We’ve been using the Canon EOS R3 on a daily basis since late December 2021. It’s a high-quality hybrid mirrorless camera, which means it produces professional-quality photos and videos. We mainly used this camera for stills shooting however the R3’s video capabilities are first-class and the autofocus system far exceeds our initial expectations. Eye-controlled autofocus is a game-changer, especially for action shots of people, sports, and wildlife photography.
The Canon R3 comes with a hefty price tag, so unless you have the cash to splurge, you might want to consider an alternative from our best mirrorless camera guide. Not sure if you want a mirrorless camera or a DSLR? We’ve put you through a guide to the best cameras for photos and video, and to help you choose between the two, there’s even the age-old debate between DSLR vs Mirrorless cameras for Astrophotography. In the meantime, though, read on to find out what we think about the Canon EOS R3.
Canon EOS R3 Review: Design
- Light weight, sturdy, weatherproof body
- 3.2-inch, 4,200,000-dot fully articulated touch screen
- Highly customizable buttons and dials
R3 feels very good in the hand. Its built-in horizontal and vertical grips with mirrored controls mean that switching between portrait and landscape shots is a breeze. The design allows for the use of a high-capacity rechargeable Li-ion battery (LP-E19) and the buttons and dials on the back, top, and front of the camera are easily accessible – most of them are customizable. The main buttons can be backlit for use at night.
Large, versatile viewfinder with eye-controlled autofocus technology. Some people have reported difficulty with the eye focus correction procedure but for us, as glasses wearers, the eye control correction correction procedure (accessible via an easy-to-use menu system) application) works very well.
The EVF is best used in conjunction with the electronic shutter because what you see is what you get, without any lag and without blackouts when taking pictures. At high frame rates, we can focus on tracking the subject and capturing the action.
The flip-out touchscreen on the rear of the camera perfectly matches and is very clear, detailed and snappy. It can be used to quickly change key settings on the fly, access specific menu items, and of course, review photos and videos. The smartphone-like features of using the screen include pinching to zoom in and out during photo review, and swiping and tapping menu items speeds up camera operation and feels great familiar.
Other than that, the Canon EOS R3 performs well. However, the different needs of different photographers mean that one size fits all configurations is not suitable. There are a variety of buttons and dials on the camera that can be configured to the photographer’s preference. For example, focusing with the back button, selecting the focus area, switching metering modes, switching through function options and other requirements at your fingertips can easily be specified using camera menu system.
Canon EOS R3 Review: Functionality
- A wide range of flexible functions
- 6K, RAW video with unlimited recording
- Stacked rear illumination sensor
The R3’s autofocus features AI-powered focusing for subject tracking. Namely animals, cars and people. Eye-detection AF makes subject selection faster than with other manual methods.
The R3’s video functionality is a big topic. It’s important to note that issues found in some mirrorless cameras such as overheating, up to thirty minutes of recording time, and lack of RAW recording are all addressed by the R3. This camera is not primarily a video camera but is capable of excellent RAW capture in full HD, 4K, 6K RAW, with 12-bit depth. Depending on the mode selected, the video frame rate ranges from 24, 30, 50, 60 to 120 FPS.
The new sensor in the R3 brings a number of functional advantages to the camera. These include improved speed, color depth and 15-stop dynamic range, low-light focusing and excellent ISO performance, no banding and no rolling shutter. All this as well as lossless RAW recording.
Canon EOS R3 Review: Performance
- Accurate and very fast autofocus
- Wide dynamic range works well with excellent high ISO performance
- Fast shutter speed (up to 1/64000 sec)
The accuracy and speed of the autofocus system are superb. It is very difficult to describe in words. Imagine looking at a moving subject, instantly focusing on specific details (such as an animal’s eyes), tracking the subject with your camera, and capturing 30 frames per second without worrying about filling up the buffer camera!
Dynamic range and high ISO performance, compared to what DSLR users are familiar with, make for an enjoyable experience. We intentionally shot overexposed and underexposed RAW images to see how much detail could be recovered from highlights and shadows later. We are very pleased with the results.
We decided to try setting the camera to fixed aperture and shutter speed and let the camera adjust exposure using AUTO ISO. We usually don’t do this because normally anything above ISO 6400 will mean the photo will start to get grainy. This is not the case with the R3, where we are happy to push ISO levels much higher than that.
The wide shutter speed range (up to 1/64000 sec) is remarkable. For example, using a shallow depth of field to photograph a subject on a bright sunny day (without an ND filter or similar) requires a fast shutter speed to avoid creating an overexposed photo. We tested this using the following settings; f/1.2, ISO 100 and shutter speed 1/64000 while aiming R3 at a very bright subject. The resulting photo won’t win any awards but is proof that a fast shutter speed is useful in such bright situations.
Canon AD-E1 (opens in a new tab) Multifunctional shoe adapter
Brackets L by Small shoes (opens in a new tab)
Backup battery type: LP-E19
Memory Card: Sandisk 256GB CFExpress (1700 MB/s read, 1200 MB/s write), Lexar Professional 128GB SDXC V60 II 1667x (opens in a new tab) (250MB/s)
For this review, we tested the camera alongside Canon EF L-Series lenses (using the Canon EF-EOS R Mount Adapter (opens in a new tab)) as this is likely something someone switching from a Canon DSLR to a Canon mirrorless camera will have in their existing kit bag. We tested everything from macro lenses to telephoto lenses. In our opinion, these lenses perform significantly better on the R3 than on Canon DSLRs.
We also tested three accessories with the R3. Canon AD-E1 . Multifunctional Shoe Adapter (opens in a new tab). This essentially creates a traditional hot shoe mount, thus allowing flashguns and wireless triggers to be used without compromising the camera’s weather-sealing capabilities.
We would also like to introduce the L bracket designed for R3 by Small Rig (opens in a new tab) this is useful for photographers who use their tripod for landscape, macro and portrait photography. A useful feature of this L-stand is that the battery can be easily removed and replaced.
The R3 uses Canon LP-E19 Batteries, a high capacity battery that has been tested and used in Canon’s flagship DSLR cameras. You might be forgiven for thinking that this camera will drain the battery like other mirrorless bodies, but we still haven’t fully discharged the battery when using the R3 for extended periods of time shooting stills.
Canon EOS R3 has dual card slots. One supports super-fast class B CFexpress memory and one supports SD/SDHC/SDXC and UHS-II. The camera can usefully record to both cards simultaneously in several file formats, so you can worry less about losing important photos. Also, one can only be used for video while the other is used for stills. It is also possible to start recording on one card and when that card is full, automatically switch to the other card.
Should you buy the Canon EOS R3?
The decision to buy or not to buy R3 is up to you. If you’re looking to ditch the DSLR body and have the budget to do so, we think buying the R3 is a leap worth making. The R3 is solidly built, has excellent operability and is very high quality. While it’s no doubt a quality camera, it’s purely aimed at the professional demographic as reflected in its feature-rich toolkit and high price tag. We were impressed with this camera but beginners and even intermediates may want to save their money on simpler, less expensive models.
If this product is not for you
Those who are just starting to learn photography or who want to try something other than their phones for photography may find the Canon EOS R3 a confusing, difficult and not to mention, a very expensive prospect. They might be better off buying the best DSLR or mirrorless camera they can afford (with manual aperture, shutter, and ISO controls). Invest in a Canon RP (opens in a new tab) would be the much cheaper choice and still boast a solid full-frame Dual Pixel CMOS sensor, -5EV autofocus (great for low light), and 26.2-megapixel stills. Beginners interested in astrophotography might like the Canon EOS Ra – another full-frame mirrorless camera but with dedicated astrological features like a modified IR sensor and maximum ISO 40,000!
However, if you’re looking for something a bit more hybrid for video and still photography, check out our review of the Canon EOS R6. It’s more budget-friendly but packs a lot of high-level functionality in a small body.