Canon EOS R3 Hands-on Review: This souped-up full-frame mirrorless delivers excellent usability, image quality & performance


posted Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT

Click here to read our Canon R3 Hands-on Review


Canon's newest, highest-end mirrorless camera, the EOS R3, looks ready and willing to compete head-to-head with a couple of other souped-up mirrorless cameras, namely the Sony A1 and the Nikon Z9. Not only do all three of these cameras come with some hefty price tags but they also come packed with high-performance stacked full-frame sensors, insanely-fast continuous shooting speeds, incredibly versatile and sophisticated autofocusing systems. However, there are some notable variations in the cameras' specs as well as, arguably, the target customer for these models. 

At the heart of the R3 is a 24MP stacked full-frame CMOS sensor, which puts it quite a bit underneath the A1's 50MP sensor and the Z9's 45MP sensor. If you're looking for a high-resolution camera for landscapes, portraiture, editorial and other high-detail work, the EOS R3 might not be the best fit. However, I think Canon understands that. For those subjects, the higher-res EOS R5 is right there. Instead, the Canon R3 is a bit more targeted to a certain subset of professional photographers, namely sports photographers and other photojournalists -- at least from a stills perspective. The R3 packs in outstanding AF performance and burst shooting speeds but paired with nimble, easy-to-edit and easy-to-transfer files. In the press photo world, speed is a big priority and arguably more so than sheer image resolution.


I recently spent some time testing and shooting with the Canon R3, oftentimes paired up with an RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS lens. As a big fan of wildlife photography, I was immediately curious to see how the R3 and its updated autofocusing system with Animal/Bird-detection AF, 1053 AF points, and nifty Eye Control AF worked out in the field. Plus, with up to 30fps burst shooting and completely silent operation, the R3 is both fast and quiet, making it seem like an ideal wildlife camera.

RF 100-500mm: 500mm, F7.1, 1/1000s, ISO 8000

However, does the 24MP sensor put it at a disadvantage for birding and wildlife? Especially for bird photography, having lots of cropping potential can be an important factor; you may not always be able to get close to your subjects, and you might need to resort to some cropping later to get a better composition. Fortunately, the R3 performs very well in nearly every area, both in terms of performance and image quality. While yes, having a bit more resolution would be nice, I can't complain about the high-quality images I got from the R3. The camera certainly captures photos with lots of fine detail, excellent colors and it handles higher ISO situations very well.

RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM: 105mm, F4, 1/400s, ISO 100, +0.7EV

If you're curious how Canon's new, high-performance full-frame mirrorless camera handles in the field, including discussions on its design and ergonomics plus performance and autofocus capabilities, check out our Canon R3 Hands-on Review.


Oh, and I'm sure you'll notice that we haven't yet touched on the impressive array of video features that the R3 has to offer. We're not done with the R3 just yet. Stay tuned for further R3 testing!

Canon R3 Hands-on ReviewGalleryLab Samples