Canon EOS R6 Review
Launched alongside the flagship EOS R5, the new Canon EOS R6 has been somewhat overshadowed by its 8K-recording big brother, but out of the two cameras is probably the one that will find itself in the hands of more photographers.
A price-tag of £2499.99 body-only in the UK and $2499 in the US makes the Canon R6 a much more affordable proposition, positioning it below the EOS R5 and above the EOS R and the entry-level EOS RP in the four camera Canon full-frame mirrorless range.
You can also choose to pay £2849.99 with the RF 24-105 STM kit lens in the UK, or $2899.99 with the RF 24-105 STM kit lens and $3599.99 with the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens in the US.
The Canon EOS R6 will be available to buy on 27th August 2020. We've already got our hands on a full-production camera for testing, along with the versatile RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM lens.
So read on for our full Canon R6 review!
Ease of Use
|Front of the Canon EOS R6|
Despite the Canon EOS R6 utilising a polycarbonate body rather than the EOS R5's more robust magnesium-alloy body, impressively it still offers the same level of weather-proofing as the EOS 6D Mark II and the 5D Mark IV DSLR cameras.
Therefore it benefits from being both lightweight - 598g body-only or 680g with both a battery and memory card fitted - and fully weather-sealed.
It measures 138.4 x 97.5 x 88.4 mm, making it slightly bigger than both the EOS R and especially the tiny RP, no doubt in order to accommodate the new IBIS unit.
The Canon R6 benefits from having a very deep handgrip that comfortably accommodates four fingers, something that can't be said of a lot of mirrorless cameras that suffer from having too small a grip.
The minimalist front plate sports just a single control - the classic Depth of Field preview button, which helps you determine what your photos will look like before the image is taken.
There's also a porthole for the AF assist light and a lozenge shaped button for releasing the lens.
At the heart of the EOS R6 is a 20 megapixel sensor that's very similar to the one found in the flagship EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR camera, but with a different, less sophisticated low-pass filter.
Our only real concern with the sensor inside the EOS R6 is whether or not it's of high enough resolution for its general enthusiast target market, especially if you like to heavily crop your images in post-production.
|Rear of the Canon EOS R6|
The ISO range runs from 100-102,400, which is actually one stop more than the flagship EOS R5. This can be further expanded up to ISO 204,800 and down to ISO 50.
For the first time ever in the EOS series (alongside the EOS R5), the Canon EOS R6 finally incorporates 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS). The EOS R and RP both eschewed this much-requested feature,
It has been designed to work collaboratively with the IS system that's built into many RF-mount lenses, with the lens and the sensor working together to correct pitch and yaw and the sensor correcting the X-Y and roll movements.
This intelligent stabilisation system provides a frankly incredible 8-stops of stabilisation with some lenses, allowing you to hand-hold the camera for up to 4 seconds and still get critically sharp results.
Even some non-stabilised lenses such as the RF 85mm F1.2L USM or RF 28-70mm F2L USM offer 8 stops of stabilisation when they're mounted on the EOS R6, thanks to the large 54mm diameter of the of the RF Mount.
The EOS R6 can also stabilise older, non-IS lenses including any EF lens that is fitted to the R6 via the Canon EF-EOS R mount adapter.
The stabilisation system will also work with lenses from other manufacturers – you just need to input the focal length into the camera's menu system.
In practice, the EOS R6 and the RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM lens that we were sent for testing provided up to the headline grabbing 8-stops of stabilisation - it really is possible to hand-hold this combination at previously impossibly slow shutter speeds and still maintain critical sharpness.
|Top of the Canon EOS R6|
The fact that this can be achieved using the affordable and versatile 24-105mm kit lens instantly makes it our top recommendation if you're buying the EOS R6 and you don't already have any Canon lenses.
Another very impressive headline feature is the EOS R6's ability to continuously shooting at up to 20fps using its silent electronic shutter, or 12fps with the mechanical shutter, both with full auto exposure (AE) and auto focus (AF) tracking.
There's a tiny amount of viewfinder and LCD blackout between each frame when shooting at 20fps, but it's barely discernible to the naked eye.
Incredibly the Canon R6 can record 1,000 or more compressed raw images at 12fps before its buffer becomes full, almost three times as many images as the flagship EOS R5.
The size of your memory card effectively becomes the limiting factor on how many images the EOS R6 can take in one continuous sequence.
Obviously there's a big difference in the megapixel count, but for sheer shooting speed and buffer depth, the EOS R6 clearly wins out.
Along with the EOS R5, the R6 is the first Canon camera to feature the next generation Dual Pixel CMOS AF II focusing system.
Billed as the world’s fastest AF, the camera is capable of focusing in as little as 0.05 seconds.
|Tilting LCD Screen|
It has 6,072 selectable AF points, which is slightly more than the EOS R5, with 100% frame coverage.
Impressively the EOS R6 can also focus in light levels as low as -6.5EV (when used with an F1.2 lens), which is 0.5-stop better than the EOS R5.
Thanks to its brand new Digic X processor, the EOS R6 offers the same deep-learning based automatic face, eye and animal AF tracking modes as the R5.
The Canon R6 can now recognise and track eyes from much further away than previous models, and subject tracking works for humans and also dogs, cats and birds, the latter even in flight.
In practice we found both the new eye AF and animal subject tracking system to be on par with that found in Sony Alpha cameras, which have long been the leader in this area, so kudos to Canon for catching up so quickly.
In terms of its exterior design, the new Canon EOS R6 brings together the rear panel from the EOS R5 and the top plate from the EOS RP.
So instead of the LCD status panel and Mode button found on the top-right of the EOS R5, the R6 has a much more conventional shooting mode dial in place of the LCD panel, which we actually prefer, and which we think a lot of photographers will prefer.
It's undeniably quicker to change the shooting mode using an external dial, rather than having to press a button and navigate through an electronic menu.
|Memory Card Slots|
The main downside is not being able to see the current camera settings by simply glancing down at the top-plate LCD.
Both a shooting mode dial and a top-plate LCD screen would be ideal, but EOS R camera bodies are simply too small to accommodate them together.
Most of the other controls on top of the EOS R6 are identical or very similar to those found on the entry-level EOS RP.
So there's a small On/Off switch over on the top-left, with the camera leaping into life almost instantly.
In addition to the shooting mode dial on the top-right are the same six controls found on the EOS RP.
There's a small but responsive shutter release button at the top of the handgrip, with the tiny M-Fn behind it. This provides quick access to some of the camera's key controls, including ISO, continuous shooting, AF, white balance and exposure compensation.
Behind that is the front control dial for principally setting the aperture or shutter speed, with a small, red one-touch movie record button sitting proud of the camera body.
The Lock switch on the EOS RP has now become a Lock button on the new EOS R6. As its name suggests, this locks the two control dials on top of the camera and the rear control wheel so that you can't accidentally change the camera's key settings.
|Front of the Canon EOS R6|
Completing the top of the camera is the rear control dial that's ideally placed for thumb operation.
Overall, the Canon EOS R6's top-plate is a successful continuation of the design philosophy that Canon have implemented on the previous EOS RP and EOS R cameras, with the main differences being a shooting mode dial rather than an LCD screen, and a Lock button rather than a Lock switch.
Turning to the rear of the Canon R6, it offers an array of controls that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used an EOS 5-series DSLR camera before, including the classic Canon control wheel. There's also a very welcome joystick instead of the controversial Mfn bar found on the EOS R.
Joining the Menu bottom on the far left is a new Rate button, which allows you to assign star ratings to your images during playback (Off, 1-5 stars).
Although not quite as highly specced as the one on the EOS R5, the 0.5inch 3.69 million dot EVF on the EOS R6 is still impressive to look through, working up to 120fps for minimal lag when shooting fast-moving subjects.
To the right of the electronic viewfinder is the new thumb operated joystick.
This means that the innovative / controversial (delete as appropriate) Mfn bar that made its debut on the EOS R is conspicuous by its complete absence on the new EOS R6, and indeed on the new EOS R5 too.
We'd be very surprised if the Mfn bar ever appears again on a Canon camera, so if you're a fan, the EOS R is the only camera for you.
|Bottom of the Canon EOS R6|
While the inclusion of the joystick is very welcome, we were struck by just how high the joystick is positioned. It's almost inline with the centre of the viewfinder, rather than where the Magnification button is, which at least initially seems rather too high to find easily, especially compared with most other cameras that have this key control.
We eventually got used to it higher position, but still can't help feeling that it was lower down.
The other main control innovation on the EOS R6 is the return of the classic Canon control wheel with the SET button at its heart, something that the previous EOS R and RP models both lacked.
This will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used a Canon EOS 5-series DSLR camera before.
The one on the EOS R6 actually serves less purpose than the one on the EOS 5-series, though, simply because there are already two control dials on top of the camera for setting the aperture and shutter speed, and one on the RF lenses which can be usefully configured to control the ISO speed, amongst other things.
So the classic Canon control wheel is mainly used for quickly scrolling through the menu system and during image playback instead.
As the camera also has a touch-screen, both of these functions can be more quickly and intuitively controlled via touch, which does beg the question as to why Canon decided to include the control wheel at all. Nostalgia, perhaps?
The EOS R6 has a pretty well-specced 3-inch, 1.62 million dot, vari-angle LCD screen which tilts out to the side and faces forwards for more convenient vlogging and selfies.
|Tilting LCD Screen|
It can also be usefully folded flat against the back of the camera to protect it when in transit in a camera bag.
A proximity sensor is located directly beneath the viewfinder, which automatically switches between the EVF and LCD screen. When the LCD screen is swung outwards, the EVF is cleverly turned off automatically.
A tilting LCD screen always helps to encourage shooting from creative angles and it also helps make the EOS R6 ideally suited to movie-shooting.
As mentioned above, the LCD screen is touch-sensitive, allowing you to control everything from setting the AF point and firing the shutter, navigating the menu systems and browsing your images during playback. It's a very precise, responsive system that's a veritable joy to use.
Alongside the rear joystick are three classic Canon controls - the AF-On button for people who prefer back-button focusing, the Auto-exposure Lock button (denoted by a star) and the AF area selection button which makes it easier to switch the autofocus point when holding the camera to your eye.
Underneath the AF-On button are a cluster of three buttons - the Magnification button, Info Button and the Quick button which opens the Quick Control screen, which provides instant access to 10 key camera controls.
Completing the rear of the EOS R6 are the self-explanatory Playback and Delete buttons located underneath the rear control wheel.
On the right hand-side of the camera is the memory card compartment. The EOS R6 supports two SD UHS II cards via dual slots, which instantly promotes it above the EOS R, which only has a single slot, and you can choose to record to both cards simultaneously.
|Front of the Canon EOS R6|
On the left hand-side of the camera are three rubber flaps housing five different connections.
The Canon EOS R6 has a microphone port, headphone jack, remote control port, USB-3 port and a HDMI connection - all the things that any enthusiast photographer or videographer would need from a connectivity point of view.
The Canon R6 benefits from using the LP-E6NH, a new longer life battery that is supplied with both the EOS R6 and EOS R5 cameras.
The LP-E6NH effectively replaces the existing LP-E6N, reaching 2130mAh and offering an increased capacity of 14%. In reality this translates into 380 shots when using the EVF and 510 when using the LCD screen.
Thankfully it's also backwards compatible with all existing cameras that use the LP-E6 series batteries,so you can use an older LP-E6N in the EOS R6, and the new LP-E6NH in an older EOS camera that uses the LP-E6N. All of the various chargers are cross-compatible too.
If one battery isn't enough for you, the EOS R6 is compatible with the brand new BG-R10 Battery Grip.
This is exactly the same battery grip that the new EOS R5 also uses.
It gives users the ability to power the EOS R6 using two batteries (LP-E6/N/NH) and also offers duplicate controls for easier vertical shooting. Note that the batteries have to be charged whilst the grip is fitted on-camera.
|Front of the Canon EOS R6|
With built-in Bluetooth and 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi, the EOS R6 can be easily connected to a smartphone and networks allowing high-speed file sharing and FTP/FTPS transfer. Note that the R6 doesn't offer support for the faster 5Ghz Wi-fi standard that the EOS R5 does.
The R6 can also be remotely controlled using Canon's Camera Connect and EOS Utility apps and tethered to a PC or Mac via Wi-Fi or high-speed USB 3.1.
While video isn't the primary focus of the EOS R6, unlike the 8K RAW recording EOS R5, it still offers the impressive ability to record uncropped 4K UHD / 60p / 10-bit footage internally with dual-pixel auto-focus and auto-exposure for up to 30 minutes.
Full 1080 slow-motion recording at up to 120p with autofocus is also available (but no sound), which is actually something that the flagship EOS R5 doesn't offer.
Canon Log gamma is available to provide extra flexibility for colour grading in post-production.
Canon have also added zebra display during movie shooting, which can be used as a guide to exposure adjustment, especially for highlights.
For many videographers this headline specification will be more than enough for their uses, and it represents a big leap forwards from the video recording capabilities of the EOS R and RP cameras.
Overall, the new Canon EOS R6 successfully incorporates a lot of the "classic" Canon handling that DSLR owners know and love, with a well-balanced specification that improves exponentially on the EOS R. The EOS R5 may be grabbing all the headlines at the moment, but the R6 delivers nearly all of the features that most photographers want at a much more affordable price point.