Canon EOS R1 rumored to be coming with next-gen autofocus and key video feature

Canon EOS R5

(Image credit: Canon)

A new flagship Canon EOS R1 sports camera is rumored to be en route with a couple of very impressive tricks, including a next-gen autofocus system called Quad Pixel AF.

According to the reliable Canon Rumors, a “good source” has revealed that a new flagship Canon EOS R camera with Quad Pixel AF is a “strong possibility” and will likely be “shown to the world ahead of the Tokyo Summer Games, which [is planned for] July of this year”. It suggests that this camera will be the Canon EOS R1.

So what is exactly is Quad Pixel AF? Canon mirrorless cameras currently have Dual Pixel AF technology, which arrived on the Canon EOS 70D in 2013 and is still one of the fastest and reliable autofocus systems around for both stills and video.

But it’s not perfect, and Canon Rumors claims that Quad Pixel AF “would improve autofocus accuracy no matter what orientation the subject of the camera is in”. This could improve one of Dual Pixel AF’s few weaknesses, which is finding focus on a subject whose edge contrast is parallel to the orientation of your camera (for example, a horizontal line when you’re shooting in landscape). 

Canon has previously registered a patent for Quad Pixel Autofocus technology, as Canon News revealed in 2019. Back then, the patent appeared to be describing a system for APS-C sensors, rather than the full-frame chip that would be at the heart of the rumored Canon EOS R1.

Still, it seems that Quad Pixel AF technology could be better suited to sensors with lower megapixel counts, with the patent filing describing a 20.7MP sensor with an incredible 83 million focus detection points. And the Canon EOS R1, like its Canon EOS 1D X Mark III DSLR equivalent, would likely have a resolution in that ballpark in order to give pro sports photographers the speed and file sizes they need.

Canon 1DX Mark III

(Image credit: Future)

Globe trotter 

That new autofocus technology won’t be the only innovative trick coming to the Canon EOS R1 either, according to Canon Rumors.

The site says that “the same source claims that there is a possibility that a global shutter will appear in the EOS R1.” If true, this could really elevate the EOS R1’s video powers and make it a pro sports hybrid for both stills and movies.

This is because the electronic shutters in most of today’s cameras only capture an image one line at a time, from top to bottom, rather than the whole thing simultaneously. If fast movement occurs in the scene before the sensor has captured the whole moment, you can be left with warped lines in subjects like buildings – an effect known as rolling shutter.

A global shutter gets around this by recording the entire image simultaneously. This means it avoids the skewed lines or ‘jello effect’ you can get in the electronic shutters seen on CMOS sensors. But it’s not a perfect technology – global shutters can also mean reduced dynamic range, as the individual pixels are often smaller.

Still, we have seen global shutters in pro video cameras like the Red Komodo and Canon EOS C700, and it’s certainly possible that Canon could be looking to make the ultimate pro hybrid camera to sit at the top of its increasingly impressive EOS R range.

The Canon EOS R5 is, of course, already an incredibly powerful hybrid camera. But the Summer Olympics (which this year start on 23 July) has traditionally been the time when Canon announces next-gen camera tech for pro shooters. And right now there is a tantalizing gap in the EOS R range for a mirrorless equivalent of the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III.

January 19, 2021
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