In April 2021, Canon announced the development of the EOS R3 full-frame mirrorless camera. That also marked the start of my excitement in following this powerful full-frame mirrorless camera following the chats and discussions floating around the photography world at that time. In September 2021, Canon officially announced the EOS R3 – Redefining Speed and Performance, I had a short hands on experience with the Canon EOS R3 , shortly after the official announcement was made. While it was a short hands on experience, that got me even more excited and eager for the opportunity to review the Canon EOS R3. In Q1 2022, I got the opportunity to review this “monster” full-frame mirrorless EOS R3, let me share with you, Canon EOS R3 review and my short stories leading up to this review.
Just like my previous Canon cameras reviews, I would bring them out for as many different types of photography shoots and outings, putting them to the test in various photography genres. Starting my own short visual stories collection titled, “A TGH Photography x Canon EOS R3 Explorer Series Production” of my Canon EOS R3 review adventures and journeys.
First up was Rainbow illumiNation – Celebrating 1 year of Very Momentary Exhibition, supporting local creative artist Wei and his creative artwork creations, World Water Day 2022 and Earth Day 2022 – Invest In Our Planet, bringing wildlife photograph, nature, conservation and sustainability topics out from the photographs that I shot with the Canon EOS R3. There’s also an urban / city landscape photography exploration with the RF600mm f/11 IS STM and RF800mm f/11 IS STM lenses that I was also reviewing together with the Canon EOS R3, titled “Singapore Cityscapes (600mm and 800mm perspectives).
The Canon EOS R3 is more than just a fast and powerful full-frame mirrorless camera for the professionals in journalism and sports that place high standards and demand for very fast speed action and accuracy, it’s also for the wildlife, visual story tellers and professional photographers in other genres as well, to capture the priceless moments and presenting them to the world.
You read my visual stories from my EOS R3 explorer series production, now let me share with you my points, thoughts and views from this Canon EOS R3 review.
For photographers who own/used the EOS 1D series, the Canon EOS R3 will feel natural and at ease in your hands. It’s just like the EOS 1D series, the looks, feel and ergonomics. The EOS R3 is lighter in weight as compared to the EOS 1D counterparts. The EOS R3 EVF is bigger in size, that is to accommodate Eye AF.
A lightweight magnesium alloy body making the EOS R3 very rugged, tough and durable, able to withstand extreme conditions along with its weather sealing features. Just like the EOS 1D series predecessors, you have the faith and trust in the EOS R3 to rough it out and deliver the goods in extreme conditions.
Years ago, I felt that the flip screen would not look professional on the EOS 1D series. Fast forward today, I take back my words, the flip screen is so useful and versatile, providing flexibility and more ways to approach photographing in various situations. The flip screen on the EOS R3 won’t make it less professional, my personal opinion is that this would be most welcomed by photographers in today’s demand for both stills photography, videography and content creation.
There is the joy stick on the EOS R3, it’s really a joy to use, along with the iconic wheel button on the Canon EOS camera bodies that we are familiar with. This combination of using the wheel button + mode dial + front dial + joy stick is more than just an ease to use, it’s handy and great joy to use.
The Canon EOS R3 gives you full control on the camera body using the LCD screen, giving you another user interface option when operating the Canon camera. The best of both worlds of having both physical controls, dials, buttons and modern technology using touch screens.
The legacy of the EOS 1D series has been passed on to the EOS R3, the fast speed auto-focus (AF) with precision and accuracy on the subjects that you are focusing and photographing. Inside the EOS R3, Canon has raised the mirrorless AF speed and accuracy to another level, we saw it in Canon’s EOS R5 and R6 AF capabilities. The EOS R3 has set the bar higher on another level, it’s not just going to amaze, they are what professional photographers in journalism, reportage, sports, wedding, fast-paced events, wildlife photographers would want to have in their professional series EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera. Not just for professionals, serious enthusiasts photographers would welcome the EOS R3 too! This EOS R3 is capable to line-up in the 1 digit series of the EOS R family, why is not named as EOS R1 and named as EOS R3 instead? Close to the end of my article, I would share my personal thoughts and views on this.
Single shooting / High speed continuous + / High speed continuous / Low speed continuous / Self-timer 10s / Self-timer 2s
Mechanical / Electronic 1st curtain / Electronic
The mechanical shutter is awesome, the EOS R3 electronic shutter is even better. You can just put to electronic shutter without too much worries and concentrate on capturing the moments and actions up to 1/64,000 at 30 fps with its electronic shutter.
Silent shutter function on / off
There is a silent shutter function that allows photographers to switch on to use when the shooting situation requires. The EOS R3 has a soft shutter sound, it’s almost negligible that you won’t notice it much when you are using it.
1 – Versatile multi-purpose setting
2 – Continue to track subjects, ignoring possible obstacles
3 – Instantly focus on subjects suddenly entering AF points
4 – For subjects that accelerate or decelerate quickly
Auto – Tracking automatically adapts to subject movement
Subject to detect
People / Animals / Vehicles / None
With the above four selections, photographers can switch the settings inside the EOS R3 as and when required. Dedicated settings for photographing people, animals or vehicles would be most welcomed by photographers, they are fine-tuned to assist photographers in capturing their subject matters at right moments.
Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system along with EOS iTR AF X brings Canon AF to another level with improved with Eye Detection AF (Human), Body Detection AF and Head Detection AF. Portraiture photographers would most welcome this improvement when they put to “People” mode.
For wildlife photographers, the “Animals” to detect mode would vastly help in focusing and capturing wildlife in action. Motorsports photographers, the “Vehicles” to detect mode would be most welcomed by them.
In addition to EOS R3 fast and accurate AF, the ability to choose the subject to detect makes it even easier and a bigger breeze for photographers. Switching to subject – animals, when shooting wildlife made it so much easier for me even when shooting small birds from far.
Spot AF / 1-point AF / Expand AF area / Expand AF area: Around / Flexible Zone AF 1 (Square) / Flexible Zone AF 2 (Vertical) / Flexible Zone AF 3 (Horizontal) / Whole area AF
For those who are familiar with Canon AF system, you would know the different AF capabilities and AF areas that you can choose from. One of the EOS R3 strong capabilities that I like a lot is the Flexible Zone AF functions that give the photographers more control and specific areas to concentrate the focusing of their subjects.
The Flexible Zone AF (Square, Vertical or Horizontal) can be versatile and useful in situations such as wildlife photography.
The EOS R3 is equipped with an In-Body IS (IBIS), that was first incorporated in the EOS R5 and EOS R6 camera bodies. When coupled with lenses that has image stabilisation (Optical IS), they can achieve an image stabilisation effect of up to 8 stops. That would be most welcome by photographers who need to shoot in handheld low light situations.
One of the features on the wish list of photographers, Canon’s IBIS capability is now equipped inside the professional EOS R camera bodies. An excellent and most welcome feature for photographers and videographers, yet photographers and videographers may forget about the IBIS that’s aiding them in their low light shoots.
Eye Control AF
The return of Canon’s Eye Control into the EOS R3. Before you are able to utilise this function, you need to do a calibration with your eye. The calibration is pretty straight forward and not too difficult to complete the Eye Control setup.
Using Eye-Focus to control the AF point, it’s a hit and miss for me. While I welcome this useful and great capability inside the EOS R3, there were times when I couldn’t fully control the AF point, making me frustrated.
Some points to highlight would be, I am wearing glasses thus it might affect the eye-control functionality. I also have a short review period, that doesn’t give me a lot of time to get used to the Eye Control and fine-tuning it further to my liking and preferences.
Eye-Focus can be very useful in situations when the photographer prefers to do it through the viewfinder, concentrating on focusing on his subjects, pressing the button to photograph the priceless moments that they are seeking/waiting for, and preferring not to utilise the wheel dial and joy stick.
ISO 100 – 102,400
The EOS R3 ISO level has a range from ISO 100 to 102,400. Although this would allow the photographer to shoot at high ISO, the tolerance and preferred ISO level to use, can be personal and subjective. My personal tolerance lSO level is 51,200, I would avoid using higher ISO beyond this level whenever possible.
Record func+card/folder selection
Equipped with dual card slots, one for CFexpress, one for SD card, it’s very useful if you choose or prefer to record stills photography and video separately into different cards. The future for high speed shooting, volume and buffer recording is with CFexpress card, their pricing is still pretty high at juncture in time, we need to give them more time before the prices would come down, making it more affordable.
I usually prefer a dual card slots system, giving me the options to record into 1 card or both cards when the situation requires. Having a dual card slot is a great backup function to have on the camera.
Movie rec. size
6K RAW (6000×3164) 50.00 fps / 25.00 fps / 24.00 fps (PAL)
4K-DCI (4096×2160) 50.00 fps / 25.00 fps / 24.00 fps (PAL)
4K-U (3840×2160) 50.00 fps / 25.00 fps (PAL)
FHD (1920×1080) 100.00 fps / 50.00 fps / 25.00 fps / 24.00 fps (PAL)
The EOS R3 can record videos up to 6K RAW, onto the CFexpress card, while 4K video can be simultaneously recorded on an SD card. In the current environment and demands, shooting in 4K would be sufficient for most situations in both work and leisure videography. The ability to shoot in 6K RAW is an added bonus for the photographer/videographer should the need arises.
In my personal opinion, the EOS R3 primary function is a stills photography camera for fast paced action. The video is a secondary function that allows the user to record videos, switching in between photography and videography as and when required.
Thoughts and Views
For existing Canon EOS 1D users, EOS R5 and EOS R6 users, it’s very easy and fast for these group of photographers to get used and acclimatised to the Canon EOS R3. The functions and user interface (UI) are very similar (if not most of them are the same). If you are familiar or owns a EOS 1D series, the EOS R3 will be second nature to you, it’s almost exactly the same!
The EOS R3 is a very fast and accurate full-frame mirrorless camera Sports, wildlife and press photographers will love this camera, that would also be for wedding and events photographers as well. AF for mirrorless cameras have improved tremendously over the years, the revolution has started in the EOS R5 and EOS R6 full-frame mirrorless cameras. In the EOS R3, they have gone up another level higher and better.
Videography for EOS R3 complements the photographer, when they have to shoot videos on top of their photography.
The EOS R3 is first and foremost a very high speed, very fast AF powerful stills camera, just like its predecessor from the 1D series, the legacy lives on in the EOS R3 even though it’s not named together as the Canon 1 digit series.
Due to the changing media landscape, media consumption and demand, while stills photography still has an important role to play, video consumption has risen exponentially, whether it’s your filmmaking production level, serious amateur using YouTube/Vimeo, or even using TikTok, Instagram Reels.
Videography in a hybrid digital mirrorless camera complements the user in their quest to capture both stills and videos for the work/projects required or for the leisure user to have both forms of media production for their social media.
Eye-Control / Eye-Focus
The EOS R3 eye-control feature that allows photographers to use their eye and focus on their subjects through the EVF. Personally, I like this feature a lot, adding on another method to focus on moving subjects, beside using the joy stick or LCD touch screen, ideal for photography genres such as wedding and events photography.
While it is most welcomed as an additional method to help the photographer focus on their subjects during their shoot, this is like a rough diamond that still needs refinement and improvement with technological and firmware upgrades.
The EOS R3 maximum ISO is 102,400, allowing photographers to push the limits of their photography in low light situation. Personally, my tolerance level for the usable high ISO is 51,200, the ISO levels beyond that are too grainy for my personal liking and usage.
The EOS R3 can shoot up to an amazing speed of 1/64,000s with its electronic shutter. Is this a myth or a marketing gimmick, some might ask? No, it’s not a myth and not a marketing gimmick. When I had a first taste of 1/64,000s high speed action during my initial short hands on session with the EOS R3, I was more than blown away, I wanted to test it out in the field.
Although during my short review period with the EOS R3, I couldn’t fully put the 1/64,000s shutter speed to more tests/shoots, I managed to photograph some scenes using 1/64,000s.
Shooting at 1/64,000 might sound very far fetch for many photographers, this is true to a certain extent, not many photographers will or need to shoot at 1/64,000. Nevertheless, for wildlife and sports photographers, 1/64,000 might just be the key element for them to nail that shot that they always wanted to shoot e.g. the very fast motorsports action scenes, an artistic scene of water droplets hitting the water or the kingfisher diving right at the moment into the water catching its prey.
Or like me, photographing the fireball sunset shining brightly over the horizon, overpowering the bright sunset and creating an artistic silhouette.
Why is this not R1 and named R3?
During my first short hands on media session with the EOS R3, after my first touch, feel and testing, the EOS R3 feels and works like the Canon EOS 1D series, I was impressed with specifications and capabilities. During the time whereby I had the EOS R3 for review, I was thinking much further and deeper, why is this not named EOS R1 and named EOS R3 instead?
A monster and powerful full-frame mirrorless camera for the sports, wildlife photographer, as well as for press photographer and photojournalist too. The EOS R3 is more than ready, it can safely and proudly take over the EOS 1D X series as the Canon’s top range camera yet it sits just below the EOS 1D X Mark III, based on how Canon name their cameras.
The EOS R3 has placed huge expectations for the rumoured EOS R1, what would the ultimate Canon flagship full-frame mirrorless EOS R1 camera be like in the near future?
On a personal and professional basis, is it time for me to fully switch over to Canon mirrorless by replacing my EOS 1D X Mark II with the EOS R3?
Thanks to fellow photographer Isaac Ong for taking my profile photo, shot withe Canon EOS R3.
* I would like to thank Canon for the opportunity to review the Canon EOS R3 full-frame mirrorless camera. *