Body and handling

The EOS R3 has a design that immediately invokes Canon's existing 1D-series cameras: a curvy dual grip design with a button layout that's a near match for the existing EOS-1D X Mark III. The critical difference, of course, is that the R3 is appreciably smaller than the DSLR. Without the need for a large optical prism, the R3 has a much less substantial hump at the top of the camera.

Key takeaways:

  • The EOS R3 is the second Canon camera to use an AF 'Smart Controller' built into the AF-ON buttons
  • Three-dial design will have experienced Canon shooters feeling right at home
  • A fully articulating screen is handy and, in our limited testing, sturdy
  • The multi-function hot shoe isn't just for flashes
  • Uses the LP-E19 battery from the 1D X III, and you can use some older 1D-series batteries just fine (though not all of them will support USB charging)
  • Mixed storage gives flexibility but means variable write rates

Joystick and Smart controller

The first thing to note is that the R3 has the same joystick and infrared Smart Controller layout as the EOS-1D X III. The smart controller, which doubles as the AF-ON button, works like an inverted optical mouse: tracking the movement of your thumb as it swipes across the surface, using an infrared beam of light.

Collectively, they provide two options for rapidly repositioning your AF point if you prefer not to rely on the Eye Control system. We've generally found the joystick is great for small, precise changes, nudging a point or two from the existing position, while the Smart Controller is better suited to quickly making large jumps across the AF array.

Three dial design

Buttons have moved around a little: the 'Rate' button shifts to the camera's top left-hand corner while 'Info' jumps to the right of the main LCD. The biggest difference in terms of physical controls is that the R3 has three command dials: gaining a rear-facing dial on its right-rear shoulder. That dial has the 'Mode' button at its center and shows that Canon wants to bring some of the ergonomic developments of its R-series cameras to its pro lineup, rather than maintaining absolute consistency with the 1D models.

By default, the three dials control Aperture (Front), Shutter Speed (Shoulder) and Exposure Comp (Rear) in Manual mode, but these can be easily customized to provide access to aperture, shutter speed, exposure comp or ISO in whatever order you prefer. Sadly there's no option to access Auto ISO's minimum shutter speed via a dial,

Fully-articulating screen

The other radical change for one of Canon's dual-grip cameras is to offer a moveable rear display. It's a side-hinged, fully articulated touchscreen, which at a stroke makes the R3 a more practical video camera than any 1D-series camera, simply by giving the option to cradle the camera at waist height, rather than having to trying to steadily hold a large camera at arm's length.

It's a nice panel, too. 4.15M dots (1440 x 960 pixel) resolution is the highest we've yet seen on a camera.

Hotshoe with interface

The EOS R3 gains a series of communication pins along the leading edge of its hot shoe, meaning the camera remains compatible with existing Speedlites but also gains the ability to add a series of accessories. The first of these has already been announced, with TEAC launching its Tascam XLR microphone input module.

The hot shoe mount is designed so that it keeps the body sealed, even when a non-sealed flash is attached. Somewhat ironically, if you want to attach a splash/drip-proof Speedlite to the R3, you'll need to use an AD-E1 adapter, to prevent the locking mechanism from potentially harming the hot shoe.

Battery and storage

The mimicking of an EOS-1D camera extends as far as the battery, with the R3 making use of the same LP-E19 as the EOS-1D X Mark III. It can also be used with the older LP-E4N batteries (though not the earlier LP-EP4), but it's not recommended to charge E4N batteries in the R3's charger.

The LP_E19 is a substantial 30Wh unit, which is rated as delivering 760 shots per charge via the rear screen and 440 shots per charge if you use the viewfinder, in the faster refresh 'smooth' mode. Power saving mode sees these numbers jump to 860 and 620 shots per charge, respectively.

As always, the numbers derived from the CIPA Standard test can somewhat underestimate real-world performance. It's not at all uncommon to get more than twice the rated number of shots in day-to-day usage. That said, the 440 shots per charge figure in the more responsive viewfinder mode is likely to be a cause for concern for pro sports photographers. Shooting bursts tends to be more efficient than shooting individual shots, but a rating of 440 shots is very low for a pro-grade camera with such a large battery.


The EOS R3 matches the R5 by including one CFexpress Type B slot and one UHS-II type SD card slot. This gives the benefit of flexibility and doubles your chances of having a compatible card to hand. However, it's also likely to mean mismatched write speeds, which adds restrictions when shooting video and can slow down the camera if shooting simultaneously to both slots.

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