The Canon EOS R3 has lastly been launched from the storage the place it’s been hiding for the final six months – and the specs affirm that it’s the highly effective, speedy F1 automotive of mirrorless cameras.
However this shiny showcase of Canon’s newest digital camera tech, as spectacular as it’s, additionally reveals that Canon continues to be enjoying catch-up with its primary rival within the producer’s championship: Sony.
Sony’s engineers have been tinkering away within the mirrorless sport for a lot longer than Canon. And this expertise, mixed with its huge R&D energy, imply that in the important thing skilled areas – sensors, EVFs, video, even next-gen hot-shoes – its cameras have already pioneered a lot of the tech seen within the EOS R3.
What Sony’s cameras haven’t but performed is pack all that goodness right into a DSLR-style physique that professional sports activities and wildlife shooters will take to love Lewis Hamilton on a Go Kart – and that’s the place the Canon EOS R3 actually shines.
It doesn’t simply sit in between the Canon EOS R5 and Canon 1D X Mark III – it melds one of the best of each cameras into what is certainly top-of-the-line skilled cameras round. However whereas options like a brand new stacked sensor make it a tech pioneer in Canon’s secure, it’s nonetheless a catch-up play somewhat than a spectacular overtaking maneuver.
In some ways, the Canon EOS R3 is essentially the most completely advanced digital camera for professional sports activities and wildlife photographers ever made.
It’s supremely quick (as quick because the Sony A1, on paper, due to that 30fps uncooked burst taking pictures mode) and is available in a kind issue that was cast in a time when Sony’s E-mount nonetheless had its L-plates.
However its benefits over cameras just like the Sony A1 and the Sony A9 II stem extra from its heritage than its trailblazing digital camera tech. The massive tech story is that the EOS R3 is the primary Canon digital camera to have a stacked full-frame sensor, which delivers the read-out speeds wanted to tug off ludicrous feats like that 30fps uncooked burst mode.
But it is Sony that has been the pioneer right here and it has been honing its stacked full-frame sensors for effectively over two years. This is the reason it was in a position to come out of nowhere, with one of many best-kept secrets and techniques in the entire of client tech, with the Sony A1 in January this yr.
That digital camera is the form of uncompromising all-rounder we’ve by no means seen earlier than, even when that strategy sarcastically results in some compromises on the practicality entrance (like its price ticket, for instance). However it’s undoubtedly a trump card that has stolen a number of the Canon EOS R3’s thunder.
Sony hasn’t simply established a tech lead in sensors, both. An attention-grabbing characteristic of the Canon EOS R3 is that it has the identical digital viewfinder (EVF) specs because the all-rounder Canon EOS R5. No huge deal, on the face of it, because the EOS R5’s EVF is a superb 5.76-million dot OLED affair with a 120fps refresh price, which our evaluation might “barely distinguish from the true optical viewfinders present in conventional DSLRs”.
But the Sony A1 already pushed skilled EVFs to the subsequent degree again in January with an unbelievable 9.44-million pixel viewfinder with a 240fps refresh price. That refresh price is especially necessary for taking pictures sports activities and wildlife taking pictures, as a result of it impacts how easy movement seems within the viewfinder.
Curiously, a teardown of the Canon EOS R5 final yr appeared to disclose that its viewfinder – the identical because the one within the Canon EOS R3 – is a Sony-made module. Does that designate why Canon wasn’t in a position to match the Sony A1’s EVF on its professional mirrorless sports activities digital camera? Presumably, however both approach the viewfinder is a vital characteristic for sports activities photographers, significantly these switching from DSLRs. And like sensors, Sony is out in entrance right here, on paper a minimum of.
As Canon advised us again in January 2020, in the case of viewfinders, mirrorless cameras “can by no means be as quick as a DSLR”, as a result of a DSLR’s optical viewfinder works on the pace of sunshine. Canon has added an ‘OVF simulation’ mode to the EOS R3, which helps you to see outdoors of the body to anticipate motion, to assist ease the transition for DSLR customers. However there isn’t any doubt Sony nonetheless has possession of the excessive bar in the case of mirrorless EVFs.
In fact, being first with new applied sciences would not all the time lead to higher cameras, and the Canon definitely is not enjoying catch-up in all areas with the EOS R3.
No digital camera in historical past has given you extra management over your autofocus. The EOS R3 combines a touchscreen, conventional knurled AF joysticks, the speedy Good Controller from the 1D X Mark III (suppose an upside-down pc mouse), and Canon’s new incarnation of its Eye Management AF system.
The latter is exclusive to Canon and tracks the motion of your eye to maneuver the autofocus level to wherever you are trying. It definitely brings sensible benefits for buying focus, however there are additionally fairly a couple of calibration hoops to leap by means of (each on your eye and the native lighting circumstances) and it additionally won’t work so effectively for these carrying glasses or contact lenses.
Canon has additionally largely caught up with Sony in the case of monitoring autofocus tech too, with the EOS R3 refining the algorithms for its Folks and Animal AF and in addition including a brand new one for Automobiles. Whereas now we have seen the latter earlier than on the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, the EOS R3’s mode is impressively superior, even permitting you to decide on whether or not to prioritize the driving force’s helmet (in open-top autos like F1 automobiles) or the automobile itself for focus.
The EOS R3 can also be arguably now the mirrorless chief in the case of weather-sealing. Whereas the Sony A1 does declare to supply ‘improved’ weather-sealing from its different mirrorless cameras, the EOS R3 matches the sealing of the powerful 1D X Mark III DSLR. Canon can also be out in entrance in the case of in-body picture stabilization, which is helpful for each preserving handheld picture high quality and video. With appropriate lenses, you may stand up to eight stops of stabilization on the EOS R3, which is class-leading on paper.
However regardless of the Canon EOS R3’s spectacular roll name of options, Sony continues to be arguably the tech chief within the actually key areas. The EOS R3 does break freed from Canon’s conventional video recording limits (claiming to have the ability to hold taking pictures in commonplace frame-rates for six hours) and its means to shoot 6K uncooked video internally is spectacular.
But with cameras just like the Sony A1 and Sony A7S III (to not point out the Sony Airpeak drone), its rival continues to set the usual for professional video shooters – and additional competitors is en route from the 8K-shooting Nikon Z9. Given the EOS R5’s early points with overheating, we’re additionally trying ahead to seeing how the EOS R3 fares on this division.
Sony’s headstart in mirrorless cameras additionally continues to present it a slight edge on lenses, relying on what you wish to shoot. The Canon RF system is now impressively mature, even when solely half of them are at present available for purchase – and right now’s announcement of the Canon RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM and Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 STM has served up some inexpensive choices for non-professionals.
The five-year lead Sony had on making mirrorless digital camera lenses, although, together with its vast third-party help from the likes of Sigma, Tamron and Zeiss, has given its E-mount system an unequalled quantity of selection in any respect worth factors, together with compelling specialist choices just like the Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 G Grasp lens and different ‘G Grasp’ primes.
Race to the prize
None of which means that the Canon EOS R3 is not an unbelievable digital camera – it affords a singular mixture of retro, DSLR-style dealing with and staggering mirrorless energy. And we could but see a Canon EOS R1 take an surprising leap ahead in the identical vein because the Sony A1.
However the EOS R3 does additionally present that Sony continues to be a step forward in an important areas of full-frame tech, together with stacked sensors, burst taking pictures, viewfinders, multi-function hot-shoes and (to a lesser extent) lens alternative.
The good factor for digital camera followers is that Canon has simply proven that it is completely able to staying with its primary rival. Like an F1 automotive in digital camera kind (and in addition one whose autofocus can observe F1 automobiles) the Canon EOS R3 is the quickest of quick followers, and the last word winners shall be photographers and filmmakers.