Initial Impressions

These are Richard Butler's impressions of a pre-production camera, and its behavior. You can read about Carey Rose's experiences of shooting with the camera in this separate article.

The EOS R3 is the closest thing Canon has yet produced to a mirrorless EOS-1 Series camera, and many users are likely to wonder what it's missing to deprive it of that status. Canon tells us that while the spec and performance are very high, not every component is necessarily to 1-Series standard. For instance, while the R3 can mimic every function offered by the EOS-1D X III with a wireless file transmitter (WFT) accessory attached, its internal Wi-Fi aerial doesn't offer the same range as the external unit would.

Much of the rest of the attention is likely to fall on Eye Control: one of the most innovative features on the R3. This may sound strange, given it has the same branding and the same underlying concept as a feature Canon had apparently abandoned back in the early 2000s, but having now shot a sports event with it, it feels revelatory. We can't be sure how consistently it'll work in terms of different users, different lighting situations and through different types of glasses, but when it works, it's one of the only camera functions that can correctly be described as intuitive, meaning you essentially don't need to think about AF point selection.

I was wearing contact lenses for most of my time shooting with the R3, but had tried calibrating the camera when wearing my high refractive index glasses, and the camera seemed to respond well. I'll need to spend more time with the camera before I can be sure how much of a difference it makes, though.

It may not have the number '1' on the front, but the R3 doesn't feel like a step down from that series.

Canon is keen to stress that the EOS R3 isn't just about Eye Control though, and it's noticeable that the function can be turned off and the camera used as if it were a 1D X III, with a joystick and infrared Smart Controller letting you control the AF point exactly as you would have done before. Equally, the use of the EVF's high dynamic range capabilities to give the most OVF-like experience shows that Canon really wants DSLR users to feel at home on this camera.

Even over a series of shooting events, we've barely scratched the surface of what the EOS R3 promises to be able to do. For instance, I've not shot a single frame of video yet (though our DPRTV colleague Jordan Drake has, and has some concerns about the risk of overheating) but that's because there's an awful lot to explore. We'll look at this, and whether Canon is still applying noise reduction to its Raw files, when we get a production-spec camera.

For now, my impression is that the R3 looks very capable and that Eye Control should be taken very seriously, even by those who think it sounds gimmicky. Particularly when combined with the powerful subject recognition system that overrules the need for precise AF placement, the R3 felt to me like it had the power of a 1D Series camera lurking beneath an interface that is unprecedentedly easy to use.

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