The Canon EOS R3 is high-end mirrorless camera aimed at professionals who demand the fastest speed and toughest body. Announced in April 2021, it’s Canon’s most powerful mirrorless camera to date, and while likely to outperform the 1Dx Mark III in most respects, it’s officially positioned between it and the EOS R5.
While there’s currently no word on resolution, price or release date, Canon has been gradually trickling out specifications in the run-up to launch. The R3 will employ their first stacked BSI sensor for high-speed readout and reduced rolling shutter, as well as supporting a top shooting speed of 30fps with AF and AE tracking. In addition to the human, animal and bird eye autofocus of the R5, the R3 will also recognise motorsports including cars and bikes, and the Dual Pixel AF system will operate at light levels down to -7EV. The R3 also becomes Canon’s toughest mirrorless camera to date, sharing the same degree of dust and water resistance as the 1Dx Mark III, as well as its large battery back and innovative Smart Controller. Like Nikon’s Z-9, the R3 will also employ a built-in portrait grip, although the overall size is smaller than the 1Dx III.
I had the chance to film and photograph a pre-production EOS R3 for my latest video which details everything we know so far. Check it out below, or keep scrolling for the written highlights.
Above: Let’s start with the physical design and build quality. The EOS R3 employs a magnesium alloy body with a built-in portrait grip which Canon has now confirmed shares the same dust and water resistance as the 1Dx series, making it their toughest mirrorless camera to date. You’ll also notice the R3 sporting the same two pairs of buttons to the left of the mount, which on the 1Dx III were assigned as multi-function and depth-of-field previews.
Above: Using the standard RF body cap for scale, I estimate the R3 will measure around 140mm wide by 135mm tall, and between 50 and 100mm thick depending on protrusions. That makes it smaller than the 1Dx III which measures 158x168x83mm, and I’ve made a very rough mockup here to give an idea of how they’ll compare in size. So while the R3 is obviously larger than cameras without portrait grips like the Alpha 1, it is more compact than the flagship DSLR.
Above: Canon has also confirmed the R3 will use the same LP-E19 battery pack as the 1Dx Mark III, allowing owners of the DSLR to swap or share batteries. Here’s how that battery looks from my 1Dx III review, rated at 2700mAh, so roughly one third more than the LP-E6NH for the EOS R5 and R6 and higher voltage too.
Above: From the rear you’ll see the R3 inherits some of the 1Dx III controls, including a similar power switch and most notably the Smart Controller that made its debut on the flagship DSLR. This allows the AF-ON button to double as a means to quickly adjust the AF area position. The Smart Controller employs optical technology, working a bit like an upside-down computer mouse, but providing fast and surprisingly precise positioning of the AF area. Like the 1Dx III, Canon accompanies the new Smart Controller with a traditional joystick on the R3 and duplicates the pair for vertical shooting.
Above: Canon previously revealed the R3 would also be able to reposition the AF area using eye control, and while there’s no additional viewfinder specifications yet, the pre-production sample sported an unusually large eyecup, perhaps to accommodate the technology. The shorter height of the R3 means there’s no room for the secondary LCD status screen which sat below the main monitor on the 1Dx III, and it’s unknown whether the rear buttons can be illuminated or not. I hope they will.
Above: Unlike the 1Dx Mark III though, the R3’s rear screen is fully-articulated, flipping out to the side and twisting to almost any angle. The screen was always fixed on the 1Dx III, presumably for ultimate robustness, so it’s interesting Canon’s opted to articulate it here. I’m not complaining though.
Above: From the top, the R3 takes inspiration from both the 1Dx III and the R5. Like both those models, there’s no dedicated mode dial, with the R3 inheriting the R5’s approach, but on the left side you’ll see the R3 adopting the 1Dx III’s approach to adjusting settings like the drive, metering and AF mode. While I wasn’t allowed to turn on the camera yet, that top screen looks similar in size to the R5, but making its debut on the R3 is a new accessory shoe that can provide comms and power to new accessories, I’m assuming like Sony’s multi-interface shoe. This makes it more convenient to power, say, a microphone using the camera, as well as not needing to have a wire dangling down the side.
Above: Behind a door on the grip side are dual card slots supporting SD and CF Express, presumably the same configuration as the EOS R5.
Above: On the left side you’ll find the ports: microphone and headphone jacks, USB and HDMI, flash sync and an ethernet port for wired networking. There’s also 5GHz Wifi.
In April Canon teased a new type of subject would be recognised for AF tracking and has now confirmed it’s motorsports, detecting cars and bikes, as well as people, animals and birds; all subject recognition carries through to movies too, and Canon described the Dual Pixel AF system as working down to -7EV.
The photo and video resolution remains unknown, but Canon has now revealed that 4k video will be oversampled and that the camera will also support internal RAW video and Canon Log 3.
Canon previously mentioned the R3 would shoot at up to 30fps and has now confirmed this includes RAW files with full AF and AE tracking. The stabilisation system also now claims up to 8 stops depending on the lens.
The latest updates supplement what we already knew from April, primarily that the R3 would employ Canon’s first stacked BSI sensor for high speed readout and reduced rolling shutter. But still no confirmed price or release date, although presumably the R3 needs to be ready for any Summer sporting events that go ahead. And that’s it for now. If the R3 follows a similar campaign to the R5, my next experience with the camera should allow some hands-on time with a working sample.Check prices at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, eBay or Wex. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!