Review: The Canon EOS R3 Takes the Sports/Wildlife Crown

It’s was with a bit of trepidation that I started this review of the mighty Canon EOS R3, because, to be frank, I’m an enthusiast photographer and the EOS R3 is a serious professional sports shooter, but during my review I realised that if you spend some time learning the multitude of features on this camera, it rewards you with fast, brilliant photography.

Out of the box, the first thing that surprised me was how light the full-frame EOS R3 actually is, as it uses a large SLR-style body with integrated vertical grip, somewhat similar to its DSLR sibling, the EOS-1D X Mark III, but as it is an R-series mirrorless camera, it is physically smaller, and at 1kg, significantly lighter. It is also quite ergonomic and feels good in my hands, with excellent textured grip surfaces. There’s a also a large number of controls that Canon R-series users should be familiar with, though the AF-On controller comes straight from the EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR, and works like a little optical mouse that detects your thumb as you swipe the control to ‘point’ to where you want the camera to focus.

There’s also the much discussed Eye Control feature that Canon have revived. On the EOS R3 Eye Control is deactivated out of the box, and to use it you need to run a calibration process where you have to focus on a tiny dot at five cardinal points on the electronic viewfinder. In my somewhat basic use, it does the job, placing a focus cursor near what I’m actually focusing on, and the camera’s AF is smart enough to instantly adjust to the general area. Note that I only tried calibration once – with machine learning and multiple calibrations (up to six), the EOS R3 will learn your eye and gradually become more accurate. 

Apart from Eye Control everything about the EOS R3 is simply brilliant. Thanks to its 24.1MP back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor it shoots extremely well defined pictures, while its burst mode is an astonishing 30fps in electronic shutter mode – fast enough to capture the ripples of water a kingfisher makes as it dives in for lunch. AF tracking is nearly instantaneous, and you can set the camera to track cars, animals or people – and in the last two there’s eye and head tracking. Excellent 100-102,400 ISO sensitivity means you can easily capture bright images in dark conditions and easily compensated for the RF 600 F/11 IS STM lens that I took with me to the Pasir Ris Mangrove Boardwalk, while the combined 11.5 stop image stabilisation (5 lens, 5.5 camera) meant that I carried a heavy tripod on a wildlife hike for no reason.   

Technical Specifications

  • Sensor 24.1MP Full-frame CMOS, DIGIC X
  • Lens Mount EOS RF Mount
  • Sensitivity 50 – 204,800 ISO (expanded)
  • Shutter Speed 30 sec to 1/64000 sec
  • Continuous Shooting 30 fps (electronic shutter)
  • Video mode 4K@60fps (6K oversampling), 4K@120fps, 6K@60fps
  • LCD Monitor 3.2-inch 4.1 million dots articulated touch screen
  • Electronic Viewfinder 5.76M dots
  • Storage 1x CFexpress, 1x SD
  • Dimensions 150 x 142.6 x 87.2 mm
  • Weight 1,015g (with battery and card)

We say

The king of full-frame sports cameras, though it takes a while for Eye Control to work accurately.

Rating: 4.5 stars

S$8,749 (body only)