Canon R3 users: Are you experiencing (any) major focusing issues? I am!

Hi everyone. I recently purchased a Canon R3, and jumped into the mirrorless world with two feet and an open mind. My former camera was a Canon 1Dx, and it's still going strong — after 10-years of use — with great results and awesome reliability. Sadly, however, my newly purchased Canon R3 is causing me some major heart palpitations and confidence worries, and I'm hoping (praying) that my experiences are related to my not yet knowing much about the R3's mirrorless settings or its operation. Yet, I suspect something more technical beyond my settings may be at hand, so thus my outreach.

Question for R3 users, are you experiencing (any) major focusing issues?

I'm experiencing at least five (5) unique issues:

For example:

1) When using "single point", "one shot" focus on a stationary subject (very basic stuff), my camera will (sometimes) not focus at all. It's almost like it locks up (i.e., it won't even hunt), but I can sense that it's trying to work (i.e., the focus box will light up red), but it just doesn't work. All I see is a blurry screen. Shutter button will not work. Then, as-if almost randomly and without my understanding, it will suddenly focus and the shot will be captured. I've tried changing various settings like my "shutter mode" from "electronic" to "mechanical" to see if that might be something behind it, but I'm getting the issue it in both cases. Again, I'm completely new to mirrorless technology, so perhaps it's a setting/mode function restriction I don't yet know about? When I handed the camera to my wife, she experienced the same thing.

2) When focusing on nearby subjects (but still respecting the minimum focusing distances of my lenses) my camera will again (sometimes) not focus on the subject, but this time, however, it will at least continuously "hunt" back-and-forth trying to focus, and the shutter will depress and capture a blurry image. Yet, in such cases it will often never achieve the focus. So, I power off my camera, and restart. That unacceptable solution has sometimes worked out, but clearly that's not a tenable response. I've experienced this with my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L lens (using the RF attachment ring) and the only RF lens I also recently purchased (the 50mm f/1.2L).

3) When more than one subject is in the scene, and layered, my camera really (noticeably) struggles to focus on a foreground subject, but is perfectly ok with focusing on the background (or distant) subject. This experience is really annoying, and it's seriously eroding my confidence in using this camera. I often cannot get it to focus on the foreground subject despite moving my focusing point over the foreground object. On a combination of issues 2 and 3, I randomly noticed that Tony & Chelsea Northrup were also observing some of this, but they observed these things using other R3 settings and other subject dynamics I have yet to try. You can see their review here. At different points in their review, you can hear them clearly say that they were: “missing focus on a lot of the closer shots”; “Tracking focus is exponentially harder the closer the subject gets to the camera”; "At close range, the autofocus wandered a lot even when it was locked on […] it just hunted in and out”. In my experience, I would most certainly agree, but my issues appear worse because (sometimes) I literally couldn't shoot the image despite pushing the shutter button.

4) Sometimes, my focusing point will not move, despite my trying to reposition it. It just sits wherever it may be on the screen. Again, almost as-if it locks up.

5) When focusing with "eye control", which does somewhat work for me, I cannot get the camera to focus on the left side of the screen with my eye, despite several calibration attempts under different lighting conditions. It will only work top, bottom, and right. A second issue is that the focus won't "stay" where my eye is looking. Obviously, hard to explain in a forum, but while I'm clearly looking at a fixed point (almost stubbornly with intense concentration) I can notice the focusing box awkwardly drifting in a slow straight line to the right of the screen. Almost like a mouse button randomly locking up on you and it drifting off in a straight line to the corner of a monitor.

Final points: While my time and experience in using the Canon R3 is limited, I have had some wonderful experiences too. Like when I was able to photograph my newborn son sleeping without disturbing him. I was able to accomplish this by using the "silent shutter" mode and the tilt screen angled high above my head with subject tracking on in a very low ambient light situation under high ISO values. That whole situation and combination of features just worked out awesomely in a way my 1Dx never could, and it was honestly borderline ridiculous how my low light shot held from a distance above my head turned out tack sharp with no discernable noise. But clearly the other focusing problems I'm having are a no-go.

Altogether, I really, really want this to work out, and give the future of mirrorless cameras a chance. Yet, I must confess, a large part of me is wondering if I made a mistake by not going with the 1Dx Mark III. One last point before I close this long message, the AD-E1 adapter is absolutely necessary, and I was livid when I read Canon said it was an "optional" accessory. Careful: The official discourse on this is not consistent, and this situation only came to my attention when I couldn't get any of my numerous Canon flashes to fire on my R3, then looked at the manual to find out why. The shoe fits, but the flashes will either not fire at all, or if they do, they will fire with a full 1/1 power dump. The manual I read clearly noted this, so there is nothing optional about that AD-E1 block if you plan to use a Canon 600 EX-RT flash, and at the very least, after spending nearly $8000 on a camera, Canon should have just automatically included it in the box. That, in my mind was a clear design flaw and a massive customer oversight, but perhaps Canon really does think it's an option because (rumor) they are working on a flash that powers off the R3's battery, but good luck with that too because this thing is voracious on batteries next to my 1Dx experience. I get about 415 pictures over a full charge. I've already ordered extra batteries. Cheers, Jeff
 
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unfocused

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Just a quick reply for now. Going from a 5D IV and 1Dx III to the R5 and R3 I have experienced similar issues with focusing. From what I’ve learned from others on this forum is mirrorless cameras focus differently than DSLRs. It takes some getting used to. On the plus side when mirrorless gets the focus right it tends to be dead on, but when it misses focus it tends to really miss by a mile. I don’t have any great suggestions other than to keep using it. I’ve found that over time I’m learning or rather relearning the focusing system and getting more used to it.
 
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Jan 13, 2022
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Hi everyone. I recently purchased a Canon R3, and jumped into the mirrorless world with two feet and an open mind. My former camera was a Canon 1Dx, and it's still going strong — after 10-years of use — with great results and awesome reliability. Sadly, however, my newly purchased Canon R3 is causing me some major heart palpitations and confidence worries, and I'm hoping (praying) that my experiences are related to my not yet knowing much about the R3's mirrorless settings or its operation. Yet, I suspect something more technical beyond my settings may be at hand, so thus my outreach.

Question for R3 users, are you experiencing (any) major focusing issues?

I'm experiencing at least five (5) unique issues:

For example:

1) When using "single point", "one shot" focus on a stationary subject (very basic stuff), my camera will (sometimes) not focus at all. It's almost like it locks up (i.e., it won't even hunt), but I can sense that it's trying to work (i.e., the focus box will light up red), but it just doesn't work. All I see is a blurry screen. Shutter button will not work. Then, as-if almost randomly and without my understanding, it will suddenly focus and the shot will be captured. I've tried changing various settings like my "shutter mode" from "electronic" to "mechanical" to see if that might be something behind it, but I'm getting the issue it in both cases. Again, I'm completely new to mirrorless technology, so perhaps it's a setting/mode function restriction I don't yet know about? When I handed the camera to my wife, she experienced the same thing.

2) When focusing on nearby subjects (but still respecting the minimum focusing distances of my lenses) my camera will again (sometimes) not focus on the subject, but this time, however, it will at least continuously "hunt" back-and-forth trying to focus, and the shutter will depress and capture a blurry image. Yet, in such cases it will often never achieve the focus. So, I power off my camera, and restart. That unacceptable solution has sometimes worked out, but clearly that's not a tenable response. I've experienced this with my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L lens (using the RF attachment ring) and the only RF lens I also recently purchased (the 50mm f/1.2L).

3) When more than one subject is in the scene, and layered, my camera really (noticeably) struggles to focus on a foreground subject, but is perfectly ok with focusing on the background (or distant) subject. This experience is really annoying, and it's seriously eroding my confidence in using this camera. I often cannot get it to focus on the foreground subject despite moving my focusing point over the foreground object. On a combination of issues 2 and 3, I randomly noticed that Tony & Chelsea Northrup were also observing some of this, but they observed these things using other R3 settings and other subject dynamics I have yet to try. You can see their review here. At different points in their review, you can hear them clearly say that they were: “missing focus on a lot of the closer shots”; “Tracking focus is exponentially harder the closer the subject gets to the camera”; "At close range, the autofocus wandered a lot even when it was locked on […] it just hunted in and out”. In my experience, I would most certainly agree, but my issues appear worse because (sometimes) I literally couldn't shoot the image despite pushing the shutter button.

4) Sometimes, my focusing point will not move, despite my trying to reposition it. It just sits wherever it may be on the screen. Again, almost as-if it locks up.

5) When focusing with "eye control", which does somewhat work for me, I cannot get the camera to focus on the left side of the screen with my eye, despite several calibration attempts under different lighting conditions. It will only work top, bottom, and right. A second issue is that the focus won't "stay" where my eye is looking. Obviously, hard to explain in a forum, but while I'm clearly looking at a fixed point (almost stubbornly with intense concentration) I can notice the focusing box awkwardly drifting in a slow straight line to the right of the screen. Almost like a mouse button randomly locking up on you and it drifting off in a straight line to the corner of a monitor.

Final points: While my time and experience in using the Canon R3 is limited, I have had some wonderful experiences too. Like when I was able to photograph my newborn son sleeping without disturbing him. I was able to accomplish this by using the "silent shutter" mode and the tilt screen angled high above my head with subject tracking on in a very low ambient light situation under high ISO values. That whole situation and combination of features just worked out awesomely in a way my 1Dx never could, and it was honestly borderline ridiculous how my low light shot held from a distance above my head turned out tack sharp with no discernable noise. But clearly the other focusing problems I'm having are a no-go.

Altogether, I really, really want this to work out, and give the future of mirrorless cameras a chance. Yet, I must confess, a large part of me is wondering if I made a mistake by not going with the 1Dx Mark III. One last point before I close this long message, the AD-E1 adapter is absolutely necessary, and I was livid when I read Canon said it was an "optional" accessory. Careful: The official discourse on this is not consistent, and this situation only came to my attention when I couldn't get any of my numerous Canon flashes to fire on my R3, then looked at the manual to find out why. The shoe fits, but the flashes will either not fire at all, or if they do, they will fire with a full 1/1 power dump. The manual I read clearly noted this, so there is nothing optional about that AD-E1 block if you plan to use a Canon 600 EX-RT flash, and at the very least, after spending nearly $8000 on a camera, Canon should have just automatically included it in the box. That, in my mind was a clear design flaw and a massive customer oversight, but perhaps Canon really does think it's an option because (rumor) they are working on a flash that powers off the R3's battery, but good luck with that too because this thing is voracious on batteries next to my 1Dx experience. I get about 415 pictures over a full charge. I've already ordered extra batteries. Cheers, Jeff
 
Jan 13, 2022
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Just received my R3 a few days ago, actually did a huge review of it on my channel, an I didn't see any autofocusing issues.

I'll do more testing though.
 
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neuroanatomist

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Thanks for sharing your observations and issues. I also have a 1D X (which unfortunately stopped going strong last year, but $220 and a week at Canon to replace the main PCB fixed that). However, I bought an EOS R in 2019 so I have experience with the line prior to getting my R3 recently.

First off, regarding your suspicion that, "...something more technical beyond my settings may be at hand," that may be true. Most recent DSLRs have two things on their dedicated AF sensors that Canon mirrorless cameras lack. The first is cross type AF points, which are sensitive to features in orthogonal orientations. The 1D X has diagonal crosses in the center column and regular crosses over most of the sensor area. Canon's MILCs use dual pixel AF (also used in live view on some DLSRs), but all of the pixels are split in the same orientation, meaning the camera's AF system is sensitive only to features with contrast in the vertical orientation (landscape). So, focusing on something with mainly/only horizontal features (e.g. typical window blinds) under the AF point will fail. Solutions are to find a nearby feature (same distance) with features in a different orientation, or rotate the camera 90° then AF. Two side notes there, one is that rumors of the forthcoming R1 usually include some form of quad pixel AF or alternating vertical and horizontal splits for dual pixel (Canon has patents for both) that would provide cross-type AF points; the other side note is that Olympus already offers cross-type AF on their MILCs (AFAIK, they are the only one – at least, Nikon and Sony do not).

The other AF technology MILCs lack is the staggered AF lines on the dedicated sensor that are used for detection of 'extreme defocus'. Sometimes, manually focusing a bit closer to the subject can enable the AF system to find and lock focus. This may be part of your 1st and 2nd issues. Personally, I have only experienced that issue recently when I was testing stacked TCs with my EF 600/4 II and a physically modified 3rd party EF-RF adapter. (I tested all the possible pairs and solo options for the EF 1.4x and 2x III and the RF 1.4x and 2x behind the lens, using the same enhanced ISO 12233-type charts that Bryan/TDP uses for his sharpness tests, if you're familiar with those. Still working through those tests.) I don't think that's a typical use case, obviously. In normal use, I haven't had those issues.

One setting that may be relevant there is the Lens drive when AF impossible setting (AF3 menu). If that is set to stop focus search, the lens won't even try to focus if the camera thinks it cannot. I'm not sure what the threshold is for the camera making that decision – my R3 seems to be able to lock focus on a plain, uniformly colored wall and that's something my 1D X cannot do.

To your last point about the AD-E1 flash adapter, can you point out the manual and page number that states without the adapter the flash will not fire or only fire at full power? I don't recall reading that anywhere. I do have the AD-E1 adapter, it is required if you want the connection between a weather-sealed flash/transmitter and the R3 to remain weather sealed. For example, the new ST-E10 transmitter is sealed when directly mounted, the old ST-E3-RT is not. Personally, I swapped my ST-E3 for an ST-E10, and I while I like the features of the EL-1 flash, I'm going to hold out for a native multifunction shoe flash (not that I will suffer, I have 4 600EX-RTs).

Having said that, your experience does not match mine at all. With one of my 600EX-RT flashes mounted directly in the multifunction shoe of the R3, E-TTL exposures are spot on and FEC works as expected. I've never had the flash not fire. I mounted a 600EX this morning and took a set of shots of a blank (light blue) wall with manual flash settings in 2-stop increments of 1/64, 1/16, 1/4 and 1/1, and these are the 4 shots seen on the R3's LCD (apologies for the poor iPhone image):

tempImagel64yhO.png


Pretty clear that flash power is changing as expected, so I'm not sure what's going on in your case but it does not seem to be a fundamental compatibility issue. Have you tried cleaning the contacts? So far, I haven't bothered using the AD-E1 at all and honestly I may never do so because I don't think I've ever used flash in the rain. I preordered the adapter when it was not clear whether or not it was actually needed (there were several discussions here on that issue). Once it was clear from Canon's publication of the R3 manual and other details from Canon that the adapter was only needed if you wanted a weather sealed connection, I debated canceling my AD-E1 preorder. But, as you imply, the cost of the adapter relative to the cost of the camera itself is pretty insignificant so I just let it ship and now it's sitting in a Storm case with a bunch of flashes. Incidentally, the MT-24 EX works just fine in the R3 shoe as well, although since that has the non-sealed knurled wheel connector, there's no point at all in using the AD-E1 for that flash.

Hope some of that helps...
 
Thank you everyone for sharing your valued insights, which are helping me to better understand how "mirrorless cameras focus differently than DSLRs". To further help the community, and myself, I just did another deep dive through Canon's R3 manual. Here are some excerpts (with commentary from me in blue font) that you may find interesting. In some cases, I take full responsibility for not yet knowing my camera's operations. In other cases, it disappoints me greatly to read ideas that were never problematic for me and my former 10-year old camera. I'm glad to hear others are not experiencing what I am, but I'm left feeling, "what do I do now?"

Part 1:

1642107697128.png


I am definitely experiencing this issue a lot, and I do not know why. Correction: In my first post, I noted the focusing box was turning red when things froze up. As per the manual, and the clip above, the color was actually orange - my apologies.

1642107749459.png


1642107759669.png


This condition was happening in some of my cases. For example, in one case I was trying to photograph something in front of Christmas lights that were changing colors, and that whole situational context was beyond frustrating.

1642107769671.png


"Special effect" was not defined in the manual, but in several cases I was using lenses with a polarized filter attached. At one point I do remember taking the polarizer off to see if that was causing an issue, and I do think that may have worked. I will test that again, but totally ridiculous if my polarizers (which were never problematic before) now prove to make focusing with my R3 difficult.

1642107776836.png


As further examples, I suppose we could also add people and flowers. In one case I was trying to photograph the petals of a daisy in front of a rose. It never worked. In another case I was trying to focus on my son in front of my wife. I couldn't achieve my desired blur. I suppose my foreground focusing issues were akin to the cage analogy here, and my backgrounds coming into focus were akin to the animal. Yet, I was using single point focus, and I didn't think it was "covering" both subjects. As an aside, while doing some earlier tests with my Lens Align calibration tools, I did notice that my Canon RF 50 f/1.2 shots were (averaged over tens of shots) slightly skewed to back focusing, so perhaps the R3 may be placing a slight bias on the distant before the near? One thing I have noticed is that there is no option for me to "microadjust" my lenses, so I guess that's no longer needed with mirrorless. Yet, in this case, I wish it was possible.

1642107807573.png

I suppose I was guilty in trying to work this way, as I like shooting most things below f/5.6. How does one work around that, and why should we after spending thousands extra on lenses with larger apertures? I can understand if only select parts of the scenes are not in focus due to working with larger apertures, but to get no focus at all just seems off.

1642107836399.png


I suppose I may have been again guilty in doing this, but I do not recall this ever being a problem with my 1Dx. Yet, there were times where my AF point locked in the peripheral, and I couldn't move it to the center, so I powered down and rebooted. Perhaps that's due to another (unknown to me) setting.
 
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1642108050478.png

Several things going here, but I was trying to do things this way. Moving between magnified view and normal view was definitely causing me issues, and a third dynamic not mentioned here was moving between the viewfinder and the screen while going in and out of magnified view.

1642108062467.png

Some additional factors for me to think about. Yet, I now find myself overthinking everything that I have learned (and started to take for granted) over a decade of photography with my Canon 1Dx.

1642108091705.png

1642108117350.png
So, it would appear I may be using some of these "certain [but unspecified] lenses"? I experienced focusing problems while using my Canon primes, notably the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2; the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8; and, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4 . What certain lenses is Canon talking about?

1642108138419.png

I respect the pragmatism behind the statement above, but next to my experiences the solution lacks appeal.


1642108159264.png

This was happening in some of my cases, and that is exactly what I did (well, the power down and reboot part anyways). But, that's not a reasonable solution for me (and I would wager most other wedding and event professionals working quickly under different, or changing, lighting situations). I also do not yet know how to interpret this. Does this mean I should adjust my white balance for one of the light sources?
 
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Further to my flash experiences, the Canon R3 manual notes:

1642105049116.png


I really do not know how to interpret this, because I am able to physically attach my Canon 600EX-RT to the multi-function shoe, but it either does not fire, or it fires improperly, when done. A youtube video featuring Rudy from Canon USA seems to suggest otherwise - that it can be supported, and others appear to not have any issues? Yet, perhaps a setting (unknown to me) deep within the menu system may have been impacting things for me. I have not yet had a chance to visit the menu behind this caution below, but I will let you know if this was the issue at hand. I normally shoot in manual mode, but I was trying to test things in TTL as well.
1642105076892.png

Yet, I also came across this note, and I did experience full output bursts with my Godox AD400 Pro strobe set in auto TTL through my Godox XPro transmitter.
Going into manual mode did not appear to be a problem, but I recall bypassing my sometimes lazy TCM option of using the TTL values to get an opening start for manual tweeks. With this R3, I'm quickly learning that I now need to work harder at hardly working. :)

1642105359547.png
 

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neuroanatomist

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Really not sure why the manual says that. But it’s not true.

The flash custom setting that forces full power is TTL metering. We’re on E-TTL II metering now, which superseded E-TTL which replaced TTL. TTL was what film cameras used, the preflash literally bounced off the surface of the film onto a sensor that determined flash exposure. Seems reasonable that forcing your flash to use a metering method from 1987 would muck things up.

You may want to reset all the flash custom function settings on your 600EX and try again. I tested all 4 of mine, all work just as on my 1D X.
 

Czardoom

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I do not have an R3, but perhaps those that do can tell if this might be an issue. The R3, of course, has eye-controllled AF. You can also - as you have tried - move the AF point in the more traditional ways. It seems like in order to do the latter, you have to disable the former, otherwise you would have two separate AF methods competing with each other. Is it possible you have them both engaged, so that when you are trying to simply use the center AF point of move the AF point manually, it immediately begins to try to use eye-controlled AF?

If this is not the issue, quite frankly, I think you have to accept the possibility that you have a faulty camera that needs to be returned. It sounds like it should easily focus in most of the scenarios you describe in your initial post. There shouldn't be that much difference in DSLR and mirrorless AF - at least in my experience.

Hopefully, I am wrong and someone will find some settings that are causing your problems. But, if it were me, I would be returning for either my money back or an exchange. This camera is far too expensive to spend a lot of time and effort hoping to find a solution.
 
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unfocused

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I meant to get back to this conversation sooner, but I see that @neuroanatomist has supplied a quite thorough explanation.

There are a couple of things that you might want to try in regards to autofocus generally and specifically to eye-control.

I assume you use and are familiar with back-button autofocus, since you were a 1Dx user. There is a video by Jan Wegener that goes through his settings for accurate autofocus with birds in flight on the R5. Basically he recommends setting two buttons, the regular AF-On button and the AE Lock Button (the button with the asterisk) with two different settings. Pick one to focus with your normal autofocus settings (single point, expanded, full, etc.) just as you would do with the 1Dx and then pick the other one to default to eye detection. Use the first to find the target and then switch to the second to zero in on the eye. I find this works quite well (not perfect) on the R5.

Aside from eye-control autofocus, the R3 and the R5 share essentially the same autofocus systems, so I would recommend watching Jan's videos on the R5 to get a starting point for setting up and using the R3.

On the advice of some forum participants (I think Neuro was one), on the R3 I changed the AF-On button in the Orange Menu to "Moving AF Point, Start by Eye Control." With this setting, you can use Eye Control to get the autofocus point close to your subject and then the autofocus-on button will often zero in on the subject's eye or face.

I've found this to be fairly useful for sports photography in helping me find the player I want to focus on and then zero in on that person (provided I can keep the focus point on them).

I'm a little surprised but there doesn't seem to be a lot of videos yet on setting up the R3. I did see that Whistling Wings Photography, who participates in this forum, has one up, but I haven't watched it yet, so can't comment on it.
 
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Hi everyone,

First: Thank you for your time and insights — it's very much appreciated!

Second: Earlier this evening I went to my local camera store to further discuss (and show) my issues, and the crew there was very helpful and empathetic (as always). While we couldn't replicate everything that I was experiencing, we were able to replicate some of my no focusing issues on "low contrast" items. So, we played around with a few camera settings, and shut some features off. I also learned a bit more about mirrorless technology being different, and I walked out of the store with a bit more hope and the camera still in my hands, as I really do want to give the R3 a chance.

Third: I also walked out of the camera store with a three (3) year extended warranty plan. As an aside, yesterday afternoon (January 12, 2022) I reached out to Canon Canada by email to enquire about their "Canon CarePAK Extended Service Plan" for the Canon R3. With shock and unsettlement, I was advised earlier today (January 13, 2022) in writing that: "Unfortunately at this time the "Canon CarePAK Extended Service Plan" is not available for the EOS R3". I almost never buy extended warranties, but the fact that Canon did not have one available for the R3 even if I wanted it really knocked my confidence. Why would Canon Canada not be ready to stand 100% behind one of their top-of-the-line products? How do you feel about that kind of news? So, given all my experiences to date, and with this being new technology on top of all the likely stop-and-go stuff going on with manufacturing practices these days due to the worldwide pandemic, I just felt an extended warranty plan would be a wise course of action. Yeah, it was expensive to me, but I feel better knowing if the issue is not with me, then I have the hardware covered.

Fourth: I also posted my experiences in a DPReview forum, and they're gathering a lot of attention and input. Some people have experienced issues similar to mine, albeit with the Canon R5. For example, Pete notes

1642136184547.png

Other people have raised similar knowledge and insights shared in this forum. The following points raised by Rose resonated well with me, and I think her advice could be helpful to me and others following this thread.

1642136732754.png


Fifth: I'd like to think I did a wicked amount of research before buying this camera. Yet, despite all that effort and time, I missed some key things on sensor design variations, and purchased my R3 with imperfect knowledge.

For example, I had a wicked time trying to photograph my Godox AD400Pro (pictured below) for an online ad sale that I was preparing. While using single point, one shot AF mode, my R3 could simply not focus on this sucker, and with a bit of creativity I can now see why because it's almost shaped akin to the horizontal black line in Tony's video. My work around was to ultimately focus on something else nearby (that was not black), then pivot my camera over. Even trying to focus on the word Godox, or the menu buttons, proved incredibly tough. Big picture, I'm now getting up to speed on how mirrorless technology is different than what I am accustomed to, and I now need to think about contrast and lines differently. In the end I suppose I was just ignorant about such things earlier in my photography, so shame on me. For better or worse, one of the key selling features of the R3 for me was that it had almost the same shape and layout as my 1Dx, and I've always liked how that fit in my hand. And, being newer than my 10-year old camera, I just naturally assumed that it would be better in every possible way. Turns out that assumption may not have been entirely clear and true. Thankfully, the results from my new RF 50mm 1.2L lens (when it does nail the focus) prompt me to keep giving this stuff a chance.
Godox AD400Pro.jpg



For the moment, all my focusing issues may boil down to a combination of old working practices (that may be causing conflicts) and camera settings (that may also be causing conflicts yet unknown to me). That would be great news. Yet, the sensor details noted by you guys and others is a big deal, and I'll just need to relearn how to frame things for easier focusing. Yet, if it does turn out that I do have hardware/software oriented issues with my R3, then at least I'll now have a warranty plan for covering them. Cheers, Jeff
 
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Joules

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Even trying to focus on the word Godox, or the menu buttons, proved incredibly tough. Big picture, I'm now getting up to speed on how mirrorless technology is different than what I am accustomed to, and I now need to think about contrast and lines differently.
That seems odd to me.

I only know the failure to focus from the LiveView of my 80D and playing around with an M50 from time to time. But based on that, I would expect there to be plenty of contrast in those areas.

Granted, my bodies use DPAF instead of DPAF II used by the newer models. But that should not be relevant to this problem. And maybe my memories of my gear are biased. But just looking at your pictures, I would expect it to work.

The R3 also supports saving your settings to card for importing them later, right? Have you tried doing that (to save whatever customizations you made) and reset thr camera to factory defaults afterwards just to establish a base line performance?

Do you know somebody with a DPAF body (can be a DSLR, though preferably mirrorless of course) that you could compare your results for a given problematic subject to?

I'm also wondering if you have noticed any difference between using one-shot vs servo (which I thought was recommended for Canon ILC even for still subjects) and hand held vs tripod.
 

AlanF

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Fifth: I did a wicked amount of research before buying this camera. I even waited years for it. Yet, despite all that effort and time, I missed some key things and purchased my R3 with imperfect knowledge. In the spirit of sharing, here's one of those big ideas I wish I had known earlier. Perhaps it was raised on Canon Rumors, but I missed it, and it helps explain a lot of my experiences.
He says in the video he learned about the new Canon patent from quote "canonrumors.com"! The difficulty of focussing on a simple horizontal line has been discussed many times here. I have not had that situation in my many tens of thousands of shots, maybe because none of my subjects I recall are horizontal lines, and I hand hold so there is constant variation of the angles of my subject to the horizontal. AF on all MILCs does have its quirks, the most common one for Canon, Nikon and Sony is that they can be slow to focus on a nearer subject and can stick on the background, but you can get them to snap out of it by using point focus on something nearby or on the ground. That b ackground stickiness seems to happen rarely for what I do.
 
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5d2,5d4,r5
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you can get them to snap out of it by using point focus on something nearby or on the ground. That b ackground stickiness seems to happen rarely for what I do.
I mostly use adapted EF lenses on my R5, because they have mechanical full time manual focus. When focus gets stuck either with nothing in focus or some background item, I can quickly grab the focus ring and once R5 sees the object I want in better focus it grabs on. I am surprised you had trouble with your Godox pic, b/c there are lots of vertical lines in the display area.
 

neuroanatomist

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It still seems to me your AF issues are beyond what I've seen in both my EOS R and my R3. I have no trouble focusing on a subject in front of (or an ornament hanging on) a Christmas tree with color-flashing LED lights. I have no trouble focusing on close subjects with a busy background. There are a couple of examples from my EOS R in the mushroom thread, and some with the R3 below.

I just spent a few minutes in my mudroom and utility room with my R3 + RF 24-105/4L focusing all over the place. Near and far objects, text on paint cans, duffel bags in the nearly dark area under a work table, the dangling branches of a not-yet-stored outdoor LED willow tree holiday decoration, the wine rack behind the branches of that willow, etc. Somewhere close to 300 focusing attempts, and it only failed to achieve focus on two subjects. One was a set of louvered closet doors, the other were the upper and lower borders of a chalkboard-paint rectangle on the door to the garage. Both of those have contrast exclusively in the horizontal direction. In both cases, using the smart controller to slide the AF point over a bit (to the sides of the chalkboard rectangle or some of the text written on it, or to the vertical edges of the closet doors) allowed focus to be achieved. Rotating the camera would have done the same thing.

That quick test matches my real-world experience with the R3 – it almost never fails to focus except in that one specific situation of horizontal-only contrast. In a way, it's life coming full circle...when I started shooting with film cameras, the best way to achieve critical focus was the split prism in the middle of the focusing screen. Since the split was horizontal (like the split microlenses on Canon's dual pixels), a perfectly horizontal line could not be used for focusing.

I took a few pictures (with apologies again for the iPhone pics of the camera's LCD) to illustrate my point about the willow branches, since your point #3 specifically mentions struggling with layered subjects. There was no struggle here. I slid the AF point (spot AF) to a branch and focus locked immediately, then I slid it between the branches to the wine rack in the background, and focus locked immediately. Shown are the full images with the AF point displayed, and the magnified focused area for each shot. The louvered door on the left side is one of the subjects where focus cannot be achieved (with the camera horizontally level).

Screen Shot 2022-01-14 at 10.10.28 AM.png Screen Shot 2022-01-14 at 10.10.38 AM.png
Screen Shot 2022-01-14 at 10.10.48 AM.png Screen Shot 2022-01-14 at 10.10.56 AM.png

One more point – I would recommend against citing Tony Northrup as 'evidence'. He's firmly in the infotainment category of YouTubers, but I consider his posts to be mainly misinfotainment. His 'sports tests' are of a subject walking sedately. He has made technical errors (e.g. failing to understand the effects of a crop sensor) and when called out on them in the comments by others who provided actual supporting references, he doubles down rather than admit his mistakes. At least for me, pointing out that TN has a problem with some aspect of a camera carries no weight. Having said that, as @AlanF states, the inability of MILCs (some Olympus models notwithstanding) to focus on horizontal lines has been discussed often here and on other forums, and is well known to anyone who understands how AF systems work (although admittedly that's probably not too many people).
 

kaihp

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I don't have an MILC yet (still waiting on Canon to deliver sufficient R3s to Europe so I can get mine), I am - at the theoretical/mental level - aware of the issue with AF on horizontal lines.

As the old saying goes: in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there are.

I take this as a reminder that I am likely to have go through the same learning curve as @Jeffrey Meyer, as a first time MILC user. This is why you don't bring new and unproven technology to the Daytona 500 or a to-you new and unproven camera to Antarctic once-in-a-lifetime cruise.
 

Czardoom

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As mentioned earlier, I don't have an R3. but do have the R6 and have had the R and RP in the past. Comments regarding how different focusing with mirrorless cameras and DSLRs are interesting, but I think a bit over-exaggerated. When I switched from DSLRs to mirrorless, I had to make no adjustments nor noticed any big (or even small) differences when focusing on static subjects. For action, like Birds in Flight, yes, the new mirrorless cameras have quite a bit of new tech that does take some learning, but makes it easier, not harder to AF. I agree with Neuro that your issues seem to be way beyond any possible differences between working with a DSLR. I notice that you mentioned going to your local camera shop to discuss the issues. I assume they did not have an R3 to shoot with, but did you try an R5 or R6 to see if you were getting similar results? If not, that may be a good idea before deciding whether or not to exchange the camera - which would be my recommendation.

(And yes, please avoid the Northrups - who are so typical of so many non-expert influencers. It is hard to search around and find reviewers who are actual pro photographers who give objective reviews and spend enough time with a camera to actually learn how they work. Best to avoid the infuencers who post frequently, post in-a-hurry, and use click-bait headlines and subject matter like the Northrups and, unfortunately, many others. If we all stop clicking on their content, maybe they will all go out of business, which would be a great thing for all photographers and anyone looking for factual info on cameras rather than agenda driven content.
 
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Hi everyone, if you’re interested, here’s a status update on my trials and tribulations with my Canon R3.
If anyone from Canon is reading this thread, the serial number of my camera is: 0220310000474, which I received on December 16th.

First, the great news:
  • I was neither hallucinating, nor sleep deprived from loving my first newborn baby and wife at all hours of the day.
  • All my focusing troubles were real, as well as my flash troubles when using my Canon 600 EX-RT directly on the multi-function shoe (without the AD-E1 adapter attached).
Second, the greater news:
  • I know my first premise is true because my camera is now operating noticeably better, and it’s behaving a lot more intuitively (and reasonably) for me.
  • While I do remain nervous (and not so good) about the possibly of my having randomly bought a proverbial lemon that's not fully up to spec — which I suppose is entirely possible from a statistical perspective — my camera now appears to be operating a bit more consistently as I would expect it to. But, I certainly haven't had a great honeymoon with my new (and very expensive) camera gear.
  • If any of you guys happen to live in, or nearby Ottawa, then it would be awesome if I could drop by your place (public health conscious of course) and have us quickly compare it next to your model. At my local camera store this wasn’t an available option, so I have nothing other than my own 1Dx history, YouTube videos, and forum posts to compare it to. And, I've been forewarned about quoting, or referencing you know who here, so I will attempt to be more scholarly in what I read, watch and share online. The simple reality is neither the R3 nor the 1Dx Mark III (or R5 for that matter) were readily available in my community to see and touch on a display before purchasing such things.
Now, the bad news:
  • I have absolutely noooo idea what caused the litany of adverse issues I was intermittently experiencing, but after taking a full day to go through every single menu option (line-by-line) and not being able to figure it out, I just took the advice of so many here and performed a “factory reset” on my R3 and my Canon 600 EX-RT flashes.
  • Perhaps the wiser course of action would have been to just have the model exchanged/replaced, but I’m under a lot of personal pressure to start photographing my newborn child's first moments, and I made the very stupid mistake of selling my beloved 1Dx before my child was born, and before I got my hands on the R3, which then became delayed in coming out. But I will atone for those nasty sins later and never do that again.
So, what could it have been?
  • If what I did was “software” related, and I somehow, someway created “user-error” conflicts by combining various options (or pushing buttons) in ways they shouldn't have been, then it’s entirely possible others may come across my experiences too. Or, they may pop up again for me. I certainly hope not for either of our sakes. But moving forward I will certainly not be changing any camera settings before any paid, or major once-in-a-lifetime events. And, when I do, I will only change one thing at a time, then work the camera.
  • Looking back, the only thing I recall touching that was completely new to me was the stuff in the a) networking menus; b) the eye control/calibration menus; c) the silent shutter option; and the d) anti-flicker/autodetection menus (which I still do not entirely understand, and fear going back into).
  • A few people have noted that maybe I somehow, someway, had multiple focusing systems operating at the same time, or near same time. I don’t know, but that may seem plausible looking back. Perhaps the camera was somehow trying to use my eye to move the focusing point while my thumb was trying to move the focusing point with the “multi-controller” (my older 1Dx habit), and that either locked up the system, made it behave erratically, or both. I do not know. All I know is that I didn’t consciously have “eye control” on during most of my focusing problems.
To recap:
  • I can now use my Canon 600 EX-RT directly on the multi-function shoe without any issues. Whether I should be doing that remains another story to figure out. The R3 manual explicitly says it should not be possible to attach, so I'm opting to only use it on the AD-E1.
  • My Canon EF 100mm is now performing great on macro-oriented work. I revisited some of the product shots that I was trying to take for fun around my home, and I’m now nailing them on the first pass – even in ridiculously low ambient light. I’m also accomplishing that without tilting my camera like I have some kind of nervous zombie twitch. The one thing I was not able to photograph again was the tips of a daisy petal, as the plant died and is no longer in the house. I will try to pick up another one shortly, but I can now visualize why I might have had trouble with that particular topic.
  • I can now intuitively focus between background and foreground subjects, or nearby objects. Here’s a pic that shows several things I was trying to do, but now can after the factory reset. Yet, I have noticed a pattern on several Canon Rumors posts, as well as in YouTube videos, where people are raising consistent concerns about photographing nearby objects. So, that is something that may now be harder to do for reasons beyond me, but right now I'm nailing the things I want to nail after the factory reset.
Before and After factory reset.jpg

  • I can now focus through a polarized lens. Whether that was ever an issue is unclear to me, but I'm not noticing anything now with them on.
  • I still get the occasional “orange square” suggesting a focus lock is not possible, but I can quickly get around it with either a reframe or setting adjustment.
  • I now understand the points raised about photographing vertical lines/blinds, or things of that nature. It really doesn’t work well, but I’ve now adapted and I’m no longer having game over problems with that dynamic. But, at the same time, because of this technology I'm now able to do things I most certainly couldn't have done with my 1Dx. For example, earlier this evening I perfectly exposed the reflection of a TV emitting light on a mirror. Super cool, and ridiculously clear.
  • The only thing I've noticed that is not working reliably for me is the eye control. While that has noticeably improved after the factory reset, I’m still having trouble getting it fully over to the left side of the screen. It’s better, but still seems off. I also noticed that the bull’s-eye visual I selected (as an option) is now holding its ground better when I stare at something. Yet, after a few seconds, it can still drift a bit and then off to the right side, but perhaps that’s due to my blinking, or some other rapid eye movement?
  • Personally, the whole eye control feature was never something I thought to be necessary, and I would have been OK foregoing it if it made the camera more affordable. But the biggest concern I have with the eye control feature is whether it's safe to use (and especially when used often and over long durations). I have reached out to my optometrist to find out if something like that is safe to be using on a regular basis. At first blush, she did not seem to think so, and recommended I not use it, but she's offered to look into it for me as a curiosity. I was not able to find anything official on eye health/exposure risks in the R3 manual when using that option, and one would think something like that would be raised. A clear statement from Canon saying it’s safe to use repeatedly, and over long durations, would be a welcome thing for me. Has anything like that been discussed on Canon Rumors?
In some cases,
  • My R3 now appears to be operating better than when I first pulled it out of the box.
  • For example, another past issue that I had, but no longer apparently do, was my focusing point would sometimes drift, or pop up erratically on things that I was not focusing on (or wanted to focus on), and when it did that it tended to most always drift downwards towards the bottom middle, or bottom corner of the viewfinder. That is no longer occurring, at all, and my center focusing point is now more consistently behaving like a center point. When I turn the Servo on it also appears to be now tracking the eyes more consistently too. One thing new that I'm now doing is turning the focus tracking off when I'm not working with eyes. But, as an aside, while I was macro focusing the Santa Claus figurine pictured above my camera still detected its eyes, so I'm a bit confused on why that happened if I had the "none" option enabled, but cool that I suppose it did, as its eyes were very tiny, and ultimately it was correct.
Finally
  • I’d like to extend a big thank you to neuroanatomist and unfocused for their support and insights in helping me out. After I factory reset my R3, I then setup my camera the same way neuroanatomist did, and that’s worked for me too. You can find their setup details under this gear talk section. All very helpful and friendly. I hope I didn't jinx myself here, but for the moment things appear better after at not so good honeymoon.
 
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neuroanatomist

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Glad things are working out better for you!

Regarding flash compatibility, I think it’s either an error in the manual, Canon being pedantic since the weather-sealed flashes aren’t fully compatible (not weather sealed), or a blatant attempt to get people to spend money on the adapter.

The R3 specs at Canon Europe list the sealed flashes like the 600 as compatible, with the notation that the adapter is needed for weather sealing:
7F3BC449-9F75-46F9-87F7-AE0C26A59A2D.jpeg

As I said, my 600’s work just fine directly in the hotshoe.