The EOS R5 has proved to be a very successful camera for Canon since its launch in early 2020, leading the way in full-frame camera sales in Japan and helping to keep Canon profitable during a very trying year.
With the recent hotly-anticipated launch of the Sony Alpha 1 and the recent announcement of the Nikon Z9, however, Canon have lacked a similarly specced flagship model – until now, that is.
So how does the new EOS R3 differ from the R5, and which of these 35mm full-frame sensor mirrorless cameras is the right one for you?
We’re bringing you this in-depth Canon R3 vs Canon R5 head-to-head comparison to help you choose between them.
The megapixel count of the Canon R3’s sensor is still unknown, while the Canon R5 has a 45 megapixel sensor. We’d be surprised though if the R3 had fewer megapixels than the R5 and also its main rival, the Sony A1, which has a 50 megapixel sensor.
What gives the EOS R3 a potentially much bigger advantage is the type of sensor that each camera has. The R5 has a standard CMOS sensor, whereas the R3 is the very first EOS camera to use a Stacked, Back-Side Illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor (just like the Sony Alpha 1), which potentially translates into better low-light performance at like-for-like ISO speeds.
Canon are also at pains to point out they the new sensor in the R3 has been developed by Canon, and not by the market leader in sensors, Sony.
The Canon R3 uses exactly the same Digic X image processor as the R5, R6 and EOS-1D X Mark III cameras, which combined with the new stacked BSI sensor allows the R3 to shoot at even faster speeds for both stills and video.
The native sensitivity range of the Canon R5 is ISO 160 to ISO 51,200, which can be expanded to ISO 50 to ISO 102,400.
The ISO range of the Canon R3 has not yet been disclosed.
The Canon R5 employs the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system with a whopping 5,940 individual phase detection points that cover the frame up to 100% vertically and horizontally using the Auto AF area selection.
The new Canon R3 has a “next generation” version of Dual Pixel CMOS AF which tracks and focuses on the eyes, heads and bodies of fast moving subjects better than any other EOS camera.
Even more intriguingly, Canon have stated that “it will add a new subject (yet to be disclosed) to the camera’s AF tracking.”
We take this to mean that the R3’s Face/Eye detection mode will have the ability to recognise and track either humans, animals, and for the first time, specifically birds and focus on either their bodies, faces or eyes.
Eye Control Function
Perhaps even more excitingly, the Canon R3 will allow you to select and move the AF point with the look of your eye using the electronic viewfinder!
The EOS R5, and indeed no other camera in history, allows you to focus on a subject simply by looking at it through the viewfinder – except for three of Canon’s film SLR cameras, that is.
The EOS 3, 5 and 50 all had an eye-controlled autofocus system where you could calibrate the camera to your eye and then select a particular AF point simply by looking at it. The EOS 5 and 50 only had 3 AF points, so it worked pretty reliably, whereas the EOS 3 had 45 AF points which made the system more hit and miss.
Now the new Canon EOS R3 is attempting to pull off the same trick a few decades later, but presumably in a more sophisticated, more accurate way that’s suitable for the most demanding professional users, billing it as “an AF control system ready for the 21st Century”.
The R3 ushers in a “a new era of high speed performance for professionals”, at least according to Canon anyway.
The Canon R5 can capture images at up to 20fps with the electronic shutter or 12fps with the mechanical shutter for 170 JPEG frames, 83 RAW or 130 Compressed C-RAW files.
If you want even faster burst shooting, though, the Canon R3 takes things to another level by being able to shoot at 30fps with the electronic shutter with full AF/AE tracking and minimal image distortion.
The Canon R3 offers the same level of durability and dust and moisture resistant weather-proofing as the flagship EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR camera, which shares the same robust, weather-sealed construction of its predecessor.
The EOS R5 also has excellent weather-sealing that is similar to the Canon EOS 6D Mark II’s protection, so not on the same level as the EOS-1D X Mark III and by association the new EOS R3.
The Canon R3 has the same integrated grip with duplicated vertical controls that EOS-1D series users have enjoyed for many years.
Whilst pro shooters will mostly be delighted, some people may find the extra bulk and the lack of flexibility more off-putting.
Fitting the optional BG-R10 battery grip to the R5 achieves much the same thing as having an integrated grip, extending battery life and providing vertical controls whilst maintaining the same level of resistance to dust and moisture, but with the option of removing it if required.
The Canon R5 has a pretty incredible stabilisation system, It features 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) which provides up to 8-stops of IS when using the camera with certain compatible lenses.
The exact details of the new Canon R3’s IBIS system haven’t been revealed yet.
The Canon R5 has a very impressive 5.76M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.76x magnification and a fast 120fps refresh rate.
Other than the eye-control AF feature, we don’t know anything else about the R3’s viewfinder yet – maybe/hopefully it will use the same superlative 9.44M-dot OLED Quad-XGA unit as the Sony Alpha 1?
The Canon EOS R5 has a familiar 3.2-inch LCD panel with 2.1 million dots of resolution, unchanged since its debut on the EOS R camera.
It’s a fully articulating screen that can be flipped out to the side, rotated to the front, and folded against the back of the camera to help protect it.
We’d expect the screen on the Canon R3 to be of higher-resolution, but it probably won’t flip out to the side or even tilt, just like the fixed screen on the EOS-1D X III.
The Canon R3’s video specs have yet to be revealed, but we’d be very surprised if it didn’t at least match the R5.
The R5 has a headline-grabbing 8K video mode, which along with the Sony A1 makes it one of the only two digital interchangeable lens cameras to offer this feature at present.
The Canon EOS R5 offers 8K internal video recording up to 30p (non-cropped) in 4:2:2 10-bit Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265), in addition to 4K video at up to 120p.
When shooting 8K/30p and 4K/60p, the EOS R5 can record for up to 20 minutes before it overheats – we’d hope that the larger body and the negative feedback that Canon have received about the R5 would mean that the new R3 doesn’t suffer from over-heating.
As you would expect from a professional camera, both the EOS R5 and the 1D X III have dual memory card slots, but whereas the R5 has one slot for high-speed UHS-II type SD cards and the other for ultrafast CFexpress cards, the 1D X has two CFexpress slots.
So we’d probably expect the R3 to follow the lead of the 1D X and have two memory card slots that both support CFexpress memory cards, rather than the mixed media approach of the R5.
The Canon R5 uses the LP-E6NH battery which offers a lifespan of 470 shots when using the electronic viewfinder and 490 shots when using the LCD monitor.
The EOS-1D X III differs by using the LP-E19 battery which is CIPA rated to 2850 shots with the optical viewfinder and 610 shots with Live View.
We’re not sure yet which battery the new Canon R3 will use – will it maintain backwards compatibility with the R5 or inherit the LP-E19 battery from the 1D X series?
Mobile File Transfer App
Canon are also introducing a new Mobile File Transfer smartphone app to transfer images and speed up workflow whilst on the move using mobile network services rather than wired LAN equipment. It will initially only be available in June for Apple devices, with Android support to follow at a later date.
In the UK the Canon EOS R5 is priced at £4,199 body only and in the US it costs $3,899.
The EOS-1D X Mark III retails for £6,4999 / $6,499, which perhaps not entirely coincidentally is also the same price of the Sony Alpha 1.
With its main mirrorless rival and similar flagship DSLR sibling both costing £$6.5K, we’d expect to see the new EOS R3 join them at the same price point, so it will represent a big jump up from the more “affordable” R5 model.
We don’t know the full details about the new EOS R3 yet, but what we do know clearly positions it a rung above the R5 in Canon’s full-frame mirrorless camera lineup.
With faster 30fps burst shooting, a stacked BSI sensor, more advanced AF system with an innovative eye-control function, professional-level build quality and weather-resistance and an integrated battery grip, this is clearly the mirrorless equivalent of Canon’s most advanced DSLR, the EOS-1D X Mark III.
So what do you think? Based on what we know so far, would you choose the new Canon R3 or the Canon R5, and why? Leave a comment below!