras here, but none of them match the more impressive battery life offered by professional DSLRs, such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, which offers up to 2850 shots (using the OVF).


Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1 Top

Canon EOS R3 Vs Sony Alpha 1 Vs A9 II Body

Size, Weight and weather-sealing:

  • R3: 150×142.6×87.2mm, weight 1015g with battery and memory card
  • A1: 128.9×96.9×80.8mm, weight 737g with battery and memory card
  • A9 II: 128.9×96.4×77.5mm, weight 673g with battery and memory card

All cameras are weather-sealed, as you would expect from a professional camera designed for sports and wildlife photography, but the Canon EOS R3 is the only model to offer the “Professional” DSLR styling with integrated vertical grip. You can, of course, add a vertical grip to the Sony cameras, but this will add to the price, and isn’t included as standard. If you’re looking for a smaller camera, then the Sony cameras definitely cater to this market.

Price:

  • R3: £5879 body only (RRP)
  • A1: £6499 body only (RRP)
  • A9 II: £4800 body only (RRP) – now available for £4199 body only

Whilst all these cameras cost a lot of money, there is a £2300 price difference between the most expensive and the cheapest here. This money could be put towards a number of lenses, or you could save yourself a lot of money by choosing the Sony Alpha 9 II, if you don’t need 30fps continuous shooting.

Other differences:

  • R3: Top LCD panel, plus a new Multi-Function Shoe supports new accessories
  • A1: No top LCD panel. Multi-shot high-resolution mode
  • A9 II: No top LCD panel

It may or may not matter to you, but the Sony cameras do not feature a top LCD panel, whereas the Canon EOS R3 does. This gives you shooting information at a glance, and you can see what the camera settings are without having to pick up the camera, this could be useful when a camera is on a tripod, and you might not want to tilt the screen out, in fear of it being damaged by a rougue football or other flying debris. The Canon EOS R3 introduces a new Multi-Function Shoe to support new accessories, including a Directional Stereo Microphone, and Speedlite Transmitter. The Sony Alpha 1, and A9 II both feature a “Multi Interface Shoe” with additional electronic contact, like the Canon system, giving support for additional accessories, including microphone and audio adatpers.

Read our Canon EOS R3 Hands-On Preview

Read our Sony Alpha 1 review here.

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Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 20

After months of teasing, Canon finally let me get my hands onto a pre-production EOS R3 for a few days, during which time I tried every test I could think of.

I ended up generating so much material that I made not one, but two video reviews all about it which you can see below — in particular, the second one includes a lot of quality results for photos and videos you may not yet have seen anywhere else.

But as a brief summary, below are ten highlights that I think are worth noting, and again remember my test sample was a pre-production model.

The Camera Body

The body, with its built-in portrait grip, looks and feels great, like a slightly shrunken and lighter version of the 1Dx Mark III, and Canon claims the same weather-proofing too.

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 21

The Sensor

The sensor, Canon’s first stacked CMOS design, has 24 Megapixels and suffers from much less rolling shutter in stills and video than any Canon EOS I’ve tested so far. There’s still a little skewing if you really pan quickly, but it’s so much better-behaved than the EOS R5, R6, and 1Dx III – roughly similar to my results from the Alpha 1.

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Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 23

It’s Fast

It’s as fast as the best of its rivals too. I confirmed burst speeds of 30fps using the electronic shutter for birds in flight using Servo AF on the RF 70-200mm f2.8L, and there’s electronic shutter speeds up to 1/64000. Meanwhile, the mechanical shutter operates at 12fps at up to 1/8000.

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 24

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 25

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 26

Video Features

There’s no 8k video, but 4k video is oversampled in all modes from 24 to 60p and in my tests so far looks as good as 4k HQ on the EOS R5. Better still, you can finally keep recording beyond 30 minutes per clip, and I managed just over two hours of 4k 25p IPB in a single clip on a single battery charge, and without over-heating warnings too.

Power Delivery

Under external USB-C power from my MacBook Pro USB-C charger, I managed to achieve the maximum six-hour clip length, again in 4k 25p IPB and again without any over-heating warnings.

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 27

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 28

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 29

RAW

There’s also 6k RAW internal recording up to 60p, but I’ve not tried that yet. Sadly it doesn’t yet squirt RAW over HDMI to a Ninja.

Eye-Control Autofocus

Once calibrated a couple of times, the new eye control system allows you to place a target anywhere on the frame with eerie accuracy. In use, you look at the subject you want, then push the shutter or AF-On to let the camera’s AF system take over the tracking. It’s a game-changer for team sports or even street photography where you can quickly move between subjects, but the R3 also supports the 1Dx III’s Smart Controller as well as traditional joysticks and touch control.

Vehicle Autofocus

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Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 31

Canon EOS R3 Hands-On: 10 Things You Need to Know 32

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The new vehicle AF mode successfully identified cars and bikes in my tests, surrounding them with a flexible box. Canon says you’ll also be able to prioritize focus on drivers with helmets, but that didn’t work in my tests so far.

The New HotShoe

The new accessory shoe adds extra pins under the lip for comms and power, like Sony’s existing multi-interface shoe. Canon’s already announced a shotgun mic that doesn’t need an audio cable or its own batteries, and a Speedlite transmitter that’s smaller as it uses the camera’s power and menus.

Hardware GPS

Contrary to some reports, the R3 does include built-in hardware GPS which eliminates the need to pair your phone, although there are loads of mobile options including support for Apple MFI-certified USB connections to iPhones for third party apps. Contrary to a comment in my first video, some of the buttons on the rear are backlit after all — they just weren’t working on my sample, sorry!


For more photos and a detailed rundown of Gordon’s time with the EOS R3, visit Camera Labs. All images above were captured with a pre-production version of the EOS R3 and are not necessarily indicative of final production quality. Images provided courtesy of Gordon Laing.


About the author: Gordon Laing is the Editor of Cameralabs where he presents gear reviews and photography tutorials. He recently launched Dino Bytes, a new channel to indulge his love of vintage tech and retro gaming, with videos about classic cameras, computers, consoles, phones, and more! He’s been a journalist for so long he actually reviewed most of this stuff the first time around. Gordon is also into food, drink, and travel, and is the author of “In Camera,” a book that embraces the art of JPEG photography with no post-processing.

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Does the Canon EOS R3 Overheat Like the EOS R5?

Does the Canon EOS R3 Overheat Like the EOS R5?

One of the Canon EOS R5’s headline features was its 8K raw video capabilities, but with all that video horsepower came the caveat of issues with overheating, some of which could be a hindrance in professional environments. So, has the EOS R3 solved those issues, or will filmmakers need to tailor the workflows around keeping the camera cool? This great video puts the new camera through a stress test to find out. 

Coming to you from CineD, this excellent video puts the new Canon EOS R3 through a video stress test to examine its ability to shoot for long periods of time. While the EOS R5 had no issues with short takes and clips, many filmmakers found that in long-form situations, such as interviews, overheating could be a real hindrance that caused serious difficulties. Thankfully, it appears Canon has made major strides with the EOS R3. Shooting in 6K raw, the camera has no issues recording until the battery runs out (almost two hours), then continuing on with a new battery, dissipating the heat so well that it feels comfortable to touch even after the long session. No doubt, we will need to see more shooting scenarios (such as working outside in the sun), but this is absolutely a significant improvement and a good sign for any filmmakers thinking of picking up the new camera. Check out the video above to see the full test. 

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Canon Launches EOS R3 a Mirrorless Camera for Sports

Canon Launches EOS R3 a Mirrorless Camera for Sports

After months of tantalizing glimpses and scraps of info, the Canon EOS R3 is finally out in the open — a professional-grade mirrorless camera packed with cutting-edge tech. This is a sports-focused, high-speed monster capable of capturing 24.1-megapixel images at 30 frames per second (fps) without blackout.

To enable such advanced and powerful shooting capabilities, the R3 features Canon’s first full-frame, backside-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor. This allows for faster transfer of image data from the sensor to the camera, and also results in a significantly reduced rolling shutter effect. The upshot is that you can not only capture perfect, crisp full resolution RAW photos at high frame rates, but also do so with full autofocus and auto-exposure.

Canon Eos R3 top view.

Autofocus tech sees a massive upgrade in the R3; not only does it use deep learning technology to improve subject recognition, and can focus in dark conditions down to EV -7, it also sees the return of eye control autofocus that was last seen in Canon’s film cameras decades ago. Essentially, the camera can tell what you’re looking at and pinpoint the focus there. Its autofocus is so fast that the camera can perform autofocus calculations and tracking at 60 fps, which is twice as fast as it is able to shoot.

The R3 has a total of 1,053 autofocus points to help it achieve such incredible accuracy, and its low-light capabilities are aided by a native ISO range of 100-102,400, which is expandable to 204,800. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a new 5.76 million-dot OLED screen with a 120 FPS refresh rate that in theory, along with high brightness and HDR technology, can provide an experience closer to that of a DSLR, but with all the benefits of an EVF. The camera also has a vari-angle 3.2-inch, 4.3 million-dot LCD screen.

On the video side of things, the EOS R3 can shoot at up to 6000 x 3164 resolution (6K) RAW video. It can also shoot 4K at up to 60 fps oversampled from 5.6K, or non-oversampled 4K footage at up to 120 fps. All shooting modes besides RAW can be shot in 10-bit.

Of course, a sports camera like the EOS R3 has to be able to do more than capture amazing images and video footage — it also needs to be able to take whatever beating can be thrown at it. To this end, the EOS R3 has a frame of magnesium alloy in one rock-solid single piece, and is fully weather-sealed. It is very comparable in this regard to the EOS-1D cameras.

Canon Eos R3 Card Slot.

The Eos R3 has two card slots, one for CFExpress, and another for SD cards. The R3 also has a new kind of hot shoe mount that supports more advanced accessories such as Canon’s new external mic and smartphone link adapter.

The EOS R3 will be available in November and will cost $5,999.

Editors’ Recommendations




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