Released in 2020 alongside the higher-end EOS R5, Canon’s EOS R6 is the more affordable flagship of the RF lineup. And it’s a camera that sits in the 6-series as the mirrorless counterpart to the 6D Mark II. For several years now, Canon’s continually played it safe with each release. But, this year, things are changing. And they’re coming out of the gates swinging with several previously unseen features. Most notable, 4K 60 fps video, 20 fps burst shooting, Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, and in-body image stabilization. Along with several highlight features from the flagship 1DX series, with an attractive starting price.
At first glance, it’s clear that these specifications aren’t your typical minor refresh. Canon’s aiming this release to be a significant milestone and turning point for the series. But, Canon’s known for under-delivering when it comes to real-world usability. Not to mention, they’re aiming this new camera as a competitor to several big players in the industry. In this case, Sony’s A7III, Fujifilm’s X-T4, Nikon’s Z6, and Panasonic’s S1.
”Canon’s newest mid-range camera sets industry standards.”
Canon aims this upper mid-range mirrorless camera at working pros and enthusiasts looking for an upgrade over the EOS R. But, for those wanting a more affordable option than their pricier EOS R5. Considering it lacks some of the headline grabbers from the R5, will this release be overshadowed? And how does this camera stack up to rivals? It’s more expensive than most of the competition, has Canon made it too expensive? In today’s post, we’ll address its strengths and weaknesses. And we’ll also answer whether this is a worthwhile consideration in today’s market.
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon EOS R6?
It features a 20.1MP CMOS sensor with an Anti-Aliasing filter and DIGIC X processor, a similar setup as the 1DX Mark III. While on paper, it’s a slight downgrade in resolution from the EOS R, the loss comes with a much-needed gain. In this case, it provides notable improvements in dynamic range and low light performance. So it’s a worthwhile trade-off. But, even with the lower resolution sensor, image quality remains excellent and on a high level. The camera’s 14-bit RAW (CR3) files produce plenty of details and latitude for post-processing. They also deliver Canon’s color science for natural and pleasing colors with little artifacts. And given the detail, it’s 20MP sensor is sufficient for most large format printing and still matches rivals employing 24MP sensors.
The camera also obtains several smaller JPEG formats and the Compressed RAW (C-RAW) format, which all reduce working file sizes.
Like the EOS R5, it obtains the new HEIF format, a feature taken from the 1DX Mark III. This format delivers 10-bit compression, which offers better dynamic range, color rendering, and bit depth over standard JPEG. Traditional JPEG files only use 8-bit color, which doesn’t provide as wide of a tonal range. HEIF files are essentially HDR images, with smaller file sizes than even C-RAW. And overall, it’s an excellent addition that delivers more information from a JPEG file to save time post-processing RAW’s. And one that preserves more data, particularly when shooting high dynamic range scenes with seemingly clipped highlights.
Like the EOS R5, the new sensor also provides better than average readout speeds. These improved speeds help when using the camera’s electronic shutter. And it helps reduce the presence of rolling shutter, distortion, or skewing. And this camera is also mostly free of rolling shutter.
And also like the EOS R5, this camera offers continuous shooting speeds of 12 fps (mechanical shutter) or 20 fps (electronic shutter). Plus, both of these shooting modes maintain continuous autofocus and tracking. But, since the camera has a smaller resolution sensor, it provides an edge in buffer depth. And in this case, it can easily produce 240 RAW or 1000+ JPEG images. And this combination makes it ideal for sport, wildlife, and action photography. If you don’t need the added resolution of the EOS R5, it’s the next best option outside of the 1DX Mark III.
It shoots almost uncropped 4K UHD video up to 60 fps. It also shoots 1080p Full HD videos up to 120 fps, automatically slowed in-camera to 4x or 30 fps videos. When shooting in 4K, the camera does experience a minor crop of 1.065x (approx. 1.07x). However, it’s only a minor change in framing and doesn’t reduce quality. So, it’s nothing substantial, really more of a notation. And, compared to EOS R, it’s a significant improvement over its 1.8x crop.
Both 4K and 1080p videos record to the MP4 format using IPB compression. And the camera obtains 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording along with Canon’s C-log1 profile. In this mode, it also shoots to the newest H.265 compression. As a whole, these are also substantial improvements over the EOS R, which only offers 8-bit 4:2:0 color internally.
Overall, the video this camera produces is on a high level. Videos are exceptionally sharp with little rolling shutter or artifacts. And the quality is greatly improved in detail compared to the EOS R. Shooting in C-Log does increase the dynamic range at 11 stops. But, the camera default setting produces very pleasing color rendering and reasonably dynamic range. So it’s not always necessary to shoot in this format.
The camera also doesn’t suffer from overheating to the same extent as the EOS R5. Depending on conditions, it will eventually overheat when shooting extended clips in 4K 60 fps. But, you can film indefinitely at 4K 30 fps without issues. And in this regard, it is far more usable than the R5.
However, like the EOS R5, it does obtain zebras for highlight clipping, making it the second Canon mirrorless camera to offer this feature.
It also obtains the 4K PQ (HDR) Mode, which also supplies a 10-bit 4:2:2 signal, producing genuine HDR footage.
It has the Frame Grab mode, which pulls 8.3MP JPEG or HEIF stills from 4K UHD movies.
And the camera outputs a clean 4K signal via HDMI for use with external recorders and live streaming. In this case, it’s a 4:2:2 10-bit 4K UHD uncompressed video up to 60 fps.
Low Light Performance
Low light performance is excellent. It features a native ISO range from ISO 100-102,400, further expandable to a high setting equivalent of 204,800. And users can expect usable images up to ISO 25,600 with some post-processing.
Autofocusing performance is excellent, and along with the R5, it’s the best in the industry. It marks the second Canon camera to obtain Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, with deep learning technology. This system initially debuted in the flagship 1DX Mark III. And it now provides 100% AF coverage over the entire imaging area along with Face, Head, and Eye-detect AF. And the Head-detect setting, in particular, is also new for Canon’s mirrorless lineup. These combine to focus in as little as 0.05 seconds with support in light levels of -6.5 EV. And Face and Eye-detection now match Sony in accuracy and responsiveness. The camera easily recognizes faces, even when they’re small in the frame, wearing accessories or turned in profile. And compared to the EOS R, it’s an enormous update in speed and consistency.
Like the R5, it also debuts Animal Eye-Detect, which confidently tracks animals as they move across the frame. It’s swift, confident, and works regardless of what lens is used. In all, focusing on this camera is virtually instantaneous. And outside of the 1DX Mark III and R5, it’s the best of any Canon camera.
Dual Pixel CMOS AF also works in all recording modes, including 4K 60 fps and 1080p 120 fps.
It also has focus peaking, magnification, and Canon’s Focus Guide for those who prefer manually focusing.
Display & Viewfinder
It features a 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen TFT LCD with a resolution of 1.62M dots and Canon’s Clear View II coating. While it’s both smaller and offers slightly less resolution than the higher-end R5, it remains excellent. The display is sharp with accurate colors and sufficient brightness for outdoor use. And more importantly, a fully articulating screen is the ideal option for the versatility it offers when composing at high or low angles. Otherwise, since it’s a touchscreen, it supports touch gestures such as touch AF, touch tracking, and full menu navigation.
It also features a 3.69M dot OLED electronic viewfinder with a 0.76x magnification. While this is a lower resolution than the R5, it matches the EOS R. However, new for this release is variable refresh rates, which now include both 60 and 120 Hz. Using the 120 Hz option improves the display’s responsiveness, which helps smooth movement when tracking sports or wildlife. It’s a nice change over the EOS R, which has a fixed 60 Hz refresh. And the camera’s viewing experience is excellent. The display is sharp, lag-free, and offers accurate color rendering.
The camera uses the standard Canon user interface and menus. And, like always, they remain clear, well-organized, and are color-coded for ease of use. The interface is quite intuitive, and both newcomers and existing users will find them quickly mastered. In the fashion of all Canon’s latest releases, they’re also fully touch-enabled. And Canon continues to optimize its camera’s well for this style of input. Overall, the interface is excellent.
It has the Quick Menu, accessible via the Q button, which recalls an on-screen menu with helpful shooting settings.
It has the customizable My Menu, where six top-tier items and five tabs are registrable.
It has a customizable Depth-of-Field Preview button.
It has three custom shooting modes, C1-C3.
Physical Layout & Ergonomics
Physically, this camera’s largely identical to the EOS R and R5 with a few changes. Firstly, Canon’s reshaped the grip slightly, but it remains large and comfortable in hand. And given the camera weighs only 709g body alone, it balances well with larger RF lenses with minimal fatigue. Secondly, and more importantly, Canon’s brought back classic DSLR styling to the range. Like the R5, they’ve removed the back touchpad found on the EOS R. Instead, replacing it with three control dials, an AF joystick, and the AF-ON button. The joystick is an excellent addition that’s perfect for quick AF point selection or menu navigation. They’ve also relocated the AF-ON button, conveniently placed by the rear thumb rest for smooth back button focusing. These are significant changes, particularly for existing DSLR shooters, as they make the camera easier to use. And overall, existing shooters will be pleased with the control layout and ergonomics of this camera. The build quality is excellent too. It features a polycarbonate exterior and full magnesium alloy interior. And this combination provides similar weather sealing as the 6D Mark II.
Canon’s also done away with the EOS R’s Mode Dial, replacing it with a traditional dial that’s more in line with mid-range bodies. This is a nice change, too, as it makes changing the shooting mode more intuitive.
It has a dedicated video record button, located by the shutter release for quick access to video start/stop.
It has dual adjustment dials and a rear scroll wheel that combine to deliver full manual control over exposure without changing your grip.
It has a Rate button, which recalls the camera’s rating settings.
It uses the brand new LP-E6NH battery, which Canon claims offers a 14% improvement in battery life. And, the battery life is excellent for a mirrorless camera. Canon rates the camera at 510 shots per charge, which should last a full day’s shoot.
New for this release is the debut of 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS), making it the second Canon camera to obtain this feature. And with the EOS R5, this camera takes the helm as the best full-frame system on the market to date. Canon rates the system for 8.0 EV stops of compensation with compatible RF lenses. And even when used with older EF or non-stabilized lenses, it can confidently deliver 6.0 EV stops. This level of performance outpaces all other rivals and currently matches Olympus in this regard. Overall, it’s brilliant to see Canon implement IBIS into an EOS camera. It’s a substantial change over the EOS R, which lacked the feature. And users can now confidently shoot handled exposures at up to 2 seconds.
It features a USB-C port, which supports USB 3.1 Gen2 speeds along with charging and continuous power. Though, you’ll have to use a PD rated power source.
The camera offers dual SD card slots, both of which are UHS-II compatible.
It has a microphone input.
It has a headphone output.
The camera has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to wirelessly transfer images, remotely control the camera, or embed GPS coordinates via the Canon smartphone app.
Like the EOS R and R5, the shutter automatically closes when you turn off the camera, protecting it from dust or debris.
It has a built-in intervalometer for time-lapses, and the Time-lapse Movies Mode, generating 4K or 1080p videos in-camera.
It has Multiple Exposures.
It has built-in HDR.
It has an extensive in-camera processing mode, where you can crop, convert, add effects, straighten, and do much more to images.
It has a 1.6x APS-C crop mode, which is helpful when using EF-S lenses. But, it does reduce the camera’s resolution.
The camera’s 1080p 120 fps recording mode is noticeably softer than standard 1080p. While usable, it does lack detail.
The camera doesn’t offer any DCI resolutions like the R5. This isn’t necessary given the target audience, but it would be a nice bonus for sure.
It lacks ALL-I compression. Instead, it only offers standard IPB, which has motion artifacts in some scenes.
The camera overheats when shooting 4K 60 fps, though the times it occurs varies.
Like the R5, it uses a Micro HDMI port, instead of the Mini port found on the EOS R. This port isn’t ideal for external recorders as the connections are usually flimsy.
Is this a good beginner camera?
Possibly. It could be if it meets your budget and circumstances.
This camera offers little faults, and it’s a revolution among Canon’s current lineup. It’s a bit on the expensive side at launch, but prices will drop in due time. The changes made are substantial over the EOS R. And given its current feature set, it’s a worthy long term investment for a beginner. However, it doesn’t offer much guidance, like Canon’s more entry-level bodies such as the EOS 100D. So, it’s better suited for an enthusiast looking to upgrade from an entry-level camera. If you’re a complete beginner, the EOS RP is the better option.
Is this a good camera for you?
For photographers, this camera is an excellent option and a compelling alternative to the 1DX. It obtains the full range of standard DSLR controls, dual card slots, class-leading AF with good image quality.
For videographers or hybrid shooters, this camera is also a compelling option. It provides the combination of IBIS, excellent autofocusing and 10-bit 4K 60 fps video. While it doesn’t offer the RAW format or 8K resolution, it’s extraordinarily capable as a video camera. And it can confidently deliver professional level results.
For sports, action, and wildlife photographers, this is Canon’s best and most affordable option for these mediums. The EOS R5 also makes an excellent choice here, but it’s substantially more expensive given the larger sensor. So if you don’t need its 45MP sensor, this is the best option outside of the 1DX. It delivers 12 fps bursts, confident autofocusing for animals, and a 100+ shot buffer, it’s an easy go-to option. Sure, some photographers may still prefer the 1DX Mark III for it’s stronger build, optical viewfinder, and the large battery. But, for everyone else, this is a cheaper and equally capable alternative.
If you currently own the EOS R or RP, consider upgrading. The improvements in autofocusing, handling, video, and added niche features are worthwhile.
Existing Canon DSLR shooters should consider upgrading. This camera is an excellent option if you don’t need the 45MP sensor from the EOS R5.
In the end, Canon EOS R6 is an easy camera to recommend to quite a broad audience. Besides overheating and resolution, it’s a substantial improvement over the EOS R. It updates video, autofocus, and adds IBIS in a compact and highly customizable body. Canon’s R5 grabbed most of the headlines, but the R6 delivers what users truly want at a far more affordable price. While it’s more expensive than rivals, it’s the perfect gateway into Canon’s RF ecosystem. Its side-hinged screen, excellent interface, and 10-bit 4K 60p video will surely be tempting for the price. And it’s a worthy successor and one that offers superior features in this category. Considering what’s offered, this camera’s going to undoubtedly fly off the shelves following release.
As a package, Canon EOS R6 delivers excellent upgrades to the RF lineup. It brings 10-bit 4K 60 fps video, a first in the line, plus an updated processor, 20 fps burst shooting, IBIS, and better handling. It’s a worthy successor indeed and, arguably, the best mirrorless camera for the price.