Conclusion

Things we like Things we don't
  • Excellent image quality in both Raw and JPEG
  • Superb ergonomics
  • Good dynamic range
  • Decent resolution, despite pixel count
  • Powerful collaborative Image Stabilization system
  • Clever HDRTV-ready HEIF mode
  • Impressive burst shooting rates (12 and 20 fps, depending on mode)
  • Autofocus is very good and requires little setup, especially with human or animal subjects
  • Reasonable battery life
  • Highly detailed video footage with 10-bit HDR or Log capabilities
  • Sensible separation of stills and video settings, enabling quick switching
  • In-camera USB charging (with high-current devices)
  • Separate charger included with camera
  • Rolling shutter can detract from excellent looking video
  • Some features (such as HDR PQ) aren't easily accessible
  • Non-optional noise reduction applied to Raws
  • Any use of camera cuts into video recording times (making video shooting unpredictable)
  • AF setup can get complex if you need chase the perfect response

The Canon EOS R6 is an easy camera to underestimate if you've only read or heard about it. You can look at its much-discussed video or resolution shortcomings and imagine it's a near miss. But when you go out shooting with it, particularly for stills photography, it quickly reveals itself as a genuinely excellent camera.

Its 20MP sensor is a little lower in resolution than its peers but not to a degree that makes any appreciable difference. Its low light performance is very good and its dynamic range gives you plenty of flexibility when it comes to processing. It's disappointing to see some non-optional noise reduction at low ISOs and it's worth being aware of which modes push it down to 12-bit readout, but in most shooting these aren't things likely to have a meaningful impact on you: you'll just get attractive JPEGs and flexible Raws.

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro | F4 | ISO 200 | 1/80 sec
Photo: Barney Britton

The R6 is a little less sure-footed when it comes to video. The specs are impressive, the separation of stills and video settings is well thought through and the autofocus is very good. However, while the 40-or-so minute time limit on 4K capture sounds like plenty, any use of the camera starts to chip away at that total, meaning it can restrict your videography more than you might expect. This and the significant rolling shutter means it's not quite a strong a video tool as the specs seem to imply. Again, though, the results are frequently very impressive.

Above all the R6 is a really enjoyable camera to shoot with

Above all, though, the R6 is a really enjoyable camera to shoot with: it feels good in the hand and the key control dials are well positioned. You also get a decent level of customization, letting you gain quick access to many of the camera's functions. It's not perfect of course: for instance there's no quick way to engage HDR PQ mode and Highlight Tone Priority, which means it's oddly awkward to access what could be a really interesting feature. Crucially, though, the core photographic features are always at your fingertips.

Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM | F7.1 | ISO 100 | 1/400 sec

At the heart of this 'just get on with shooting' feeling is an AF system that, an awful lot of the time, just works. There's a lot of options for fine-tuning it, but for most of the shooting we did, it wasn't really necessary. This puts performance to rival a pro sports camera in the hands of a great many people. The R6's IS system is also superb, ensuring that camera shake isn't something you have to think about.

So, while the EOS R6 doesn't quite live up to the full promise of its spec sheet, I find it hard to imagine anyone other than dedicated videographers being the slightest bit disappointed by it. It offers what's probably the best combination of usability and performance in its class. For stills photographers, that's worth a Gold.


What we think


Jeff Keller
Editor

As a long-time owner of Canon DSLRs, I was happy to see that Canon finally made a full-frame mirrorless that felt familiar as soon as I picked it up. The resolution is on the low end for its price, but the R6 is the first RF-mount camera I’d consider buying.


Barney Britton
Senior Editor

The Canon EOS R6 is all-round one of the best cameras of its type that I've used. The combination of excellent handling, highly capable autofocus and print-ready JPEGs makes it an easy camera to like. My only reservation is its relatively low pixel-count, but for most applications (and most photographers) this is unlikely to be a serious concern.


Compared to...

The Canon EOS R6 is newer and was launched at a higher price than its immediate peers, but its combination of faster shooting and good video specs means it does something to stand out.

The R6 is considerably more expensive than the Sony a7 III, in part because of the Sony's age. There's not much to call between the two cameras in terms of image quality or autofocus performance but we found the Canon more enjoyable to shoot with, thanks to its excellent ergonomics and more straightforward AF interface. The Canon exhibits more rolling shutter and a greater propensity to hit its overheat limit than the Sony but its separation of stills and video settings is better and its 10-bit footage is more flexible than the Sony's. The R6's faster shooting rate, higher res viewfinder and superb IS make it our preferred choice. The Sony has a wider range of native lenses available, though.

Against the Nikon Z6 we think the Canon has the slight edge. We'd argue for the Canon's control layout and flexibility over the Nikon (though it's within the realms of personal preference), but feel the R6 brings a little more to the table in most respects. Rolling shutter and the looming overheat limits mean it's not a clear-cut victory for the Canon in terms of video, but the results are superb (and the Nikon can't internally record 10-bit or 60p footage). The Canon shoots faster, has excellent stabilization and features such as HDRTV-ready HEIF capture. The R6's benefits add up to enough to justify the price difference but probably aren't great enough to overrule consideration of whether the lenses you want are available.

The Canon's great advantage over the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 is an autofocus system that's similarly reliable for both stills and video shooting. The Canon is faster at shooting stills and can shoot 10-bit 60p footage, which the S1 can't, even with the optional Log upgrade. But an upgraded S1 ends up being the more dependable video camera, with video specs that are the closest match to the Canon's. Both cameras offer impressive IS systems that co-ordinate with IS lenses and the S1 is probably the stronger option for landscape shooters, thanks to its pixel-shift high res mode. The S1's higher-res viewfinder and solid build will find it fans, too.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Canon EOS R6
Category: Mid Range Full Frame Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Canon EOS R6 offers much of the capability of the EOS-1D X III in an enthusiast-level mirrorless body. It's only a 20MP camera but one that can produce great results across a huge range of photographic challenges. The tendency to overheat if used before shooting video undermines its appeal for people shooting video and stills together, but the footage is best-in-class if you can work around this limitation. A superb photographers' camera, even if it's not quite the perfect hybrid model.
Good for
A wide range of photographers, anyone looking to adopt the RF mount.
Not so good for
Stills + Video shooters needing utter dependability.
90%
Overall score