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A few days with the CANON R3

First thoughts on CANON's current flagship camera!

A frustrating review because It will only be about the photography performances of the camera. A delay in the shipping forced me to cancel a short film I wanted to make with the camera. Fortunately, it arrived just in time for an event that would require the full potential of an action camera.

My original idea was to use it for stills and for video for a series of portraits I wanted to make with 2 female boxers.

I did photograph both of them, but couldn’t do the film part. I did film one of the 2 later but with another camera. And I will meet the other athlete later down the road but the R3 will probably not be my first choice.

I brought the camera with me at the WGTF?! international Hip Hop event that made its comeback this year after a forced 2 years break. And when I think about it I tested the 1DXIII and the 1DXII a while back the same way.

Check out the full report here almost entirely made with the CANON R3: The WGTF?! 2022

Alongside the R3 I had the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM, RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM in my bag.

The Canon R3, is a camera (like a lot of new cameras these days) that was not easy to get. I considered renting it but nobody had it in stock. So I have to thank Canon France for this loan... I heard a few fellow photographers are still waiting for their order. It was already a struggle for the R5 and its accessories and apparently the struggle continues.

Spec Wise there are a lot of interesting things about this camera. Here are the main specs or at least the ones I am interested in:

The CANON R3 at a glance:

  • 24 megapixel resolution

  • Stacked, back-illuminated sensor

  • Up to 8-stop Image Stabilization

  • Burst up to 30fps, or 12 fps (mechanical shutter)

  • Sensitivity from ISO 100 to ISO 102,400 (expands to ISO 204,800)

  • Eye control AF

  • Subject tracking

  • Fully articulated, touch screen

  • Blackout-free electronic viewfinder (120fps refresh rate and 100 per cent coverage)

It’s a big chunky camera, and I love the form factor. I have large hands so I love it when I have a bit of grip. I love the fact that as a Canon user you feel right away at home. Everything feels right and falls under your fingers.

I really enjoyed the 1DXIII and I fully embraced the mirrorless switch a few years ago so the chances for me to enjoy this camera were great. It is solid, built like a tak like you would expect from a camera this expansive, and it has a tilting screen that finally behaves like it should, unlike the R5.

Speaking of the R5, they both use SD cards but the CF express will be mandatory for video, especially if you shoot raw.

The main reason I would look and consider such a camera is because of the speed, responsiveness and reliability of the Autofocus. To me, the CANON R3 was designed for sports photographers or photographers that photograph motion, or any fast moving subjects.

This is why it was perfect for that Hip Hop festival.

Since I had glasses on I didn’t use the eye tracking feature. A tool that needs a bit of time to adjust to your eye, and I didn’t have the camera long enough for that.

But The tracking AF, low light performance and FPS made my life easy during this event. Photo reports, live events, sports events or any live performances ? This camera will be a valuable tool for you.

Since my work has shifted a bit in the past years, I don’t often need such a camera. But for this boxing photoshoot there were images I wouldn’t have not been able to make without the speed and accuracy of a camera like the R3.

Ambrine (Toulouse - France)

Canon R3 - Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

1/200sec f/5 ISO 100 at 86mm

Ambrine (Toulouse - France)

RF 50mm f/1.2L USM

1/200sec f/5 ISO 100

Before sending it back I did an improvised dance photoshoot outdoors using only natural light. No flashes, we just strolled downtown and took images everytime we felt inspired.

Penelope Scarian (Toulouse - France)

Canon R3 - Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

1/250sec f/2.8 ISO 320 at 115mm

Penelope Scarian (Toulouse - France)

Canon R3 - Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

1/500sec f/2.8 ISO 320 at 128mm

It’s a fun tool to work with, it delivers great images, and it will please all you action photographers out there. Compared to the R5, you clearly feel you have in your hands a completely different beast.

Penelope Scarian (Toulouse - France)

Canon R3 - Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM

1/1000sec f/2.8 ISO 100 at 24mm

2 cameras that are made for completely different needs… 7 years ago a camera like the R3 would have been the perfect tool for my work. I was doing mainly concerts, live performances and events.

Today, I am not so sure, it would be a huge investment as a 2nd camera.. A 2nd camera I would basically only use for my action shots. I may be able to justify the purchase, if the video capabilities would also match my needs.

When testing the 1DXIII I did a short dance video in one take, and thought I would do something else this time: A brief moment (1DXIII) So I really hope for a new opportunity in the future.

Resolution wise it’s perfect, I forgot how fun and practical it was to have such small files, but the thing is my work and clients are different now, and for some of my projects I would need a bit more than 24mpx.

So despite the improvements from the 1DXIII, I am still not convinced I should make the jump. I am one of the many that actually see the benefits of having a camera that performs well both in video and photography, and there are plenty of options out there, from different brands. But I am still looking for that camera these additional features that would make it perfect for me.

You know where I'm going here, my eyes are still on the R1… I don’t know when it will be officially announced, and when it will be released… probably in 2023… Given the crazy cameras Sony and Nikon released earlier this year, Canon has to release something unique soon.

The CANON R3 is a great action camera, so if you are looking for a top performer in this area, it shouldn’t disappoint. On paper, again, this could be an amazing yet expensive Hybrid camera. Aimed at professionals, you clearly know what you are investing in if you get one otherwise… it would be a true waste of money.

I still hope I will have the opportunity to test the video performances soon, and maybe test the eye tracking feature that I've heard only good things about. Please CANON, help me make this review complete!So I am going to leave things here… Until next time!


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