Canon Teases Its Long-Expected R1 Mirrorless Pro Camera

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Key Takeaways

  • Canon has previewed the R1, its first flagship mirrorless pro camera.
  • The device will boast a new image processor and sensor that promise rapid-fire photography.
  • The R1 arrives sometime this year.

Canon has confirmed work on the R1, its first flagship pro mirrorless camera.

The full-frame camera will use the existing Digic X chip, but will also include a new Digic Accelerator image processor and a new camera sensor. The combination will help the R1 handle “large amounts of data” quickly, Canon said — in other words, it should perform well for sustained burst shooting.

The company also promised better sports photography. The R1 will have an Action Priority mode that automatically spots a person mid-activity (such as throwing a ball) and adjusts the autofocus to keep that subject sharp. The tracking will also follow subjects even when they’re briefly obscured, such as when another player runs in front of the shot.

Canon said it expects to release the R1 sometime this year. The firm has a history of timing high-end camera launches around the Olympics, so it might formally announce the new model before the Summer Games begin in late July.

The move is a long time in coming. Canon has expanded its mirrorless line over the years to cover both entry-level models and pro versions like the R3, but it has so far shied away from offering a direct replacement for its EOS-1D DSLR. The R1 is clearly intended as that successor, and it’s an acknowledgment that mirrorless cameras now dominate digital photography.

Canon is relatively late to this space, however. Its decades-long rival Nikon already has the Z9 for demanding pros, and Sony jumped into the category relatively early with hardware like the Alpha 9. If the R1 didn’t arrive, the company risked losing further interest from particularly demanding creatives.