The Canon EOS Ra is certainly a full-frame mirrorless astrophotography camera that is capable of producing APOD worthy astrophotography images. It is not a “one-trick-pony”, so to speak, as many of the other options available to amateurs are. Not only can the Ra take incredible deep-sky images through a telescope, but also using a wide variety of lenses, and without computer control.
Having a camera with a long-lasting internal battery and a touchscreen display means that you are able to make modifications to your exposures and key settings on the fly. You do not rely on third-party software to run this camera, although it can be used with popular software such as Astro Photography Tool, or Canon EOS Utilities.
Check Out: Best Lenses for Canon EOS Ra
Canon EOS Ra: Price
The tactile experience of the EOS Ra camera body inspires you to focus on creative photography that excites you, and less on micro-adjustments and graphs on a computer screen. To be flawlessly honest, the Canon EOS Ra is just more fun to use than any additional astrophotography camera I’ve experienced.
Canon EOS Ra: Camera Features and Specifications
At the heart of the Canon EOS Ra, is a 30.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. That’s a massive 36 x 24mm sensor, an uncommonly large size in the realm of astrophotography cameras.
This translates into an extremely wide field of view when used with a compact refractor telescope. It utilizes the native focal length of the optical instrument rather than cropping the image as smaller sensors do.
So, if you use a telescope like the Sky-Watcher Esprit 100, you are shooting at the listed focal amount of 550mm. This determines the magnification of the deep-sky object and the resolution of your image.
The EOS Ra includes all of the advanced features of the EOS R, including a self-cleaning sensor unit, dust delete data function, and an OLED colour electronic viewfinder.
Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity are standard features of the EOS Ra, too. Does your dedicated astronomy camera offer this?
The Canon EOS Ra includes Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus. This advanced focusing system found in the original EOS R will not be utilized in many astrophotography-related shoots, but for video work, AF modes like Face+Tracking are incredibly useful.
Canon EOS Ra: Core Specifications of the EOS Ra
- Format: Full-Frame
- Sensor Type: CMOS
- Sensor Size: 36 x 24mm
- Pixel Size: 5.36 microns
- Max. Resolution: 6720 x 4480 (30.2 MP)
- ISO Sensitivity: 100 – 40000
- Lens Mount: Canon RF
- Video Modes: 4K up to 30p, HD up to 60p
- Memory Card: Single SD
- Weight: 1.45 lbs.
When comparing the price of the Canon EOS Ra to a dedicated astronomy camera, consider the sheer amount of features this camera has that the latter does not (onboard touch-screen LCD, WiFi, 4K video, dual pixel AF, etc.). Will you use these advanced functions for deep-sky astrophotography through a telescope? Probably not.
But the Canon EOS Ra is normally a multi-function camera that was designed to meet the needs of a broad range of amateur astrophotographers from wide-angle nightscape shooters to prime focus deep-sky imagers.
New RF Lens Mount
The Canon EOS Ra features the new Canon RF lens mount, which allows you to use the latest RF mount lenses from Canon including the RF 85mm F/1.2L. If you already own Canon glass with the EF lens mount system, you simply need to utilize the EF-EOS R lens mount adapter to attach them to the EOS Ra.
Yes, the adapter is an added expense to make use of your existing Canon glass, but you will now be able to experience the impressive RF Lenses obtainable. According to Canonwatch.com, the RF lenses are an improvement over their EF counterparts, as demonstrated in the DxOMark testing (at least on the RF 50mm F/1.2L lens).
New RAW Image Format
The Canon EOS Ra shoots RAW images in .CR3 format. This slight number change (from the previous .CR2 format of Canon DSLR cameras) is actually a big deal. All of the software you use for registration, calibration, and image editing must be able to work with this new file format.
For example, the pre-processing software I use (DeepSkyStacker) accepts.CR2 RAW image files, but not.CR3. That implies that I must convert the native RAW image format from the Canon EOS Ra to a. TIF file for the application to recognize it.
Full Frame CMOS Sensor
The full-frame CMOS hydrogen-alpha sensitive sensor is likely the biggest appeal of the camera overall. If you want to shoot using the field-of-view you are accustomed to with a crop-sensor camera body, you have the option of switching to “crop” mode in the settings.
With the EOS Ra, I was finally able to use the large image circles of my apochromatic refractor telescopes just like the William Optics RedCat 51 and Fluorostar 132.
You can manually change the cropping/aspect ratio of the image in the camera settings if desired. Most photographers will simply leave the camera in “FULL” (full-frame) mode, but the option of capturing images at a 1.6X (crop-sensor), 1:1, 4:3, or even 16:9 is there.
4K Video at 30 FPS
One of the features many people like to ignore when complaining about how expensive this camera is is the 4K 30 fps video mode. That’s stunningly high-resolution video footage from a full-frame mirrorless sensor.
Is this feature much less likely to be used by astrophotography enthusiasts? Perhaps. Being somewhat of a videographer myself (I have filmed and edited over 100 videos on YouTube), I consider this to be an exciting option – and what I would put to good use.
In fact, I tested the Canon EOS Ra’s video capabilities for some daytime filming for one of my videos. I was quite astonished to observe that the colours were not far off of a “normal-looking” scene despite having nearly 4x the sensitivity to H-Alpha over a standard EOS R.
Canon EOS Ra: Conclusions
The Canon EOS Ra stole my heart from the very moment I revealed the California Nebula on the astrophotography-themed box. In the past, I’ve professed my love for Canon’s astrophotography cameras such as the Canon EOS 60Da.
The experience I have had with the EOS Ra was full of memorable moments under the stars. The type of astrophotography that this camera inspires reminds me of why I got into this crazy hobby in the first place.
Now, I’ve not experienced Nikon’s full-frame astrophotography camera (the D810A DSLR), nor have I ever used a full-frame mirrorless camera from Sony like the popular A7R III. So consider that for what it’s worth, this is not a detailed comparison between competing cameras in this category.
The only negative aspects of the camera I have found are that the large full-frame sensor can result in substantial vignetting with particular optical systems, and the lack of compatibility in certain software to the brand new.CR3 file format. If you own a telescope that does not feature an image circle created for full-frame cameras, you will need to crop your images.
Hopefully, DeepSkyStacker will update soon with the ability to stack, register, and calibrate.CR3 RAW images. Additional third-party applications will need to support this file type too, to get the best overall encounter with the Ra.
All in all, the EOS Ra is usually a monumental step up from Canon’s previous astrophotography inspired camera. Fans of the DSLR/Mirrorless camera experience (especially if you own existing Canon glass), will adore the EOS Ra.