Viewfinder and Rear Screen
The EOS R6 features a 3.7 million dot electronic viewfinder that is the same resolution as the original EOS R. This is a little behind the best EVFs in the business nowadays, but is in-line with competitors at this price point. The viewfinder has a nice large magnification of 0.76x, and the optics are nice and clear. In a welcome upgrade over the EOS R, the R6’s viewfinder can be set to a clearer 120 fps refresh rate at the expense of some battery life. This is a tradeoff I’m more than willing to make. However, even with the better refresh rate, in low light the EVF drops its frame rate from the sensor noticeably, and as such it isn’t as smooth when panning as on some competitors, which is disappointing at this price point.
The rear screen is a 1.6 million dot 3 inch touch panel that has lovely color and contrast and is very pleasing to view. The screen is a fully articulated swivel screen. Over the past few months, I’ve come around to the fully articulated screen. I dislike that they are not in-line with the lens when shooting low in the landscape orientation, but the flexibility for forward facing and articulation in the portrait orientation makes up for the disadvantages. I’d like to see more makers with a take on Fujifilm’s multi-axis tilt screen, but full articulation like the R6 works well also. The only real downside to the articulated screen is that it doesn’t fold out a full 180 degrees from flat, but rather around 175 degrees.
Autofocus and Performance
The EOS R and RP had rather good autofocus, especially in single shot mode, with Canon’s Dual-Pixel AF providing fast and accurate focus. This has been cranked to 11 on the R6 and R5 with Dual Pixel AF II. While the EOS R’s continuous autofocus was merely passable, the autofocus on the R6 is among the best in the entire camera industry.
Focus in both single shot and continuous AF is exceptionally quick and very accurate. Eye detection and tracking on both human and animal targets is outstanding, and maintains a solid lock on they eyes regardless of where in the frame the subject moves. Accuracy during action is the best of most any camera I’ve used, with the Sony A9 being the lone exception, and that is very high praise indeed. The Eye AF and tracking allow you to focus on composition and have confidence that the shot will be in perfect focus on the eyes.
I did find the bird Eye AF can get a little confused if the bird in question has markings that create false eyes, but otherwise, the AF performance is simply remarkable. In tracking human subjects running, I found accuracy to be better than on my already very good Sony A7R IV.
The R6 also has outstanding capabilities beyond the autofocus for sports and action photography. The camera can shoot at up to 12 frames per second with the mechanical shutter and up to 20 frames per second in electronic shutter mode, all with continuous AF tracking. The sensor readout is around 1/50s on the R6, which will actually provide minimal distortion for most human shooting, but will be too slow for things like motorsports, hummingbirds or for use in tracking birds in flight due to rolling shutter artifacts. However, even ignoring the electronic shutter mode, 12 fps is very fast for action, and works with most RF and newer EF mount lenses.
There are a handful of limitations, however, as the framerate is dependent on using the newer LP-E6NH battery and having a battery charge above 60%. As battery power fades, so too does the top framerate available on the camera. I will say that despite the manual stating that 60% charge is required for the top-end frame rate, in my experience, that top frame rate is maintained at notably lower charge levels, and I can still shoot at 12fps until the battery drops below 30% or even a little lower.
The camera writes to UHS-II SD cards and does so very quickly. The R6 also has a huge buffer such that you can shoot up to 240 uncompressed RAW files or 1,000 JPEGs in a single burst (according to Canon). The 240 frame RAW buffer is only achievable with the very fastest SD cards. With my mid-range UHS-II cards (150MB/s), I can achieve 81 shots in a single burst with uncompressed RAW at 12fps. Changing to cRAW netted me 347 shots at 12fps before I tired of holding down the shutter button (and wished to save my mechanical shutter). At this stage the buffer still showed 70 shots remaining, so I have no doubt that in cRAW, the buffer is effectively unlimited at 12 fps. Switching to 20 fps electronic drops the cRAW buffer to 157 shots before the camera slowed down. JPEG yields unlimited shooting.
Overall responsiveness of the R6 is also outstanding. The wake up period from power off to shot is quite short, navigating menus and changing settings is very quick and fluid, and even if you’ve just rattled off 150 photos in a burst, there are no settings limitations or slowdowns. You can immediately review images that have already been shot (even while the remainder of a burst is being written to the card), change any setting or go into the menus. This is how a camera in 2020 should operate, and it only highlights deficiencies in this area by other manufacturers (stares intently at Sony).
13 thoughts on “Review: Canon EOS R6”
Another outstanding review…very thorough for the photography-centric things that I’m more interested in than video capabilities. I’ve also been struggling with the “just 20 megapixel” sensor level of detail. So your photos that show just how much fine detail can be captured help with that. Had a Canon 6D for a long time, (in addition to a variety of their APSC cameras) and have a full quiver of Canon L glass already accumulated, so like many, it’d be a lot simpler and cheaper to ‘stay in the Canon family.” I want to give this mirrorless thing a try so bought the RP, but after trial, found the dynamic range so limited i returned the camera while i still could. Am trying to get the nerve up to lay down the $2,500 for this R6. Your review helps. Thanks. Craig
Glad I could help!
Will the rf lens like 50mm 1.2 capabilities can only be explored on the r5 being a high resolution camera ? Or r6 is just as good ?
I mean, top quality glass is going to be top quality glass regardless of the body it’s used on. You will obviously get more detail out of a lens like that on the R5, but you will get phenomenal quality on the R6 too.
Jordan, A quick question if i may – I see you used the Tamron 17-35 f2.8-f4.0 with this Canon R6. Did you adapt it with the Canon EF-RF lens adapter? And did you see any issues with using that (or any other third part EF mount lenses)? A FF wide prime or zoom is the one type of lens I still need to acquire. I’d love for Canon to make a 20mm f1.8 or f2.0 to be able to use for astrophotography. Any suggestions you can offer on what i might want to consider? Thanks, Craig
Yes, it’s adapted with the EF/RF adapter. The lens works beautifully, but as I mentioned in my review, this particular lens doesn’t work with the IBIS system at the moment. Tamron has released a statement saying they will have a firmware update for the lens soon to enable IBIS on the R5/R6. AF works just like native, and optically it’s an excellent lens, especially for the price. I like the Tamron a lot because it’s compact and light weight (even with the adapter, it’s smaller and lighter than the RF 15-35), and it’s faster than the typical f/4 wide zoom, staying at f/2.8 until 20mm, and f/3.2 until 24mm, and f/3.5 until about 30mm. Sharp to the corners at the wider focal lengths from wide apertures, and the long end is also sharp, but not quite as good as the wide end (my RF 24-105L is better from 24-35mm). Make sure if you look to get one you get the newer OSD version, which is much improved over the earlier 17-35/2.8-4.
I also have a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 (manual focus) adapted, which I got on the cheap used. If you find a good copy of that lens, it’s a steal for what used prices go for, and it’s also quite good.
I’m hoping the rumored RF 14-35mm f/4 is a reality and is good optically and somewhat reasonably priced.
Jordan, Ok thanks for all the additional info on the Tamron lens. I’ll go back and re-read your review of that. I too value lenses that are a bit more compact and lighter weight. Being able to have that f2.8 for the widest range will help make it workable for night sky shots. I just bought a used (but supposedly still excellent condition) RF 24-105 f/4 from KEH, so will have that for the range that overlaps, per your advice. I like that 24-105 lens’ longish zoom range yet still decent quality. Means i’ll more often take just that one lens with a medium tripod and a couple filters when hiking. Best regards, Craig
I haven’t reviewed the 17-35 yet (but plan on it)…I was referring to my mention in the R6 review about IBIS compatibility.
Great review as always Jordan. Lovely to see how your family is growing and how your photographic journey keeps going from strength to strength. Although I’ve been happily shooting Fuji for the past 4 years the release of the R5 and R6 have given me a hankering to return to Canon. To help me with those deliberations it would be helpful to know, will you be reviewing the RF lenses in future months. Thank you for the great content and warm regards from Cambridge, England.
Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I plan on reviewing quite a lot of RF gear in the coming months. I’ll have reviews of the 24-105L, 35/1.8, 85/2 and 15-35/2.8, and I’m sure eventually many more.
Just by chance I found your great review, because I was looking for any valid information on R6 overheating when taking stills, as I am still on the fence -to enlarge my A6600’s gear with A9 or just go from scratch with R6. As I am sports/action hobbyist I would like to have near perfect AF-C.
Have you encountered any overheating issues when taking stills?
If you can compare C-AF and tracking in R6 vs A9 in sports (no animals, etc) – are they on par or not.
Tom from Poland
I have never had the camera overheat on me, nor even flash a warning badge. Of course, my action shooting has been done in the fall, and also for limited length of time, but I’ve never had a single hiccup. I have not heard many reports of this happening to people, even event photographers or sports photographers…the real issue seems to be heavy hybrid usage, and the R5 seems to be a far bigger offender than the R6.
I haven’t really shot a lot of sports with either camera – but have done shots of my kids running and riding bikes and such, which, when running right at the camera can be challenging. The R6 keeps up with the A9 for all intents and purposes in my testing. They are the only two cameras where you can have significant motion towards the camera, tracking eyeballs, and you can just count on essentially every shot to be in perfect focus on the eye. Neither camera is 100% perfect, of course, but both are in the mid to high 90s in hit rate. I’d probably give an edge to the A9, but for most people, I think it’d be hard to discern a difference between them for most shooting.
Do know that it has been some time since I have shot with an A9, so I have never compared them side by side, so I’m going off memory. I will say (and do in the review), that the R6 gives me a notably higher hit rate than my A7R IV and my former a6400. Both of those cameras are quite good with autofocus, but the R6 is better, more reliable and more accurate on placing the point of focus directly on the iris. It is also better at choosing the closest eye..something my A7R IV will mess up about 25% of the time. I think if you have a stable of Sony glass, it makes more sense to stay there and move to the A9, but I don’t think you’d have an issue using either. One other note: because the A9’s sensor readout is faster, it also is far better for using the electronic shutter. The R6’s eShutter is fairly quick, but it is about 1/3 the speed of the A9’s, so will show rolling shutter more readily than the A9.
Thank yo for your time and answer. It really helps.
So to recap some pros / cons R6 vs A9:
*Sony: older body with better ES – no rolling shutter effect – 20 FPS silent
*Canon R6 – newer body – FPS bursts dependable on battery charge and lenses – possible RS with ES
Both have comparable C-AF capabilities for sports/action.