Canon EOS Ra’s Infrared Sensitivity and Focus is Great for Astrophotography

Credit: Karlis Dambrans licensed under CC BY 2.0

Canon develops great cameras every year, from the Canon EOS M6 Mark II to the Canon PowerShot. One of the most notable ones in their lineup is the Canon EOS R—a mirrorless camera that’s the first to support the company’s patented Canon RF mount lenses. Before RF lenses, Canon used to have EF lenses for their mirrorless cameras, which had four fewer pins than the Canon RF. More pins mean faster features, so the Canon EOS R boasts a near-instant autofocus function.

The Canon EOS R was so successful that its manufacturer produced many versions of it throughout the years. The most recent one is the Canon EOS Ra, which was specially created for astrophotography.

Full specifications:

  • Sensor: 30.3MP Full frame
  • Processor: Digic 8
  • Lens mount: Canon RF
  • ISO range: Up to 40,000
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Max image size: 6,720 x 4,480
  • Max burst speed: 8FPS
  • Max video resolution: 4K Ultra HD
  • Size: 135.8 x 98.3 x 84.4mm
  • Weight: 660g

In terms of physical design, the Canon EOS Ra is very similar to the base model. It has a magnesium alloy body to withstand outdoor shoots, a Vari-angle LCD touchscreen, and a control ring that contains all the basic camera features you’re allowed to customize (like aperture and white balance). The differences lie in its hardware.

For example, the Canon EOS Ra’s sensor is able to transmit four times as much Hydrogen Alpha light, granting it extra infrared sensitivity. This lets the camera capture the unusual color of nebulae and other celestial bodies. The camera is also equipped with a high-precision electronic viewfinder (EVF)—technology that lets the user adjust the subject’s composition even if it’s too dark to spot or too far away to be seen by the naked eye. This is possible because of the touch sensors integrated into the control interface, as opposed to mechanical switches. The touch sensors amplify the camera’s circuitry voltage, granting the EVF the power it needs to function.

Moreover, the Canon EOS R naturally has great pinpoint focus accuracy thanks to its RF mounts and phase-detection autofocus system. When combined with the Canon EOS Ra’s capacity to zoom in up to 30 times, the user is able to capture moving celestial bodies from miles away. However, the camera doesn’t have a vibration reduction feature, so it needs to be placed on a steady surface to avoid capturing blurs caused by camera shake.

Another feature that drew some criticism is the Canon EOS Ra’s low resolution. However, the dynamic ISO range balances this weakness out with low noise levels. The base ISO range is from 100 to 40,000 but it’s expandable up to 102,400.

The Canon EOS Ra may look deceptively simple, but it’s packed with a lot of powerful features that will allow you to take stunning space photos on a clear night. It’s available at major tech shops and various online retailers for roughly 2,700 Euros. This is 20-25% more than the standard DSLR price, making it one of the most affordable astrophotography camera options on the market.

But if you are looking for how photographic equipment works in astrophotography: budget astrophotography cameras or lenses, take a look at this review of the Sony Zeiss 35mm 1.4 Distagon T*, or this other review about the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM.