Canon EOS R3 Review: Blazing Speed Meets Robust Body

Canon’s mirrorless camera has a new design and offers incredible performance. The EOS R3 is a brand new camera that can’t be beat. It boasts a 24-megapixel sensor and blackout-free silent photos, better subject detection, and autofocus with eye control.

Design and usability

It was enormous when I first opened the Canon EOS R3 to my surprise. The Canon EOS R3 mirrorless body is the only one that has been shipped by any three major camera makers, Sony, Nikon, or Canon. It was like going home to the Canon 1D Mark IV and 1DX Mark III. The EOS R3 is smaller and lighter than the 1D X Mark III and 1D Mark IV, and it weighs just 2.2 pounds with the battery.

Canon EOS R3 front side.

Despite the fact that it is “trimmed”, the handling is superb. Personal preference is all that matters. Canon has a unique understanding of how a camera fits into my hand. With its ergonomic grips and large control wheels, the EOS R3 reminds you that Canon is still the king of camera handling.

Canon EOS R3 back with screen protected.
Canon EOS R3 topside.

Although I have nothing bad to say about the device’s handling, there are some design decisions that I do not like. One, two memory card slots accept different media. One slot is CFexpress Type A while the other is SD UHS-II. These tricks are not uncommon for Canon, but they can be frustrating. I think CFexpress Type B cards are the best way to unlock the camera’s full potential. However, I would prefer to have two slots and consolidate all my media needs on one card.

Canon EOS R3 back.
Canon EOS R3 back with screen flipped out.

The uninspired flip-out display is another problem. The 3.2-inch, 4.15 million-dot touchscreen looks great and is more durable than Sony’s fragile products. The flip-out screen design is terrible for photography and will continue to hurt my brain. The screen design of this camera is so slow and difficult to tilt in a tilted orientation, considering it’s marketed as a fast camera. The screen flips 180 degrees and it is not in alignment with the sensor. I have to look at it from the left, while my lens is straight.

Another issue is in-camera customizations. My biggest complaint is the inability to enable zebras while using photo mode. My Sony has zebras which can be calibrated to indicate when a RAW file is overexposed or not recoverable. This is clearly visible to me in real time. Canon sees this as an advantage when using a camera with a mirrorless sensor. Focus peaking and zebras can’t be enabled simultaneously, for some reason. Video must be enabled for both.

Canon EOS R3 shutter.

There are also options for arbitrary button assignments, which can cause more customization issues. Although I have the ability to customize the SET button, this is not possible. It frustrates me that a Canon developer who I have never met travels halfway around the world from me to decide what I can use it for.

This section ends on a positive note. Canon’s customizable focus rings are something I must praise. I can choose the behavior of focus-by-wire lenses, including whether they behave linearly or in a variable manner. I can also switch off or on the full-time manual overload. I can refine the manual overload so it only happens when I press half the shutter button.

Canon EOS R3 photo of white-tailed deer.
Canon EOS R3 photo of gray squirrel.

Image Quality

DIGIC X is an image processor that pairs with the Canon 24-megapixel back-illuminated stacked camera. The full-frame EOS R3 improves its speed and image quality in comparison to other options. The electronic shutter can take continuous blackout-free shots at 30 frames per seconds. During testing, I could not see any rolling shutter effects. The mechanical shutter can fire at 12 frames per second.

The EOS R3 is excellent at dealing with noise when it comes to image quality. After I received the camera, the in-camera noise suppression was turned off. It was amazing how far the camera could go, while still maintaining detail.

Straight out of camera JPEG shot at ISO 8,000. Noise reduction in-camera off.
Straight out of camera JPEG shot at ISO 8,000. Noise reduction in-camera off.
100% crop of the above photo.
100% crop of the above photo. Yes, I said ISO 8,000.

Low-light photography is possible with the EOS R3. The image files can still be exposed by pushing and pulling in a dramatic manner.

Original photo. 100% crop.
Original photo. 100% crop.
Highlight and shadow recovery in Adobe Camera RAW. 100% crop.
Highlight and shadow recovery in Adobe Camera RAW. 100% crop.

Autofocus

The EOS R3 features 1,053 phase detection and autofocus points that cover 100% of the frame. These points can be used for subjects like animal eye autofocus or human eye autofocus. Subject detection has been proven to be extremely effective in maintaining focus even in difficult situations. I found that my eye autofocus was more effective in helping me navigate through confusing foreground elements, which could otherwise cause confusion when autofocusing. While I depend on manual focus for certain moments, I never use the focus ring on my EOS R3 lens as much.

Canon EOS R3 photo of red squirrel.
Canon EOS R3 photo of American tree sparrow.

This video shows continuous autofocus at 30 frames a second. It’s also very effective. It is also possible to use the viewfinder with no blackout. Overall, I have had positive experiences with autofocus for stills on an EOS R3

Canon first announced the EOS R3 with its first announcement. The EOS R3 was well-known for its ability to bring back autofocus with eye control in modern cameras. Once calibrated to my eyes this setting allows me to view the subject through the 5.76million dots viewfinder. The eye then follows the focus point. It’s fun and easy to use.

Canon EOS R3 photo of ring-billed gull.
Canon EOS R3 photo of bald eagle.

Autofocus is currently locked down after it has been activated. I found that the program did not allow me to maintain control over the focus point. If my subject wanders a little, but I can keep it in the frame, I’d like to be able to continue looking at it with autofocus activated and an unchanged framing. I can choose to keep track of the subject with enough focus, or to turn off autofocus and move my focus point. Autofocus will then be activated.

The first week was hard to adjust to. The first week, I tried to move the focus point using my thumb. It’s still a new camera so it is hard to say if it is a game-changer. Its incredible reliability already elevates the camera beyond a mere gimmick. It is hard to predict the extent of its impact on society.

The One We’ve Been Waiting For

Canon’s 2018 first entry in full-frame mirrorless photography was the EOS R. It was a huge success. The EOS R was quickly followed closely by the EOS RP, which was even less successful. These releases didn’t calm fears that Canon wouldn’t be a major contender in the future market for photography. This perception would not be changed by Canon until mid 2020 with the EOS R5 and EOS R6. The EOS R5’s spec sheet was promising and unlike any other on the market. One year later, the company released the EOS R, its flagship mirrorless camera. It was released at the end of 2021.

Canon EOS R3 photo of snapping turtle.

What are the Alternatives to Viagra?

Canon will tell you its flagship camera, the EOS 1DX Mark III, is still available. A spec sheet can be read to see how the mirrorless EOS R3 compares to the DSLR.

The EOS R3 is the most popular Canon high-end camera. However, the majority of people looking at Canon cameras will compare it to the EOS R5. The EOS R5 has two main advantages. It offers a 45-megapixel sensor at a lower resolution and costs $3,900. This is more than $2,000 less than the EOS R3. The EOS R5 can record 8K RAW video internally thanks to its additional megapixels. The EOS R3 is comparable in many ways, but it’s not worth $2,000 more.

If you are looking for a way to compare different manufacturers, the Sony Alpha 1 is an excellent choice. The Sony Alpha 1 offers many of the same features and a higher resolution than the R3. The Z9 by Nikon looks very promising, especially considering the lower price. It is not yet clear how the camera will perform in real-world use cases, as it was just announced.

Should You Buy It?

Yes, if you’re a Canon shooter. Canon EOS R3 is one the most sought-after models.