September 20, 2021

Canon R3 is Released

Look at it. Just look at it!

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The Canon R3: This has to be one of the best looking cameras I have seen. It is slick, slimline, feature rich and that "carbon-fibery" type finish is sublime!

Canon EOS R3 With RF24-70mm Lens

Canon EOS R3: My initial thoughts

I once owned a few of the Canon 1-series cameras and the bulk got to me. Carrying around two of these beasts all day with heavy lenses at a wedding proved too much at times. This was due to the built-in battery grip and it kept me away from the Canon 1-series ever since.

The new Canon R3 however, is a fair bit smaller. This is mostly to do with the lack of mirror and smaller section where the pentaprism used to be. 

As a hand-holdable, multi-purpose mirrorless camera with stunning features outlined below, this thing is incredible. Except for one potential issue and a couple of niggles that I'll come to later.


Canon EOS R3 With RF24-70mm Lens

Initial Thoughts Summary 

96% Overall

This is a stunning camera capable of great things. Canon have finally stopped throttling this genre of their line up in the hope of selling more expensive, videocentric cameras.


An incredible camera with one or two foibles but overall, a camera that will make a LOT of sales and very happy togs!

95%
Features
100%
Styling
99%
Specs
90%
cost

Features value reduced due to possible overheating, micro HDMI and two different card slots. Specs down due to no 8K (I know, but it would be nice) and cost at 90% because I can't afford it!


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Canon R3 Main Specs/Features

Sensor

24mp Full Frame Stacked BSI CMOS

IBIS

Up to 8 stops with compatible lens

Video

6K 60 RAW, 4K 120 10-Bit  Internal

EVF

5.76m-Dot with 120fps Refresh

Focussing

Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, Eye Control

Shutter

30fps E-Shutter, 12fps Mechanical

Rear Screen

3.2" 4.2m-Dot Vari-Angle Touch LCD

Stabilization

Sensor-Shift 5-Axis IS

Memory

CFExpress and SD UHS-II Slots

Connectivity

Wired LAN and 5 GHz Wi-Fi

Weight

1.81 lbs / 822g

Other

Multi Function Hot Shoe and Grip

I for one am pleased that Canon haven't gone for a huge megapixel count. This may well be due to the shutter speeds and frame rates available. The processor couldn't handle any larger pixels. Maybe.

Anyway, each image taken in RAW on the R3 is around 30mp as opposed to 100mp+ on 50mp cameras. For me 50mp is overkill and I don't want to keep spending money on more hard drives.

I think landscape, fine art or commercial photographers may prefer the Sony A1 (50mp) or Canon EOS R5 (45mp).

EOS R3 Rear of Camera

Eye-Controlled Focus

I was short-sighted (slightly) even back in the early 90's. So when the Canon EOS5 (1992 release date) with eye-control focus came out, I got one. And it worked. Just.

Now nearly 30 years later, Canon have pretty much perfected it in the EOS R3. Note: The more you calibrate it, the better it works in both landscape and portrait mode. 

All you do is look at what you want in focus, half press the shutter and it will lock onto that subject. As soon as you release the shutter, look elsewhere and half press again, it will now lock onto that subject. 

Apparently it works really well and fast. So, if you are shooting runners on a track, you would:

  1. 1
    Look at runner 1, half press shutter, take some shots
  2. 2
    Release shutter and look at runner 2
  3. 3
    Half press shutter, lock onto runner two and fire away
  4. 4
    Repeat...

Now that is very good for sports, people at a wedding (stealth shooting), nature and so on. Kudos Canon, that is cool!

Canon EOS R3 Review at DPReview

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Canon R3 for Photographers

24mp on the Canon EOS R3 should be enough for most photographers like me. The biggest benefit of a larger pixel count is the ability to crop in during post. Most of us never print images larger than A1 or A3 anyway. I once had a photo from a 6mp Canon EOS 10D on a billboard and it looked great.

The 30fps (or 15 and 3) electronic shutter images shot at 14 bit RAW is perfect for sports and wildlife photographers. You get no blackout during shooting at this speed! Even the 12fps (or 6 and 3) of the mechanical shutter is pretty good.

Canon R3 for Filmmakers

Firstly, the R3 has "no limit" recording times. Secondly, you can shoot 4k 24, 25 and 30fps with no record times limited by heat. However, 4k 60 gives you around 60 minutes and 4k 120 gives you 12 minutes before overheating may occur.

Then you have 6k @ 60fps with between 25mn and 60min record times whilst staying cool. I don't know if I would ever shoot 4k 120 for that long so is this an issue for most people? I guess not. 

So, with that being said, you then have a multitude of various frame rates and resolutions plus headphone and microphone jacks. All in all, a superb hybrid mirrorless camera with excellent video features.

Flagship or Not Flagship, That is the Question

Canon are stating that the EOS 1DX Mark III is still their poster-child. I call BS on that. The Canon EOS R3 blows it out of the water in every aspect except for, I think, battery life and no viewfinder lag. That's due to the 1DX III having an optical viewfinder as opposed to electronic.

Pfft. The R3 is easily the new flagship from Canon despite what they say. It is the first camera from Canon in a while that has me drooling. Yes, the R5 and R6 are incredible but the R3...incredibler!  : )

Mirrorless vs DSLR

Continuing on from the flagship question, why choose a Canon mirrorless camera over their "flagship" DSLR? For me it is for two reasons.

Firstly, silence is golden. As a wedding photographer, the fact that you can set the mirrorless cameras to full silence is a no brainer. Clunky DSLR's will become a thing of the past for wedding and nature photographers. Mark my words...

Oh, and if you want to hear the shutter going off in silent mode (for reassurance), you can use headphones/earphones. That way only you will hear the shutter at a wedding for example. You can also adjust the volume.

Secondly, and only time will tell but cameras with less moving parts will surely have a longer life? Oh, and less moving parts means less wear so maybe less dust inside the camera. 

The only benefit I can think of with a DSLR over the mirrorless is you have a mirror covering the sensor meaning less dust problems. Maybe.

Taking the lens off a mirrorless camera exposes the sensor to the elements right away. 

My Gripes on the Canon R3

The only downsides for me right now are:
  • Different card slots (SD and CFExpress)
  • Possible overheating at higher frame rates
  • Top panel LCD a little small (I'm nitpicking now)
  • Micro HDMI out for external recording

Not massive problems but overheating is not good and using the same card in both slots would save money and hassle. I get that the SD slot is good for back-up, general photography and lower frame rate video. However, why not just go for two CFExpress cards and be done with it?

Memory Card Slots on Mirrorless Camera

As for the overheating, DPReview noticed this when testing the camera at higher frame rates (4K 120fps) for longer than a minute. The camera would overheat but they didn't push it to "extinction" as they only had it for one day.

My Panasonic S1H shoots 6K and higher frame rates in 4k and 1080p but has a built in fan that is super quiet. It will be interesting to see the reviews on this as they come in over the coming weeks.

Speaking of the S1H, I must say that the LCD panel is way better and more functional than the Canon R3's LCD.

Canon R3 Top Panel

Canon EOS R3 Top Panel LCD

Panasonic S1H Top Panel LCD

Panasonic S1H Top Panel LCD

Overall I still prefer the layout of the Panny S1H including the good old fashioned, dual purpose settings dial on the top left. Lockable, quick to access and simple.

The micro HDMI output on the Canon EOS R3 is pretty ridiculous in this day and age. The connection is so small it is easily knocked out in my experience. You will need to lock it in place with a cable holder which I hope they include for the $6k.

Final Thoughts (For Now)

I've recently bought the Panasonic S1H that is well over a year old now. Does the Canon EOS R3 make me regret that purchase? Not at all. Except that the autofocus on the Panny doesn't even come close to Canon's Dual Pixel Autofocus.

The S1H shoots 6K RAW video (albeit 30fps not 60 and to an external recorder), 24mp images and has a slightly better, fully articulating, double-axis rear screen. 

However, the R3 has that amazing 30fps RAW (but, the Panasonic S1 has "6K photo" at 30fps but just 18mp JPEGS. And it has a fan so no overheating ; )

The Canon R3 winning points for me are the amazing, rapid eye-controlled focus/dual pixel focus, faster frame rates in 6k and 4k and that's about it. I paid £2,450 for a brand new Panasonic S1H and the Canon EOS R3 is $5,999 or £5,879 (body only). 

  • Would I pay £3,429 MORE for those features? No.
  • What about if I owned the £4,299 Canon EOS R5? No.
  • Would I choose the Canon R3 over the Sony A1? Probably.
  • Would I buy the Canon R3 if I had no other cameras? Yes!

What do you think? Would you or will you buy this camera? Please leave your comments below. Thank you.

Fully Vari Angled Rear Screen
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canon mirrorless


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