Short Hands on Experience with Canon EOS R3

The Canon EOS R3 was officially announced on Tuesday 14th September evening (1900 hrs Japan time on YouTube), a coordinated worldwide launch of Canon EOS R3 (1800 hrs Singapore time on YouTube). I was able to have a first view of the Canon EOS R3 before my media session at Canon Singapore on the morning of 15th September 2021. After watching the launch video, I was very excited that it’s such a powerful and capable full-frame mirrorless camera for professional photographers in sports, action, wildlife and journalism. On Wednesday 15th September, I attended a media session at Canon Singapore to get acquainted with the Canon EOS R3 and a short hands on experience with Canon EOS R3. 

Short hands on experience with Canon EOS R3

At the media session, not only did I get a short hands on experience to touch and feel the Canon EOS R3, I had an interactive session with the folks from Canon Singapore. I am going to share some of my personal thoughts and views that I compiled from my short hands on session as well as my own Q&A session with Canon Singapore.

During the media session, I noticed in the presentation that the EOS R3 is positioned below the EOS-1D X series and above the EOS R5 and EOS R6. Personally, I feel that the EOS R3 technical specifications and capabilities are comparable to the EOS-1D X series (and maybe even better!). Equipped with a newly developed back-illuminated stacked CMOS 24.1 megapixels sensor, this could be just right and enough for those into sports, action and press photography. 

The Canon EOS R3 is lighter in weight and slightly smaller in size as compared to EOS-1D X Mark III, it has a very familiar feel and touch if you are an existing EOS-1D X user.

It’s a technologically advanced mirrorless camera with deep learning technology applied to Eye Detection AF on the EOS R3. Eye Control Detection AF is a very useful technology and capability, photographers into sports, action, wedding and journalism would love this feature. 

Examples of Eye Detection AF in action: 

Sports photography: Penalty kick in a football match, using Eye Detection AF technology to focus on the penalty taker, switching seamlessly to the goalkeeper and vice versa. 

Wedding photography: Using Eye Detection AF to switch focus from the wedding couple to the guests nearby, allowing the photographer to capture priceless moments from their position.

The Canon EOS R3 has a maximum shutter speed at 1/64,000 (with electronic shutter) and continuous shooting at 30 fps. These two key features will definitely light up the eyes of sports, action and wildlife photographers. Can you visualise shooting wildlife, sports or action photography at 30 fps with a shutter speed of 1/64,000 using EOS R3 fast focusing AF capabilities? 

Vehicle priority AF is a newly added feature that will excite motorsports photographers, allowing them to detect automobiles and motorcycles with great precision. There is a feature that caught my attention when I read other photography websites especially those from United States of America that had early access to the Canon EOS R3 prior to the coordinated official launch. The Flexible Zone AF allows photographers to change the size of the AF area, this would come in useful for sports, action and wildlife photography. 

The EOS R3 can record up to 6K 60p RAW or 4K 120p 10-bit movie. Some might question why 6K and not 8K? For a start, the EOS R3 target markets are photographers in the sports, action, wildlife and press photography sectors, where still photography with fast and accurate AF are the key features that professional photographers wanted/required. Should the need to shoot video is needed, 4K standards can get the job done and deliver the goods without taking up too much resources on the desktop or laptop, while 6K is a bonus/sweet spot for slightly higher standards than 4K while not over pushing your desktop or laptop resources when editing 8K videos.

Expectations and potentially the super flagship EOS R1 full frame camera in the near future 

The positioning of Canon EOS R3 below the EOS-1D X series was a bit of a surprise to me personally. The technical specifications and capabilities of their latest full-frame mirrorless camera is on par with the EOS-1D X Mark III (even better in my personal humble opinion). I was curious to know more about Canon’s positioning of the Canon EOS R3. 

Based on my understanding as a Canon photographer myself (EOS 300D -> EOS 30D -> EOS-1D III -> EOS 70D -> EOS-1D X -> EOS-1D X Mark II & EOS RP) as well as covering Canon news over the years (probably a decade by now?), naming this technologically advanced and powerful as the EOS R3 is going to set some pretty high expectations for the upcoming super flagship (rumoured and widely speculated) EOS R1 full-frame mirrorless camera in the near future. 

The slogan for Canon’s full-frame mirrorless cameras is “Born to Rule”. When Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 were announced in 2020, Canon showcased to the photography world, their commitment to full-frame mirrorless camera and lenses system, how far and how much they had invested and developed the full-frame mirrorless EOS R camera and RF lenses system. 

I had reviewed both Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 full-frame mirrorless cameras, they were very impressive, very capable and packed with strong features, it was tempting for me to fully switch over to full-frame mirrorless. While I only had a short hands-on session with the Canon EOS R3, I am already very impressed and excited. Now, the call to fully switch over to full-frame mirrorless is getting even stronger. 

What does the EOS R3 bode for the future of Canon full-frame mirrorless cameras? This camera has now set a very high standard and expectations for future Canon full-frame mirrorless cameras. There are a number of speculations and rumours (as usual) going on around the photography sector. My personal speculation is a super flagship (rumoured and widely speculated) EOS R1 full-frame mirrorless camera. 

Canon DSLR users, especially sports photographers, this technologically advanced and powerful packed technical specifications EOS R3 sets the bar and standards for professional, sports, action, wildlife and press photography. 

Last but not least – to EOS R3 or not?

I have a soft spot for the Canon EOS-1D series, they took (and help define) my Canon photography to the next few levels when I started my EOS-1D series with EOS-1D Mark III in 2010. From EOS-1D Mark III to EOS-1D X, followed by EOS-1D X Mark II. While the EOS R3 is not named the EOS-1 series equivalent at this stage, the shape, feel, familiarity and capabilities of the EOS R3 are just like the EOS-1D X family.  

Even with a short hands on experience session with the EOS R3 and not having done a full review, I am already very impressed and excited with this amazing and technologically advanced full-frame mirrorless camera for sports, action, wildlife and press photography. 

For fellow Canon EOS-1D family (especially EOS-1D X Mark II and III) DSLR users, in my personal humble opinion as of now without having done a full review of the Canon EOS R3, you can now have the full confidence to migrate over from DSLR (EOS-1D X Mark III).

Last but not least – to EOS R3 or not? Is it time for me to fully move over from Canon DSLR (EOS-1D X Mark II) to Canon full-frame mirrorless (Canon EOS R3)? Born to Rule – Canon EOS R3.

I would like to thank Canon Singapore for the invitation to the media session to have a first look, touch, feel and understanding more in-depth about the Canon EOS R3. 

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