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Just How Crazy Are These New Canon EOS R1 Rumors?

Some outlandish rumors regarding the forthcoming flagship mirrorless full frame camera from Canon have emerged, but given that the R5 took the industry by surprise, just how ludicrous are these proposed specifications?

The rumor was passed on to Canon Watch by an anonymous source, which doesn’t inspire confidence, and the stats are being taken with a healthy pinch of salt. However, with the R5 having far exceeded expectations, you have to wonder what Canon is capable of achieving. The rumor suggests an 85-megapixel CMOS sensor with a global shutter, giving an instantaneous read-out, which would achieve a significant milestone in the evolution of camera technology. To date, stacked sensors with memory built into them have been pushing the speed of sensor read-outs, but a global shutter has still felt a little way off.

Such a sensor would eliminate rolling shutter —  the wavy horizontals captured when panning the camera quickly when shooting video and the warping effect when shooting high-speed action — while existing cameras rely on a mechanical shutter to give the required speed when shooting stills. Other specifications include the ability to shoot at full resolution at 20 frames per second, with 40 frames per second possible if you drop down to 21 megapixels.

Quad Pixel Autofocus?

One interesting item on this list is the claim that Canon will upgrade from its very efficient Dual Pixel Autofocus (DPAF) to Quad Pixel Autofocus. This would split each pixel into four (rather than two), giving greater reliability and accuracy. By allowing the system to judge left and right as opposed to just top and bottom, in theory, QPAF cameras would have far better performance when focusing on horizontal lines.

DPAF was first introduced by Canon in the EOS 70D back in 2013 and has evolved into the excellent autofocus performance currently found in the R5 and R6. Canon News spotted a patent for a Quad Pixel Autofocus sensor in 2019, and it seems likely that Canon would be looking to incorporate this technology into what it hopes would be a class-leading camera. Sports and wildlife shooters could see noticeable improvements, and given that the R5 and R6 are already excellent birding cameras, the R1 might take it to another level.

Via Canon News.

Autofocus aside, the five-axis IBIS will give up to nine stops of stabilization and it’s claimed that Canon will match the EVF in the Sony a7S III — 9.44 million dots. The rumored price is $8,500, which would make it Canon’s most expensive flagship camera to date by some distance, and you can understand the price if these wild specifications are correct.

Canon News has done some number crunching to figure out how much of this is feasible, while Canon Rumors regards it as highly implausible, with some wondering if this rumor has arrived a couple of weeks too early. Traditionally, Canon’s previous flagships have not been high-resolution beasts, with the manufacturer preferring to give photojournalists and sports/wildlife photographers speed rather than megapixels. That said, we’re seeing a few molds being broken of late, as evidenced by the R5 and the Sony a1. The 50 megapixels in the latter can churn out 30 frames per second, albeit with a couple of caveats. 

The prospect of QPAF is possibly the most exciting detail in this rumor, especially as this sort of technology tends to trickle down a manufacturer’s line of products.

If the rest of the specifications have been plucked from someone’s darker recesses, what might be more realistic for us to see in the R1 when it comes to market? 45 megapixels would probably be the sweet spot, and you’d expect that with a larger body and a bit more development time, 8K video will be possible without the same overheating restrictions seen in the R5. In terms of price, $8,500 would have seemed a preposterous amount of money had Sony not just put a price tag of $6,498 on the a1 (shipping starts next week, by the way).

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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33 Comments

Richard Bradbury's picture

I can't see it being 85mp. We have long reached the point of diminishing return of resolution on 35mm FF chips.

David Illig's picture

Kind of like the 27” CRT TV was the ultimate?

Richard Bradbury's picture

What the hell are you going on about?

Mel Gross's picture

That’s not true. A number of cameras have some sort of pixel shift for higher resolution, but it can’t be used in many instances. This would be better.

Richard Bradbury's picture

Sure it's an option but also not useful in many cases. Not something I would use in portrait work anyway.

Dillan K's picture

"640K ought to be enough for anybody," Bill Gates once said of RAM.

"I can't see it being 85mp. We have long reached the point of diminishing return of resolution on 35mm FF chips," says Richard Bradbury.

Richard Bradbury's picture

Yup I did say that.

Michael Laing's picture

Hi Richard

This is more of a question than anything. With the larger lens mounts that Nikon and Canon are using. This seems to be leading to some very high quality lenses, up there with the Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad lenses. Now Fujifilm have had over 100mp for some time. So I suspect with the newer lenses, that what the newer lenses can resolve, may not be so much of an issue. What do you think?

To be honest, I am not bothered by huge megapixels and since having a D800 for 8 years, I have found that when printing, distance of viewing, is much more important than pixel peeping for anyone apart from photographers anyway.

Richard Bradbury's picture

Hi Michael

I am yet to get any shooting time with the new Canon RF system cameras and lenses and honestly don't really care to either.

People are saying good things about the lenses, maybe they can resolve 80mp plus, time will tell I expect.

I just think that whilst MF is not the tool for every job type or scenario the larger chips are where we should be looking for higher resolution sensors and IQ gains over FF crammed with 85mp.

What would the DLA be on a 85mp on a FF sensor ? F4

Currently I am working with the Canon 5DsR and am also adding a 2nd one to the kit soon. It does all I need and has plenty of resolution. Not interested in new FF bodies as I would rather put the £4k plus in to a MF system when I do look to upgrade. Again for the IQ gains.

I will be set with the 5DsR's for some years to come anyway.

I did bite and looked at some files from the Sony A7RIV 61mp thing. Was not all that impressed given all the hype.

I agree with your last paragraph on print. End of the day put a lot of these cameras side by side in print and good look seeing any difference.

Michael Laing's picture

Getting into DLA, just makes my head hurt :P. We can't all be award winning photographers like you, selling thousands of books. I hear good things about the new book, btw. :D

I know Pani and Ian are loving their new R5 but I think that is more for the autofocus than anything and I think 45-50mp is a pretty good MP count for a full frame sensor, with sensible file sizes and enough pixels for the vast majority of photographers.

Richard Bradbury's picture

I think you have me mixed up with someone else Michael I have never won an award nor am I writing a book.. I am a terrible writer lol.

True getting in to DLA can induce a head ache or two though.

I have no idea who Pani and Ian are.

Yeah 30-50mp is plenty for most work needed to be done. Not all but most.

Michael Laing's picture

My apologies. I obviously got you mixed up with this Richard Bradbury: https://richardbradbury.com

Richard Bradbury's picture

No worries it has happened before. Nice chatting to you regardless.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Global Shutter is only really useful in videos. IF (unlikely) Canon’s R1 does offer GS then it would mean that it has serious video capabilities.

Tamas Nemeth's picture

How about flash with any shutter speed?

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Actually, that’s a good point. =)

Harrison Barden's picture

No disrespect but I actually disagree, I'm limited to only using the mechanical shutter on my R6 for sports because the ES causes warping in bats/balls/hockey sticks to a point where the image is not useable. Now to be fair I don't need or really miss out on having 20 fps still shooting, but it'd be nice to have a GS and not worry about the issue.

Christian Fiore's picture

Just like the people that compare the A1 vs R5 by specs on paper alone. The R5 has the same rolling shutter issue with electronic shutter as the R6, making it not very useful for quick moving things (where you'd use it most). The A1 is all but free of any kind of rolling shutter artifacts, no matter the shutter in use or fps. It can even use flash with electronic shutter. Then there's Canon's idea of what defines a "blackout free" viewfinder...

Pascal Richard's picture

The Sony A1 massivly outperforms the 1DXIII. You just never tryed one.
AF is not only dependind on the Body but massively on the Performance of lenses as well. The Sony AF System (Body+Lense) is way better than anything else on the market.. Concerning the Olympics... Sony just enterred the game and you'll be surprised how many Sony users you'll already see at the next Olympics. Ever heard from Sport Photography Legend Bob Martin? He supports the Olympic committee for the organisation of the Pro Photographers Place, he switched to Sony... Sony sets the pace Canon and Nikon are just catching up. The Game hast just started.

Nick Bentley's picture

You haven’t used a Sony A1 ether so how do you know ? I’m a Nikon shooter but the point counts the same do cannon as it does Nikon. Sony are not even at the races when it comes to pro bodies. There is a good reason d5/6 and the 1dx body’s are how they are they take a pounding and come back working. Also they have controls set up in ergonomic locations. Your not fiddling through menus and miss your shot. Agreed the af and the sensor is a massive part of the story but untill the ergonomics are fixed and there reliability goes up in a pro sports shooter/journalist setting Sony will be playing catch up to cannon and Nikon. And I’ve tryed them all when I looked at making a change this year I need the best camera for the job so you have to try them. But there is so much more to these pro body’s than af and sensors

Sean Gallagher's picture

This reads like you bought one and are trying to justify the cost to yourself. But honestly, it's mostly impossible you've tried one either.

I'm a Sony A9 shooter, I'm very happy with my cameras. I'm also happy with my Canons. As someone recently said to me: "Anyone who says, doesn’t know. Anyone who knows, doesn’t say."

David Pavlich's picture

I hope that they keep the 1Dx form factor as rumored. Not that I can afford one, but if I had an influx into my photo piggy bank, it would be hard to resist. :-)

Michael Dougherty's picture

Yikes. I once looked at a Nikon D5 and it is huge. The 1Dx is even larger. I thought I read that only several thousand units of these cameras are sold each year. Their great for brand prestige but I think Canon hit a home run with the R5 with its form factor. FYI, I'm a Z user.

David Pavlich's picture

I like that Nikon kept closer to their DSLR body type as Canon did with their R series. I'm not a fan of smallish cameras. They just don't feel right. Heck, if I was starting over, it would be very hard for me not to grab a D850. It has what I wish Canon would do with their 5 series; 64 base ISO.

Jan Holler's picture

The D5 is large, but a D8xx with an attached grip is larger. I prefer the D5 over the D850 with (or without) grip. The Z cameras are too small for my hands.

Maxi Lopez's picture

There is no RF high resolution glass on Canon yet to be used on even R5. They are still using old EF glass tech on RF and making their customers believe they have the best when they are getting the worst and most soft detail against even Aps C sensors.

Lawrence Huber's picture

Your ignorance is really shining through.
RF 70-200mm f2.8 is a recyled EF 70-200mm f2.8?
LOL

Ken Evans's picture

Have to agree with Huber. I've upgraded to most of the new RF glass appropriate for my landscape work and a couple of their primes and I'm getting raves about the sharpness and colors and gradation in my photos. I'm a big, big, fan of the new RF glass. I shoot with the R and R5 but thinking hard about selling all my old EF gear and anything that's not nailed down to get ready for the R1. Just hope the wait isn't the same as it was for the R5.

Michael Dobson's picture

Well whether these rumours prove to be accurate or not, my preference would be a lower MP count, certainly not 85!! But global shutter, FPS and qpaf, with twin digix x ,yss rock on!! Ideally id have loved to see a smaller physical sized camera body and hopefully considerably lighter body than the 1dx mk3. My other major wish is a very similar battery life to the mk3, though with the R1 sporting a evf ,this might not be possible. But then judging canon's recent market surprises, i wouldn't put much beyond them!

Mel Gross's picture

I don’t see a problem with 85mp in a sports/photojournalistic camera. Normally, Canon and Nikon have limited it to about 20mp because these need fast shooting, which the built-in memory, and the memory cards couldn’t handle at large file sizes. And, transmitting hi rez files would take too long.

The memory speed problem is gone now. This camera allows for 21mp, which is right where these cameras have been. So, photographers get a choice, which is never a bad thing. Speed, or resolution.