Canon R6-II Hands-on: faster, more resolution and less heating problems |  Engadget

Canon R6-II Hands-on: faster, more resolution and less heating problems | Engadget

Just two years after the launch of the original EOS R6, Canon has unveiled its successor, the $2,500 EOS R6 Mark II. It brings a number of key improvements, like a high-resolution 24.2-megapixel sensor and faster shooting speeds. More importantly, Canon has significantly reduced the overheating issues of the previous model.

The EOS R6 was the best camera in this important price range when it launched, thanks to speed, powerful video features and excellent Dual Pixel hybrid autofocus. However, once Sony’s $2,500 A7 IV arrived with comparable capabilities, more resolution, and no overheating issues, the R6 lost that particular crown.

At a preview event in San Diego, Canon let me film with R6 Mark II prototypes for a few days in various sporting situations. As this is not a production model and there were still a few bugs, this is not a final review, but it did give us the opportunity to share some first impressions.

Bodywork and handling

The EOS R6 II isn’t just a slightly updated ‘A’ version of the original. It has significant physical and performance changes, starting with the new 24.2-megapixel sensor. It’s not, as rumors suggested, the stacked back-illuminated sensor (BSI) of the EOS R3; there’s a reason the model is so expensive. But it does offer some advantages over the R6’s 20-megapixel chip.

Canon promises improved image quality beyond the extra megapixels, thanks to updated image processing. It also offers better low-light sensitivity despite having slightly smaller pixels. And Canon says the rolling shutter is reduced compared to the R6.

The R6 also features some changes on the outside. The power/lock/off switch is now positioned to the right where it’s easier to reach but harder to touch by accident. It also has a new video/photo mode switch that separates these functions and all of their settings. Flipping it over also changes menus, and Canon has introduced a handy video-specific Q menu.

Getting started with the Canon EOS R6 Mark II mirrorless camera

Steve Dent/Engadget

Otherwise, it’s about the same weight and size as the R6, and has an identical grip, menus, control layout, and handling. It also uses its predecessor’s beautiful flip-up screen for vlogging or selfies, dual UHS II card slots, and a 3.67 million-dot electronic viewfinder. And, of course, it comes with microphone and headphone ports, as well as a USB-C jack and (unfortunately) a microHDMI jack. It has a new In-Body Stabilization System (IBS), but it offers the same 8 stops of shake reduction as the EOS R6.

The battery is also identical, but Canon has improved its efficiency, going from 510 max shots on the R6 to 760 on the R6 Mark II. In one day, I took over 2,000 photos without changing the battery, mostly using the mechanical shutter – quite impressive.

Performance and image quality

Mechanical shutter burst speeds are unchanged at 12 fps (RAW, full frame), which is good considering the extra resolution. However, you can now shoot RAW photos silently at an exuberant 40 fps. Additionally, the R6 II now comes with a pre-shot (RAW burst) option that captures RAW files for half a second before pressing the shutter. This allows you to capture a moment even if you react slowly, but at the cost of some battery life. While trying out the feature, I found that it might allow me to capture a few photos (out of thousands) that I might otherwise have missed.

Canon R6-II Hands-on: faster, more resolution and less heating problems

Steve Dent/Engadget

Those speeds are superb, but if photos are marred by excessive rolling shutter (hello Sony), they’re not that useful. Fortunately, the roller shutter is present but better controlled than on the R6, and much less severe than what I saw on the A7 IV. It can take quite a number of shots (around 70-75 uncompressed RAW files or 140 compressed RAW files) before the buffer fills up, and it resets quite quickly with fast UHS-II V90 cards. Still, it would have been nice to see a CFexpress slot for faster shooting and higher quality video files.

The R6 II’s autofocus is more advanced than any Canon model to date, including the R3, according to the company. It now manages people, animals and vehicles, including motorcycles, cars, trains and horses. And it now has an auto-select option that lets the AI ​​decide what to track, which should be a requirement on every mirrorless camera.

The AI ​​tracked my subject’s eyes smoothly, but got lost at times and wasn’t quite up to Sony’s high standards. In regular spot continuous mode (no AI), autofocus seemed as accurate as the R6, nailing shots in most circumstances. He was sometimes confused by the background or nearby subjects, but again, this was a prototype unit; these issues could be improved by the December release date.

Gallery: Sample Images of the Canon EOS R6 Mark II Camera | 27 Pictures


Image quality is also difficult to judge at this stage, as the RAW files are not yet ready to view. But the JPEGs looked great, with Canon’s usual warm skin tones and accurate tints. Low-light capability was surprisingly strong, with well-controlled noise at ISO 6400 and beyond.

Video

My biggest issue with the original EOS R6 was video, and specifically overheating issues. This model could only shoot 4K 60p for 30 minutes, and only for about 10 minutes after it cooled down enough to shoot again. Needless to say, this is a serious problem for professional shooters.

These issues have effectively disappeared and Canon has also removed the 30 minute recording time limit. You can now shoot 4K 60p without cropping for 40 minutes and it can normally go well beyond that. Cropped 4K 60p has a 50 minute limit and oversampled 4K 30p has no limit.

Canon R6-II Hands-on: faster, more resolution and less heating problems

Steve Dent/Engadget

It also has better video specs overall. Internally, you can shoot 4K 60fps oversampled from a 5.1K portion of the sensor (or the full width of the sensor with some pixel binning). 4K at 30 fps is upsampled from 6K using the full width of the sensor. And it now supports 180 fps for 1080p, up from 120 fps before. Capture files are still limited to MP4 and Quicktime without ProRes internally – likely a limitation of UHS II cards. Like photos, there’s no pre-shot option that captures 3 or 5 seconds of looping video before hitting the record button.

Additionally, the camera supports 4K 10-bit video and increased dynamic range with HDR PQ or CLog3. And you can even shoot 6K RAW on an external Atomos recorder, although this feature wasn’t ready to be tested yet.

Gallery: Canon EOS R6 Mark II Press Images | 15 Pictures


As with stills, AF for video tracks people, animals and vehicles. In my limited testing, it performed well, only occasionally focusing on the background. So far, subject tracking isn’t as reliable as what I’ve seen on the A7 IV, but again, it can improve with some firmware or other tweaks.

The video was crisp, and I didn’t experience any overheating issues in San Diego, where temperatures hit around 80 degrees in the sun. 1080p 180p video looks a little soft, as it’s captured with some pixel bunching, and cropped 4K also lacked sharpness compared to full-frame 4K. I was happy with the colors and low-light video capability was good to excellent.

Wrap

Canon R6-II Hands-on: faster, more resolution and less heating problems

Steve Dent/Engadget

By minimizing heat issues, the R6 II is already a big improvement over the original R6. But it also feels like a better camera for photography thanks to higher resolution, faster speeds and improved image quality – with no stacked sensor required.

Canon’s entire RF ecosystem also continues to improve. Its latest lens is the impressive 135mm f/1.8, joining 26 other full-frame prime and zoom lenses. So this system has become surprisingly mature, considering it was only launched four years ago. I can’t give you a final rating for key features like image quality and autofocus, as it’s still in the prototype stage. However, we plan to revisit the Canon EOS R6 Mark II as a full review when it launches in December.

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