Canon's flagship EOS R1 is finally official, and it will have never-before-seen power

Canon EOS R1 camera body no lens attached on a dark background
(Image credit: Canon)

We've been speculating about the flagship Canon EOS R1 since the end of 2021, making it possibly one of the worst (or best) kept secrets in camera history. Well, now it's finally official – but we still know very little about it.

Canon confirmed that its latest flagship is in development today (May 15), but we're still in the dark about most of its specs and features, other than the processor it will use.

The processing power under the hood of the EOS R1 will come from a 'system' which Canon says combines a brand-new processor called the Digic Accelerator with the existing Digic X engine, with this combo then paired with a new CMOS sensor. 

While the sensor resolution is still to be confirmed, Canon has said that it "has achieved high-speed and high-accuracy subject recognition" with this system and some advanced deep-learning tech. The example the company cites is keeping focus locked on a single target in a team sport, but this isn't anything new – it's already a Servo AF characteristic on the Canon EOS R3, and a similar function is available on the Nikon Z9

To offer something new, Canon says its new AF system will be able to recognize a subject's movements, and will lock in on a team member performing a specific action, shifting focus when necessary with a feature called Action Priority, which will reduce the number of missed opportunities a photographer might regret.

Canon also says that image quality has been improved, but doesn't go into details as to how this has been achieved, although we can speculate that it's got to do with that new sensor.

Two hands holding the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

Based on the product image in Canon's video teaser, the EOS R1 has a similar design to the EOS R3, although it will be slightly larger and heavier (Image credit: Future)

Canon has confirmed that the EOS R1 is currently being tested in the field and that it's coming in 2024 – presumably in time for the Paris 2024 Olympics. That said, it's highly unlikely to hit the shelves before then, but it could be in the hands of Canon pros for this summer's biggest sporting events. At this stage it's more realistic that the EOS R1 will be released to the public towards the end of 2024. 

That product timeline is based on the Canon EOS R3. While its development announcement was made in April 2021, it was officially revealed in September that year and went on sale in November. We expect plenty more leaks and rumors between now and the EOS R1's official reveal.

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Timothy Coleman
Cameras editor

Tim is the Cameras editor at TechRadar. He has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo video industry with most of those in the world of tech journalism. During his time as Deputy Technical Editor with Amateur Photographer, as a freelancer and consequently editor at Tech Radar, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with cameras, educating others through news, reviews and features. He’s also worked in video production for Studio 44 with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and moderate flat white drinker who has lived in Kenya and believes we have much to enjoy and learn from each other.