Canon EOS R3 announced: shoot at 30fps and move AF points with your EYES!

Canon EOS R3 announced: shoot at 30fps and move AF points with your EYES!
(Image credit: Canon)

Canon has announced the development of the Canon EOS R3 – a professional camera aimed at professional sports and news photographers that boasts 30fps continuous shooting, a brand new stacked backside illuminated (BSI) image sensor, “next generation Dual Pixel CMOS AF” and Eye Control Function autofocus.

The Canon EOS R3 will sit between the DSLR flagship Canon EOS-1D X Mark III (opens in new tab) and the current top-of-the-line mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab). And, looking at its specs so far, it will take aim at the new Sony A1 (opens in new tab) – at least in the all-important speed stakes, which are the defining feature of the best cameras for sports photography. 

• Read more: Best professional cameras (opens in new tab)

The headline feature, which matches the A1, is the 30fps burst shooting with full AF/AE tracking and minimal rolling shutter. This is made possible by the new stacked image sensor (the first ever in an EOS camera) that delivers blisteringly fast readout speeds while minimizing the distortion.

Clearly the naming nomenclature indicates that this is not the direct mirrorless equivalent of the 1D X Mark III – and is not intended to replace it. Though Canon tells us that the R3 will feature 1-series performance, weather sealing and build. And indeed, it possesses the same physical form factor with built-in vertical grip that has heretofore been exclusive to the flagship DSLRs. 

So, why call it the EOS R3? We have a Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab), just as we had a Canon EOS 5D and Canon EOS 6D, but there was never an EOS 3D. However, in the pre-digital era, there was an EOS-3 – and not only did it sit just below the EOS 1 as a professional camera, it also possessed Canon’s Eye Controlled Focus (opens in new tab) that enabled you to move AF points with your eyeball. 

In resurrecting the EOS-3 Canon has also resurrected and refined this technology. Now called Eye Control Function, it is described as “an AF control system ready for the 21st Century,” which enables you to “select and move the AF point with the look of your eye using the EOS R3 viewfinder.” This next-generation version of the autofocus tech “allows for ultra-intuitive control in the most demanding professional situations.”

If an AF system that follows the movement of your eye seems a little too spooky to you, the Canon ROS R3 also features an updated version of the phenomenally faithful Dual Pixel AF II seen in the 1D X Mark III, R5 and R6. 

Since this was a development announcement, rather than a full product announcement, other important specs – such as the camera’s megapixel count and video capabilities – are yet to be revealed. Much like the Nikon Z9 (opens in new tab), we only know a limited amount about the new camera – and that doesn’t include a price or release date (or even a date for the full reveal). 

We suspect that if the Canon EOS R3 was going to be released in time for the Tokyo Olympics in July, this would have been a full announcement. With the A1 already available, though, and the Z9 due for release in 2021, we’re likely to see it materialize later this year.

Canon EOS R3 specs

• Back-illuminated stacked CMOS image sensor
• Digic X image processor
• 30fps continuous shooting with AF/AE tracking and eye, head and body detection
• Eye Control Function autofocus
• Next-generation Dual Pixel CMOS AF
• EOS-1D levels of durability, dust and water resistance

Read more: 

Best Canon cameras
(opens in new tab)Canon EOS-1D X Mark III review (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS R5 review (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS R6 review (opens in new tab)
Sony A1 review (opens in new tab)
Nikon Z9 announced (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.