Canon EOS R6 Mark II Review: Increased Pixel Count, Better Low-Light And Improved AF!
I took the new Canon EOS R6 Mark II for a spin over the busy holiday season and it proved to be a pretty pleasant experience. Those who’ve tried shooting on the original R6 can vouch for its versatile features including reliable image stabilisation and excellent low-light capabilities. Launched just two years after, the R6 Mark II isn’t just a slightly updated version of the camera. In fact, Canon has given the new model rather significant physical and performance changes. What you get is a full-frame mirrorless camera with a higher resolution, better low-light sensitivity, and faster shooting. But is this camera truly an all-rounder? And more importantly, is it worth an upgrade if you already own the R6? Here’s our verdict.
If you’re familiar with Canon EOS bodies, handling this camera should be a breeze. The R6 Mark II has an almost identical feel to its predecessor, with the same grip, curves and almost the same button placement. Although Canon claims that it’s dust and weather-resistant, we doubt it’s to the same degree as the more high-end models like the R3 and R5. When shooting with it, the camera body feels sturdy and substantial in our hands, with the dial placement mostly intuitive—index finger on the shutter button, thumb on the back of the top plate, and a large dial on the rear plate for easy access.
That said, there are a few physical differences between the R6 and R6 II, including the on/off switch, which has been moved from the left shoulder to the right. The left now has a dedicated stills/video switch that’s very similar to the former power switch. However, the switch wasn’t as stiff as I’d have liked it and I found myself accidentally switching to video when I wanted to shoot stills. Meanwhile, videographers will be happy to know that a brand new Q2 menu gives one a specialised quick menu to adjust specific video settings, with the Q1 menu remaining dedicated to photo settings.
Apart from that new mode switch, the R6 II has also removed the small, dedicated lock button on the top deck. This is now combined into the camera's on/off switch and basically does the same thing—allowing one to lock the camera settings and disable the controls to prevent accidentally pressing the button or moving the dials.
Although Canon bodies tend to have well-designed dials, I was hoping for some added tactile feedback for the buttons so that I know I’ve successfully pressed them without looking.
The EVF (electronic viewfinder) is the same as its predecessor’s and it’s got a pleasingly large 0.5-inch OLED monitor with 3.69-million dots of resolution and a smooth 120fps refresh rate. This makes it great for tracking fast-moving subjects. Meanwhile, the viewfinder offers a 0.76x magnification ratio and a sharp 120fps refresh rate. The 3.0-inch vari-angle LCD screen remains the same as before, with Clear View LCD II anti-smudge and anti-reflection coatings for fuss-free viewing.
The ports and connectivity are very similar to that of the R6, with the same ports along the left including a 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, a Type-D Micro HDMI port, a remote jack, as well as a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port.
The highlight of R6 Mark II’s new features has to be its new 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor, up from R6’s 20 megapixels. Although it’s not a significant increase, this new sensor count allows the R6 to match the resolution of many enthusiast-level cameras currently on the market.
If you’re not using your images for commercial print purposes, then this increase in megapixel count might not matter so much. That said, the new sensor lets the camera produce very low noise at high ISO settings, allowing low-light photos to look even sharper and more detailed compared to the ones shot on the R6. I found this especially obvious when I shot photos of the Christmas lights in the evening—zooming into each image showed that both colour and contrast were accurately depicted.
The R6 Mark II features the Dual Pixel CMOS AF, with AF points covering 100 per cent of the image area. However, it’s noteworthy that despite having a higher resolution sensor, the Mark II has a lower number of user-selection AF compared to the original R6, at 4897, down from 6072.
Like the R6, the R6 Mark II’s Dual Pixel II autofocus works effortlessly in almost all lighting conditions. Compared to its predecessor, the new body has incorporated more machine learning in its AF algorithms and has even inherited some technology from its flagship EOS R3. While this doesn’t include R3’s eye-controlled AF system, we think the improved stickiness is obvious in tracking fast-moving subjects.
Beyond the people and animal options on the R6, the R6 Mark II offers new subject tracking modes including a vehicle option optimised for motorsports, aircraft including helicopters, and even trains. Great news for plane spotters, this will allow you to easily capture aircraft overhead without missing a beat. If you’re travelling and going on safari drives, you’ll be pleased to know that animal tracking now has support for horses and zebras, with the camera set to recognise both the eye and head.
I enjoyed using the point selection autofocus as the sharp focus was obtained for anything I dropped the point on, whether it was the subject’s hair or something as tiny as a ring on their finger.
As for humans, the subject tracking allowed the camera to rapidly lock on the face or eye even in low-light conditions. The camera can also be set to focus on either the left or right eye, or even automatically choose the closest eye. It’s even possible to set a custom button to toggle back and forth between either eye manually. I found this especially useful when I was shooting portraits in a room full of humans, such as at a festive gathering, where people were moving in and out of my frame constantly. Fast-moving subjects like kids and animals were captured in a tack-sharp manner, except for a few unfocused shots.
However, when shooting in the evening against the bright festive lights, the camera occasionally focused wrongly on the background rather than the subject in the foreground.
When it came to birds and animals, I found that the autofocus was a bit of a hit-and-miss. While animals partially hidden by foliage and trees were picked up by the autofocus, the camera often mistook the body for the head and vice-versa. Darker fur and feathers weren’t so well captured, especially if the sunlight was harsh. Meanwhile, shooting pet portraits in an indoor environment like somebody’s home, proved to be an easy capture for the camera as the background tended to be less cluttered.
Shooting still life like a vase of flowers really showed off the camera’s ability to capture vibrant hues down to the smallest detail like each petal.
If there’s one lens you want to get, I highly recommend the RF 24-105 f/4 lens, which I tested with the camera. As a compact and multi-functional zoom lens, it’s versatile enough for almost any scenario. With image stabilisation up to five stops, the lens allowed me to attain sharp images even when shooting handheld. Plus, the lens also features an additional control ring on the barrel that could be customised to control exposure settings; shutter speed, aperture, ISO and exposure compensation, effectively providing better control especially while shooting through the Electronic ViewFinder.
Raw Burst Mode
Another note-worthy new feature is the camera’s Raw Burst Mode, which adds some helpful features on top of the camera’s 40fps shooting capability. If you don’t like the idea of missing precious moments, this new feature will put your worries at rest.
Here’s how it works: When shooting a burst of Raw images, the camera groups the entire set of photos together and presents itself in playback mode under a single thumbnail. Just like on an iPhone, you can view the entire set of photos together in playback mode under a single thumbnail image before selecting the best shots to save. Although this only works with the electronic shutter, the feature helps one to nail a decisive moment, especially when shooting fast-moving subjects like sportsmen or dancers.
The Raw Burst Mode also includes an optional pre-shooting feature, where a half-press of the shutter informs the camera to begin buffering frames. Once the shutter is fully pressed, the camera will capture a half-second of buffered pre-click images, followed by the rest of the shots in the burst sequence. I tried this out when shooting portraits and found that this mode helped me capture natural-looking and interesting expressions, which I might’ve otherwise missed.
Pricing & Conclusion
Overall, the EOS R6 Mark II checks off most of the boxes when it comes to a full-frame camera meant for enthusiasts and even pros. Priced at S$4,388 with the kit lens, this camera is a competitive option among mid-range models. Bumping up to 24 megapixels might not be a super bold move but it’s necessary, considering that this sensor count has become somewhat a de-facto standard in the market. I like that the AF system is reliable in most shooting conditions and the 40fps electronic shutter keeps the shooting experience tight.
If you already own the original R6, then an upgrade to the Mark II may not be immediately necessary, especially for those shooting casually as hobbyists. However, professional photographers and enthusiasts might want to consider the new model if they’re looking to take advantage of the increased pixel count and better low-light sensitivity in their works.