Canon’s EOS R1 is Putting the Sports World on Notice

Canon EOS R1 with 24-70mm F2.8 L Lens on white background

Today, Canon USA announced the development of their first flagship RF-mount camera – the Canon EOS R1. Right now, official details on specs are light but what we do know has the potential to completely change the world of Sports photography. Here’s what we know so far.

Deep Learning Algorithms and the Canon EOS R1

The Canon EOS R1 will be a full-frame, CMOS sensor camera that uses the existing DIGIC X imaging processor. However, this combination is being paired with an all-new, DIGIC Accelerator – a new, second image processing unit that will be used to leverage AI/Deep Learning to improve everything from read/write speeds to Canon’s auto-focusing system. What this could mean in practice is the ability to crunch even more pixels in a shorter amount of time and hit AF in a way that’s never been possible before.

Canon’s official release describes it as follows:

For example, subject tracking accuracy has been improved so that in team sporting events where multiple subjects intersect, the target subject can continually be tracked even if another player passes directly in front of them. In addition, the AF “Action Priority” function recognizes subject movement by rapidly analyzing the subject’s status…. this function automatically determines the player performing a certain action, such as shooting a ball, as the main subject and instantly shifts the AF frame, thereby helping to capture decisive moments of gameplay.

Canon USA

Final Thoughts

Beyond auto-focusing capabilities, the AI-powered improvements could potentially be used in minimizing grain/noise when shooting in low-light conditions or when you crank up that ISO to the max. This could allow for high-speed shooting in previously impossible lighting conditions (imagine freezing a ballerina in the air with nothing but ambient light). For a long time, I’ve advocated for the incorporation of AI and similar technologies to help improve repetitive processes in photography – but more importantly, allow it all to happen in camera. For someone who loathes editing, these types of technologies will no doubt improve the capture process for photographers like me but more importantly, bring these down to the consumer market in the future.

As of now, Canon plans on releasing the EOS R1 later this year. It’s aimed directly at professional/sports photography consumers and is expected to be priced like the flagship that it is. We’re keeping an eye on it as more information becomes available.

[via Canon]