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Canon R3 First Impressions by Paul Kane

Paul R. Kane is a West Australian commercial and editorial photographer, based in Perth.

While sport is his passion, Paul is well versed in shooting either on a commercial or editorial basis on construction, transportation, news and entertainment assignments. Since 2005, he has represented Getty Images on a freelance and contributor basis.


Canon R3 – First impressions

Everyone loves something new and I am no exception.

Having used 1D series bodies over the last 20+ years, I finally succumbed to the world of mirrorless last October purchasing the R6 and after enjoying that, shortly the R5 found it’s way into my bag.

Both the R5 and R6 have been my go to bodies since, while my 1Dx ii bodies sat at home.
I ended up selling 1 of the 1Dx ii’s a short time back, once a confirmed date of the R3 was announced.

Based on what I already knew with the predecessor’s and what was already known about the specs of the R3, I committed to purchasing one (without even seeing, holding or using an R3)

When the day came that Ben messaged me to advise my R3 would be arriving in a few days time, I was like a kid waiting for Christmas.
Then the day came when he messaged again when stock arrived and advising “it’s here” and photo attached of the R3 sitting on his desk !

The first chance I had, I headed into Team Digital.

Ben proudly lifted up the box of the R3, like Mufasa lifting Simba in the Lion King and handed it to me.
After getting the R3 out of the packaging and battery installed the first impressions were WOW !
The R3 is very different to the R5 and R6.
Personally, I feel it is a hybrid of the 1Dx iii and the R5.
Similarities abound when compared.
At first glance you would say it’s a 1Dx iii, but then the top plate resembles an R5 with variances to left hand side, resembling once again the 1D series.
It is much smaller and lighter than the 1Dx iii, with sizing comparable to the R5 with a BG-R10 battery grip.
However, unlike the BG-R10 grip for the R5/6, the R3 has a built in grip (same as the 1D series) and the vertical controls match those in both placement, size and design as the horizontal controls – unlike the BG-R10 !

The light weight could be attributed to the polymer casing similar to the R5/6, unlike the “full metal jacket” of the 1D series.

So, into setting the camera up for use.
Menu systems are almost identical to the R5/6, but with more items in the menus and choices to select.
I started with setting what I already knew, to align the settings with my R5 and R6 to keep the familiarity.
Once that was done, it was time to investigate the Eye Focus control.
I have used this back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, when I had a Canon EOS 50E
Back then it was fairly rudimentary, but did work…
While some may think this now focuses your camera, basically all it is doing is moving the focus point in the EVF to where you are looking.

You run a calibration setting to set up the Eye Control and it is suggested to do this numerous times to fine-tune – using different lenses and under different lighting conditions.

Once dialled in, the accuracy of hitting your selected focus spot is sensational!

My first outing with the R3 was shooting a Wildcats game.
Straight away, I could see the increased speed and accuracy in focussing with the R3, compared to the R5 and R6.
Focusing just seems more “stickier” than the R5/6.
I was shooting in full electronic shutter mode at 30 fps!
That in itself is an experience.
And while shooting in electronic shutter, I selected to have the shutter sound activated (which is a feature I which the R5/6 had) as it gives you a tactile response to indicate that you are actually shooting.
I also had Eye Control switched on, tracking subject and eye/face detection activated.
This was all a bit overwhelming with orange circles (Eye Control) and 2 sets of bounding boxes for subject tracking and eye/face detect, so ended up switching off Eye Control.

The following day I was shooting the A-League Women match and had to shoot at 8000 iso, given the lighting at the ground.
I could easily have gone higher, as the higher iso is very clean.
Having learned a few mistakes from shooting the basketball the night before, I changed up some settings.
Once again, the speed of focus and accuracy blew me away.

Then it was back for another Wildcats game, using pretty much the same settings as the football match, the night before.

And the final outing before writing this, was shooting at the BBL game at Optus.
I opted to solely use the R3 over my R5 on this occasion as I wanted to get back to more of how I would have been shooting using my 1Dx ii bodies. (24MP v 20MP, compared to 45MP)
The R3 was coupled with my 600 f/4 ii and at times with the 1.4x tele converter added.
Once again, focusing was spot on – both with and without the TC.
While it would have been nice to have the 45MP files the R5 produces when cropping, the R3 files held up very well.

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