Reviews |Canon EOS R6 Mark II hands on

Canon EOS R6 Mark II hands on Review

Canon EOS R6 Mark II review
Review

Price when reviewed

£2799.99

€3149.99

Our Verdict

The Canon EOS R6 has been a popular camera that has convinced many photographers to switch from their Canon DSLR to a mirrorless model. It shares many features with the Canon R5 and R3 but has a lower pixel count and better low light capability. The Canon EOS R6 Mark II makes a nice jump up in pixel count to 24.2MP, which is a popular resolution that balances noise control well with detail resolution. This and the improvements made to the AF system and video capability mean the newer camera is sure to convince more DSLR users to switch to a mirrorless camera, it could even persuade quite a few R6-shooters to upgrade although its price will give pause for thought.

What is the Canon EOS R6 Mark II?

Although Canon introduced its first full-frame mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R, in October 2018, it was the 20MP Canon EOS R6 and 45MP Canon EOS R5 that really ignited the EOS R range and the switch to mirrorless photography when they were announced in July 2020.

The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is the replacement for the original R6 camera and it brings a new sensor with a 20% increase in resolution, plus a new processor for faster continuous shooting and enhanced subject-detection, better video and a host of other improvements.

Canon is aiming the EOS R6 II at ‘independent content creators’, especially videographers, wedding photographers and sport or action photographers.

We got to shoot with a beta sample of the camera ahead of its announcement for our first-look Canon EOS R6 Mark II review.

Specification

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Announced: 2nd November 2022
  • Sensor: 24.2MP Full-frame Dual Pixel CMOS AF II
  • Processor: Digic X
  • Lens mount: RF
  • Sensitivity range: Stills: ISO 100-102,400 expandable to ISO 50-204,801, Video: ISO 100-25,600 expandable to ISO 204,801
  • File formats: Raw + Jpeg/HEIF, MP4 H.264/H.265
  • Continuous shooting rate: Mechanical shutter: 12fps for 1000+ Jpeg or 110 raw or 1000 CRAW images, Electronic shutter: 40fps for 190 Jpeg or 75 raw or 140 CRAW images, or 20fps, 5fps all with AF tracking
  • Maximum video resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160) up to 60fps, Full HD (1920 x 1090) at up to 120fps
  • Autofocus system: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II phase detection with 100% coverage
  • Viewfinder: 0.5-inch 3.69million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 120fps refresh rate
  • Screen: 3-inch 1.62-million dot vari-angle touchscreen
  • Autofocus: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II with Advanced Animal AF (recognising dogs, cats and birds) supported in all video modes with 100% coverage and up to 1053 ‘AF segments’
  • Stabilisation: In-body image stabilisation (IBIS) that works with lens IS and enables up to 8-stops of shutter speed compensation
  • Storage: Dual slots, 2x SDXC UHS-II
  • Dimensions: 138.4 x 98.4 x 88.4mm
  • Weight: 588g / 670 g with card and battery
Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

Features

Like the original R6, the Canon R6 Mark II has a full-frame sensor, however its resolution has been increased to 24.1-million-pixels. This is a new sensor but it’s not backside-illuminated (BSI) or stacked. According to Canon, switching to a BSI or stacked design would mean the price of the R6 II would have rise above what it considers acceptable and its launch price is already £2,779.99 / €3,149.99.

The 24MP sensor is paired with a new variation on the Digic X processing engine that we’ve seen in cameras such as the flagship Canon EOS R3 and Canon R5 and R6. In the Canon R6 II, when the electronic shutter is used, the processor and sensor combination enables a top continuous shooting rate of 40fps with autofocus and tracking for up to 75 raw files or 190 Large Jpeg images. This rate can also be slowed to 20fps or 5fps if the top rate isn’t needed. Changing to the mechanical shutter drops the maximum shooting rate to 12fps but the burst depth rises to over 1000 Jpegs, 110 raw files or 1000 CRAW files.

Like the APS-C format Canon EOS R7, the R6 II has a Raw Burst mode in which it can shoot up to 191 raw files at 30fps (with AF tracking) with pre-capture of the images 0.5 second before th shutter button is pressed. That’s ideal for unpredictable action however, individual images must be extracted from the sequence using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software, or in camera, and then be saved as separate Jpeg, HEIF or raw files.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

There’s lots of attention on autofocus systems and subject detection at the moment. The Canon R6 II inherits the R3’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF II and subject detection systems, although it doesn’t have the benefit of the extra speed brought by the flagship camera’s stacked sensor. Nevertheless, it’s sensitive down to -6.5EV, has an improved deep learning algorithm and the eye-detection works in any focus mode or with any focus area. There are also three different sized Zone AF options and ‘planes and trains are added to the list of detectable subjects in the ‘Vehicle’ section, while horses (and zebras) are added to the ‘Animal’ list. That makes the complete list: Humans, Animals (Dogs, Cats, Birds and horses), Vehicles (Racing cars or Motor bikes, Aircraft and Trains). There’s also a new ‘Auto’ subject detection mode in which the camera will look for any of the subjects in its detection list.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

With updated eye tracking, it’s possible to specify whether the left or right eye should be given priority for focusing, and when the eyes can’t be detected, the EOS R6 Mark II focuses on the face in the frame. The camera uses a hierarchal approaching to focusing so that if the eyes and face aren’t detectable, it will track the person’s head, and if that’s not visible, it will track their body.

A new Face only AF option also instructs the camera to not focus on the background when the subject leaves the frame. If the subject re-enters the frame it will begin to track them again. That could be very useful with subjects that are tricky to keep up with.

Canon has also given the EOS R6 II Focus bracketing with the ability to composite the images in-camera and Jpeg-only multiple exposure mode that can combine up to 9 shots.

The new camera also inherits the Panorama mode that was introduced with the R7 and that combines the images in camera.

The original R6’s in-body image stabilisation is very capable and rated at 8-stops, but Canon claims that the R6 Mark II has the world’s most effective stabilisation performance and again it comes with a claimed shutter speed compensation of 8-stops.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

Canon EOS R6 Mark II video features

Although the R6 can record 4K video at 60p, there’s a 1.52x crop applied. That crop has gone with the R6 Mark II and it can shoot 4K 60p using the full-width of the sensor. Those looking to produce more extreme slow motion video will appreciate the R6 II’s Full HD 179.82fps capability.

Further good news is that all 4K video is created by oversampling the sensor’s 6K output, which boosts image quality.

Thanks to its improved circuit design and the removal of the usual 25 min 59 second recording limit, the Canon R6 Mark II can record over 40 minutes of oversampled 4K 60p footage or up to 6 hours at 4K 30p – provided the ambient temperature is acceptable and there’s enough storage capacity and power. Hopefully, the heat control is better than with the R6.

Alternatively, the EOS R6 Mark II can output 6K raw video to an Atomos Ninja V+ connected via the camera’s HDMI port, giving much more post-capture control.

There’s also a movie pre-recording mode that sets the camera to stream the footage while it’s in standby mode and then record a 3 or 5 second clip from before the record button is pressed (as well as the footage after it is pressed). It’s handy for unpredictable action.

To help nail the exposure in movies, the R6 II has a False colour option that uses 6 colours to indicate the brightness of elements of the scene. There’s also support for HDR via PQ and Canon Log 3.

In addition, the R6 II can use focus breathing correction with compatible lenses so that the framing doesn’t change with focus distance.

Lenses that currently support focus breathing correction (after a firmware update) include:
RF 14-35mm F4 L IS USM
RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM
RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM
RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM
RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM
RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM

RF24mm F1.8 Macro IS STM (no firmware update required)

Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

Connectivity options

Canon has updated the EOS R6 Mark II’s Bluetooth connectivity to v.5 and this plus the Wi-Fi (5GHz) enables the camera to connect to a smartphone or network for high-speed file sharing and FTP/FTPS/SFTP transfer.

As you’d expect the camera can also be controlled remotely using Canon’s free Camera Connect and EOS Utility apps. It can be tethered to a computer (PC or Mac) or a smartphone via Wi-Fi or a USB-C connection.

It’s also possible to use the EOS R6 Mark II as a webcam on Skype, Zoom and Teams etc, without having to install additional software.

In addition, the R6 II has a multi-function shoe for mounting and connecting a range of accessories without the need for cables, and in some cases batteries.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

Build and handling

Although it looks very similar to the Canon R6 and has the same level of weather-sealing, the Canon R6 Mark II is 10g lighter and there’s a useful little change to the control arrangement.

Canon has given the EOS R6 II a power switch next to the rear control dial on the top of the camera. This has freed the switch on the left of the top-plate to become the stills/video selector. That means that there’s no need to rotate the exposure mode dial to switch between stills or video shooting and you don’t need to set the video exposure mode via the menu.

Strangely, given the target audience of the R6 II, Canon has added two new scene modes to the mode dial.

The presence of the mode dial distinguishes the R6 II very clearly from the R5 which has a mode button and dial arrangement. It doesn’t take long to get used to the R5’s method of exposure mode selection, but the R6 II’s is faster because there’s only one control involved.

Apart from those changes and the addition of a Cinema EOS style Quick menu view in video mode, the R6 II seems very similar to the original R6 and few users are likely to have any trouble transitioning to the new camera.

Like its predecessor, the R6 II has a magnesium alloy chassis and a large, comfortable grip.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

Canon EOS R6 Mark II viewfinder and screen

Canon has stuck with the same 0.-5in type 3.69-million-dot electronic viewfinder and 3-inch 1.62-million-dot screen on the EOS R6 II as is on the R6. That means that the EOS R6 II’s viewfinder has lower resolution than the 5.76-million-dot viewfinder in the R5, but it still provides a very clear view with plenty of detail.

Similarly, the R6 II’s screen is very slightly smaller and lower resolution than the R5’s (1.62-million-dots vs 2.1-million-dots), but it’s still very good. Like all Canon’s recent mirrorless cameras, you get plenty of touch-control via the screen and you can swap seamlessly between using buttons and dials or the screen to make setting adjustments and selections.

Mounting the rear screen on a vari-angle hinge means you can flip and rotate it to give a clear view from just about any angle and whether you are shooting in portrait or landscape orientation. It can also be flipped to face forwards for viewing from in front of the camera.

As before, I found the R6 II’s screen and viewfinder give an accurate view of the colour and exposure of the final image.

Performance

I’ve been able to shoot with a beta sample of the Canon EOS R6 Mark II for this review, but there’s a lot more testing to be done yet. However, I’m happy to report that even in relatively low light, the Canon R6 II does a great job of spotting human eyes in the frame, even when the subject is moving quite quickly. It also jumps to the face, head or body, depending upon what’s visible in the frame. It did a great job of tracking dancers around when I shot stills and video.

I was very impressed with the original R6’s ability to spot animals and animal’s eyes in the frame, so I’m looking forward to shooting a wider range of subjects in the near future to see how the R6 II copes.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II image quality

Some photographers were disappointed that the R6 only has a pixel count of 20-million, but the jump to 24.2MP with the R6 II is likely to be warmly received as its a popular resolution that balances image size, detail and noise control. Canon claims that the R6 II is able to control noise as effectively as the R6 and from my experience so far, it seems to do a very good job.

So far the highest sensitivity setting I have used with the R6 II is ISO 5000 and the noise is controlled extremely well. Thanks to the recent update to Adobe Camera Raw I’m able to see the raw files as well as the Jpegs and there’s just a there’s just a little luminance noise visible when the images are at 100% on the computer screen. There’s also a good level of detail visible, for example, the fine hairs on a dancer’s face and the texture of her skin are clear in an image that’s shot a little wider than head and shoulders.

When I tested the R6, I found it controlled noise well up to around ISO 51,200 while the top native setting of ISO 102,400 produces some of the best results at that value – although I’d aim to stick ISO 51,200 or lower when possible. I’m looking forward to seeing what the R6 II can do at the same high values.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II sample images

These images were shot using a beta sample of the Canon EOS R6 Mark II and image quality may change a little from the final production camera. They were shot in a meeting room using standard room lights rather than photographic lights. They illustrate the R6 II’s ability to spot eyes in the frame and to track the subject.

 

Early Verdict

The move to a 24MP sensor on the Canon EOS R6 Mark II seems like a good step that will be appreciated by many photographers. It’s a popular pixel count and it still affords plenty of scope for noise control.

There are also a few nice improvements to the autofocus and subject-detection systems and its great to see the crop and time limit for 4K video recording removed.

All things considered, the R6 II seems like a well-rounded camera that should appeal to lots of enthusiast and professional photographers, but the price is will be a barrier for many.

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