Hands-on with the new Canon EOS R6
Announced alongside the EOS R5, the R6 offers a lot of the same technology but in a more affordable, slightly more enthusiast-focused model. While the more advanced R5 might dominate headlines for a while, the R6 is likely to end up in the hands of more photographers. Click through for a closer look.
20MP CMOS sensor
Canon has a long tradition of adding features from its professional models into lower-tier cameras over time, but this is the first time we’ve seen a sensor from a flagship DSLR end up in an enthusiast camera.
The R6’s 20MP sensor is essentially the same as the one in the EOS-1D X Mark III, offering 20MP and a wide ISO sensitivity span of 100-102,400 (expandable up to 204,800). Just like the EOS-1D X Mark III, images can be captured in Raw, JPEG or HEIF file formats, with HEIF used for lifelike HDR capture.
Please note that like the EOS R, the R6’s shutter normally closes over the sensor when a lens is removed. This image shows the sensor exposed because we know that you like to look at sensors.
20MP CMOS sensor
Some photographers might be disappointed that the R6 offers ‘only’ 20MP, but we’ve been impressed by the images that we’ve been able to create from the 1D X III. Although we don’t (yet) have full third-party support for the R6’s Raw files, we expect similarly clean high ISO images and good dynamic range compared to previous generations of Canon ILCs.
Digic X – same processor as EOS 1D X III
The 20MP sensor is accompanied by a Digic X processor, also previously found in the 1D X Mark III. This allows the R6 to shoot Raw and/or JPEG files at up to 20fps (in electronic shutter mode) with full autofocus. In mechanical shutter mode the maximum shooting rate drops to 12fps.
Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 100% coverage
The R6 features Canon’s Dual CMOS autofocus, with 1053 automatically-selected AF areas covering 100% of the frame, both vertically and horizontally. This enables phase-detection autofocus right out to the very extremes of the frame, and should mean that there’s no risk of your intended subject ‘falling out’ of AF coverage during tracking.
The usual range of AF modes are included in the R6, with the Face+Tracking mode now able to recognize eyes, faces and heads for people, and eyes, faces and bodies for animals. Autofocus is rated down to -6.5EV with an F1.2 lens using the center AF point.
From our limited shooting so far, subject detection, autofocus speed and AF accuracy appear excellent, and this is something we’re hoping to properly test very soon, as we move towards a full review of the EOS R6.
3.69m-dot OLED finder w/120fps live view
The EOS R6 doesn’t get the super high-res EVF of the R5, but its 3.69m-dot OLED is nevertheless excellent, offering a sharp and contrasty view. A 120fps live view feed option (turned off by default to save power) means that there is virtually no noticeable ‘lag’ between the real world and the finder, which – with the 0.76X magnification – makes for a highly realistic, immersive experience.
Honestly, at this point, the gap between traditional D/SLR finders and the best electronic equivalents is effectively closed for all but a niche range of purposes (i.e. if you’re taking photos of fine patterns or display screens, where moiré in the live view feed can still be an issue).
It’s worth noting that like the EOS R5, and unlike most previous Canon cameras, the rubber eyecup around the R6’s EVF is fixed, and is not user-replaceable.
Vari-angle touch screen
On the rear of the R6 you’ll find the expected large, touch-sensitive LCD panel, offering full articulation in the Canon style. Offering 3.0″ and 1.62M dot resolution, the LCD image is sharp and contrasty, and the touch functionality works very well. As we’ve seen in previous R-series ILCs, the R6’s screen can be used as an AF touchpad, for quick control over manual AF point positioning with your eye to the viewfinder.
Rear controls and build quality
The R6’s rear controls are about what we’d expect from a mid / high-end Canon ILC at this point, and include an AF positioning joystick to the right of the EVF, and a control dial to the right of the LCD. Build quality overall is very high, and Canon claims that both the R6 offers build and weather-sealing inline with the company’s 6D-series. In practical terms, this means that it should easily withstand use in pretty demanding conditions. It certainly feels well-built, and its various controls are nicely damped and move positively without any play or wobble.
At 680g (1.5 lbs) including battery and memory card the EOS R6 is just a shade lighter than the EOS 6D Mark II.
From most angles, the R6 is almost indistinguishable from the R5, but where the R5 features a top-mounted LCD, the R6 instead has an exposure mode dial. Twin control dials on the top and rear of the handgrip serve for exposure adjustment and menu navigation etc., augmented by the rear control dial which – by default – is set for direct adjustment of exposure compensation in PASM modes.
There’s no MFn bar to be seen (let us know how you feel about that in the comments) and overall, the R6’s ergonomics are likely to be extremely familiar to anyone who’s picked up a Canon DSLR or mirrorless ILC in the last few years.
In-body image stabilization
After almost two years of reassuring messaging to the effect of “we know, we’re working on it”, Canon has finally introduced in-body stabilization into the R-series lineup. The R6 offers the same IBIS system as the R5, which is capable of a claimed 8 stops of correction, when certain IS-enabled lenses are mounted.
We haven’t been able to test this in a controlled way yet, but from our shooting so far we have no reason to doubt this figure. Whatever the exact performance turns out to be in measured stops, it’s certainly a powerful and effective system. The addition of IBIS alone should make the R6 (and R5) immediately more practical than its predecessors for a lot of purposes.
4K up to 60p, 1080 up to 120p
While the 8K-capable R5 has stolen the headlines, the R6’s video specs are impressive; at least on paper. Offering oversampled 4K recording at up to 60p, and slow-mo (120p) HD capture, the R6 looks like it could be a powerful tool for enthusiast videography, with a solid set of additional features, including 10-bit 4:2:2 internal C-Log or HDR recording, and physical sockets for both a microphone and headphone.
Dual UHS-II card slots
The EOS R6 offers twin slots for SD cards, and both slots support the UHS-II standard. The slots are offset, and the usual range of overflow / backup options are available in the menu system. It is also possible to set the R6 to record stills to one card, and video to the other.
The R6 ships with a familiar-looking but updated battery. The LP-E6NH is backwards compatible with all previous Canon models which accepted some variant of the LP-E6 (and there are a lot of them) but offers a roughly 14% increase in capacity. Battery life is stated as being between 250 frames per charge (in 120 fps EVF mode) and 510 frames (in Power Save mode, using the LCD).
The R6 is compatible with a new battery grip, the BG-R10 ($349.99), which replicates key controls for vertical shooting and allows the use of a second battery, to effectively double shooting time.
The EOS R6 is scheduled to be available at the end of August for an estimated retail price of $2499.00 for the body only, $2899.00 for the R6 and RF 24-105 F4-7.1 IS STM lens kit or $3599.00 for the R6 and RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens kit.