Canon EOS R-1

Canon EOS-R1: The Awaited Game-Changer with Hidden Surprises

Camera & Technology

May 16, 2024 ·

Dan Wells
New and one of only pictures of release of Canon EOS-R1

On May 15, 2024, Canon officially announced the development of the EOS-R1, hailed as the “first flagship model in the EOS-R system.” This announcement, though long anticipated, has sparked immense excitement in the photography world. A flagship Canon mirrorless camera has been inevitable since the original EOS-R launch in 2018, and the EOS-R1 has been eagerly awaited for years

The Canon EOS-R1 resembles a slightly more industrial version of the Canon EOS-R3. It was expected to debut before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which were held in 2021 due to COVID-19. When it didn’t, speculation moved to the 2022 Winter Olympics. Now, it’s anticipated for the Paris Olympics in 2024, making it one of the most awaited cameras in history.

Design and Specifications

While no images of the back or top of the EOS-R1 have been released, it likely follows Canon’s modern interface seen in the EOS-R3. The press release shows a big body with dual handgrips, consistent with previous digital EOS-1 models. This robust design ensures it meets the rigorous demands of professional sports photographers and hybrid journalists who need to capture fast-moving action.

Canon EOS R-3

The most intriguing specification revealed is the “Digic Accelerator” co-processor alongside the expected Digic X processor. This hints at the use of AI algorithms for autofocus and video compression, similar to Apple’s Neural Engine. This could mean advanced noise reduction and efficiency, potentially a significant breakthrough for Canon. Imagine processing speeds and battery efficiency far beyond current capabilities.

Canon has also hinted that there are some “hidden surprises” yet to be unveiled. These undisclosed features could redefine what we expect from a flagship camera, making the EOS-R1 even more exciting.

Sensor and Speed

Canon hasn’t shared the sensor details or speed yet, but there’s a lot of speculation going around. The EOS-R1 could feature either a stacked sensor or a groundbreaking global shutter, with resolutions likely in the 24-33 MP or 40-50 MP range. To support 8K video, a resolution just under 40 MP (for Ultra HD 8K) or just under 45 MP (for Cinema 8K) seems probable.

A high-resolution global shutter would position the EOS-R1 at the top of hybrid camera specs, similar to the $30,000 RED V-Raptor X. Even at $10,000, it would be a game-changer for hybrid journalists and well-heeled amateurs, offering top-tier video and still performance in one package. The focus speed and accuracy are expected to be exceptional, making it ideal for capturing fast-paced sports action with precision.

No images of the back or top of the EOS-R1 have been released, but it will probably look quite a bit like this EOS-R3. Canon has settled on a modern interface, and it’s well reviewed.

Conversely, a low-resolution, non-global shutter sensor would be disappointing and face stiff competition from cheaper models. The EOS-R3’s 24 MP stacked sensor received mixed reviews compared to Nikon’s Z9 and Sony’s A1, which offered higher resolution and comparable speed.

Market Competition

The EOS-R1 must contend with Nikon and Sony’s (and now Fuji’s) offerings. Nikon has released seven long telephotos since the EOS-R3 and Z9 launches, compared to Canon’s four. Nikon’s lenses, including super-high-end primes with built-in teleconverters, have set a high standard. These innovations have made Nikon a formidable competitor, challenging Canon’s market dominance.

Canon’s approach of re-releasing DSLR lenses with different mounts and non-switchable teleconverters has been less well-received. Nikon’s innovative lenses and more compact, affordable telephoto options have given them an edge, highlighting the need for Canon to innovate with the EOS-R1.

Nikon has released two super-high-end primes at 400mm f2.8 and 600mm f4. These lenses feature built-in, switchable 1.4x teleconverters, offering flexibility and convenience. Canon, on the other hand, has re-released their final-generation DSLR lenses as new mirrorless lenses, sometimes with built-in but non-switchable 2x teleconverters. This strategy has not been as well-received, making it clear that Canon needs to step up with the EOS-R1.

Potential Impact on Users

For hybrid journalists, the EOS-R1’s potential combination of high-resolution imaging, fast and accurate autofocus, and efficient video capabilities could be revolutionary. These professionals need a camera that can seamlessly switch between capturing high-quality stills and recording video, often in challenging conditions. The EOS-R1’s rumored features suggest it could meet these demands, providing unparalleled flexibility and performance.

Sports photographers, too, stand to benefit immensely. The anticipated fast focus and durability of the EOS-R1 would make it an invaluable tool for capturing the split-second action of sports events. Whether it’s the Olympics, the Super Bowl, F1 racing, or any high-paced sporting event, having a reliable, high-performance camera is crucial. The EOS-R1 promises to deliver just that, making it a potential game-changer in the field.

Potential Impact on the Market

If the EOS-R1 features a 24 MP global shutter or a 45 MP stacked sensor, it would enter established markets. The Sony A9 III currently leads the low-resolution global shutter market, while Nikon and Sony dominate the high-resolution stacked sensor market. A ~24 MP global shutter camera would be competitive but not revolutionary.

A ~45 MP camera without a global shutter would face tough competition from the $4000 Nikon Z8. Canon would need to justify a higher price with superior performance and features. This could be Canon’s chance to redefine the market and set a new standard for flagship cameras.

In conclusion, the Canon EOS-R1 holds immense promise and is poised to make a significant impact on the photography world. With the right combination of innovation and performance, along with the hidden surprises Canon has hinted at, it could become the benchmark for professional cameras, meeting and exceeding the high expectations set by photographers and industry experts alike. The anticipation is palpable, and the EOS-R1 could very well be the game-changer that hybrid journalists, sports photographers, and Canon users have been waiting for.


Stay tuned….May is framing up nicely with Camera manufacturer Fujifilm just announcing the GFX100SII and the Fujifilm X-T50!

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Dan Wells, "Shuttterbug" on the trail, is a landscape photographer, long-distance hiker and student in the Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School. He lives in Cambridge, MA when not in wild places photographing and contemplating our connection to the natural world. Dan's images try to capture the spirit he finds in places where, in the worlds of the Wilderness Act of 1964, "Man himself is but a visitor". He has hiked 230 miles of Vermont's Long Trail and 450 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail with his cameras, as well as photographing in numerous National Parks, Seashores and Forests over the years - often in the offseason when few people think to be there. In the summer of 2020, Dan plans to hike a stretch of hundreds of miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, focusing on his own and others' spiritual connection to these special places, and making images that document these connections. Over years of personal work and teaching photography, Dan has used a variety of equipment (presently Nikon Z7 and Fujifilm APS-C). He is looking for the perfect combination of light weight, ruggedness and superb image quality.

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