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!


  • 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!

Author: kathyadamsclark

Professional photographer leading workshops and tours.

4 thoughts on “Canon R3 — First Look”

  1. Kathy, Thank you for the quick comparison! I look forward to your noise report and any others. I was planning to get the R5 soon, but since my primary interest is capturing birds in flight, now I’m convinced I need the R3. So, gee thanks – Now I need to scrounge up another $2000. šŸ™‚ lol


    1. You can always count on me to spend your money for you. So far, the R3 is proving to be better at birds in flight. I’ve photographed a lot of flying birds with the R5 but also missed a lot. So much of photographing birds in flight is the skill of the photographer. I thought I had good skills but the R5 made me think my skills were declining — or I had the wrong settings. I’m using the R3 almost straight out of the box and it’s locking onto every bird that flies by — as long as I can get the bird in the viewfinder. Still need those skills.


  2. Glad to hear it lives up to your expectations! Iā€™d be curious to know how the eye tracking on R3 performs compared to the R5.


    1. So far, the Animal Eye tracking appears to be a bit tighter. I’ve expected it to get caught on a leaf in one instance and it’s stayed on the bird’s eye. It found the eagle’s eye at a distance but so did the R5. We’ll see as I work with it in the days to come.


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