12 things you didn't know the EOS R3 could do

What can the EOS R3 do? Canon's flagship full-frame mirrorless camera offers unprecedented professional performance. But Eye Control AF, continuous shooting at up to 30fps and In-body Image Stabilisation are just the tip of iceberg. Discover some of the lesser-known features of this groundbreaking camera.
In a photo taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Eddie Keogh, football players practise under the floodlights on a dark and rainy night.

"One of my favourite things about the change from DSLR to mirrorless is that you can preview the exposure all of the time and you can be more creative with it," says sports photojournalist Eddie Keogh. "In a small stadium like this one in North Wales, the floodlights are usually tiny and not necessarily evenly distributed – so the edge of the pitch could be a stop darker than at the centre. The beauty of an EVF is that I can see the image getting darker or brighter, and I'm able to dial the exposure up or down as needed." Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM lens at 31mm, 1/1000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 4000. © Eddie Keogh

The full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS R3 sets a new benchmark in performance. With a continuous shooting speed of up to 30fps and innovative technologies such as advanced subject tracking autofocus with Eye Control AF, it raises the bar for professional sports, action, wildlife and news photography.

If you're coming to the EOS R3 from a pro DSLR such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III then you'll feel at home in no time, thanks to the familiar EOS menus and controls. Both cameras are equipped with a Smart Controller for rapid selection of AF points, for example. The EOS R3's OLED electronic viewfinder can also be set to OVF Simulation mode, which replicates the look of an optical viewfinder to give a more natural view under high-contrast lighting.

There are a host of innovations that lift the EOS R3 to the next level, though, including the ability to use the advanced subject detection and tracking in all AF Area modes, rather than just when the entire AF frame is active. It works with people, animals and vehicles and you also have the freedom to customise the size and shape of the AF area with Flexible Zone AF.

But what about those lesser-known features that make the EOS R3 such an adaptable and dependable professional camera? Here, we delve beyond the headline functions to highlight some of the things you might not know the EOS R3 could do, with the help of Canon Europe Senior Product Specialist Mike Burnhill and comments and example images from EOS R3 users.

In a photo taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Nikolai Linares, a young boxer practises punching as two men look on, sitting against the yellow ropes at the edge of the ring, out of focus in the background.

Depth of field simulation can be always-on in the EOS R3's viewfinder and on the rear LCD screen, which is especially useful to check that crucial details appear sharp when shooting at wider apertures. Having this function activated leaves you free to customise the depth of field preview button for an alternative function. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM lens at 45mm, 1/500 sec, f/2.0 and ISO 2500. © Nikolai Linares

1. Enable depth of field preview without using the DOF Preview button

Traditionally, to preview the depth of field in an image, you've had to hold down a button to temporarily stop the lens down to the working aperture. But the EOS R3 allows you to see the effect in the viewfinder and on the LCD screen all of the time.

"Obviously we've had exposure simulation for a while in mirrorless cameras," says Mike, "but now with the EOS R3 there's the ability to have depth of field as part of the exposure simulation. It really helps when you're using fast apertures, as you can actually see the difference between, say, f/2 and f/1.2, without having to keep pressing a button. This function allows you to monitor the effect continuously."

In a photo taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Molly Darlington, two football players clash into each other during a match.

The sound of the EOS R3's shutter can be adjusted from silent to full volume, and can also be played back through headphones. The ability to monitor the shutter in an earpiece can be beneficial at sports matches and in other noisy environments, and equally in quiet environments such as weddings when you want to hear the shutter without disturbing the people you're photographing. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 108mm, 1/1600 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 1000. © Molly Darlington

2. Fine-tune camera sounds

The EOS R3 is the perfect camera for photographers who need total control over their noise levels. Not only can the shutter click be adjusted, but all of the camera control sounds can be turned from silent to full volume.

Silent operation might be desirable when photographing wildlife or wedding ceremonies, but there are times when you need to pump up the volume, Mike explains. "If you're working with professional models in a studio, for instance, you'll find that they're typically used to changing poses when they hear the shutter go off. But if there's no sound, it's harder to have that rapport with the camera."

One of the "hidden" features of the EOS R3 is the ability to hear the shutter via headphones, which is particularly beneficial when shooting in a noisy environment, such as a football stadium. "With the EVF image you don't really get that blackout in the viewfinder when the shutter fires," says Mike, "so with such a fast frame rate it's good to have that sound in an earpiece reassuring you that the shutter's going off."

A technician wearing white gloves cleans the sensor of a Canon camera.

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A split image showing the Focus Guide display indicating focus in front of the subject, on the spot, and behind the subject.

When you're focusing manually, Canon's Focus Guide display not only confirms when your subject is in sharp focus but helpfully indicates which way the lens focus ring needs to be turned to achieve this. Here, left to right, it's indicating focus in front of the subject, on the spot, and behind the subject. The system, introduced on Cinema EOS cine cameras and Canon pro camcorders, cleverly uses Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology to confirm manual focus.

A man looks into the viewfinder of a Canon EOS R3.

With the EOS R3's Eye Control and Focus Guide enabled during manual focusing, you can look at an area that you want to manually focus on and the guide appears to help ensure the image is sharp in that place.

3. Precise manual focusing with Eye Control

The EOS R3's Eye Control AF is revolutionary. You half-press the shutter button, look at a subject in the viewfinder, and the camera detects what you want to focus on. When you fully press the button, the camera's advanced subject tracking can take over, which can automatically keep the most important feature of the subject sharp as it moves through the frame. But did you know that Eye Control also works with manual focusing?

"One of the things we introduced in our Cinema EOS cameras a while ago was the Focus Guide," says Mike. "It's an on-screen indicator with small arrows that shows you whether you're focused in front of or behind the detail that's highlighted.

"With both Eye Control and Focus Guide enabled on the EOS R3, though, you can simply look at what you want to focus on and the guide goes to that position.

"It's useful for things like studio work and landscape photography and when you're shooting with the manual focus tilt-shift lenses. It's also a very quick and simple way to choose a point to focus on anywhere in the frame. It's accurate down to pixel level, so there's no need to magnify the image. Plus, when using the focus scale in the viewfinder, you can check the focus distance of subjects, making setting up focus bracketing that bit easier."

A Formula One racing car moving at speed is captured sharply against a blurred background in a photograph by Vladimir Rys using a Canon EOS R3 camera.

Want sharper panning shots or 400MP images?

Martin Bissig and Vladimir Rys try the Panning Assist and IBIS High Resolution features added in firmware updates for EOS R3 and EOS R5.
An EOS R3 camera with a range of fast-burst shots of a basketball match illustrated as coming from the sensor.

The EOS R3's intelligent image navigation allows you to jump between bursts of shots rather than having to scroll each image individually or jump ten images at a time. You can also delete entire sequences in one go: select an image and, if it's part of a burst, the camera will give you the option to delete the single image or delete the whole sequence.

4. Intelligent image navigation

As well as being swift to shoot with, the EOS R3 is equipped with a range of useful tools to streamline your workflow.

The Playback menu's Image jump function has been upgraded to include an option that lets you jump to the first frame in a burst of images. "For sports and wildlife, where you'll often be shooting long bursts, this makes it much quicker to get to the good stuff rather than having to scroll through them one by one or jump ten images," Mike explains.

If you want to delete an entire sequence, you can now do so with the press of a button. In the past you'd have to delete each image individually, but the EOS R3 essentially tags bursts of images together, so you can choose to delete the whole lot. "That's quite beneficial when you're shooting at 30fps," says Mike. "If you shot for just three seconds, you'd have 90 images to scroll through and delete. Now you're able to delete all of them in a second."

A photographer's hands hold an EOS R3.

The EOS R3's playback quick menu has a search function that provides a shortcut to search criteria such as date and protection status, which you can use to rapidly filter your images. You can also quickly search for images that you've rated, and then go to the transmission menu and send just those filtered images – a time-saving function that sports and news photographers will appreciate.

5. Customising Quick Controls

Pressing the Q button brings up an on-screen menu of shortcuts during playback or when you're shooting stills or video – a feature that the EOS R3 shares with other EOS cameras. But here you can actually choose the functions that go into those three menus, and where they appear on the screen.

Using the Customize Quick Controls option in the Shooting menu, you can minimise the layout with fewer functions, or you can add more, Mike explains. "You can decide what goes on the left and what goes on the right. So you might want to put your most-used functions on the right side when you're shooting stills, because you'll be able to tap those with your thumb quickly. If you're recording video with the screen out, then you might want some functions on the left and some on the right. You can also change the running order on each side of the screen."

A view of the LCD panel on the back of an EOS R3 displaying a message about a firmware update.

The Canon Camera Connect app will tell you when there's new firmware for the EOS R3 available to download, and enable you to install it via your smartphone or tablet with no need to remove cards or use a computer. This ensures that your camera is up to date with the latest firmware and new features, wherever you are.

6. Same camera, new features

Firmware updates bring additional features and enhanced performance to the EOS R3, such as Panning Assist and Register People Priority. Panning Assist offers sharper images when you're panning the camera to follow a moving subject, while Register People Priority makes it possible for the autofocus to track specified people, even when there are other faces in shot.

"Panning Assist works with all Canon RF lenses equipped with an Image Stabilizer, as well as a number of EF lenses," Mike explains. "The EOS R3 works out the speed of the subject you're tracking, as well as the oscillations and vibrations of the camera. It then adjusts the lens's optical Image Stabilizer to keep the subject as stable as possible in the centre of the frame."

There are two benefits to this technology, Mike adds. "It increases your hit rate by around 30% if you're using a standard shutter speed. Or you can achieve your usual panning hit rate with a shutter speed that's twice as slow, for more creative background blur."

Register People Priority is an evolution of face and eye tracking. It allows you to register and prioritise up to 10 people, and the camera will then automatically lock onto and track those faces in order of the priority you've set. "You can take a reference image during a shoot or store faces on your memory card and load them into the camera," says Mike. "It's a great option for weddings, press conferences and red carpet settings."

What's more, installing firmware updates on the EOS R3 is easier than ever. The Canon Camera Connect app for your smartphone and tablet makes it easy to stay on top of firmware updates, as well as offering a convenient way of remotely controlling the EOS R3 from your device or browsing files stored on the memory card in the camera.

"The app will tell you when there's new firmware available for the camera," Mike says. "You can go to the setup menu and click on Firmware, then your phone will download the update and transfer it to the camera. So you don't need a computer, and you can do it anywhere as long as there is a network signal for your phone.

"Obviously you don't have to update it if you don't want to, but the firmware does help to maintain camera operation at its best, and it can also add a lot of new and exciting features as well."

7. High-speed burst

A major firmware update introduced a new Custom high-speed continuous shooting setting that supports up to 195fps continuous bursts for up to 50 frames at full resolution – whether you're shooting JPEG, HEIF or RAW.

"It makes the EOS R3 the fastest camera that's not a video camera," Mike enthuses. "You wouldn't want to shoot everything at this speed, but there are special applications where it gives you the edge – for example, capturing the brief moment that a frog catches a fly with its tongue, or a springboard diver hitting the water."

A kingfisher with a fish in its beak, photographed with a Canon EOS R3 just after it catches the fish. The bird's wings and droplets of water are frozen in the air.

The EOS R3 is great for capturing fast-moving action like this, and a firmware update adds even more features for action and wildlife photography, including a custom high speed continuous shooting setting. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens at 300mm, 1/5300 sec, f/7.1 and ISO 5000.

The Custom high-speed continuous shooting menu screen on an EOS R3.

The EOS R3's custom high-speed burst option lets you set a frame rate, from 30fps up to a breakthrough 195fps, and the number of shots you want, up to 50. The shooting time will vary depending on the shutter speed, but this gives you unprecedented capability to capture a set of shots of fast-moving action, with more creative potential than ever before to get that elusive perfect photo.

8. High-speed pro video recording

An additional high-speed 240fps Full HD video recording option is also enabled in the EOS R3 via the firmware update. "This is ideal if you want to produce ultra-slow-mo footage," Mike explains, "because the faster the frame rate you can record at, the more the action slows down when the footage is played back at normal frame rate. Plus, being able to record at faster frame rates makes it possible to capture video of very fast action, such as the beating wings of a hummingbird in flight, with sharper detail and less motion blur, and see it more clearly when it is slowed down.

"In the past, very high frame rates were possible only at greatly reduced resolutions, but recording at this high frame rate in Full HD will give you slow-mo footage at high-def resolution, with excellent detail and smooth movement."

The video recording option screen on the EOS R3 with 240fps high-frame-rate Full HD video selected.

With a 2023 firmware update, the EOS R3 gains an outstanding 240fps slow-motion filming option in Full HD video resolution.

The Focus bracketing menu screen on the EOS R3, with the in-camera Depth composite option enabled.

Another firmware update addition to the EOS R3 is in-camera depth compositing, which can automatically stack a set of images taken using the camera's focus bracketing feature. This makes it possible to create images with more of the subject in sharp focus than would otherwise be possible when shooting macro, where depth of field is characteristically greatly reduced. It also enables you to shoot at the optimum aperture and still obtain maximum depth of field in landscapes.

9. Time lapse movies

A 2023 firmware update also enables a useful time lapse movie function, with the ability to retain your shooting settings even if the camera powers down. "Feedback from time lapse specialists is that power cuts are inevitable when you're shooting a long sequence, and when the battery was changed everything was lost," Mike explains. "But now you can maintain the video file and quickly restart."

10. In-camera depth compositing

The EOS R3's Focus Bracketing function has been supplemented so that it's now possible to create focus stacks automatically in-camera, using the Depth Compositing feature introduced in the EOS R7 and EOS R10. This is invaluable for creating images, particularly macro shots, with greater depth of field than is normally possible in a single image – in the past, you had to combine a set of images post-shoot using software such as Canon's free Digital Photo Professional. It's also now possible to take advantage of the Speedlite EL-1's rapid recharging time to illuminate each frame in the stack, opening up new opportunities for macro images shot with flash.

In a photo taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Eddie Keogh under weak floodlights, a footballer in a yellow jersey dribbles the ball at his feet while two footballers in white jerseys run behind him.

The EOS R3's autofocus is "fantastic" in darker conditions, says sports photographer Eddie Keogh. "Focusing is normally trickier in low light, but it actually makes no difference at all whether I'm shooting under the tiny floodlights at a little stadium in North Wales or under the beautiful lights at a Premier League ground. The EOS R3's autofocus holds so well." Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 400mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 1/1000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 5000. © Eddie Keogh

In a photo taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Christian Ziegler at ISO 25,600 under artificial lighting, a termite mound stands tall amongst wild grass at night.

"The EOS R3's image quality at high ISOs is stellar," declares nature photojournalist Christian Ziegler. He captured this termite mound shooting handheld at ISO 25,600 using continuous lights. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 28mm, 1/40 sec, f/9 and ISO 25,600. Photo: Christian Ziegler for Max-Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour © Max-Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour, Konstanz

11. Eye-opening low-light performance

With Canon's next-generation Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, the EOS R3 can focus in low-light conditions down to -7.5 EV.1 As Mike points out, this light level is about the same as a scene under a starry sky at night lit only by the light cast by the Milky Way in the sky. "To give you an idea of how dark that is," he says, "you'd need to expose for around 60 seconds at f/2, ISO 100 to record an image at that light level. Although you may not be shooting at -7.5EV often, the improvement that's been made has a benefit to the camera's overall low-light AF performance."

The EOS R3 also features advanced noise reduction technologies, effective at a wide range of ISO levels. "For day-to-day photography, most photographers will typically go up to ISO 6400 or ISO 12,800, so those are the areas we've concentrated on, and where you'll see the most improved noise performance," Mike says.

Sports photographer and Canon Ambassador Eddie Keogh regularly relies on the EOS R3's low-light performance. Shooting a football match on a rain-soaked night in North Wales, he set his EOS R3 to ISO 5000 in order to achieve action-stopping shutter speeds of 1/1000 sec in the near-dark. "Going back a few years, this situation would have been a nightmare," he says. "I wouldn't have been able to push the ISO as much and would have had to drop the shutter speed down to 1/250-1/500 sec, so there would have been slight movement in the feet if they were kicking a ball.

"Shooting sports, we’re always cropping pictures, and it’s not unusual to pull into a tenth of the image. So sharpness really matters," he explains. "Not only does the high ISO let you use faster shutter speeds, the sharpness and detail are still fantastic."

Nature photographer and Canon Ambassador Christian Ziegler pushes his ISO settings even higher when shooting in the rainforest – much higher. "Only 3% of the light that hits the tree canopy reaches the floor," he explains, "meaning it's in almost total darkness." The EOS R3, he says, has enabled him to get shots that would simply have been impossible before.

In a photo taken on a Canon EOS R3 by Christian Ziegler in low light conditions, a shirtless man wearing a head torch holds a ladle while food cooks in a wok on a fire in front of him.

Christian captured this cook at work in his rainforest camp at ISO 32,000. "It's changed my life," Christian says of the EOS R3's low-light capabilities. "I'm now more spontaneous. Shots like this would previously have been impossible without a tripod, and even then there would have been some motion blur." Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 24mm, 1/60 sec, f/4 and ISO 32,000. Photo: Christian Ziegler for Max-Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour © Christian Ziegler and MPIAB

12. Rugged to the extreme

Christian also relies on the EOS R3's exceptional build quality and weather sealing. Designed for the most demanding pro photography, the EOS R3 has a robust magnesium-alloy body and Canon's highest level of dust- and water-resistance.

"I put the camera through a lot," Christian says. On his recent shoot in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, "the conditions were pretty primitive. Our tent was 30km from the nearest village, so we had a long hike to get there, on top of a 700km flight from Kinshasa. It was a really remote location, with extremely high humidity almost permanently."

Engineered for environments up to 40°C and 85% humidity, the EOS R3 was up to the challenge. "I think that was the hardest test for the camera," Christian says, "and I used it every day for 12 or more hours. I'm really happy with the EOS R3, especially under these extreme conditions. It's a very sturdy and rugged camera."

With its professional performance and build quality, and refinements being added via regular firmware updates, perhaps the question is no longer "what can the EOS R3 do", but "what can't it do?"

Marcus Hawkins
  1. Autofocus performance during still photo shooting, with an f/1.2 lens, Centre AF point, One-Shot AF, at 23°C/73°F, ISO100. Excluding RF lenses with Defocus Smoothing coating.

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