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Summary

Overall the EOS R6 Mark II looks like a strong response to the gauntlet thrown by Sony’s A7 IV. It’s fair to say the original R6 was trumped in many respects by Sony and now with the Mark II, Canon’s not just caught-up but overtaken in a number of key respects. Most notably the R6 Mark II shoots much faster than the A7 IV, while the ability to film uncropped, oversampled 4k video up to 60p is a key advantage. Plus you’re getting focus bracketing and stacking in-camera, Bulb timers and potentially better IBIS. The big question is of course how the R6 II performs in practice. Will rolling shutter, not to mention lack of CF Express support reduce the usefulness of the fast electronic bursts, and has Canon truly overcome the spectre of overheating for video on a mid-range full-framer? And are 24 Megapixels enough to take on the competition, not to mention compel EOS R or RP owners to switch. I’ll answer all of that in my full review but for now I’m impressed by the R6 II, which on paper appears to deliver a more compelling feature-set than the A7 IV at a similar launch price, albeit with a slightly lower photo resolution and still lacking its broad array of native third party lenses.

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Canon EOS R6 Mark II review so far

The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is a full-frame mirrorless camera with a new 24 Megapixel sensor and uncropped 4k up to 60p. Announced in November 2022, the EOS R6 Mark II arrives just over two years after the original model and shares a similar starting price.

I briefly tried out a pre-production model and in the video below I’ll show you what’s new, or if you prefer to read a written version of the highlights, keep scrolling. Once I’ve spent some quality time with a final sample, I’ll publish my full review here.

Here’s the original R6 on the left and the new Mark II version which replaces it on the right, and at first glance they look pretty similar, sharing the same core design, build quality and degree of weather sealing. Indeed from the front the only obvious difference is the absence of an IR remote sensor on the Mark II grip and the new badge on the right. Meanwhile from the rear, there’s little to tell them apart beyond a mildly redesigned multi-controller joystick.

The main external changes can be seen from the top, starting with the old power dial on the left which is now used to switch between stills and video. Previously you’d have to turn the main mode dial to movie, then adjust the exposure mode via menus. Now the main dial can set the exposure mode for stills and video, like the R7.

Meanwhile the actual power control on the Mark II has been relocated to a new collar switch around the upper thumb wheel. This allows you to turn the camera on, off, or lock it.

Eagle-eyed Canon fans may spot the Mark II mode dial now has extra positions for an Auto Movie mode, Effects and Scene presets, the latter including a panorama option inherited from the R7.

You’ll also notice one of Canon’s latest Multi Function Shoes in the middle, sporting the additional pins to work with more sophisticated accessories as well as traditional flashes.

In terms of composition, the R6 II shares the same 3in 1.62 million dot screen as the R6, along with its side-hinged flip mechanism that can twist up and down, forward to face you or back on itself for protection. The viewfinder is also the same as before, so you’re getting a 3.69 million dot OLED panel with 0.76x magnification that runs at 60 or 120fps.

Also inherited from the R6 are twin SD card slots, supporting UHS-II speeds, albeit not embracing anything faster like CF Express. The ports are the same too: so you get 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks, USB-C and Micro HDMI, along with an E3 type remote terminal. The USB-C can be used for charging and operation with a compatible power delivery source and since the R6 II supports UVC, you can also use it as a standard webcam. The battery unsurprisingly also remains the same LP-E6NH, although Canon now claims to squeeze slightly longer life out of it.

The big news is of course the sensor and its impact on not just photo and video, but overall speed and handling. Canon claims it’s completely new and not inherited from an earlier model. Canon’s boosted the photo resolution from 20 to 24 Megapixels, albeit resisted the temptation to directly compete with Sony’s A7 IV or even its own older R and RP models on sheer pixel count. 

24 Megapixels may match the earlier EOS R3, but unsurprisingly the R6 II sensor doesn’t share the expensive stacked design. While this means the R6 II won’t enjoy the minimal rolling shutter of the R3, Canon claims it does have slightly faster readout than the original R6, in turn hopefully making the electronic shutter more practical when panning. The R6 Mark I wasn’t great in this regard.

As before the fastest burst speed with the mechanical shutter remains 12fps, but if you switch to the electronic shutter, the H+ speed doubles the original rate to 40fps, impressively at the full resolution and also in RAW if desired, as well as at shutter speeds up to 1/16000. Canon claims up to 190 Large JPEGs or 74 RAW files at the top 40fps speed, making it much faster than the top 10fps speed of the Sony A7 IV with either shutter, while also avoiding the slowdowns on that model with certain RAW formats. The R6 II also inherits the RAW electronic burst mode at 30fps with an optional half-second pre-capture period. 

It’s looking strong for the R6 II in terms of burst speeds, but the Sony should still have an advantage when it comes to flushing its buffer with support for faster CF Express cards in one of its two slots.

Oh and while the pixels are a little smaller than the original R6, Canon claims the noise levels should be similar at the same ISO values. I will of course be putting all of this to the test in my final review.

The R6 II also improves the sensor-shift IBIS system, now boasting up to eight stops of compensation with selected lenses including some with no optical IS of their own.

The Dual Pixel autofocus system inherits the deep-learning algorithm of the R3 and now adds horses to the animal detection, as well as vehicle recognition for aircraft and trains. 

Perhaps best of all though, a new Auto option will try to detect the subject type for you, which if it works will save you from manually switching between people, animals and vehicles. Of course in the case of multiple subject types you can still manually override, such as choosing whether to focus on a horse’s face or its rider.

Like most Canon cameras, there’s a Bulb timer and focus bracketing as standard – features lacking from the A7 IV and which Sony has only now started adding from the A7R V – but the EOS R6 II goes one step further by also inheriting the depth composite option of the R3 and R7 which can stack images in-camera. So no mucking around in software afterwards.

Moving onto video, the original R6 already supported 4k up to 60p with only the mildest of crops, but the Mark II takes it further by offering completely uncropped 4k from 24 to 60p and oversampling all of it too from 6k at every frame rate. In contrast the A7 IV only allows uncropped oversampled 4k up to 30p, reducing to an APSC crop for 50 and 60p. There’s unsurprisingly still no 4k 120, but the maximum 1080 rate enjoys a mild boost from 120 to 180fps, nudging ahead of the A7 IV’s top speed of 120fps.

Like other new cameras, the R6 II also offers unlimited recording times, eliminating one of the key advantages the A7 IV had over the original R6. Of course it remains to be seen if the R6 II can also avoid the overheating issues of the Mark I, to match the long actual recording times I’ve personally measured on the A7 IV. In the meantime, the recent EOS R7 shows at least they can do it.

And if you’re still in any doubt what camera Canon is gunning-for, the R6 II also gains a new focus breathing compensation option for movies, a feature Sony intro’d on the A7 IV. Plus it gets a three or five second pre-record option, a new face-only AF mode which waits for a person to re-enter a frame without refocusing on the background, as well as a false colour option for evaluating movie exposure as an alternative to traditional zebras. And finally if you’re into grading, you can capture footage in 10 bit using C-Log 3 or the HLG profile, or output 6k RAW over HDMI to a compatible external recorder.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II verdict so far

Overall the EOS R6 Mark II looks like a strong response to the gauntlet thrown by Sony’s A7 IV. It’s fair to say the original R6 was trumped in many respects by Sony and now with the Mark II, Canon’s not just caught-up but overtaken in a number of key respects.

Most notably the R6 Mark II shoots much faster than the A7 IV while avoiding its various RAW caveats, while the ability to film uncropped, oversampled 4k video up to 60p is a key advantage. Plus you’re getting focus bracketing and stacking in-camera, Bulb timers and potentially better IBIS.

The big question is of course how the R6 II performs in practice. Will rolling shutter, not to mention lack of CF Express support reduce the usefulness of the fast electronic bursts, and has Canon truly overcome the spectre of overheating for video on a mid-range full-framer?

I’ll answer all of that in my full review once I’ve tested a final production R6 II, and I’ll publish that here when it’s ready. But for now I’m very impressed by the R6 II, which on paper appears to deliver a more compelling feature-set than the A7 IV at a similar launch price, albeit with a slightly lower photo resolution and still lacking its broad array of native third party lenses.

Check prices on the Canon EOS R6 Mark II at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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