Canon was admittedly not as fast as the rest of the pack when it came to delivering their own line of mirrorless cameras. Now, it’s full steam ahead, with mirrorless camera bodies available from the entry to the pro level. The Canon EOS R6 is aimed at the serious enthusiast who still wants pro-level features but in a more relatively affordable package.
The R6 body may appeal to those who are buying into a ‘proper’ camera body for the first time. But there will also be a big chunk of the market who are coming from DSLR ownership and want to try out this newfangled mirrorless system for the first time without committing to the top-of-the-range versions. Therefore, let’s dive in and see how well the R6 performs and how it measures up against the competition.
In many ways, the design of the Canon EOS R6 is more like a slimmed-down DSLR, rather than the more blocky dimensions of its contemporaries. The camera comes with a 20MP full-frame CMOS sensor, which on the surface may not seem that high a resolution. But when you consider the speedy EOS 1DX III has a 20MP sensor, it’s what the camera does with those megapixels that counts.
A sensor-based image stabilization system has also been included, along with other pertinent features such as a 3.69m dot electronic viewfinder, up to 20 fps continuous shooting speed, ISO 100-102,400, 6,072 autofocus points, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and 4K video at 60 fps. The new LP-E6NH battery type also allows for in-camera charging and can fit older-style Canon batteries.
The other big standard change in the Canon lineup is the inclusion of the new RF-mount. Canon is slowly filtering through native RF lenses, but if you still want to use the huge back catalog of EF mount optics, there is a reasonably-priced EF-RF adapter available.
The top plate of the camera looks very Canon like, with a traditional mode dial featuring the standard settings along with a Flexible Priority AE mode. There is now a multifunction dial that can be customized like most of the other hands-on controls. Plus, things like the AF-ON and AF select button are in the same place, though the familiar joystick has been moved to be in line with the previously mentioned buttons.
There’s also no shortage of AF points or modes and, with a range down to -6.5 EV, the camera is very good at focusing in low-light conditions. The three-inch vari-angle touch-screen is extremely bright and clear, as is the Electronic ViewFinder, which has an automatic eye-detection sensor to quickly swap between the two viewing paths.
Existing Canon owners will be immediately familiar with the menu system which is very easy to navigate and can change depending on if you are in video mode or one of the automatic priority modes.
One of the things that is still a concern for existing DSLR users is battery life, with the R6 providing roughly 510 shots using only the rear LCD screen or 380 shots with the EVF. However, the camera can use a USB-PD power bank, extra battery grip, or you simply need to carry around a few extra spare batteries.
Using the Canon EOS R6
The autofocus system on the EOS R6 is extremely capable, with built-in AF tracking for both humans and other animal types. Features like eye and face tracking work as intended, but the system can be tripped up from time to time with fast-moving subjects. If you want to do all your processing in-camera, there are plenty of picture styles to choose from, with options to control features such as saturation, contrast, and color.
ISO cleanliness is also a big thing on any camera, with the R6 producing relatively noise-free images up to ISO 6,400. The highest ISO settings are really just there to capture an image rather than not, but at least the range is up there for when you need it.
Video facilities are respectable, more for short clips in 4K mode, but you will have to swap from NTSC and PAL video modes to access the highest frame rates. HD video gives access to HDR recording, time-lapse, and 120/100 fps modes, with the longest clip time at 29 minutes. The stabilization system works well in this respect, especially with handheld footage.
One of the big benefits coming from a DSLR system to mirrorless cameras is the EVF. This is mainly due to being able to adjust the exposure as you see it in real-time, which is a huge time saver. An optical viewfinder is what we have grown accustomed to, but ultimately the long-term benefits of an EVF far outweigh its downsides.
Does the EOS R6 Live up to Sony’s a7 III?
When it comes to the mirrorless format, every camera brand seems to now have their own offerings. But they are all secretly compared to the Sony mirrorless range, as Sony simply got so many things right with their cameras. The Sony a7 III is possibly the nearest in specs to the R6, with a 24MP sensor, built-in stabilization, 4K video, and access to a range of highly-regarded lenses.
Simply put, the Sony is cheaper than the Canon, with equal capabilities, and can also fit Canon optics with a lens adapter. However, the story isn’t that simple for existing Canon owners who may feel a more native workflow is the better option, even if they have to buy an adapter to fit their existing EF lenses.
Plus, the familiarity with existing Canon cameras means you can jump straight onto the mirrorless versions without having to learn a new system. With the introduction of the singing-and-dancing EOS R5, Canon has shown that their mirrorless line is just as good as the rest (possibly making those who quickly jumped ship to the Sony platform doubt their decision.)
|Canon EOS R6||Sony a7 III|
|Image Stabilization||5 Axis||5 Axis|
The Canon EOS R6: Canon Finally Showed Up
The Canon EOS R6, along with the R5, finally shows that Canon has put pedal to the metal with a very rounded, full-frame mirrorless platform. The R6 provides a familiar DSLR layout and workings with an impressive autofocus system, shooting speeds, and very good image resolution. The camera is also very good at handling noise levels at high ISO ranges.
The R6 may not have the best battery life in the world and may not have extensive 4K shooting abilities, but for those wanting a reliable mirrorless camera platform for any type of shooting scenario, the R6 is definitely worth the money.