The Canon EOS R6 is wrongly overshadowed by its big sister Canon EOS R5, as our test shows. The full-format DSLM “only” has a 20 megapixel sensor, but Canon has not made any compromises in terms of speed with a rapid 20 series images per second. Important for photographers with a weakness for sports and wildlife subjects: The powerful dual-pixel autofocus of the EOS R6 can easily keep up thanks to face and (animal) eye recognition. And in low light, the great image stabilizer protects against camera shake. With this, the Spiegellose has truly earned the title “recommendable”.
Great picture quality even in low light
Very good autofocus
5-axis image stabilization
Heat development in 4k videos with 60p
No pop-up flash
Canon EOS R6 Review: A fast premium DSLR
Canon has caused a stir with its new full-frame DSLMs EOS R5 and EOS R6. The hype was mainly about the big sister EOS R5, which films in super sharp 8K resolution, among other things, the advantages of the little sister EOS R6 were somewhat overlooked. Wrong: It has adopted many of the flagship’s advantages, including the 5-axis image stabilizer and dual-pixel autofocus, but costs only a little more than half. The big difference lies in the resolution, because instead of a 45-megapixel sensor there is a 20-megapixel sensor in the Canon EOS R6, which, however, should be enough for most purposes.
Our extensive laboratory and practical test investigates how the image quality of the two full-frame sisters differs and how the new DSLM can hold its own in the premium segment of full-frame cameras.
New strengths, old virtues
At first glance, the Canon EOS R6 offers an exciting package of photo and video functions in one housing that looks very valuable and lies comfortably in the hand. Here, the mirrorless system camera slightly smaller than the EOS R5, but slightly larger than the body of the predecessor EOS R.
It is noticeable that in terms of operation, the EOS R6 is based on the previously very successful mirror reflexes from Canon: the controversial touch bar of the EOS R is replaced by a non-slip joystick, the four-way control pad has given way to a classic rotary wheel. Anyone who has ever operated one of the manufacturer’s cameras will find their way around immediately, and orientation is not difficult for anyone else thanks to the intuitive touch controls on the large 3-inch swivel display. The electronic viewfinder completely covers the image field and offers 0.76x magnification. The preview is sharp and does not show any delay or stuttering.
The EOS R6 lacks the shoulder display of the professional version EOS R5, but there is a conventional recording mode dial on the top of the housing. Like all mirrorless full-format cameras from Canon, the EOS R5 uses an RF bayonet, but the older EF lenses of Canon mirror reflexes can also be operated via various adapters. All functionalities such as a stabilizer built into the optics are retained.
Passionate filmmakers will appreciate a 3.5 mm jack plug each for an external microphone and headphones. We also find a USB-C and a Micro-HDMI port under the side covers. Both videographers and photographers benefit from the improved, downward-compatible battery with 15 percent more capacity. They give the camera a range of a maximum of 530 images with just one charge.
Less is sometimes more
The Canon EOS R6 has a CMOS full-frame sensor that has a resolution of 20 megapixels. At first glance, this is a bit disappointing, as its big sister, the EOS R5, has a whopping 45 megapixels to offer. Cameras with less resolution, however, have other strengths, as demonstrated by Canon’s flagship SLR EOS 1DX III, which also works with 20 megapixels, but produces first-class, clean images without image noise in the low-light area. As for the EOS R6, we are just as impressed: The resolution, the display of fine details and the noise behavior of the EOS R6 sometimes even exceed the values of the EOS 1DX III.
The fact that in terms of image quality it is only enough for the grade Good (with asterisk) is ultimately due to the low resolution, because of course the theoretical maximum is reduced to 2,189 line pairs, of which the EOS R6 up to ISO 6,400 excellent values of 1,900 line pairs reached.
In higher ISO regions, the EOS R6 shows its strengths to the full and, thanks to its larger pixels, reliably asserts itself against its already strong sister, the EOS R5. Even at ISO 12,800 and in the 100 percent view on the monitor, we literally have to look for disturbing noise with a magnifying glass.
Very fast and accurate
As with the EOS R5, the sensor of the EOS R6 is movably mounted and stabilizes shake over five axes. If stabilized RF lenses or, via adapter, EF optics are also used, motion blurs are evened out somewhat better. Five to six f-stops more tolerance when taking photos by hand are not uncommon here. In practice, for example, six f-stops enable the sensor sensitivity to be reduced from ISO 12,800 to ISO 200. Or extend the exposure time from 1 / 100s to just under a second; just as the creativity of the photographer dictates. With a lens without image stabilizer, the effectiveness drops to a respectable three to four f-stops.
We were similarly impressed by the second-generation dual-pixel autofocus with configurable profiles for responsiveness and reaction speed. Even the standard profile mastered most of the shooting situations with flying colors. If obstacles are to be ignored or motives that accelerate quickly are pursued, the use of alternative profiles is definitely worthwhile.
If you take photos with a silent, electronic shutter, a whopping 20 frames per second land on a fast SD card, regardless of whether in JPEG or RAW. The EOS R6 is equipped with two UHS-II slots so that space is not tight. You can only push the camera to its limits when it comes to JPEG series pictures with deliberate intent: after 1,000 pictures in the test, we felt sorry for the R6 and let go of the shutter button. In RAW format, the R6 allows itself a short break after around 130 pictures. Practical at this point: A small indicator on the display shows the filling status of the buffer tank if required. Only the exposure metering and subsequent corrections sometimes lag behind the rapid series frame rate, unfortunately the spot metering cannot be linked to the active autofocus point.
Solid video performance in 4K resolution
Long video recordings are stopped by the Canon EOS R6 after 30 minutes at the latest. Somewhat surprising that this limit can still be found, because: As early as July 2019, the additional tariff for video cameras fell to zero percent. Since then, system cameras that do not have a 30-minute limit are no longer taxed more heavily than DSLM with this limit. But if you are filming in the highest quality, you will have to take a short break after 30 minutes anyway, because the Canon EOS R6 also heats up when filming, as there is no active cooling system built into the housing.
The Canon EOS R6 cannot offer a video resolution of 8K like its big sister, but solid 4K with a maximum of 60 frames per second. That might not sound like glamorous, but it corresponds exactly to the maximum resolution currently supported by monitors and projectors and should therefore be enough. Only perfectionists who want to rework and zoom in on details in post-production would be better off with 6K or 8K video material.