Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about the mirrorless successor to the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III, rumored to be called the Canon EOS R1. Some might even say outlandish or silly rumors.
The R1's rumored specifications of 85 megapixels at 20 frames per second, 21 megapixels at 40 frames per second, Quad Pixel Autofocus (QPAF), and a global shutter seem to be a photographer's dream. Are these specifications just wishful thinking, or are we about to see a giant leap in camera technology?
The Case Against 85 Megapixels
Consider the history of the Canon 1D in the following chart as compared with the Canon 5D line, which already has its mirrorless successor to the Canon 5D Mark IV.The history of the Canon 1D just doesn't lend itself to an 85-megapixel sensor. A jump in resolution like this would be highly out of the ordinary for Canon. The 1D line has been hovering around the 20-megapixel area for around 13 years now. A jump of over four times the resolution has never happened before. The 1D and 5D lines have never even doubled their resolution in one generation, let alone made an astronomical leap like this rumor purports.
This resolution seems a bit far-fetched because the photographers' market that this camera is aimed at doesn't need and often doesn't want such a high resolution. On the other hand, the quad pixel AF and the ability to output 21-megapixel images at 40 frames per second most certainly would.
Some argue that such a significant change in sensor technology coming all at one time is a bit hard to believe. What is the possibility of a global shutter, stacked sensor, 85-megapixel resolution, 5-axis IBIS, and full sensor Quad Pixel autofocus all coming on the scene in Canon's flagship product?
The rumors just seem too good to be true. I don't buy them. Personally, I think it will be in the area of a 45-megapixel sensor, possibly including a pixel shift feature which would fill in that 85-megapixel spot in the rumor.
Such a leap in specifications would also limit Canon's future product line. Anyone buying a camera with such capability would not need to upgrade for quite some time, something that could affect future sales. On the other hand, such a camera would undoubtedly put Canon in the lead in the competitive market.
The Case For 85 Megapixels
Although I don't believe the rumor is accurate, a quad pixel autofocus and global shutter certainly lend some believability to this rumor in the area of technological capability. 85 megapixels is just about at the extreme end of the dual DIGIC X processor's ability for throughput.
Canon has ultra-high resolution sensors (250-megapixels) in the APS-H format, so it's not an extreme leap to imagine that they are capable of creating such a sensor. I still have my doubts that Canon is going to throw down such a gauntlet.
What do you think? Will Canon actually pull this off, or is this rumor just a bunch of wishful thinking? Let me know in the comments.