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New Canon EOS R mirrorless flagship can convert to an SLR (report)

New Canon EOS R mirrorless flagship due in 2021… and it can convert to an SLR
(Image credit: Canon)

Canon could replace its current DSLR flagship, the EOS-1D X line, with a Canon EOS mirrorless flagship in 2021, according to a new report from Japan. Fascinatingly, this 'Canon EOS-1 R' apparently features the ability to convert to an SLR camera.

This would incorporate an adapter, already patented by Canon, that would mount between the lens and camera body, and provide an optical viewfinder – which is still favored over an electronic viewfinder by some photographers, including many professional shooters.

A professional grade EOS R model has been one of the more abundant camera rumors (opens in new tab) ever since the birth of Canon's full-frame mirrorless platform. A recent report (opens in new tab) by the highly respected Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (via a story (opens in new tab) by Canon News) reveals some insight into the camera and its development.

 Read more: Canon EOS R review (opens in new tab)

"Canon will introduce the highest model of mirrorless camera using a 35mm full-size image sensor in 2021. The communication function between the camera body and the interchangeable lens will be higher than the high-priced 'EOS R' released in October 2018."

It has been speculated that this increased communication speed might facilitate an advanced in-body image stabilization harmonizing with in-lens stabilization (an idea pioneered by Olympus and Panasonic in their Micro Four Thirds cameras). 

Canon's patent for a converter to add a reflex mirror to a mirrorless camera

Canon's patent for a converter to add a reflex mirror to a mirrorless camera (Image credit: JPO / Canon)

According to the report, "Prototypes have already been completed and are expected to be classified into the same 'professional model' as the EOS-1D X Mark II, the top model of the company's single-lens reflex camera." 

While this new 'Canon EOS-1 R' camera will obviously not arrive in time for the Tokyo Olympics, that would seem like an obvious arena in which to test these prototypes.

Here's where the report gets really interesting, though. "We are also developing a converter that can join a mirrorless camera to an interchangeable lens for a single lens reflex camera." 

This would seem to track back to a Canon patent filed in 2018, discovered by (opens in new tab) Canon News, for an adapter that "would provide the half mirror assembly that would split the optical path between the image sensor and the viewfinder, and allow for simutaneous [sic] use of the image sensor and that of the optical viewfinder."

A mirrorless camera that can be outfitted with an optical viewfinder, to win over any luddites in 2021 who are still resistant to using EVFs? It sounds crazy – so crazy that there's probably truth to it…

Read more:

Canon rumors (opens in new tab) – what new cameras are on the horizon?
Canon EOS R review (opens in new tab)
The best cameras for professionals (opens in new tab) in 2019

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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.