Canon R3 — Flying Birds in Low Light

Someone recently asked me to test the Canon R3 in low light. Little did I know I’d find myself in overcast, dreary, drizzly, windy, and cold conditions all weekend. What a test!

All of the following photos were taken with the Canon R3 in Case 2 Auto Focus, High-Speed burst, and Whole Area Auto Focus. The camera is still set-up as it came out of the box otherwise.

Camera Settings: Shutter Priority, 1/6400th second, ISO Auto, f10, over-exposed by +1 because it was so overcast. (The exposure compensation was based on a test shot using the histogram and the exposure simulation in the viewfinder.)

All photos have been processed in Adobe Camera Raw. Settings: Texture +20, Vibrance +20, Saturation +20, Shadows +35-40, Noise Reduction 16. No other hocus-pocus or magic.

Merlin in Flight From a Boat

This is a screen capture of 18 frames I got of a merlin flying across the bow of a boat. The boat is in motion, I’m moving, and the merlin is flying, of course.
First image in the series at 100% crop. Process details above.
16th image in the series. at 100% crop

Notice that the R3 acquired focus on the merlin in flight and then held the focus until the bird was out of my sight. That’s exactly what I expect of a camera at this level. No hesitating and no delay.

All of the above are are ISO 16,000 with Adobe Camera Raw’s Noise Reduction at 16.

Northern Shoveler’s in Flight

Back on land but in the same weather conditions. Cold, overcast, drizzly, and windy. I wasn’t dressed for the weather so only stayed at this location for 10 minutes. Ducks were taking flight in front of me and flying to the right. I took 219 photos in that 10 minutes. Same settings and processing as above.

Screen capture of some of the images that follow unprocessed.

I realized at this point that the Canon R3 was going to acquire focus and not let go even on these flying ducks. For the next 10-minutes, I photographed any duck that flew by. Reminder that I am pivoting to the right on each duck that flies by.

ISO 8000 on this series. I captured 22 frames of this female as she flew by.

Female northern shoveler in flight. ISO 4000 and cropped to 100%
Northern shoveler coming right at me. The Canon R3 with the 100-500mm RF lens acquired focus.
Northern shoveler male in flight with ISO 5000.
Above is a tricky situation for some cameras. Single bird flying in front of a busy background. Another camera might focus on the background since the large zone auto focus is set.
The Canon R3 found the northern shoveler.
The image above enlarged to 100%.

I am totally impressed with the auto focus on the Canon R3. The camera never lost focus on a flying bird. I shot for a total of three hours on this day and never was I disappointed in the performance of the Canon R3.

For users of the Canon EOS 1-D x — The R3 is equal to and better. Canon has given us an amazing camera.

Questions or comments? What me to test something else on the R3? Post below.

Canon R3 — Birds in Flight

I always loved my Canon D1X for the way it locked on to birds in flight. The camera did its job and I had to make sure everything else was in sync to get the photo.

The Canon R3 appears to be meeting those same standards. My test today involved birds flying around a neighborhood lake so not the most dramatic species for photos. Good test subjects, though. Take a look.

Great egret in flight. 1/1600 shutter at ISO 800.
Double-crested cormorant at 1/1600 shutter speed and ISO 2000

In both instances, the R3 didn’t hesitate. It locked on to the bird and held focus while I tracked the subject with the camera. The focus confirmation stayed on the screen. The camera never lost focus or tried to hunt.

Very impressive so far. I’ll try smaller birds next.

Questions or comments please post below. Thanks for reading.

Canon R3 — Shutter Speed of 1/64,000

Day 2 with the Canon R3 and I went to a nearby lake to photograph birds in flight. Someone nearby was flying a drone so I took a picture of it. The drone flew over to me and hovered. Photo Opportunity!!

The Canon R3 locked on to the drone without much problem. This photo is 1/1600 shutter with ISO 400. Notice the propellers are blurred.
I changed the shutter speed to 1/12,800. Yes, there’s a shutter speed faster than 1/8000 now! Notice the propellers are nearly stopped. ISO 4000 for those interested.
I rotated the shutter speed dial to 1/64000. Yes, we have that now! ISO is 20,000 at this point. A bit of noise reduction was needed but not much. Notice that the propeller blades are frozen at this point.

Shutter speeds range from 1/64000 to 30″ seconds on the R3. Life just got a lot more interesting.

Canon R3 — First Look

Canon R3

After a long wait I finally got my Canon R3. I’ve used the Canon R5 and R6 for the past two years. Use the “search” feature here to read my reviews of those cameras.

The Canon R3 was advertised as a mirrorless equivalent to the Canon D1X. The D1 line and particularly the D1X have been my preferred camera for over 15 years.

This first review of the Canon R3 is with minimal set-up. I took the camera out of the box and set the following menu items: (1) date and time, (2) copyright, (3) Raw, (4) animal eye focus, (5) AF Servo AF Case 2, and (5) High speed release. That’s it! The bare minimum for this first test run.

There’s a northern mockingbird in this bush. The Canon R3 locked onto the eye and held focus despite all the tangle of brush in front of the bird. No coaxing on my part. The camera did all the work.
Ruby-crowned kinglet is a hyper-active little bird that never sits still. The Canon R3 found the eye and stayed with the bird as long as I could keep the bird in the frame.
Uncropped image of a white-throated sparrow in the brush. The Canon R3 found the eye and stayed with the bird. This is an easy one because the sparrow wasn’t very active. The Canon R3 didn’t get distracted by any of the round leaves nearby as we’ve seen with the R5 or R6.
There weren’t a lot of flying birds during my test run. The wind was blowing hard and erratic. A few black vultures flew across, though. I raised the Canon R3 and the camera immediately found the bird. No hunting or hesitation. The Canon R3 stayed with the bird as long as I could keep it in the frame.

The Canon R3 works like the Canon D1X! I feel that I finally have a D1X back in my hands but with all the bells-and-whistles of a mirrorless camera.

The Canon R3 is a big camera so it has a different feel in the hand. I’ll write about that in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.

I’ve been asked to compare noise between the R5 and R3. I’ll do that comparison in another post. Keep watch for that one.

The Canon R3 has Eye Control. This is a new feature where the camera uses my eye to determine where to focus in the frame. Can’t wait to explore that feature!

INITIAL IMPRESSION:

  • The Canon R3 looks and feels like a D1X
  • Minimal set-up is needed to get this camera up and running. Yea!!
  • Precise auto focus that allows us to photograph birds deep in the brush with Animal Eye activated.
  • Birds in flight are tracked on par with the D1X.
  • Exposure Simulation allows us to over or under exposure to get the picture right in the camera. This is expected in today’s mirrorless cameras.

Stay tuned as I work with the Canon R3.

Ask questions below or suggest items that you’d like to see tested. Thanks for reading!

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