Following widespread rumours, Canon has officially announced the EOS Ra, the first EOS R ‘full frame’ mirrorless camera to be modified for astrophotography.

The new Canon EOS Ra astronomical camera, shown with the RF 50mm f/1.2L IS USM lens. (Source: Canon.)

Unlike other full frame astro cameras, it is portable and has no need for external power and connection to a computer, although it shares many features with the September 2018-launched EOS R. but the EOS Ra features a new infrared-cutting filter that permits approximately four times more hydrogen alpha (Hα) rays at the 656nm wavelength to reach the image sensor. This enables users to photograph the deep red infrared rays emitted by nebulae (interstellar dust clouds made up mostly of hydrogen and helium), without requiring any other specialised optics or accessories. This enables images that would be impossible to capture on a traditional camera where the UV/IR cut filters block the IR light that gives these nebulae their red colour.

Three images captured with an EOS Ra camera. (Source: Canon.)

The EOS Ra’s compact and lightweight design makes it easier to attach to a telescope and the combination of EOS ergonomics with new controls the camera provides maximum control with familiarity. The Vari-Angle touch screen makes the camera comfortable for photographers shooting in any position with the benefit of having up to 30x magnification to check focus. The EOS Ra’s electronic viewfinder means photographers can really shoot what they see, with the ability to view their subjects clearly in the dark. The modified filtration makes the EOS Ra much less suitable for everyday photograph as it would render scenes with a noticeable red bias that may not be correctable to provide a natural colour balance, either in the camera or with editing software.

Key specifications for the EOS Ra are as follows:

  • 3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sSensor and DIGIC 8 image processor
  • Modified filter for enhanced night sky recording
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 5,655 manually selectable AF positions
  • RF mount compatible with RF lenses and EF/EF-S lenses (with optional mount adapter EF-EOS R)
  • 4K 30p with Canon Log and 10-bit 4:2:2 HDMI output
  • Built-in EVF with 3.69 million dots, vari-angle touchscreen LCD and dot-matrix LCD panel
  • Sophistication in a lightweight, compact size
  • High magnification ratio of 30x in Live View
  • Impressive durability
  • Silent shutter
  • USB charge compatible

The EOS Ra, like the EOS R, supports connection via EOS Utility and the Canon Camera Connect application. This allows remote camera control for still and video via USB or via wireless. The software, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Canon support website, enables remote shooting, for example from indoors on a cold evening, and time lapse operation. The camera’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities make connection to a smartphone and transferring of images and video simple. In addition to this, accurate GPS data from a smartphone can be added to images to record their capture location.

The EOS Ra will be available from Canon’s online store and official Canon retailers from December 2019, with pricing set at dealers’ discretion. Click here for more information.