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Canon explains why the Canon EOS R3 isn't its flagship camera

Canon EOS R3
(Image credit: Canon)

The recent Canon EOS R3 'development announcement' was a little short on specific details about the "high-performance professional camera", but an interview with a Canon exec has started to fill in a few of the gaps.

Canon Rumors picked up the Photowebexpo interview with Andrey Tishchenko, who is Head of Product and Consumer Expertise at Canon Russia, and it contains a few interesting remarks about the positioning of the Canon EOS R3, which is expected to fully launch in the next few months.

Canon has already stated that the R3 will be "positioned squarely between the EOS R5 and EOS-1D X Mark III cameras", which are respectively its most powerful mirrorless camera and its pro sports DSLR. But in the interview, Tishchenko says that "the Canon EOS R3 does not exactly replace the 1D X, nor is it a flagship".

Interestingly, he added: "In terms of level, the new Canon EOS R3 designed for professionals and advanced amateurs. If the 1D X is a model designed exclusively for professionals, then the R3 is also designed for over-enthusiastic amateurs."

While this does make sense, with pro sports photographers unlikely to switch to mirrorless just before the Tokyo Olympics, the early specs for the EOS R3 do also suggest it will be a more powerful camera (on paper) than the Canon 1D X Mark III

The EOS R3 will have Canon's first BSI (backside-illuminated) sensor for full-frame cameras, which promises to bring speedy data read-out speeds that match the Sony A1. It's also promising to deliver 30fps burst shooting speeds with its electronic shutter, which would be the fastest on any Canon camera ever – although we don't yet know what potential restrictions there might be in this mode.

Still, Tishchenko did elaborate on the type of photographer that the EOS R3 will be aimed at, saying: "Regarding genres, we primarily focus on any dynamic shooting, wildlife photography, racing, reporting – everything that is now filmed on 1Dx, but at the same time in a more compact and lightweight body."

Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Canon)

Balancing act

So what does this interview tell us about the Canon EOS R3? While Canon Russia has stated that the Canon EOS 1DX Mark III will remain Canon's flagship camera for professionals, this still feels like some characteristically careful product management.

Some companies, like DJI, are perfectly happy to undercut their existing product lines, but Canon is still performing a careful balancing act between protecting its traditional DSLRs and surging ahead with its EOS R mirrorless cameras.

Realistically, the Canon EOS R3 is its sports flagship in waiting, though the real-world switch from DSLRs won't happen overnight. As Tischenko added in the interview, "I think the 1D-X Mark III will be the most popular camera at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which I hope will take place."

That could well be the case, and many pro sports photographers will hefty existing lens collections may not feel the need to switch to mirrorless, but on paper the Canon EOS R3 has the power to take sports and action photography to another level. 

All we need now is for Canon to confirm exactly how powerful that new sensor and processor are going to be. Expect to see more official updates in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is the Cameras Editor for TechRadar at Future. He writes and oversees reviews of the latest camera gear on TechRadar and looks after all the photography tutorials. Mark was previously Digital Editor (Cameras) at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine.