Compared to the 20-megapixel R6, the new 24-megapixel sensor promises higher resolution and image quality. Additionally, it boasts improved 4K video standards, a better viewfinder, and faster shooting speeds. However, the competition in this field is becoming more fierce. Panasonic also recently unveiled its first phase-detect hybrid autofocus cameras, the $2,000 Lumix S5II and $2,200 S5IIX.
I first saw the R6 II prototype last year, but I now have a hold of the finished product. Can it compete, and have the overheating issues been resolved? To discover out, I gave it a shot in several shooting scenarios.
Body and handling
In the past, Canon tried experimenting with camera controls by adding features like a touch bar, but people didn’t like it. Thankfully, the R6 II follows Canon’s tried-and-true design philosophy, placing buttons, dials, and the joystick exactly where you’d expect them to be. The grip is wide, plush, and made of a rubber-like material that provides a secure grip that is never uncomfortable even after a full day of use.
However, there are some positive upgrades from the R6. Now located to the right of the control for easy access, the power switch has a “lock” option that prevents unintentional control activation (you can specify which controls to lock out).
An exclusive switch for photos and videos was also introduced by Canon. The main and quick menus, as well as all the settings for each button, are altered by flipping it. However, if you switch from taking images to recording video, it will utilize the mode that is now selected (M, S, A, P, etc.), so you must remember to adjust that. However, all other variables are kept apart.
The R6 II is still equipped with a fully articulating 1.62-million-dot display that is great for selfies, vlogging, and other activities. Additionally, Canon increased the EVF’s dot count from 2.36 million to 3.67 million, making it comparable to the A7 IV and resolving one of my greatest issues about the original R6. Although it doesn’t quite match the 5.76-million-dot EVF on the X-H2S, for example, it is still fairly sharp and quick with a refresh rate of 120 frames per second.
Gallery: Canon EOS R6 II mirrorless camera review
The R6 II has two UHS-II slots as opposed to the R6’s one fast UHS-II card slot and one slower UHS-I slot. Although it lacks any type of Express card port, unlike the A7 IV or Panasonic GH6, this does have an impact on burst speeds and video capture options.
The LP-E6NH battery is the same as previously, but the R6 II’s endurance has increased dramatically from the R6’s maximum of 510 shots to almost 760. I filmed video for about two hours and took well over 2,000 photos in a single day (using a combination of mechanical and electronic shutters).
Of course, it features a microphone and headphone jack, and the hot shoe has a “next-generation” 21-pin digital interface (Canon has shown images with the Tascam XLR2d-C audio interface and its newly launched Speedlight EL-5). Sadly, it doesn’t have a full HDMI port; instead, it uses a weak micro. Unfortunately, given the RAW video output, mini HDMI cables (and ports) are frequently flimsy and difficult to use.
You can use the power supply capability of the USB-C to power the camera when it comes to connectivity. Additionally, it features Bluetooth 5 and 5GHz Wi-Fi, and thanks to the USB-C port’s integrated UVC and UAC video and audio drivers, you may use it directly as a webcam for a PC or Mac.
The R6 II is quick, as I discovered while photographing sports in San Diego. With the mechanical shutter, it can shoot bursts at 12 frames per second, which is somewhat faster than the A7 IV. The speed increases to a frenetic 40 fps when switching to electronic mode, making it by far the sportiest full-frame camera in this price range.
However, using electronic mode will result in fewer photos being taken (it also impacts the quality, but more on that shortly). Before the buffer fills, you can acquire roughly 75 compressed RAW/JPEG frames, but fewer with uncompressed RAW. Contrarily, in mechanical shutter mode, you can take roughly 140 uncompressed RAW photographs or about 1,000 compressed RAW/JPEG frames before it stops.
The Pro Capture mode is a fascinating new feature that is related to the buffer. It will continually record and retain several seconds’ worth of photographs in the buffer if you turn on that setting and only partially click the shutter button. The motion from the few seconds just before you fully push the shutter button will thereafter be captured. Of course, the idea is that you’ll still get a shot if you weren’t quite quick enough.
According to testing conducted by Gerald Undone, rolling shutter is well managed, being roughly half that of the original R6 and substantially less than the A7 IV. At full-frame, I’d be hesitant to use it for fast-paced sports, but in cropped 1.6x mode, it’s hardly noticeable.
The R6 II’s Dual Pixel focusing is also speedier and more accurate than the R6’s. It could maintain the 40 fps burst speeds when used in single-point mode without face or eye detection, only missing the occasional shot. I hardly ever had a shot out of focus while using the mechanical 12 fps shutter setting. It almost matches the EOS R3, which also has a stacked sensor, in this regard.
With up to 100% coverage depending on the lens, there are 4,897 focus detect spots for images and 4,067 for videos. This implies that you can follow subjects even when they are outside the frame. Using the touchscreen or multi-controller joystick, choosing a subject is rather simple.
The R6 II can recognize faces and eyes in addition to persons, animals, and moving objects including cars, trains, horses, and motorcycles. Additionally, it has a brand-new auto-select mode that allows the AI to select the subject category. Additionally, it can track user-selected topics outside of those categories.
Although the background might occasionally throw it off, the R6 II is adept at focusing on people’s faces and eyes. With regard to animals and other things, it is somewhat less reliable. Although I had to dig into the settings to increase speeds for rapid movement, tracking fast-moving subjects works effectively. Touch to track performs well with clearly defined subjects but is less dependable than face tracking.
In general, autofocus is second only to Sony and is great. As previously noted, I used a prototype camera to take tens of thousands of photos per day at Canon’s shooting sessions, and the majority of them came out sharp with little effort on my part.
The main upgrade in this camera is the new 24-megapixel sensor, which offers greater image quality, better low-light sensitivity, and more. It is neither backside illuminated nor stacked. Naturally, images are sharper, but Canon has also increased the dynamic range, enabling better image quality.
JPEGs are well-detailed without being overly sharpened. Skin tones are more attractive than on other cameras I’ve lately used, and color accuracy is good. You can also shoot in the 10-bit HEIF (high efficiency image file) format, which offers a wider color spectrum and a lower risk of banding, if you want to improve quality a little but don’t want to shoot RAWs.
Despite having more resolution, the R6 II actually performs better in low light than the original R6 with an ISO range of 100-102400 (50 to 204800 extended). I had no problems about adding some minor noise reduction while shooting at ISO 12800, and if I exposed properly, ISO 25,600 shots were also usable. However, anything above that had poor usability.
Extra detail is preserved in RAW pictures, especially in the shadows. If you accidentally underexpose your photos, it will be simpler to fix them. It may have a little less dynamic range than full-frame cameras from Sony or Nikon, but it’s still quite good. The R6 II switches from 14-bit to 12-bit capture in electronic shutter mode, so be aware that the greater speed does come at a tiny loss in dynamic range.
Super sampled, full-frame 4K footage is available on the EOS R6 II up to 60 frames per second. In comparison, both the Panasonic S5 II and the A7 IV crop 60p video. Similar to the A7 IV, 10-bit quality is only accessible in C-Log3 mode, whereas conventional video modes only support 8-bit. It’s a shame because standard 10-bit video offers more shadow and highlight detail without the trouble of using LUTs or performing other types of color correction. In 1.6X crop mode, all resolutions are available with only a minimal sharpness reduction.
Although the video is hardly useful, you can do super slow motion in 1080p at up to 180 frames per second. Even with 120 frames per second, the action is still significantly slowed down. Finally, you can record footage to an external Atomos Ninja V+ recorder in 12-bit Pores RAW up to 6K resolution. If you don’t mind the trouble, that produces the best quality and easiest-to-edit video.
For many, the original R6’s heating problems were a deal-breaker. At 4K 30fps, or 30 minutes at 60p, you could only record 40 minutes of video. Additionally, after waiting for it to cool off for at least 10 minutes, you could only continue shooting for another 10 or so minutes.
Thankfully, most of those issues have been resolved. I captured super sampled 4K 30p video for about two hours before the battery ran out without overheating. According to Canon, you can shoot for up to 50 minutes in 60p super sampled mode before returning to shooting more swiftly and for a longer period of time.
Actually, those figures are low because I was able to shoot in 4K 60p for more than an hour (albeit, in 50 degree F temperatures). There are no issues if you start and stop 4K 60p capture. Get a different camera if you require continuous 4K 60p video, but otherwise overheating problems are mostly resolved.
Excellent quality with 4K 60p video that is sharper than the competition. Though not quite as good as Sony’s A7 IV or Panasonic’s S5 II in terms of dynamic range. When photographing C-Log3, it’s better to slightly overexpose than underexpose because a lot of it is lost in the shadows. Though it wouldn’t be noticeable for typical non-log video.
If you’re cautious with exposure, you can get away with 12800 ISO for low-light video. Low-light video is good at ISOs up to 6400. If not, increasing shadows might produce a lot of noise. However, it performs well among full-frame cameras in low light, making it excellent for events like plays or concerts.
The absence of easily editable intra-frame (all-intra or Pores) codecs is a regrettable omission when compared to competitors. Since even quick editing tools dislike Lingo, conversion to Pores or another format is essentially required thereafter. Sony’s A7 IV, on the other hand, includes a Express Type A card slot and offers all-intra capture at speeds of up to 600 megabits per second.
Video autofocus is a strong point for Canon. With single-point autofocus for run and gun shooting, interviews and the like, I rarely had out-of-focus shots. Human face and eye-tracing is incredibly reliable for videos. It stays locked on the subject and keeps them in focus as they move, though again, Sony’s A7 IV is slightly quicker.
With the same “auto” option that allows the camera’s AI to decide the subject type, it provides trustworthy tracking for both animals and vehicles in addition to images. In terms of video autofocus, the R6 II is another dependable Canon camera, which I believe is crucial for most videographers, especially vloggers and documentary filmmakers.
In rolling shutter, Canon outperforms all competitors. Even in completely down sampled mode, it is noticeably better than on the Sony A7 IV. Even if you shake the camera, it’s hardly noticeable in 1.6 crop mode. Excessive rolling shutter can damage images just like poor autofocus, thus for me, this is another important element.
Small movements or immobile handheld shots are fine with in-body stabilization. Even in improved digital IS mode, anything more can be choppy. The A7 IV and R6 II are roughly comparable in this sense, but Panasonic’s new S5II appears to outperform both cameras thanks to significantly enhanced stabilization specifically tailored for video.
Finally, Canon has unveiled a function similar to Sony’s A7 IV’s digital focus breathing. By effectively employing digital zoom to counterbalance the effects of optical zoom, this enables you to “rack” attention from one subject to another without either changing in size. It functions fine, however at the moment just with a few lenses.
A powerful hybrid mirrorless camera with quick shooting speeds, precise autofocus, and good video capabilities is Canon’s $2,500 EOS R6 II. Unless you truly need to record continuous 4K 60p full-frame footage, the overheating problems have mostly been resolved. The primary drawback is a lack of dynamic range in comparison to competitors.
Although the $2,500 Sony A7 IV has slower shooting rates, especially in electronic mode, it boasts a higher resolution. On that camera, rolling shutter is also a more serious problem. On the bright side, it provides somewhat faster autofocus and slightly better image quality.
Although Panasonic’s $2,000 S5 II has slightly superior video specifications, it is uncertain whether autofocus will be able to keep up. Coming in May, the S5 Ixia appears to be a superior mirrorless camera for video and costs $2,200 less. Last but not least, the $2,500 X-H2S has a stacked sensor, improved video capabilities, but slightly worse focusing if you’re prepared to downgrade to an APS-C sensor. I’d pick the EOS R6 II over all other models if you shoot both still images and moving pictures equally.