Will there be a Canon EOS R replacement?

Canon EOS R replacement
As the sun slowly sets on the Canon EOS R, we start to think about its successor... and if there's going to be one. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

The Canon EOS R was the very first Canon full frame mirrorless camera, and  you can still buy it today, albeit at around half the original price. It spawned a sidekick, the budget-friendly Canon EOS RP, but both have been largely swallowed up by the newer and more advanced Canon EOS R6 and EOS R5 models.

But there is talk that a successor to the Canon EOS R is on its way, maybe not in 2022, but perhaps in 2023. That would be exciting, but how likely is it, and what kind of audience would a new EOS R be aimed at?

The Canon EOS R was a bit of a beast when it first came out, so will it be replaced? Or was it replaced already – with the EOS R5? (Image credit: Canon)

Why would an EOS R replacement be tricky?

There are some obstacles in the way. First, is there still a gap in the EOS R range, with the R6, R5 and R3 taking the full frame high ground, and the APS-C EOS R10 and EOS R7 bringing up the rear?

The EOS R7, even though it has a smaller sensor, effectively outguns the old Canon EOS R, with higher resolution, better autofocus, far better burst shooting and far better 4K video.

And that kind of leads on to a second obstacle. If Canon did decide to launch an EOS R successor, what on earth could it call it? Canon’s EOS R naming doesn’t seem to leave any gaps in the right place.

One possibility is a full frame Canon EOS R8, one step below the R7 for speed and performance and a more modest all-round camera for enthusiasts – but then Canon has never before given an APS-C camera a smaller (better) number than a full frame one, so that doesn’t seem very likely.

And then there’s the sensor. The 26MP sensor in the EOS RP and the 30MP sensor in the EOS R are both pretty old now, having originally done service in Canon’s DSLR range, in the EOS 6D Mark II and EOS 5D Mark IV. Unless Canon can drastically improve their performance with a new processor pairing, they don’t seem likely candidates. And a basic minimum for any new model would seem to be uncropped 4K video, which makes these older sensors even less likely.

What about a ‘detuned’ EOS R6 sensor? That might make more sense, and Canon might have taken a look at what Nikon did when positioning the Nikon Z5 against the more advanced Nikon Z6 II.

If Canon used that sensor, it doesn’t mean that the new model would automatically get IBIS. Canon’s already shown with the EOS R10 that it’s willing to leave it out of cheaper models.

This is a thought we don't want to think... but is the EOS R7 already the EOS R replacement? (Image credit: Canon)

Is the future APS-C?

Right now, all of this is just daydreaming, as the rumors going around right now don’t really have any meat on them at all. For all we know, Canon might not be planning a new full frame mirrorless camera at all.

The rumors also say that there will be a third APS-C model before any new full frame cameras (it would be nice to get a third RF-S lens first... grr).

But then the ‘everyman’ EOS R and the cheap and cheerful EOS RP will definitely leave a gap when they finally reach the end of their lives. That surely can’t be far away now, and Canon has surely got to fill that gap with something?

My worry is that Canon thinks the gap is already filled – with the EOS R10 and R7 – and that there won't be a new full frame camera below the EOS R6 at all. I so hope I'm wrong!

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com