Canon’s latest hybrid offering, the EOS R6 Mark II, is its fastest advanced full-frame mirrorless camera to date, and its filmmaking qualities have likewise gone up a notch.
There is always a noticeable sense of excitement whenever Canon makes a major new equipment announcement, and the launch of the EOS R6 Mark II is no exception. Coming just a couple of years after the original R6 took the world of professional photography by storm, that model has gone on to become a staple of many a working pro’s kit bag, and the model has helped Canon to cement its position as one of the top dogs in the rapidly expanding mirrorless market.
Foremost amongst the major attractions for professionals, of course, are the advanced hybrid capabilities the camera offers, and this perfectly complements the nature of the modern job. It’s fairly standard these days for a client to be looking for an element of motion when commissioning a shoot, and a model such as the R6 is perfectly set up to deliver this at the mere flick of a switch, combining a 20.1MP sensor and awesome AF and stills capabilities with a host of advanced video functions and the ability to capture 4K footage at up to 30fps.
A lot has been happening on the technology front over the past two years, however and, despite the phenomenal success of the camera, Canon has clearly felt the time was right, not for a replacement but for a substantial re-fresh. Included amongst the lengthy list of upgrades is a more powerful 24.2MP sensor, a revise of the body design and controls, including the loss of some 10g of weight and the provision of a new dial to make switching from stills to video even quicker and easier. There’s also a new multi-function shoe to provide support for the Canon DM-E1D digital microphone as well as compatible XLR adaptors and a faster transfer speed for the USB-C port, which is now 10Gbps compared to 5Gbps.
Battery life has also been improved, the continuous shooting speed has been upped from 20fps at 20MP to 40fps, rolling shutter has been improved, 6K oversampling, up from 4K, is now possible, thanks to the increased sensor resolution that’s on board and it’s also now possible to record 6K Prores RAW video via the HDMI port, when used in tandem with an Atomos Ninja V recorder.
And one huge issue that’s also been tackled is overheating: where the original R6 could become unreliable after around 45 minutes of filming due to it becoming too hot, the Mark II version comes with an improved circuit design that manages heat more efficiently. Canon claims that it’s now possible to record 4K 60p for at least 40 minutes, and 4K 30p for more than six hours, which represents a big improvement.
Also on the video front, the R6 II now has Breathing Compensation, a feature previously seen on Sony cameras, where the shift in field of view that can occur on photographic lenses when going from minimum to maximum focusing distance has been corrected. Just seven Canon lenses are compatible for now and they will need a firmware update, but this is a big deal and it’s a feature filmmakers will be pleased to see.
Testing the Camera
Nor surprisingly CVP was keen to get hands on with what is sure to be such a popular camera prior to its official launch, and Technical Marketing Manager Jake Ratcliffe set up a challenging shoot with a beta sample, taking it along to a sweaty and dimly lit gig at London’s 02 Indigo, where CVP’s kit evaluation manager Lou was playing with his band Red Method, to see what it could do.
“I shot more stills with it than I would normally do,” says Jake, “since this is going to be a hybrid camera with a slightly more focused spec towards still imagery. I was particularly impressed with the updated mode switch. It makes moving across between stills and video incredibly fast. The switch is pretty much instant, with the camera remembering your specific settings for each mode and, this way, you don’t need to worry about setting your shutter differences between the two modes.
“For example, when I was shooting at the gig, I could quickly switch between stills and video which, on another system, would have taken much longer. When you only have three songs within which to shoot, working fast is really important, and this switch makes life so much easier for someone working across both disciplines. I would have to say that it’s the best system I’ve ever used for switching between stills and video fast.”
Another big plus point from Jake’s perspective was the fact that low light performance, both for still and motion, was incredibly good, the fast-moving and murky club atmosphere being the perfect place to try this out. Video was shot with the camera set to ISO 800 while, for stills, the rating was between ISO 3200 and 6400. “I was really happy with both the stills and video that I was able to capture with the camera in what was a really challenging environment,” says Jake. Check out the video we’re linking to in this feature to get a better feel for what the results were like, and they’re certainly impressive.
“The autofocus in both stills and video modes was also excellent,” says Jake. “The camera uses the newest version of Canon’s Dual Pixel Autofocus, and it really is fantastic. For most situations the autofocus when you’re shooting motion is really reliable, though it can get caught out sometimes, as any AF system can. However, we stuck with AF pretty much throughout the shoot, and the results were pretty good!”
Battery life also impressed Jake, with just a couple of changes each day over two busy shooting days, and this definitely appears to be a solid improvement. Not so positive was the reaction to the camera’s Micro HDMI port however: “I’m guessing Canon has probably done this to save space and also to keep costs down,” comments Jake, “but Micro HDMI is so flimsy and easy to break. You really need to be careful and to make sure you use a cable protector to prevent strain on the port.”
Overall, however, the verdict is overwhelmingly positive. “Honestly the R6 Mark II may be one of my favourite hybrid cameras that I’ve ever used,” says Jake. “The camera really impressed me with its blend of features when it comes to stills and video, but its body design is what really won me over. I’ve used pretty much every Canon mirrorless camera out there, and this is the first one I’ve felt really comfortable shooting stills on.”
Refining the Canon C70
The Canon C70 has also been out there in the market since 2020, and yet it remains ageless, largely thanks to the numerous firmware updates it’s received over that time. It’s the way of the modern world, and the fact is that you can buy a camera model now and it can receive substantial upgrades during its lifetime, which is an incredible step forward and a way of lengthening the life of a cutting-edge piece of gear.
The C70 has just received yet another firmware update, and Jake has also been trying this out, and he’s been impressed with what he’s seen. “There have been quite a few awesome upgrades this time around,” he says, “but I think my favourite has to be the addition of autofocus in the slow and fast modes. This was something that people have been asking for since release and, for those times where you need it, it’s really handy to have.”
The whole essence of upgrades is that you need to keep an eye out for them and to listen to the feedback once something has been introduced. It’s sometimes not the best move to try to be the first with implementing something, just in case something emerges that maybe hasn’t been envisaged.
“Just once in a while brands can release firmware that serves to introduce more bugs, and they’re best avoided,” says Jake. “While that’s quite rare, if you do update your camera to a new firmware you should be sure to test it out before you head off on a professional shoot in case you have any issues, as you can then just roll back the firmware if you need to.”
Jake has been assessing the C70’s upgrade in his latest CVP video, and you can scan through to take a look in this feature. Overall it’s made a big and positive improvement and, for those who invested in this camera, it’s a real bonus when the model they spent money on keeps getting substantially improved and upgraded in this way.
“The C70 was already excellent when it launched,” says Jake, “but the firmware updates it’s received over the past couple of years have only made it better and better. It’s great that Canon has supported owners’ investments into the C70 so well and, even after two years on the market, it’s still widely considered to be a fantastic choice for so many filmmakers.”
Designed to function as a top-end hybrid camera, the EOS R6 II is fully capable of performing well in low light conditions.
Subtle changes to the body shape and design of the EOS R6 has seen it lose 10g in weight.
Scan here to watch CVP’s review and test footage shot using the new Canon EOS R6 Mark II.
Scan here to watch CVP’s video that takes a look at the latest firmware updates for the Canon C70