While its big brother has got all the headlines, the Canon EOS R6 is in many ways a far more fascinating camera – and one that’s going to appeal to a much larger portion of the market.
Although impressive, the Canon EOS R5 is simply too much camera for most people. Its 8K video, in particular, is the tech of tomorrow, rather than today, and most people simply don’t have the storage capacity or the power on their laptops to handle an 8K workflow – and right now, there aren’t a lot of places where 8K files can even be shared.
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Ditto the 45MP sensor. It sounds great on paper but, if you want an everyday camera or you shoot lots of fast action, handling hundreds and hundreds of massive files often leaves you feeling that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
Enter the Canon EOS R6, which features much of the same underlying tech – like the blistering burst speeds and the astonishing autofocus – but applies it to much more manageable specs. Does its 20.1MP sensor go too far in the other direction, though, or is that resolution enough to satisfy the masses?
There’s no doubt that the R6 is immediately one of the best 4K cameras for filmmaking, and given its parity with the mighty Canon EOS-1D X Mark III in terms of burst speed and sensor quality, it must also rank as one of the best digital cameras for sports photography.
So if you’re one of the many folks looking to upgrade to one of Canon’s new cameras, should you save a huge chunk of change and opt for the R6? Read on…
The Canon EOS R6 may sit in parallel with the Canon EOS 6D Mark II in the product line-up, but it actually shares more in common with the flagship 1D X Mark III. For starters, it features virtually the same 20.1MP sensor, just without the fancy new low-pass filter (which remains exclusive to the Mark III and the EOS R5).
It also boasts exactly the same top shooting speed, capable of cranking out 20 frames per second when shooting electronically or 12 frames via the mechanical shutter. In addition, it has the same amazing autofocus tech, built around Canon’s Deep Learning AF – the AI-originated algorithm that enables the camera to track eyes, faces and heads on human subjects.
The R6 even one-ups the flagship, as it also features Animal AF that can track dogs, cats and birds in flight by recognizing their eyes, faces and bodies. And along with the R5, this body is the first to feature the next generation of Canon’s core autofocus tech, Dual Pixel AF II.
Its video specs are robust, too, as the R6 can capture 8- or even 10-bit 4K UHD footage at up to 60p, with 1080p / FullHD video in around 120p (the latter not being an option on the R5), with full AF tracking functions supported across all video resolutions and frame-rates.
Low light performance is actually superior on the R6 compared to the R5, thanks to the fewer (and, hence, larger) pixels about the image sensor. Its standard ISO range covers 100-102,400 (expandable to 50-204,800), and it can autofocus down to -6EV – which is the equivalent of a completely blacked-out room lit by a single candle.
And of course, it also features the long-awaited debut of Canon’s 5-axis in-body image stabilization system, which offers a CIPA-rated maximum of 8 stops of stability depending on the lens you mount – and it also stabilizes EF lenses, EF-S lenses, cine lenses and dumb lenses (with no electrical contacts).
Sensor: 20.1MP full-frame CMOS 35.9 x 23.9mm
Image processor: Digic X
AF points: 6,072 Dual Pixel CMOS AF II
ISO range: 100-102,400 (expandable to 50-204,800)
Stabilization: 5-axis, up to 8 stops
Max image size: 5,472 x 3,684px
Metering zones: 384
Video: 4K UHD at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p / 1080p (FullHD) at 120p, 100p, 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch OLED EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage, 0.76x magnification, 120fps refresh rate
Memory card: 2x UHS-II SD/SDHC/SDXC
LCD: 3-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 1,620k dots.
Max burst: 12fps mechanical shutter, 20fps electronic shutter
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5Ghz and 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 4.2, USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 2), micro HDMI (type D), microphone, headphone, E3 remote
Size: 138.4 x 97.5 x 88.4mm
Weight: 598g body only (or 680g with card and battery)
In most respects, the Canon EOS R6 feels the same as shooting with the R5 – the difference being, of course, that its sensor has significantly reduced resolution. While some might feel that 20.1MP is on the low side, it really comes into its own in service of the continuous shooting speeds; the lower pixel count means that the R6 can buffer almost three times as many JPEGs as the R5.
It can maintain bursts of over 1,000 JPEGs or 240 RAWs, meaning that whether shooting at 12 (mechanical) or even 20fps (electronic) you won’t miss a moment of the action – which is a very big deal if you’re photographing sports or wildlife, and it really makes the modest amount of megapixels make sense.
And of course, 20.1MP is more than enough for the pros who shoot magazine spreads and front covers, so it should be plenty of for most people. It’s still the case, though, that the R6 is one branch down from the top of Canon’s full-frame mirrorless tree, but has a lower resolution than the entry-level 26.2MP EOS RP – and only two-thirds the resolution of APS-C cameras like the Canon EOS 90D.
Speaking of an electronic shutter, it’s worth noting that rolling shutter (the phenomenon whereby vertical lines and objects appear ‘skewed’ during panning shots) is more pronounced than it is on the R5, owing to the slower readout speed of the sensor. This is one of the perils of shooting electronically on any camera, and the R6 isn’t the worst culprit by any means, but bear in mind that the effect is much less offensive on the R5. Of course, the big bonus of having a sensor with fewer megapixels will be that it gives the EOS R6 an advantage in terms of low light and ISO performance. Anecdotally we experienced cleaner results than both the R5 and the 30.4MP EOS R, though we’ll wait for our full lab outcomes for the definitive verdict in this area.
In terms of autofocus, the R6 seems absolutely on par with its big brother – and shares the honour of featuring the best AF system of any camera we’ve ever used. The Deep Learning AF engine from the 1D X Mark III, combined with the new Dual Pixel AF II, implies that the eye, face and head detection is just as reliable as it was on the flagship DSLR, but more impressive is the astonishing Animal AF.
Yes, other cameras have autofocus that can track animals and birds in flight. However, the R6 can track the eyes of birds in flight – an incredible feat, and one that is wholly reliable and positively game-changing if you shoot wildlife. Again the 20.1MP sensor provides an advantage here, as you can machine-gun even more frames before the buffer fills up, though needless to say you possess less leeway to crop into your shots than you do on the 45MP R5.
If you’re worried about electronic viewfinder lag making you miss shots, you can push the refresh rate of the EVF up to 120hz – it’ll gobble up the battery faster, so we’d only advise it specifically for sports activities or wildlife shooting, but it’ll definitely make a difference if you do.
Check Out: Best Canon EOS R6 Lenses
The Canon EOS R6 is a versatile all-round camera that can shoot pretty much anything. Aside from a few differences, it’s essentially an EOS R5 with lower resolution and less high-end video. If you’re content with fewer megapixels, you’ll enjoy one of the most advanced and impressive cameras we’ve ever seen. Its autofocus is truly otherworldly, the in-body image stabilization is the best of any full-frame system, the 4K video is crispy and delicious (though occasionally overcooked), the dual memory cards make it suitable for professional work, and it unlocks the brave new world of Canon’s phenomenal RF lenses.
Canon EOS R6 Price
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