“R”each for the stars with the EOS Ra, Canon’s natively astro-modified full-frame mirrorless

As we hurtle through time toward the (northern hemisphere’s) winter solstice, we find ourselves with more and more time in the dark. For many photographers, it’s a huge bummer—especially if you’re a night owl, like many of us artist-types are, thanks to the time change—but what if the night sky, itself, was your subject? Astrophotographers, it’s your time to shine!

Whether you’re a well-seasoned star-tist or looking for a whole new way to experiment in imaging, Canon has anticipated a burgeoning demand for night-time gear and, about a year since the EOS R was originally released, has presented the EOS Ra. The “a” is for “astro!”

Following announcements of the IVY REC, Defocus Smoothing, and more this year, it’s exciting to see Canon on a bit of an innovative streak, recognizing the importances of niches in photography.

Canon’s first mirrorless, full-frame astrophotography-modified camera body is slated for mid-December availability. Visually, the camera is nearly identical to the EOS R, but it’s what’s inside—or, rather, not inside—that makes a difference. The IR cut filter has been modified to permit hydrogen-alpha rays (Hα, of wavelength 656.3 nm) to reach the sensor. Infra-red sensitivity increased by about four times means that you’ll be able to capture rich, ruddy images of galaxies and nebulae without any modification of the image.

The same gorgeous viewfinder and 30x magnification available for manual focus found on the EOS R make the effort of nailing tack-sharp focus on stars millions of miles away quite a bit more manageable, and a very significant upgrade over 2012’s EOS 60Da, Canon’s last astro-specialized camera. Did I mention that this is not only Canon’s first mirrorless astro-camera, but also their first with a larger-than-APS-C sensor? The possibilities are palpable, and unprecedented.

Be sure to pre-order now if you’re hoping to receive one before the holidays. It’s hard to say how well-supplied we’ll be, but with very few direct competitors, this one’s bound to be a smash in the astrophotography community!

PS—If you are considering the EOS Ra as a gift, don’t let that special space-nik in your life miss out on the perfect way to take advantage: full-scale photo expeditions in 2020. We’ll be visiting Arches National Park (twice!), Monument Valley, the Westcliffe Dark Sky Community, and the Grand Tetons.

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