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Why the Canon EOS R6 is shaping up to be a more exciting camera than the EOS R5

Canon EOS R5
(Image credit: Canon)

In sport, it’s nearly always an advantage to have been your family’s second-born – and so it appears to be with the Canon EOS R6, which is due to follow its elder Canon EOS R5 sibling at a launch event in July.

The full-frame mirrorless camera hasn’t actually been confirmed by Canon, but some apparently leaked specs seem to show that, just like Serena Williams and Andy Murray, the EOS R6 might just be more exciting (and, ultimately, successful) than its nearest sibling.

Of course, it’s a little early to be making definitive conclusions about the EOS R6. And it’s not as if the camera is going to be objectively ‘better’ than the EOS R5 – the latter will be Canon’s full-frame mirrorless flagship, after all, and has rightly attracted all the headlines for confirmed specs like 8K video capture and in-body image stabilization (IBIS).

But for most photographers and videographers, the EOS R6 is probably this year’s most intriguing new camera. 

It will have a full-frame sensor, which is the same size as a single frame of traditional 35mm film. And the new specs apparently revealed by Canon Rumors include the ability to capture oversampled 5K video (a superior technique to alternatives like pixel binning), 4K/60p recording, 10-bit shooting and an “identical” autofocus system to the Canon EOS R5. For video shooters in particular, that’s an exciting cocktail.

These specs join a rumored sheet that includes IBIS, 12fps burst shooting with the mechanical shutter (or 20fps with the electronic shutter) and dual UHS-II SD card slots. On paper, it’s impressive stuff. Of course, every camera is a compromise, and there are many reasons (including its rumored 20MP sensor and unknown price tag) that mean the EOS R6 won’t necessarily be the best full-frame camera for everyone.

But if the Canon EOS R6 slots into Canon’s mirrorless line-up where we think it will, then it stands a good chance of being the enthusiast star the EOS R system has been crying out for in its battle against Nikon and Sony. 

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: Canon Rumors)

Family fortunes

An apparently leaked photo of the Canon EOS R6 (above) shows it standing in the middle of the EOS R family, backed by some new, leaked RF lenses. It’s a bit like an intimidating mobster family portrait, showing that Canon means business with this launch – which is rumored to be taking place on July 9.

What’s also interesting about it is that it shows all of the existing EOS R cameras, which suggests they will all remain on sale. So where might the EOS R6 fit into the Canon and mirrorless camera picture?

In terms of price and features, the EOS R6 will almost certainly be the ‘underboss’ in the EOS R family. Head of the table is undoubtedly the Canon EOS R5, a camera that’s already been announced and will come with pro-level powers like uncropped 8K video recording and a CFexpress slot.

Canon EOS R5

(Image credit: Canon)

But that camera is also likely to cost around $4,000 / £4,100 / AU$6,500. What’s exciting about the Canon EOS R6 is how much of the R5’s spec sheet it manages to cram into a body that could come with a price tag that’s not expected to be significantly higher than the Canon EOS 6D Mark II’s original launch price of $2,000 / £1,999 / AU$2,199.

According to the latest rumors, this will include the same EVF, battery and autofocus system as the EOS R5. The main cost-cutting measures will apparently be inferior build quality, the lack of a top-down screen, and some missing features like Raw video and 8K shooting. There will undoubtedly be other limitations that haven’t yet been revealed. But as a template for a hybrid full-frame mirrorless camera, it’s a very strong one indeed.

Perhaps the key spec that tells us what to expect from the EOS R6, and where it sits in the EOS R family, is its sensor. Rumors have consistently pointed towards it having a 20MP full-frame CMOS sensor. Yet Canon Rumors is confident this is categorically not the same as the 20.1MP one seen in the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III

With the existing Canon EOS R (30.3MP) and EOS RP (26.2MP) both having higher resolution sensors, where does this leave the EOS R6?

Canon EOS R5

(Image credit: Canon)

Who is the EOS R6 for?

While resolution isn’t everything, it does suggest the EOS R6 could be a video-centric full-frame camera that also takes great stills, particularly in low light.

Landscape photographers, who often like high-resolution cameras for cropping into scenes and making large prints, will undoubtedly be drawn to the rumored 45MP resolution of the EOS R5. 

But for sports and wedding photographers, the rumored 20MP resolution of the EOS R6 would likely be fine. This type of photography usually doesn’t require much cropping and the lower resolution is a bit more forgiving during handheld shooting. The IBIS system will be on hand to help here, too.

Like the Panasonic GH5 (20.3MP) and Sony A7S II (which only has a 12.2MP sensor), video-centric cameras tend to err on the side of lower resolution sensors, which come with the added advantage of larger individual photosites (pixels) for good performance in low light.

Many of the EOS R6’s apparently leaked specs support the idea that it will have a strong focus on video too – alongside the ones already mentioned, there’ll be pro features like the ability to shoot in both Canon Log and 10-bit, which give editors and color graders a huge amount of flexibility. 

For those who are mainly interested in stills photography, then, the EOS R6 might not be quite what they were looking for from a ‘lite’ version of the EOS R5. But if you’re after a hybrid shooter with a bigger sensor than the Fujifilm X-T4, or a Nikon Z6 that pairs with RF lenses, the EOS R6 is shaping up very nicely.  

Canon EOS R6

(Image credit: Canon Rumors)

Sibling rivalry

Even if the Canon EOS R6 isn’t for you, the other benefit could be the knock-on effect it has on the rest of the EOS R family.

Right now, you can pick up the Canon EOS RP for an impressive $899 / £1,299 / AU$1,800. And while its price is unlikely to drop a lot further, the Canon EOS R could become a more tempting proposition for stills shooters if its price heads down towards the level of premium APS-C cameras.

Still, one of the reasons why the Nikon Z6 remains top of our best cameras list is the impressive value it continues to offer. With the Canon EOS R6 expected to cost significantly more at launch, we’re looking forward to seeing if it can indeed steal the limelight from its elder brother when it comes to real-world shooting.