While everyone is talking about the Canon EOS R5, its little brother seems to get less attention. The Canon EOS R6 looks like the same camera, but with less resolution. But the Canon EOS R6 is a complete different camera all together. Let's have a look at it.
Everyone knows about the two full frame mirrorless cameras Canon released. The Canon EOS R5 is getting almost all the attention, with its 45 mp sensor and 8K video capabilities. I reviewed this camera from a photographers perspective some time ago, and was very positive about it. But let's not forget about its little brother, the Canon EOS R6. I got an opportunity to review this camera also, and although it hasn’t got the resolution of the Canon EOS R5, it is a very nice and capable camera indeed.
The Looks of the Canon EOS R6
At first you may think the differences are mainly under the hood. If you place these two next to each other it becomes clear they are in fact completely different camera body’s. Just look at them side by side. The cover material is different, and the Canon EOS R6 is somewhat more angular in shape. The PSAM wheel on top is probably the most obvious difference. It replaces the OLED screen and the mode button of the Canon EOS R5.
Besides the PSAM wheel and the remote connector on the front of the Canon EOS R5, the differences are very small. You would need to have both camera next to each another to notice every single difference. Even the lower resolution of the LCD screen, and electronic viewfinder will probably go unnoticed.
A closer look at the Canon EOS R6 reveals its nice button layout, mainly located at the right hand side of the LCD screen. It enables you to operate the camera with just one hand. There is no longer need to reach for the buttons at the left hand side. It is a matter of getting used to, but you will appreciate the layout on the Canon EOS R6. The joystick, and AF-ON button are nicely placed, although the AF-ON button would benefit from a larger more prominent form, just like on the Canon EOS 1Dx mark III. The smart controller would be a nice addition also.
The responsiveness of the joy-stick has been improved; It is much better compared with the previous Canon cameras. The sensitivity can also be adjusted in the menu. You won't find the four buttons on top of the camera that are standard on every other Canon DSLR camera. These buttons are now hidden in a custom menu that is activated by the M-Fn button, located next to the shutter release button. This custom menu hold five functions, which you can choose for yourself.
Resolution, Noise Levels, and Autofocus
The Canon EOS R6 has a 20 mp sensor. Although it appears to be not that much, it is enough for most purposes. It is less than half the resolution of the Canon EOS R5, and thus allow a better signal to noise ratio. When I experimented for the article on the differences between raw files and the compressed raw files, I also looked at the noise levels. The Canon EOS R6 performs very well, and I wouldn’t be afraid to use it up to ISO 12,800.
The Canon EOS R6 has the same Dual Pixel autofocus as its bigger brother. You can choose between an excellent human eye autofocus, and animal eye autofocus. Or you can let the camera decide. Make note, there is a difference between the two. If you have set the camera at animal eye autofocus, it will work less precise with humans. The autofocus works very accurate and tracking works amazingly well.
Using the Canon EOS R6
I have used the camera for landscapes and real estate photography. Unfortunately I was not able to shoot any weddings of models due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Because I had just returned the Canon EOS R5, the Canon EOS R6 felt quite familiar. It was a matter of setting my personal preferences and start shooting.
The camera feels very comfortable and has a great grip. It is not too small or light-weight. Buttons and knobs are placed very conveniently and have a great feel to them. Within a few days, you can find every button without even looking at them, and it is easy to distinguish the different buttons.
Three dials on the camera body can be assigned to your own preferences. I assigned one to the aperture control, the other to the shutter speed, and the third to the ISO settings. It allows a very easy, and logical user interface. Controlling the exposure settings has never been this easy.
The camera is very responsive, as expected. It has a fully articulating LCD screen with touch screen functionality. It enables you to operate the camera without touching any buttons. Unless you need to change the PSAM settings, for this you need to use the wheel on top of the camera.
The PSAM wheel has no locking mechanism, which wonders me. For example, Canon added locking possibilities when upgrading the Canon EOS 7D with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Although on the Canon EOS R6 the knob isn’t easy to rotate on accident, it is possible nevertheless. Just like the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, it could benefit from a locking knob.
Overall, photographing with the Canon EOS R6 is lots of fun. You can adjust many buttons on the camera to your own personal preferences. Although the electronic viewfinder hasn’t got the same high resolution as the Canon EOS R5, it produces a very clean and crisp image. Also, the fully articulating screen is very convenient when shooting from unusual angles, even when shooting in portrait orientation.
Filming With the Canon EOS R6
The Canon EOS R6 has also movie functions on board. These not as extensive as with the Canon EOS R5. The highest film resolution is 4K 60p, and it is only possible to shoot with IPB compression. When switched to FHD format, it allows you to shoot in 100p also.
Filming with the Canon EOS R6 is limited to automatic exposure, or fully manual with auto-ISO enabled. If filming is very important to you, the Canon EOS R6 might not be the perfect camera for you. But for an occasional short movie clip, it is good enough.
My Own Personal Conclusion
Photographing with the Canon EOS R6 was fun, just as I expected. The camera is somewhat different from its big brother, but the differences are relatively small. I do like the PSAM dial on top of the camera, but I would appreciate the possibility to lock that dial. Although I prefer a small LCD or OLED screen on top of the camera, I never missed it once when photographing with this great camera.
The autofocus is amazing. With the face and eye autofocus you probably never need to change the setting when photographing people or animals. The tracking works like a charm and it sticks to the eye or face no matter what. I haven't mentioned the In Body Image Stabilization up to now, which is also incorporated in the Canon EOS R6. Just like the Canon EOS R5 it is rated up to 8 stops, depending on which lens you are using.
I liked using the Canon EOS R6 a lot for shooting real estate. The manual focus assist and focus peaking works wonderfully when using the manual Canon TS-E lenses. I found there to be only one major downside. Activating the exposure bracketing forces you to switch between the different screens until you have the settings overview. Then you need to activate the Q button before you can set the exposure bracketing. I haven’t found any other way for this, except to place it in the My Menu tab. The way it works is okay if you have to use exposure bracketing for an extensive period of time, like in real estate. But switching between exposure bracketing, and normal exposure in landscapes isn’t that user friendly.
The Canon EOS R6 has an LED on the front, that is activated for the low light autofocus. It also flashes when the self-timer is activated. It is a bright red flashing LED. I wish there was a way to turn this light off, especially when photographing in nature. For now I would be forced to place a small piece of gaffer tape over the LED.
The resolution of the Canon EOS R6 is enough for most purposes. Landscape photographers might wish for more pixels, but especially wedding photographers and real estate photographers will find it more than enough for their purposes.
Although I am not someone that films a lot, except a regular walk-through video for real estate agencies, I think the Canon EOS R6 is perfect for the occasional movie clip. If you are more serious about filming, this might not be the camera for you.
What I Like About the Canon EOS R6
- Size and dimensions
- Well-formed grip with lots of space between grip, and lens
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF, with 6072 AF points
- Amazing eye AF, face AF, and body AF, with 100% horizontal, and 90% vertical coverage
- Focus tracking works very well
- Joy-stick sensitivity has been increased dramatically and is adjustable
- Touch screen can be used to move AF point when looking through the viewfinder
- 12 frames per second with mechanical shutter, and 20 frames per second with electronic shutter
- Buffer for 240 raw files with mechanical shutter, and 120 raw files with electronic shutter
- Completely silent with electronic shutter
- Double card slot (two UHS-II SD cards)
- In Body Image Stabilization up to 8 stops
- Fully articulating LCD screen with touch screen
- Focus bracketing
- Bulb timer
- Time-lapse function
- Compressed raw file (craw)
- ISO performance is very good.
- Very useful dynamic range
- Dedicated PSAM wheel
What I Don’t Like About the Canon EOS R6
- PSAM wheel cannot be locked against accidental rotation
- LED in front of the camera cannot be switched off
- AE bracketing is somewhat cumbersome to activate or deactivate
- No optical sensor in the AF-ON button, just like on the Canon EOS 1Dx mark III
- No depth of field indication with manual focus assist.
- Battery capacity could be improved, although it isn’t bad also
- Shutter speed is limited to 30 seconds. You need bulb for longer exposures.
- Movie functions are limited, but perhaps enough for occasional use.
I enjoyed using this amazing camera. Although I have close contact with Canon Netherlands about reviewing equipment, I have no other relation to Canon whatsoever. This is my own personal opinion, not influenced by any company.