Canon EOS R6 review - Verdict

Verdict

The EOS R6 may have been over-shadowed by the headline-grabbing R5, but quietly becomes one of the most compelling cameras in Canon’s range. Compared to the R5, it may lack the 45 Megapixels, 8k video, slow-motion 4k, more detailed viewfinder and slightly tougher build, but it’s more notable just how much they have in common, especially in terms of photography alone. Buy the R6 and you’ll get the same built-in stabilisation, the same rear controls, the same screen articulation and crucially the same autofocus and drive system that allows both cameras to confidently track just about any subject with a high degree of success. And by lacking the high bit-rate video of the R5, the R6 can also make both of its card slots use the more affordable SD format, leaving R5 photographers to curse the necessity that one of their cards has to be a pricey CF Express model if they want backup even if they never shoot video.

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What’s not to like? The IBIS may not have delivered the quoted compensation in my tests, the 4k video may look great but over-heated in my tests after about 35mins (although it had no issues in 1080p),  the battery life could be higher plus you’ll need a decent charge level to achieve the top drive speeds, the electronic shutter is susceptible to more skewing than the R5, and the basic top controls can’t help but look more entry-level than the price suggests. 

Probably the biggest issue for potential buyers is the relatively low-sounding 20 Megapixel resolution, and while it’s true the R6 is technically out-resolved by many rivals when comparing test charts, you may not notice much difference in real-life. You’re much more likely to notice the speed and handling though which is up there with the R5, making it one of the most responsive and capable mirrorless cameras on the market.

As a photo-only camera, the R6 will undoubtedly be tempting to existing Canon owners including those with the EOS R, although if you’re not brand-loyal most rivals will undercut it on price. Sony’s A7 III is older but delivers a similar feature-set at a comfortably lower price, as does the Nikon Z6, and you should also keep an eye on the Panasonic Lumix S system. 

Meanwhile if you’re a hybrid shooter who takes photos and some video, the R6 can film excellent quality 4k video up to 60p, although I did experience overheating in all 4k modes, even at 24 to 30p where the camera has to cool-down after recording 35 to 40 minute’s worth. I’ll be talking much more about this in my separate R6 movie review, but for now will add that I experienced no over-heating issues when filming 1080p or shooting photos on the R6, and even when heat prevents you from filming any more 4k, you still can switch to 1080 or stills on the R6 and keep working.

Ultimately the EOS R6 cunningly gives you what’s arguably the best parts of the R5 at a much more affordable price. If you don’t need 45 Megapixels, 8k video or 4k slow motion, then the R6 pretty much matches what’s left at around two thirds the price. Sure the R5 also gives you a top screen, slightly tougher build and more detailed viewfinder, but the most important aspects of handling and speed are all available on the R6. Don’t get hung-up on the relatively low-sounding resolution either as the image quality is more than adequate for all but the most detail-hungry photographers. Indeed since the quality is sufficient for me personally, I think I’d sooner get the R6 with a lens rather than the R5 body alone. If you’re an existing Canon owner looking to move into mirrorless or wanting to upgrade from the R or RP, you won’t be disappointed.

Check prices on the Canon EOS R6 at B&H, Adorama or WEX! Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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