Canon confirms a high-speed EOS R3 mirrorless camera is on the way

Steve Dent
·Associate Editor
·3-min read

Canon has confirmed a rumor that it's developing the EOS R3, a "high-performance, high-speed" full-frame mirrorless camera designed for news and sports, along with three new lenses. As usual in such announcements, the company kept key specifications like the sensor resolution under wraps until launch, but it did reveal a few interesting details. 

To start with, the EOS R will be Canon's first camera with a backside-illuminated (BSI) stacked CMOS sensor, developed by the company in-house. The "stacked" part means that the sensor and circuitry like RAM is integrated into the sensor, which allows for faster readout speeds and performance. Sony introduced that sensor type on the A9, and Nikon recently said it would used a BSI stacked sensor on its upcoming Z9

Combined with Canon's Digic X image processor, that will help the R3 deliver 30 fps shooting speeds in electronic shutter mode with autofocus and auto-exposure tracking enabled — matching Sony's A1. Canon also noted that R3 will be able to do that with "minimal distortion." That's significant, because sports and action photographers often avoid electronic shutter mode for fast moving subjects because of distortion caused by rolling shutter.

The EOS R3 will also offer "Eye Control" autofocus, something Canon used on the '90s EOS 5 film camera. It will allow users to "simply select and move the AF point using their eyes via the viewfinder," Canon said. The aim is to reduce the time to focus in fast-moving situations, though it remains to be seen how well it will work in practice. 

The other noticeable feature is the pro-level body that's "inspired by the EOS-1D series," according to Canon. It has a large grip in both landscape and portrait modes, while promising the same durability, including dust and water resistance, of Canon's pro-level 1D series DLSRs. 

Canon didn't reveal other key details like pricing, video shooting modes and, most significantly, the sensor resolution. Since it's designed for sports and news photography, and given the shooting speeds, it might not be a high-resolution camera like the 45-megapixel R5. However, sensor tech has advanced very quickly of late (take Sony's A1 that can shoot 30 fps with a 50-megapixel sensor) so you never know.

Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM and RF 600mm f/4L IS USM super telephoto lenses
Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM and RF 600mm f/4L IS USM super telephoto lenses

Canon also unveiled three new lenses, two of which seem designed with the R3 in mind. The first is the RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM, a fast and bright super telephoto and an analog to the company's EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM II DSLR lens widely used for sports photography. The other super telephoto is the RF 600mm F/4L IS USM. Canon promises "incredible focusing speeds" for both thanks to a "double power drive" that will appear on future camera bodies — presumably including the R3.

As you'd expect with pro-level Canon glass, these lenses will cost a bundle at $12,000 and $13,000 for the 400mm and 600mm models, respectively (£12,450 and £13,410 in the UK). Both models will arrive sometime in July.

The other new lens is the RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, a highly useful and needed RF macro model for portrait, still life and other photographers. That lens is also coming in July for $1,400, or £1,480 in the UK.