Is The Canon EOS R3 Sensor Being Made by Sony?

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For the first time in a long time, Canon is doing something that’s scaring me. Don’t get us wrong, there is lots of great Canon technology packed in there. Canon has briefed the press (us included) a few times on what’s coming with the Canon EOS R3. It’s currently being tested at the Olympics. And most importantly, this is the camera that the photojournalism, sports, and wildlife photography world really want. At the end of it all, though, what matters is the image. Let’s be real; any camera can make a great photo. But the sensors matter when it comes to providing variety. The Canon EOS R3 sensor scares me, though.

Editor’s Note: Canon got back to us with an attributable source

“The sensor in the upcoming EOS R3 is Canon designed and manufactured.”

Drew MacCallum, Advisor, Technical Information, Canon USA

According to Digital Photography School, this sensor is a 24MP full-frame sensor. The only other 24MP sensor that Canon uses in full-frame cameras is in the Canon EOS RP. I highly doubt they’re using that sensor. The Canon EOS R3 sensor is a BSI stacked CMOS sensor. That immediately should stand out to you. With that said, it’s very possible that this could be a Sony sensor with Canon tech. Specifically, it might be the Sony a9 II’s sensor with all the Canon-specific tech like their AI tracking and Eye focus autofocus system.

We reviewed the Sony a9 II a while back. Here’s what we concluded:

“The Sony a9 II is honestly one of the most impressive cameras I have used to date. The sheer amount of tech and wizardry in this camera is enough to blow anyone’s mind. If you pick one of these cameras up, you’re going to get unmatched autofocus performance, great overall image quality, class-leading connectivity options, and one of the most comfortable cameras to use for long periods that Sony has produced.

It does have its flaws, though. High ISO performance could be just a tad better, the camera overall isn’t exactly user-friendly when it comes to the menus 9but you can learn them), and there are some niggling doubts (in my mind at least) about the camera’s build quality. When you look at the whole package though, and then you see the price of the camera ($4,498) compared to the options that it is going up against from Canon and Nikon (it’s roughly $2000 cheaper), the Sony a9 II is a great option for professionals out in the field and serious wildlife photographers. It is honestly a little overkill for anyone else.”

So let’s consider what we know for sure: The Canon EOS R3 sensor is going to work very well with Canon’s newest super-telephoto lenses. Canon told us that the optics in the new lenses are pretty much the same as the EF mount variants. Further, these lenses were made a whole lot lighter. For wildlife photographers, this is great news. It gives you a lot to compete against when you stack up against Sony.

We previously reported that the sensor could be from Sony. Here’s what we said in a previous article

“Canon Watch recently reported on this discovery in promotional materials about the EOS R3. Canon released a sensor presentation for the new R3. Then they made a slight change to it. At first glance, it seems to be a subtle word change. However, if attempting to read between the lines, an interesting conclusion was formed. The wording of this presentation changed from “designed and manufactured by Canon” to “developed by Canon.” This has caused some people to speculate as to the reasoning behind the change. Could this change of wording indicate that Canon decided to outsource the production of this new sensor? It does seem like a strategic change of language.”

When we asked Canon about this, they stuck to saying that it’s developed by Canon. That still scares us. Canon, for years, has pretty much always used their own sensors. When you ask a Canon rep about whose sensor is in a DSLR, they’ll very proudly say that it’s their sensor. When you ask them about whose sensor is in their 1-inch point and shoot cameras, they won’t comment on that. Basically, that means that it’s a Sony sensor. But in this situation, they’re saying that it’s developed by Canon. It’s no longer designed and manufactured by Canon. So what does that mean?

Could the Canon EOS R3 sensor just have all of Canon’s tech but made by Sony?

Could the Canon EOS R3 really be just made and manufactured by Canon, and someone made an abysmal word choice?

I really hope that Canon is using their own sensor. I don’t believe in this garbage of, “Well, we design the sensor, and they make it for us.” The camera manufacturers will say one thing, but when you talk to Sony, they’ll tell you that the designs are all within what Sony will allow them to do. That’s why when you look at DXO Mark test results, you’ll see lots of similarities for cameras with Sony sensors. But constantly recycling Sony sensors doesn’t give us variety. It gives us minor variances of incest.

Does BMW use the same engines as Toyota?

Does McDonald’s use the same seasoning as Popeyes for chicken?

All of these things are important. We need variety to produce different kinds of images and get different looks. And more importantly, we don’t need to sit in front of a computer all day to get the same looks in post-production.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.