Hands on: Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is simply bigger, better, more. This 40fps speed demon makes mincemeat of other hybrids

Canon EOS R6 Mark II
(Image: © James Artaius)

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If the Canon EOS R6 Mark II was an animal, it would pack teeth like switchblades, razor-sharp talons, a venom sac, and the footspeed to chase down anything foolish enough to draw its attention. 

Indeed, while the Canon EOS R6 Mark II is almost a top-to-bottom specs improvement over the original Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab), in terms of that last point it manages to outpace even the mighty Canon EOS R3 (opens in new tab) – boasting an amazing 40fps continuous shooting speed. (This actually outguns both the Sony A1 (opens in new tab) and Nikon Z9 (opens in new tab), too, unless you count the Z9 cheating by shooting 11MP images.)

Still, the Canon EOS R6 Mark II is about more than just sheer speed. From its full-width, 6K-oversampled video to the brand-new 24.2MP sensor to the ability to pre-record both stills and video so you don't miss a microsecond of the action, this is the most fully loaded mid-range camera on the market. 

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L (1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO2000) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon EOS R6 Mark II: Specifications

Sensor: 24.4MP CMOS
Image processor: Digic X
Mount: Canon RF
ISO range: 100-102,400 (exp 50-204,800)
Shutter speeds: 1/16,000-30s
Image stabilization: 5-axis IBIS, up to 8 stops
Max image size: 6000 x 4000 pixels
Max video resolution: 4K HQ 60p, 1080p 180p
Max burst: 12fps mechanical shutter, 40fps electronic
Viewfinder: 3.69m dot OLED, 0.5 inch, 100% coverage, 120fps refresh  
Memory card: 2x SD UHS-II
LCD: 3-inch, 1.62m dot, vari-angle touchscreen
Size: 138.4 x 98.4 x 88.4mm
Weight: 670g (including battery and memory card)

Canon EOS R6 Mark II: Key features

As noted, the Canon EOS R6 Mark II is a step up from the R6 in a great many ways. Chief among these is in terms of resolution, with a brand-new image sensor boasting 24.2MP (compared to the 20.1MP of the original).

The maximum continuous shooting speed has doubled, from 20fps to 40fps (when using the electronic shutter; mechanically it still sits at 12fps), which records both JPG and RAW images. 

The new sensor enables the camera to capture full width 4K 60p video (including 4K 60p HQ, downsampled from 6K), as well as 1080p footage at up to 180p – an increase from its predecessor's 120p recording. If you want to use the R6 Mark II as a webcam, for livestreaming and video conferencing, you can now simply plug and play via USB – no need for additional drivers or software. 

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L (opens in new tab) (1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO2000) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Both stills and video possess a pre-recording feature, which enable the camera to start capturing photos or footage even before you depress the shutter (0.5 seconds for stills, 3 or 5 seconds for video), ensuring that you don't miss a moment even if you're slow with your trigger finger. 

The ferocious autofocus is now even better than before, too, taking the Dual Pixel AF II algorithms from the R3 and combining it with even more deep learning. The net result is that tracking now extends to two subject types: horses and aircraft (in addition to birds, dogs, cats, cars, motorcycles and trains). 

Like other recent R system bodies, such as the Canon EOS R7 (opens in new tab) and Canon EOS R10 (opens in new tab), the R6 Mark II takes the Multi Function Shoe from the R3. It also imports the Panoramic photo mode from its APS-C siblings, and introduces a new (and very welcome!) focus breathing correction function. 

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L (1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO2000) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon EOS R6 Mark II: Build and handling

The Mark II is almost identical in size, weight and proportion to the original – and it retains the same degree of weather-sealing, too. However, there have been some key changes worth noting. 

Firstly, the power switch: it's gone. Well, not completely – it's just gone from its old position on the left shoulder, replaced instead by a dedicated stills / video switch that's a big nod towards this camera's overt focus on hybrid shooters. The power switch now sits instead on the right  shoulder, beneath the rear exposure dial – which should please street shooters who like to arm their cameras one-handed. 

The other change is to the joystick, where the familiar R5 and R6 input has been replaced with a newly designed one (which is also customizable). It lacks the knurled edges at the top-left, top-right and center-bottom of the stick – so if you're familiar with the previous design, you might find your thumb sliding off without the tactile notification that you're at the edge of the disc. 

Canon has also made some useful tweaks to the menus. For us, the coolest is having a set of hotkey-like shortcuts to three ISO settings, so you can quickly tap the ISO menu and jump between them without having to scroll the wheel or swipe the screen. 

The new Q2 menu is also much appreciated; operating much like the original Q menu, this gives you a dedicated quick-menu to adjust your video settings in specific (the Q1 menu remains dedicated to photo settings). Again, this camera really is geared up to cater for hybrid shooters, rather than feeling like a photography first device that just happens to record video as well. 

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L (1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO1600) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon EOS R6 Mark II: Early verdict

While we didn't get to test out the new AF subject tracking modes, since there were no horses or planes available while we had the camera, we can certainly attest that it does an incredible job finding and locking onto human subjects. 

We were photographing a troupe of dancers, and no matter how they turned, twirled, leapt or pirouetted, the Canon EOS R6 Mark II never failed to keep them in focus. Once again, like the original R6 before it, this camera delivers the best AF performance that money can buy. 

That extends to video shooting, too, along with a new Face Only AF mode that comes direct from the Cinema EOS line. With this selected, if a face is tracked and then exits the frame, the AF will not shift focus to the background; it will maintain focus where it is, until the face reenters the frame, upon which it resumes tracking as before.

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L (1/1000 sec, f/2, ISO1600) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Speaking of video, everything has been upped on the Mark II. Not only do you get full width 4K, you can also record 6K 60p ProRes RAW via HDMI (3.7K ProRes RAW in crop), the 29:59 recording limit is no more, and the circuitry has been redesigned to enable the camera to capture 40 minutes of oversampled 4K 60p or 6 hours of 4K 30p. There are also new exposure tools such as false color to ensure that your footage is the correct brightness.

The magic performance isn't limited to video, of course. That 40fps burst is absolutely ridiculous, with a buffer depth of 190 JPEG / 75 RAW images. When not shooting at the top speed, the buffer can be virtually limitless; we held down the shutter for 10, 20, 30 seconds and it didn't even take a breath.

There are other welcome creative additions, too, such as in-camera focus bracketing – which, unlike other Canon cameras, actually does the compositing in-camera rather than requiring you to do it manually in external software. And thanks to the improved stabilization, which is good for up to 8 stops depending on your lens choice, you can do it without a tripod. We did a 100-shot stack, handheld, and the results were perfect.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II: Sample images

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L (1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO800) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L (1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO1000) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L (1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO100) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L (1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO800) (Image credit: James Artaius)

In-camera focus stacked image, 100 shots handheld – pre-production Canon EOS R6 Mark II + Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM (1/80 sec, f/2.5, ISO800) (Image credit: James Artaius)

Canon EOS R6 Mark II: Early verdict

Unless it slips on a banana peel in our lab tests, it's hard to see how the Canon EOS R6 Mark II can possibly disappoint. This hybrid camera packs an obscene amount of firepower on both sides of the coin, with 6K video and 24.2MP stills at a startling 40 frames per second.

This really is a body designed with an equal focus on both photography and videography, evidenced by changes to the physical controls and menu system. Flitting back and forth between the two mediums has seldom been easier or packed with as much oomph. 

This is by far Canon's finest 6-series camera yet, and is a brilliant younger brother to the Canon EOS R5 for those who don't need ultimate resolution but still demand premium performance.

Read more: 

Canon EOS R3 review (opens in new tab)
Canon EOS R5 review
(opens in new tab)Canon EOS R6 review
(opens in new tab)Canon EOS R7 review
(opens in new tab)Canon EOS R10 review (opens in new tab)

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