The long-awaited debut of Canon’s top-of-the-line EOS R1 has arrived, boasting unparalleled performance never seen before.

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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, because even now it’s finally official, we still know very little about it.

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

Canon confirmed its latest flagship is in development today (May 15), but we’re still in the dark about most of its specs and features, except for what processor it will use. According to the announcement, the processing power under the hood of the EOS R1 will come from a ‘system’ that combines a brand-new processor called the Digic Accelerator with the existing Digic X engine, and both are 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.

So, to offer something new, Canon says it’s new AF system will be able to recognize a subject’s movements and will lock in on a team member performing a specific action – so shifting focus when necessary in a feature called Action Priority that 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 on how this has been achieved. We can only speculate it’s got to do with that new sensor.

It’s been confirmed that the new EOS R1 is being tested in the field and that it’s coming in 2024 – surely it needs to be ready 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 the 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 its official reveal, and I’m quite sure we’ll unofficially hear more about from the Paris Olympics. The official press release from Canon is below.

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