Canon Finally Unleashes the EOS R3 Mirrorless Camera and 2 Lenses

The day is finally here! Canon has, at last, unveiled its topflight mirrorless camera, the EOS R3. Combining assets from the EOS R5 and the flagship EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR, the R3 is a high-performance body built for speedy shooting, featuring fast and precise focusing, and sporting a robust, professional-grade body. It's the first 3-Series camera since the film era and introduces a wealth of new tech to Canon's mirrorless system, including an all-new stacked sensor, Eye Control AF, and a built-in vertical grip.

Announced alongside the new EOS R3 camera body, Canon is also expanding its lens lineup with the introduction of the RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM and RF 16mm f/2.8 STM lenses. Relatively sleek and lightweight, these two lenses open up the RF lineup with more accessible choices at the wide and telephoto ends of the spectrum.

EOS R3

The EOS R3 is Canon's top-tier mirrorless body and currently is positioned between the high-resolution EOS R5 mirrorless body and the professional-grade EOS-1D X Mark III. The R3 combines the best of these two models, taking the speed, reliability, and physical characteristics of the flagship 1D X Mark III along with the technological advancements, mirrorless design, and multimedia prowess of the R5.

Canon EOS R3 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Canon EOS R3 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Sensor and Processor

While looking like a mixture of these two cameras, the EOS R3 does stand on its own with a variety of unique technologies, including a brand-new 24.1MP back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor and an updated DIGIC X image processor. The stacked configuration of the sensor promotes faster readout speeds and reduces rolling shutter distortion to cater better to working with fast-moving subjects, and the BSI design is more efficient when gathering light, leading to cleaner image quality with reduced noise at higher sensitivities.

Another key element of this new sensor is its optimization for use with an electronic shutter function; top shooting speeds of 30 fps are possible with a 150-frame buffer, a top shutter speed of 1/64,000 second is available, and flash sync at 1/180 second is even possible. If working with a mechanical shutter, continuous shooting at 12 fps is available with a buffer of more than 1,000 frames, and flash sync is possible up to 1/250 second. In most cases, the electronic shutter will be the go-to function, and can remain a silent shooting option, or you can program an audible noise to accompany each shutter click to make it easier for subjects to recognize when a photo has been taken.

Complementing the updated sensor is a revised DIGIC X image processor, which helps to orchestrate many of the performance-oriented processes of the sensor, ranging from the fast continuous shooting to the AF, image stabilization, and video-recording capabilities. The sensor's capabilities also go on to boost the sensitivity range to ISO 100-102400 for working in a wide variety of lighting conditions.

In terms of video, the EOS R3 holds its own in the mirrorless realm with 6K 60p raw 12-bit recording and uncropped 4K 120p recording. The 6K and 5.6K recording areas can also be used for oversampled DCI and UHD 4K shooting with improved sharpness, reduced moiré, and lower noise. All 4K recording modes can be used with 60p, 30p, and 24p frame rates, and there is also a choice of HDR PQ and Canon Log 3 settings, depending on post-production workflow needs. Unlimited recording times are possible, too, and the R3 features mic and headphone ports, as well as a micro-HDMI Type-D port for clean output to an external recorder.

Autofocus

In addition to continuous shooting and readout speed improvements, the new sensor also lends itself to an improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system, which now features 1,053 selectable phase-detection points along with automatic AF zones and enhanced subject detection and tracking. The AF system can now intelligently recognize eyes, faces, heads (including helmets), animals, and vehicles, and tracking will automatically lock onto these subjects and maintain sharp focus throughout burst captures.

Something new to EOS digital cameras in general, Canon is also reintroducing Eye Control AF with the R3. This feature was a popular one dating back to the EOS-3 film camera days and has now been refined and tuned to work in conjunction with modern-day AF systems. This feature essentially allows you to use your eye to control where the initial focus point is, and then the camera will take control using subject tracking to keep the subject in focus. This feature will require you to "register" your eyes, and is activated simply by looking through the EVF, but will give shooters an even more intuitive means than a joystick for finding the perfect focus point prior to burst shooting.

One final point of the AF system worth noting is that it is sensitive down to -7.5 EV, meaning accurate and responsive AF performance is possible even in nighttime conditions. Coupled with a silent electronic shutter, quick burst shooting, and IBIS, this makes this camera stand out in terms of photographing live music performances and other low-light activities.

In-Body Image Stabilization

Not a new feature to Canon, but still one worth pointing out, is the In-Body Image Stabilizer (IBIS) that helps correct camera shake when shooting handheld in difficult lighting conditions or with longer lenses. This 5-axis system in the R3 is the same one used in the EOS R5 and R6 and can be used in conjunction with lenses featuring optical image stabilization to compensate for up to 8 stops of camera shake, depending on the specific lens in use.

Body Design

The new sensor and improved AF are great, of course, but among the most dramatic changes the R3 brings is a wholly new body to Canon's mirrorless lineup. It's the first Canon mirrorless body to sport an integrated vertical grip, which means it has duplicate physical controls for easier shooting in vertical orientation, greater handling comfort all around, and it takes the same large-capacity LP-E19 battery as the EOS-1D X Mark III. Some other similarities to the 1D X Mark III: The R3 has the same dust and drip resistance, with fully sealed buttons, dials, and terminals; it features wired LAN connectivity via an Ethernet port along with standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity; and there is an integrated GPS module for seamless location tagging.

The revised body also houses the impressive 5.76m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and vari-angle touchscreen LCD. The EVF is the same high-res model found in the R5 and is a bright, clear means for eye-level viewing. This viewfinder is aided by the fast readout speeds of the stacked sensor, too, offers blackout-free viewing when shooting with an electronic shutter, and supports a 120-fps refresh rate for realistic motion portrayal. Conversely, the 3.2" 4.15m-dot vari-angle LCD is perfect for working from high, low, and front-facing angles and sports a touchscreen interface for intuitive settings control.

As you'd expect from a professional-grade camera, the R3 has dual memory card slots—one CFexpress Type B slot and one SD UHS-II slot—for file-saving flexibility. The CFexpress slot should be prioritized for 6K recordings and fast continuous shooting, but the SD slot is a convenient alternative for backups or less speed-critical shooting.

dual memory card slots—one CFexpress Type B slot and one SD UHS-II slot
Dual memory card slots—one CFexpress Type B slot and one SD UHS-II slot

Finally, one final new bit of the tech the R3 is bringing to light is the Multi-Function Shoe. This next-gen take on a hot shoe essentially adds a row of pins at the front of the shoe for more intelligent accessory performance and functionality. To go along with the Multi-Function Shoe, Canon is also launching four additional accessories that take advantage of this new design.

  • The ST-E10 Speedlite Transmitter is a compact, lightweight transmitter that controls all five independent groups across up to 15 Speedlites simply by pressing the menu button on the transmitter and then adjusting settings on the camera's LCD. This transmitter is 30% smaller and 50% lighter than the ST-E3-RT II and, since it is digital and is compatible with the Multi-Function Shoe, it is battery-free and uses the camera's own power.
     

  • The DM-E1D Stereo Microphone is a shoe-mounted external mic that uses the Multi-Function interface for power and for digitally connecting to the camera, requiring no cabling for sync. It has three directional modes depending on recording needs, including a Shotgun mode for focused recording and 90° and 120° Stereo modes for wide-area recording.
     

  • The AD-E1 Multi-Function Shoe Adapter helps you transition from existing hot shoe accessories to the new Multi-Function Shoe; this adapter maintains the weather-sealed features of the camera when using accessories like the Speedlite EL1, Speedlite 600EX II-RT, OC-E3, or other shoe-mounted accessories.
     

  • The AD-P1 Smartphone Link Adapter is compatible with Android smartphones and uses the mobile device's data connection and a Mobile File transfer app for seamless and wireless photo, video, and voice memo transferring to FTP/FTPS/SFTP servers directly from the camera.

Takeaways

That's a lot of information to take in, but let's distill this into some major takeaway points and see how the EOS R3 fits in Canon's growing mirrorless system.

  • New 24.1MP stacked BSI CMOS sensor. The main point here is the stacked sensor configuration, which will greatly impact readout speeds for faster, more reliable continuous shooting and reduced rolling shutter for video and high-speed shooting. The 24.1MP resolution shows you that this camera is built for "working shooters," for lack of a better term; it's not high-res by any means, but a solid choice for those who are publishing their photographs, sharing their work, and need to move their images quickly. If you want high-resolution files, the R5 will still be your ideal choice, but if you want speed, the R3 is where it's at.
     

  • Enhanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF II and Eye Control AF. These are two of the most exciting updates to the system since they have a direct impact on the shooting experience. Canon is really going in on intelligent subject detection and tracking, and the Eye Control AF is simply a useful, intuitive tool for quickly acquiring that first focus point.
     

  • The video performance is pretty much what one would expect from a camera spec'd out like this; it's very strong but not necessarily groundbreaking. The R3 can handle video tasks in a professional manner and is obviously inspired by Canon's cine line of cameras. This is like the 24MP resolution in a way; not awe inspiring but very solid and exactly what is needed for reliable performance.
     

  • In-Body image stabilization is often overlooked and sometimes taken for granted, but it's hard to overstate how cool it is to get 8 stops of shake correction and be able to shoot handheld in truly low-light conditions.
     

  • Same EVF as the R5 and a higher-res vari-angle touchscreen LCD. These viewing mechanisms are at the cutting edge of what we're seeing in mirrorless cameras and should impress pretty much anybody, even optical finder diehards.
     

  • It's about time we see a mirrorless camera with an integrated vertical grip, and this looks like a strong example of how to blend strong ergonomics, fresh tech, and solid battery life into what's a surprisingly lightweight body.

The EOS R3 seems to be just what Canon needed to reinforce its mirrorless system and feels like the right camera body for some of the more recent lens releases, like the RF 400mm f/2.8L and RF 600mm f/4L, which should feel right at home mounted on a camera like this. The R3 technically isn't Canon's "flagship" camera because that title still belongs to the EOS-1D X Mark III, but in the mirrorless world, the R3 is the current king. It's exciting to see Canon weaving the remaining distinctions from its SLR cameras into the up-and-coming mirrorless line, and it's also impressive to see how far mirrorless has come in just a few short years.

New RF Lenses

Today's announcement isn't all about the professional crowd because Canon is also releasing a pair of more accessible lenses aimed at current EOS R-series shooters. The RF 16mm f/2.8 STM and RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM are both relatively small and lightweight for their respective focal lengths and serve as perfect choices for adding a second or third lens to a growing kit.

RF 16mm f/2.8 STM

Beginning with the wide lens first, the RF 16mm f/2.8 STM is a special wide-angle prime simply because of its mixture of an ultra-wide focal length, reasonably fast optics, and a super compact form factor. It's important to call out that this lens is not a fisheye, and its rectilinear design will come in handy when photographing architecture, interiors, or broad landscape views. The f/2.8 aperture diaphragm makes it a solid choice for astrophotography applications, too, and it also features a 5.1" minimum focusing distance that is perfect for unique close-up shots with great depth of field.

A stepping motor (STM) ensures smooth and quiet focusing performance, which is good for stills and video, and the control ring can be assigned to adjust focus manually or set to control a variety of other shooting settings.

RF 16mm f/2.8 STM sample photos

RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM

The second lens being announced is the RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM, a telephoto zoom that seems to be almost diametrically opposed to the 16mm f/2.8, but in actuality is similar in intent. This long-ranging zoom features a modest maximum aperture range that helps to keep the overall size and weight relatively low, making it an ideal partner for day-long shoots or hikes in the wilderness.

Similar in stature to the popular EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM for SLRs, this 100-400mm is a fresh take on a versatile everyday zoom. It has longer reach and an updated Nano USM focusing motor for more responsive focusing performance. Also, its Image Stabilizer works with Coordinated IS with EOS R-series bodies for up to 6 stops of shake correction for low-light handheld shooting.

RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM sample photos

Optically, this zoom features an Ultra-Low Dispersion element that reduces color fringing and chromatic aberrations and an aspherical element helps to boost sharpness and minimize distortion. Unique among tele-zooms, this lens also has a 2.9' minimum focusing distance at the 200mm position and 0.4x maximum magnification at the 400mm position, making it a surprisingly solid choice for close-up shooting. Additionally, for even more versatility, this lens is also compatible with the Extender RF 1.4x and RF 2x teleconverters for even greater reach.

It's a big day for Canon with the release of a new professional-grade mirrorless body, four new system accessories, new sensor tech, new Multi-Function Shoe, and even the release of two new accessible lenses for the RF system.

What items pique your interest most from Canon's huge unveiling? Are you excited about the top-end camera development? Excited to see new features and system tech? Or do these two highly usable lenses have your attention? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.

40 Comments

I am curious for a side by side hands on review of the 1Dx III vs the R3.

Besides the unlimited buffer depth of the 1Dx III, I can't think of an meaningfull advantage it has so long as the R3 performs well in other areas like AF and consistly fast 30fps. And even then, would trading IQ, AF, FPS, Noise performance, dynamic range, better lens mount and better RF glass really be worth it?

I suspect not.

I own a Canon 6D also. I use aperture, or shutter priority modes.  But verify exposure using histogram after taking the photo.

I very much enjoyed watching this panel discussion, so thanks for hosting B&H.   I’m currently a Canon 1Dx user, and I’m thinking about jumping into the mirrorless world for the first time by ordering the Canon R3.    There is one thing about the Canon R3 that scares me, however, and I am wondering if you could host a side discussion on it?  My fear pertains to the “Eye Control AF” feature and whether its (continuous/frequent) usage by photographers using the viewfinder has any impacts to eye health.   To my knowledge, I have not been able to find anything on the R3's infrared LED dose (concentration) and exposure (duration/frequency) limits, and to date I have not been able to find any claims from Canon that note using their Eye Control AF is completely safe for the human eye.   Any thoughts?    I have reached out to my optometrist for insights but I would welcome assurances from Canon/B&H.   Cheers,

They are infrared LED sensors. They sense infrared. And even if they do produce some. Those infrared heaters you buy at Costco produce many times more than a tiny little LED. You would know because it will warm up your eyes if it indeed produce too much. Not the same thing like a lazer. It is a spectrum of light we cannot see.

I'm certain that it is safe, Canon and other manufacturers have to follow ISO protocols for safety. And I'm sure a company like that, unlike like the cheap Chinese companies, care about stuff like that.

I use a pair of 5DmkIV cameras in my studio with the CamFi Pro Plus Wireless Camera Controller. What cable will be required to use the R3 with CamFi Pro Plus?

The EOS R3 uses a USB-C connection. 

Thank you!

Surprised at the 2 different memory cards - for guys shooting and uploading next to the field this means two card readers - perhaps the new Macs will have the SD card slot brought back? Beautiful ergonomics on the body - love how Canon builds the camera strap anchor point into the body, whereas Nikon has an attachment flopping on the outside.

I suspect guys are going create tremendous images with this.

While only time will tell if the new Macs being offered will have an SD slot brought back, there is a solution such as the ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type B & UHS-II SDXC Dual-Slot USB 3.2 Gen 2 Card Reader to handle both types of cards.  As for the EOS R3 itself, it will definitely produce some excellent images.

https://bhpho.to/3tUn0UF

Yeah, I don't know why Canon does this. Even back in the 1Ds III days (I still one both the 1D III and 1Ds III) they had CF and SD. And consumers have been barking since then to just make two of the same slot. It doesn't serve any purpose except to slow the camera down. It's not a good plan.

Won't be buying anything from canon till they fix their ibis wobble at 16mm etc

What does it weigh?

The EOS R3 Body only weighs 1.8 lbs. With a battery and memory installed, the EOS R3 Body weighs 2.2 lbs.

I really love my Canon cameras (that's plural because I few of them). It's a EOS 6D and I'm sure that you may get a laugh or two from my owning a camera that is that dated, yes, its a heavy camera, and I'm sure a lighter weight one might be nice, but you know, what I like it. I can just put it on Tv mode, ISO A & 500 and I end up with photographs that I actually like.  I own a drone also and I love it!!

Does the camera have overheating and sensor wobble issues that the R5 had when shooting video?

The camera has configurable Overheating Protection depending on how long your recording times need to be and there is no formal recording time limit with the R3, so you can record for hours on end until your card is full. This is all highly dependent on what sort of conditions you're working in, though, and it's too early for comparisons between the R3 and R5 to be out in terms of overheating performance.

And nothing specific about wobble was mentioned by Canon. The R3 does have the same IBIS as the R5, but it is also a new generation of camera with a different sensor design, so it's unknown right now if there will be any unique issues.

I love, love, love the R6 in every way for video but one...overheating. It's BIG problem for my workflow. The R6 has to shut down at times while the C200 we use marches on. When you say the R3 has configurable overheating protection that kind of bothers me all over again. I've never owned other cameras (Canon and Panasonic) that overheat. What's the deal?

Hopefully this will clarify the overheating issue a bit more: https://youtu.be/RdHSBktofQk .

As mentioned at the end of this section in our hands-on video, you can record approximately 25 minutes of 6K raw video with the standard temp setting, 60 minutes of 6K raw video with the high temp setting, and 60 minutes or more when recording 4K60p ALL-I in high temp mode. These figures might vary a bit depending on ambient temperature and other factors, but they're good guidelines for setting expectations.

“It’s too early…”. Love that thinking.

What is the lens mount? Standard EOS?  

I'm guessing RF

Fairlie's right, this is an RF-mount mirrorless camera, like the R5 and R6. It's a different lens mount than the DSLRs, like the EOS-1D X Mark III.

That was a rather stupid move.  This is not a replacement camera for the professional.  And why have EOS in the name?  This is an expensive camera that I cannot use my existing bag on lenses on.  Imagine if Canon said you can bring all your lenses over and gain 8 stops of IS? But instead they are saying, buy this professional camera and use what for your lens? I’m sorry, but a red ring or white lens says something when you show up to shoot an event. Never mind. 

I totally agree. Canon is killing me after being a long time user and gaining a considerable EF mount lens inventory. I just want a mirrorless to use them on without an adapter. Is that too much to ask? I've been leaning to Sony for a while now and since I have to replace all my lenses anyways I think I'll be saying goodby to Canon unless they are willing to do an on par exchange to support their supporters.

One of the key benefits of the move to mirrorless was the development of new lenses, specifically in creating a lens system that uses a wider mount and a shorter flange focal distance. This is distinct from how EF/SLR lenses were developed, and is the reason why the RF mount and cameras have a wholly new design around the camera-lens interface. The Mount Adapter EF-EOS R is a pretty seamless way to keep your legacy glass in use and gain a lot of the advantages mirrorless has to offer.

On par exchange?  😂😂😂

This is 2021. The RF lens mount was announced in 2018. Canon has been releasing L series lenses for the RF mount since 2018, including groundbreaking lenses like the RF 28-70 f2 L. The RF Lenses are better in every way. RF lenses have been universally praised and regarded as some of the best lenses available. Multiple photographer and videographers, both well-known publicly and personally known to me have completely switched their camera systems (Nikon/Sony/Canon EF) because of the RF lenses alone. In addition, the Canon R5 has been widely accepted as one of the best stills cameras ever created.

The EF mount is dead. Canon has stopped developing the EF mount as the RF mount is superior and more capable in every way. The 1DXiii was, most likely, the last major DSLR Canon will release.

Mirrorless is the way of the future in photography and videography.

Also, "EOS" is a term Canon uses for their camera systems, regardless of their lens mount. There are EOS cameras with EF mount, EF-M mount, EF-S mount, RF mount. They even use the term for film cameras and cinema cameras.

Well said, Jesse C. and thanks for the info.

The EOS R cameras have available adapters to use EF and EF-S lenses. This way you can transition to the R system and continue to use your EF / EF-S lenses.

Re: the EF to RF adapter, I've been shooting my collection of EF lenses (24-70 f2.8L II, 100-400 4.5-5.6L IS II, 300 f4L IS) on my R5 and have determined that these lenses are sharper and more accurate on the new camera than they were on my trusted 7D. So, other than the extra inch that the adapter adds to the length of the lens/camera, I'm seeing no disadvantage to shooting old glass on new camera. But new lens purchases will definitely be RF models (already have the 70-200 f2.8L IS and the 100 f2.8L Macro).

Canon isn't positioning this as a direct replacement for their flagship camera, the EOS-1D X Mark III, which takes EF lenses. But there's no denying that mirrorless is the future for Canon, and the RF mount is going to see the bulk of lens development in the future. The 'EOS' branding means "Electro Optical System", which essentially just means autofocus; both EF and RF mounts and the respective SLR and mirrorless cameras support autofocus and have EOS branding.

Canon has developed a few white lenses and "red ring" (L Series) lenses for the RF mount already, and if you want to use your EF glass you can with an adapter that will maintain AF and IS performance (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1433717-REG/canon_mount_adapter_ef_rf.html)

The mount is RF, indicated by the "R" in all mirrorless full-frame cameras Canon has released in the last 3 years or so. EOS (Electro-optical System) does not refer to the lens mount, as EOS cameras have had EF-S mount, EF mount, and now RF mount.

So, 6K60, 4k120, 1080/240?

The full list of resolutions and frame rates are in the specs tab on our product page, but you've pretty much got it: 6K 60p, 4K 120p, and FHD 120p are the top combinations

Will this model have focus bracketing?

Yep, Focus Bracketing is available!

During discussion of the new motorsports AF setting, seeing the moped guy cruising by and sticking his tongue out is hilarious. Especially to one who has shot. hundreds of motoracing events with cars going 200 mph !

Haha, it's one of my favorite parts of the video, too. A much more everyday example of vehicle tracking compared to stumbling upon race cars zooming by, and it goes to show you that even these specialized focusing modes can come in handy out on the street.

Pre-ordered the two new lenses. Their affordability, size and weight were key factors. They also complete the extreme ends of my collection. 

Awesome news! I agree, I think Canon hit a real sweet spot with these two lenses. Hope you enjoy them.

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