Review: Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera, focus eye tracking and 6K60p video

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I was lucky enough to attend a few events during my time with the Canon EOS R3 and these provided a great opportunity to test out the camera, alongside normal testing in the area.

The first of these events was an aerobatic aircraft display over Albury. This featured a demonstration of Air Force casters to support an exhibit on Defense Force recruiting careers. The 6 planes flying in formation, performing aerobatic tricks in the middle of the day, gave me the first chance to familiarize myself with the camera and its new autofocus system.

When shooting with the 100-500mm lens, I was hoping to capture close detail of aircraft and that’s exactly what I got. As the planes rotated their bodies in the sky, the smoke trails followed closely, and the massive zoom allowed me to capture the action better than I could have hoped.

Not all of the photos were sharp, I was the camera learner, but of the over 670 photos I took during the 15-20 minute performance, I was left with some amazing photos. As with every fast moving live object shoot, a little post work to improve color and cropping to center the subject, takes a good shot, for a great shot.

For the first shot, I was really happy with the end result, although I sometimes struggled with the eye focus technique. After going through all the menus that night I realized I could calibrate the eye detection and from then on I felt like it was much more accurate so I highly recommend you to do it immediately when you get this camera.

Because the planes were moving at such speed, I also thought it would be a good opportunity to test fps. Although you often read the spec sheet and see an increasing number in the FPS column, what does this actually do for you?

In this context, the planes rapidly changing angle, the light was reflected differently in a few fractions of a second. This means that if you want to catch the light just right (and cut down on your post work) then you can shoot at up to 30 fps. With these bursts you trigger the digital shutter to capture a bank of footage and as you follow the plane across the sky you can see it twist and turn in the viewfinder.

When you review the photos later, you then have a bank of photos to choose from, allowing you to choose the exact moment the plane was properly angled, whether to create the perfect silhouette or show off all the colors of the livery that runs the top of the wings in a banked turn.

If you plan to use rapid-fire continuous shooting at high frames per second, make sure you have enough storage space available as each raw .CR3 file is up to 30MB each. If shooting RAW + JPG, add an additional 10MB per image. If you hold your finger down for a few seconds, you’re talking about a file size measured in gigabytes.

The second event was a hot air balloon light show in Wangaratta. Held in the afternoon and continuing into the evening, the event saw a series of hot air balloons inflated and propelled with flame to the rhythm of the music, quite a spectacle.

There were two challenges to this shoot, the distance of the hot air balloons and the lighting changes over time, especially once the sunset and the night sky were illuminated by this spectacle.

An event like this, with a crowd of thousands, will always be steeped in security protocols. This meant that the general public was positioned well back from the action, so again the zoom really came into its own.

While many attempted to capture the action using their smartphones, even with the best zooms of the very latest flagships, there was no doubt that Canon’s 100-500mm lens offered an optical zoom that they could only dream.

This means close distance was canceled and I could close-up photograph the hot air balloons being filled as if I was standing right next to them.

When it comes to lighting, I experimented with the camera modes and that’s where a bit of personal preference comes into photography. Personally, I feel more comfortable with AP – Apture-priority where I set the aperture value and the camera automatically finds the correct shutter speed to use. Keep in mind I didn’t take a tripod, these are all hand held shots and I was delighted with the end result.

It’s a similar story to the first event, where off the camera you’re really happy and can share a lot of photos immediately, but with just a little bit of effort you can take a great shot and make an amazing shot. Exposure adjustment and minor cropping were the two goals in post for this event.

What was great about this shoot was that the inflation of the hot air balloons took place over a long period of time, which allowed me to explore, move through the crowd to different positions and try several lenses different.

When positioned in front of the balls, the zoom even at 100mm was too tight, so switching to the RF 24-70mm was a great option. At F2.8 it was also fast, capturing plenty of light in dim conditions.

All in all, the performance of this camera is amazing in terms of what it offers from Canon’s hardware and it’s up to your photography skills to get the best out of it.

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