Canon EOS R6 First Look Review

Canon EOS R6
Review

Price when reviewed

£2499.99

€2899.99

Our Verdict

While the Canon EOS R5 is probably the most exciting camera announcement of 2020, the Canon EOS R6 is also very interesting and its price is more acceptable. However, there are likely to be lots of Canon 6D Mark II users who are a bit miffed about taking a drop in resolution from 26.2Mp to 20.1Mp. It should enable an improvement in noise control, but if you’re a landscape photographer, you’re probably more interested in detail resolution. Nevertheless, the R6 seems like an excellent camera for videographers. It may not be able to shoot 8K video, nor (more disappointingly) 4K at 120fps like the R6, but it can capture 4K video at 60P (with just a slight crop ) with 10bit colour and with Canon Log on hand for greater grading potential. What’s more, it can record that to a UHS-II SD-type memory card. Add in the exciting autofocus system and the Canon R6 has plenty of appeal.

For

  • Similar 20Mp full-frame sensor to the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III
  • 12fps/20fps continuous shooting
  • Advanced autofocus system

Against

  • Slight horizontal crop in 4K video mode
  • 6Mp lower resolution than the Canon EOS 6D Mark II
What is the Canon EOS R6

According to the manufacturer, the Canon EOS R6 combines the speed of Canon EOS 7D Mark II with the full-frame sensor appeal of the Canon EOS 6D Mark II in a mirrorless body.
While the 45Mp Canon EOS R5 is the camera that’s grabbing the headlines, the 20Mp Canon EOS R6 is likely to sell in bigger numbers.

And although it lacks the ability to shoot 8K video, it can record 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) at up to 59.94fps and Full HD video at up to 119.88fps. Its full-frame sensor also has a similar design to the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III’s, and it can shoot completely silently at up to 20fps with continuous autofocusing and exposure metering.

The R5 is aimed at professional photographers and videographers, but enthusiast photographers and videographers are the target market for the Canon EOS R6. That’s a demanding demographic that includes people who want to shoot a wide variety of subjects in all sorts of conditions.

You can pre-order the new Canon EOS R6 from retailers such as B&H Photo Video and Adorama in the US, or from Wex Photo Video and Park Cameras in the UK.

Canon EOS R6

Specification

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Announced: 9th July 2020
  • Sensor: 20Mp Full-frame Dual Pixel CMOS AF II
  • Processor: Digic X
  • Lens mount: RF
  • Sensitivity range: Stills: ISO 100-102,400 expandable to ISO 50-204,800, Movies: ISO 100-6,400, expandable to ISO 204,800
  • File formats: Raw + Jpeg/HEIF, MP4
  • Maximum continuous shooting rate: Mechanical shutter: 12fps, Electronic shutter: 20fps
  • Maximum video resolution: Uncropped internal recording 4K video at up to 60fps, Full HD at up to 120fps
  • Autofocus system: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II phase detection with 6,072 points in stills and 4968 points in movie mode
  • 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 97.5 x 88.4mm
  • Weight: 598g / 680 g with card and battery
Features

Inside the Canon EOS R6 is a 20Mp full-frame sensor that’s said to be very similar to the one in the company’s flagship DSLR, the EOS-1D X Mark III. The key difference is thought to be a change to the design of the low pass filter.

Like the Canon EOS R5 launched at the same time, the EOS R6 has a Dual Pixel CMOS AF II sensor which means that there’s phase-detection autofocusing available whether you’re shooting stills or video. Canon is claiming a world record for autofocus speed at 0.05sec for the R5 and R6.

What’s more, the whole sensor is covered with autofocus (AF) points and in stills mode there’s up to 6,072 available for selection. There’s also face, eye and animal AF tracking available, which combined with the 12fps (frame per second) maximum continuous shooting rate with the mechanical shutter and 20fps maximum shooting rate with the electronic shutter, is likely to appeal to keen wildlife, sport and action photographers. And the fact that the AF functions all work in video mode (including Eye AF) is great news for videographers too.

Further good news is that the Canon R6 inherits similar low-light capability to the EOS-1D X Mark III. Consequently, it has a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-102,400. If that’s not enough, the expansion settings take it to ISO 50-204,800. Meanwhile, if you’re shooting video there’s a native range of ISO 100-6,400, which is expandable to ISO 204,800.

This is matched by the Canon R6’s low-light focusing credentials. While the R5’s AF system is claimed to be sensitive down to -6EV, the R6’s AF system can function at down to -6.5EV. That’s incredibly low light and a new record for a Canon EOS camera.

Shooting in dim conditions can also necessitate slow shutter speeds, but that’s OK because the Canon R6 has 5-axis in-body image stabilisation built-in. This works in harmony with the stabilisation in Canon’s IS lenses and is claimed to offer up to 8 stops of shutter speed compensation. That’s a new high for the photographic industry.

It’s going to be exciting to see how long an exposure you can use and still get a sharp image. When a wide lens is mounted, it should be possible to blur water and crowds of people while still getting motionless objects sharp without using a tripod.

Video

Although it doesn’t have the class-leading video resolution of the Canon R5, the Canon EOS R6 is no slouch when it comes to video credentials.

It can record 4K (3840 x 2160) video at up to 59.94fps, however, there is a slight crop as only 94% of the horizontal area of the sensor is used. This 4K video is produced by oversampling from 5.1K for better quality. There’s also a 4K movie cropping mode available that uses 62% of the horizontal area, which means there’s much greater cropping.

If you want to add drama to action shots, Full HD footage can be shot at up to 119.88fps for slow-motion playback.

It’s possible to record the highest resolution video to an SD UHS-II card in 8-bit H.264 or 10-bit 4:2:2 H.265 and Canon Log is available for greater post-capture gradability.

Incredibly, Canon has enabled a zebra display for the first time in an EOS camera to help guide exposure.

Other niceties include an HDMI micro port (Type D) for connecting an external monitor, a microphone port and a headphone socket.

Memory cards and battery

There’s good news on the memory card front as the Canon EOS R6 has dual card slots and they both accept SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II media. That’s ideal for 4K video recording.

Also, although the Canon R6 is supplied with a new LP-E6NH (7.2V 2130mAh 16Wh) battery, it is compatible with the LP-6N (7.4V 1865mAh 14Wh) that is used in Canon’s recent enthusiast-level DSLRs and the EOS R.

Communications

Canon has included Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (2.4Ghz) connectivity in the Canon EOS R6. This enables it to connect to a smartphone or a WiFi network to share files. There’s also FTP/FTPS transfer.

The Canon R6 can also be controlled remotely using the Camera Connect and EOS Utility apps, and it can be tethered to a PC or Mac via WiFi or a high-speed USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection.

Alternatively, images can be transferred automatically to the image.canon cloud platform for sharing or printing. They can also be integrated with Google Photos or Adobe Creative Cloud workflows.

Canon EOS R6 Review
Build and Handling

The Canon EOS R6 has a magnesium alloy chassis and outer panels made from polycarbonate with glass resin. It’s also weather-sealed to the same level as the Canon EOS 6D Mark II which should mean it’s suited to life in an enthusiast’s kit and is able to take photographs in most conditions. I’d still reach for some sort of cover in heavy rain though.

There’s also a good deep grip which means you can keep a firm grasp on your investment.

Canon EOS R6 Review

Looking at the top of the R6, I’m pleased to see that Canon has opted for a mode dial. This means that you can swap quickly between the exposure modes, and check or change what’s set without powering up the camera.

There are also front and rear control dials on the top-plate and a large control wheel on the back of the camera. These make changing settings quick and easy when the camera is held to your eye.

Further good news is that, like the R5, the Canon R6 has a joystick on its back. This is to the left of the thumb rest and to the right of the viewfinder. That’s perfectly placed for shifting the AF point around while looking in the viewfinder.

Naturally, as it’s a mirrorless camera, the EOS R6 has an electronic viewfinder. These have come a long way over the last few years and I’m a fan of them. They enable you to see the image as it will be captured with all the exposure, white balance and colour settings applied. It means you can focus on the crucial aspects of composition and ensuring the focus is in the right place.

While the R6’s viewfinder is the same size as the R5’s (it’s a 0.5-inch type), its resolution is lower at 3.69million dots instead of 5.76million. That’s the same as in the EOS R and on par with the electronic viewfinders in the Sony A9 and Nikon Z7. It’s a great EVF specification for a camera of this level.

There’s also a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen with 1.62million dots. Again, I’m a fan of vari-angle screens because they make shooting portrait or landscape format images from above or below head-height much easier than a fixed screen. And a tilting screen is only of help with landscape format images.

Canon EOS R6 Review

Canon has also done a great job of implementing touch-control into its cameras. It means that you can select or adjust just about anything with a tap on the screen, but there’s also plenty of button and dial control available when you want it. I find it much more intuitive to select menu options with a tap on a screen rather than scrolling around and pressing buttons.

Canon EOS R6
Performance

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is a phenomenal camera so it’s great news that the Canon EOS R6 has a very similar sensor. Some may be a little disappointed that the R6 has a 20Mp chip rather than a 24, 26 or 30Mp sensor, but keeping the pixel count down helps enable better noise control.

In our testing, I found that the EOS-1D X Mark III controls noise very well up to ISO 51,200. That gives plenty of scope for shooting in music venues (hopefully one day soon we’ll be able to get back to those) and at evening sports events (ditto). It bodes well for the EOS R6.

However, enthusiast photographers tend to be more concerned with detail resolution than the news and sports photographers who use the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III. They may also be less likely to shoot in very poor light conditions, so I wonder if they would prefer a sensor with a higher resolution? A poll I ran on Twitter a while back indicated that many people prefer a 24Mp sensor.

EOS-1D X Mark III also has a good dynamic range with underexposed low ISO raw files standing up well to significant brightening. That could be of use to anyone wishing to preserve the highlights of a landscape or portrait image.

The 1D X Mark II also produces very high-quality 4K video, but it’s a bit hampered by the fixed screen. Thankfully, there’s no such issue with the Canon R6. Also, its mirrorless design means that you can switch seamlessly between shooting using the viewfinder and using the screen to compose images or video.

You can pre-order the new Canon EOS R6 from retailers such as B&H Photo Video and Adorama in the US, or from Wex Photo Video and Park Cameras in the UK.

Early Verdict

Although Canon is billing the EOS R6 as a mirrorless blend of the full-frame 26.2Mp EOS 6D Mark II and the APS-C format 20.2Mp EOS 7D Mark II, I think many photographers will be wishing for greater resolution. Canon is claiming that the 45Mp R5 beats the 50Mp EOS 5DS and 5DS R for detail resolution because of design changes to the low pass filter. I haven’t seen comparable claims for the R6, but perhaps it will out resolve the 6D Mark II?

Keen videographers, however, will have no such concerns. The larger pixels should result in cleaner footage while the excellent 4K and Full HD specifications gives them plenty of control over what they create.

The autofocus and stabilisation specifications are also extremely promising.

Recent Stories