Canon EOS R5 vs EOS R6 hands-on: Features, price, release date, specs
The DSLR is dead; long live the full-frame mirrorless future. Or at least, that is what Canon is encouraging photographers to believe. The gems of yesteryear, such as the Canon 5D Mark IV, still hold up as brilliant cameras, but place the EOS R in your hand and bring your eye to the viewfinder, and you can feel why it's seen as the way forward.
Lighter and smaller, yet fully featured, they offer greater flexibility – especially in regard to video – and a more powerful partnership between lens and body.
Also read: The best DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
Canon dipped its toes in the mirrorless waters in October 2018 with the EOS R. It was an early foray into this emerging space and an opportunity to get the new RF lens into circulation. However, its features were soon superseded by rival manufacturers, leaving photographers wondering when Canon was going to step-up its mirrorless interchangeable lens range.
The wait has been worth it. Canon has come in over-the-top of its rivals with two compelling mirrorless cameras. The EOS R5 has more bells and whistles than a Swiss slalom, with still and video specs that will melt the hearts of professional photographers.
The EOS R6 scales back on the quality of the video and images to make it more affordable. However, the range of features it retains is incredibly impressive.
Canon EOS R5 vs EOS R6 spec comparison
|45 megapixel full-frame
|20.1 megapixel full frame
|8-stops (5-stops in-body)
|8-stops (5-stops in-body)
|Auto focus zones
|Auto focus points (user selectable)
|Auto focus speed
|100 - 51,200
|100 - 102,400
|Low light performance
|-6 EV (f/1.2)
|-6.5 EV (f/1.2)
|Maximum video output
|8K at 30fps / 4K 120fps, 12-bit (full width)
|4K at 60fps, 10-bit / Full HD at 120fps
|Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
|5.76 million dot
|3.69 million dot
|3.2", 2.1 million dot vari-angle
|3", 1.62 million dot vari-angle
|2 (1x CFexpress, 1x SD UHS II)
|2 x SD UHS II
|Image file types
|JPG / HEIF / RAW
|JPG / HEIF / RAW
|Top dot matrix display and AF multi-controller
|5Ghz Wi-Fi with optional wireless transmitter
|2.4Ghz Wi-Fi and FTP
|Yes via PD-E1
|Yes via PD-E1
|Weight with battery and memory card
|738g (650g body)
|690g (598g body)
|138.5(w) x 97.5(h) x 88.0(d)
|138.4(w) x 97.5(h) x 88.4(d)
When is the Canon EOS R5 release date in Australia?
We were told the Canon EOS R5 would arrive in retailers late July 2020. However, an update to the Canon website says the device will not begin shipping until 30 September 2020. We have since received clarification that the initial stock sold out in a matter of hours (!!). The new date reflects a realistic send date for the next batch of pre-orders, which are live now.
When is the Canon EOS R6 release date in Australia?
We were told that photographers looking to get their hands on the Canon EOS R6 would need to wait a little longer. A late August release date was advised during the press briefing. But as mentioned above, that goal has changed after the initial stock sold out immediately. A date for the release of the second batch of models has yet to be confirmed.
How much is the Canon EOS R5 in Australia?
The official line from Canon is that "pricing will be set at dealer discretion", although pre-orders directly through the official website ask for AU$7,099. Shortly following the reveal, better pre-order prices did begin appearing at the AU$6,899 mark for body only. We'll flesh out a table of prices for you as they emerge.
How much is the Canon EOS R6 in Australia?
Again, Canon has followed its approach of letting stores determine the price range for the EOS R6. Yet it has also set the tone with a AU$4,749 price on the official website. The initial pre-order price that appeared shortly after launch is around AU$4,499 for the body only. For AU$4,999 you can grab a kit lens with the body; the RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 IS STM. Again, we will get a full comparison table of prices up for you as more emerge.
Canon EOS R5 vs R6: Hands-on review
In early July 2020, Finder was provided with access to both the Canon EOS R5 and the Canon EOS R6 as well as a staged scene in a studio to shoot. A wide selection of RF lenses was also made available, alongside Canon experts to help walk us through the latest features. Here are our key takeaways when comparing the Canon EOS R5 vs EOS R6.
Anyone familiar with the previous 5 Series and 6 Series cameras will feel instantly at home with the form factor. Canon has never been one to look outside the box in this regard. Both cameras are thinner and squatter than their predecessors, but a bit chubbier. However, when paired with the new RF lenses, the overall bulk is a lot more user friendly.
In terms of moment-to-moment use, the R5 and R6 are very similar to engage with. The R5 opts for a digital display on top instead of the old-school dial seen on the R6. This 40-year-old writer prefers the familiarity of the dial, which is also easier on my failing eyes. Elsewhere, the LCD screen is slightly bigger and sharper on the R5, too. Although, unless you put them side-by-side, you'd never know what you're missing.
The real difference is under the hood. You can't argue with the raw power of the R5, even if its maximum output – and the resulting file sizes – is well beyond the needs of most people. That said, in this writer's opinion, the R6 could have been a bit more giving with its megapixel count.
Perhaps the most significant difference I noticed when using the two models was in the electronic viewfinder (EVF). Both cameras offer a real-time view of the final photo as you adjust settings such as ISO, white balance and aperture. It's fantastic not having to draw your face away from the camera to see what's going on, allowing for quicker micro-adjustments on the fly.
So, it makes sense that the far higher resolution of the EVF in the R5 as well as portrait relighting and background clarity algorithms give you a better insight into the final shot before you click away.
What is the autofocus like on the EOS R5 and R6?
If you're stepping up from any of the older Canon (or other manufacturer) cameras to the EOS R5 or R6, you'll be blown away by the speed. It's such intelligent software. The ability for it to pull out faces, eyes and body shape – be it human or animal – and grasp what you want as the centrepiece of your shot is swift. The shots fire off so quickly and quietly that you'll be surprised to discover you've taken 10 shots where you thought you took one.
The autofocus does its best to adjust to motion and movement and, look, it's ok. But there's still room for improvement in this regard. That's not solely a Canon issue, but if you're expecting the R5 or R6 to actively adjust motion-blur by using multiple shots to recompile the image, we're not yet at that point.
I did notice that the autofocus would stick to the most prominent face in a scene. I look forward to experimenting with the vast array of options available in the autofocus menu to see how this can be mitigated or leveraged. Thankfully, the joystick does allow you to easily override the autofocus and move the camera's attention to the exact spot you want it.
Using the joystick takes a little getting used to, especially if you have a bearded cheek like mine and you want to change it while using the EVF. Wedging a thumb under your face isn't the ideal solution here – could the joystick have gone elsewhere? But functionally, I love its inclusion.
Video quality on the EOS R5 and R6
When we look at the R5 vs R6, they're incomparable when it comes to resolution. The 8K offered by the R5 is not only futureproof, but it also allows for slow-speed filming at 4K as well as the ability to pick out high-resolution (35.4MP) stills from a video. It's awesome. But the 4K 60fps of the R6 isn't to be sneezed at either.
My experiments with the video capturing yielded impressive results. The autofocus, image stabilisation and low-light benefits all carry across. The resulting videos look ready for prime-time television they're so good; however, I was unable to test the mic out as well as I would have liked. I will flesh out that part of the analysis when I can get more hands-on time with the camera.
One thing to note is that, unsurprisingly, the file size of the video content is huge.
What is image stabilisation like on the EOS R5 and R6?
Canon claims its 8-stop shutter speed image stabilisation (IS) is the world's best, but it's a slightly misleading claim. The benefit of pairing the new EOS R camera range with a new RF lens is that the speed of communication between the two and the way they work together empower greater IS. You get a combined effect of in-body and optical IS.
In the case of image stabilisation, the lenses come already primed with 5-stops, but that is increased by the number of stops the body itself can add to the equation. Alternatively, the body can act to bring IS to lenses that don't have it built-in already. As a result, 8-stops is a maximum, but the real image stabilisation differs per lens as indicated in the table below.
|Combined IS stops
|RF 24 105mm f/4 L IS USM
|RF 35mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM
|RF 24 70mm f/2.8 L IS USM
|RF 15 35mm f/2.8 L IS USM
|RF 24 240mm f/4 6.3 IS USM
|RF 85mm f/2 MACRO IS STM
|RF 70 200mm f/2.8 L IS USM
|RF 24 105mm f/4 7.1 IS STM
|RF100 500mm f/4.5 7.1 L IS USM
|6 (with firmware update)
|RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM
|RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM
|RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM
|RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM DS
|RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM
Low-light performance on the EOS R5 and R6
To be fair, I've got plenty more testing to do in this regard, but from my initial experiments, I was really impressed with low-light shooting. The R6, surprisingly, offers a slightly better range when it comes to low light, but only just.
What stood out during my test photos were how well colours were preserved and what a great job the camera did retaining a sharp focus on moving subjects at low light. You can trust you'll get better than expected results shooting a night-time party or a scene by a campfire.
Is the EOS R5 better than the EOS R6?
Perhaps the most exciting discovery when comparing these two cameras is just how strong the EOS R6 is despite being the "hobbyist" option. There is a temptation for anyone who takes their photography seriously to go high-end and to get the best. But the best really is there in the R6. As you would have seen in the spec comparison at the top of this article, the differences are marginal.
The EOS R5 is there for the elite. It's got oodles of megapixels, stunning 8K photography, an impressive real-time demonstration of the final photo in its electronic viewfinder and is better suited to quickly shifting lots of big files on and off its internal storage. Certainly, these are features no professional shooter can outright ignore.
Although inexplicably, the in-body mic for the R5 is mono (the R6 is stereo). The assumption is no doubt that professionals will use a proper mic accessory when shooting, but still, why make that assumption at all?
For the vast majority of us, however, the Canon EOS R6 is not just "good enough", it's within touching distance of greatness. I'd have liked to have seen a bit more on the megapixel front to have given it a greater range when it comes to landscape photography. But outside of that, the decision to retain the guts of the stabilisation, autofocus, low-light and video improvements ensures it will deliver the goods for years to come.
Canon announces four new RF lenses
Alongside the reveal of the EOS R5 and R6, Canon also showed off its upcoming additions to the RF lens range. These lenses come with 5-stop image stabilisation built in and a lens control ring.
- RF 85mm f/2.0 Macro IS STM due for release in October 2020*
- RF 100 500mm f/4.5 7.1L IS USM due for release in September 2020
- RF 800mm f/11 IS STM due for release on 30 July 2020**
- RF 600mm f/11 IS STM due for release 30 July 2020**
* Also offers macro support, with 0.35m minimum focal distance and 0.5x magnification
** Only has 4-stop built-in stabilisation