Canon has been busy with a steady parade of new gear lately. Just this summer, it launched the EOS R10 and R7 cameras. And now it has announced the EOS R6 Mark II, RF 135mm F1.8 L IS USM lens and Speedlite EL-5.
These three new pieces of gear are designed to appeal to photographers and video shooters in a variety of different disciplines. Continuing the tradition of well-rounded cameras, the EOS R6 Mark II also offers excellent stills and high-quality video. The lens should make most sports photographers drool, while the flash might be a wedding photographer’s dream. There’s a lot to digest, so let’s dive in.
Canon EOS R6 Mark II
The star of this introduction is, unsurprisingly, the camera. Canon released the original R6 in Summer 2020 as a mirrorless replacement for its popular EOS 6D DSLR camera. The R6 was an excellent all-rounder and the 24.2-megapixel Mark II carries on that tradition, but with some new tricks up its sleeve.
Canon has been very specific about who they think the camera is best suited for. First and foremost, Canon sees this camera as an entry point to mirrorless cameras for DSLR users. Given the trends in the camera industry over the last few years, the primary market should come as no surprise. As smartphones have eaten up more and more of the lower end of the market, advanced amateurs have become increasingly important to camera makers. And here the specs and features are very much tailored towards content creators. It’s an ideal choice for those who want a camera that’s good at many things, rather than needing multiple specialized tools to create photos and videos. After all, it’s very action-oriented, as evidenced by the shooting scenarios they set up on a recent press trip.
Exterior build and sensor changes
Inside the camera, Canon switched from the original R6’s 20MP full-frame CMOS sensor to an all-new 24.2MP CMOS sensor in the Mark II. It’s worth noting that this new sensor isn’t back-illuminated (BSI) or is stacked, which helps keep the cost of the camera down. Canon also says that there is new image processing in the R6 Mark II, which can achieve better resolution performance than the EOS 5D Mark IV, which has a 30.4MP sensor.
The R6 Mark II promises speed. It is capable of 12 fps with the mechanical shutter and up to 40 fps with the electronic shutter at a 12-bit raw file size. In addition, it offers a raw burst mode with pre-shooting when using the electronic shutter. If this is on and your finger is on the shutter button, you’ll get half a second of coverage before you press the shutter button. For high-speed sports and action images, this could make the difference between a successful capture or not.
One of the most notable upgrades is the R6 Mark II’s video capabilities. Despite some decent video specs, the R6 was at its best as a stills camera. It could record 4K60p videos but with a slight crop. There were also overheating issues that limited recording times.
The R6 Mark II, on the other hand, is designed entirely as a hybrid camera. It’s now capable of external recording at up to 6K raw or internal recording at full-width 4K60p. It can also record Full HD at 150 fps for excellent slow motion footage. And Canon says it’s improved the heat limitations of the Mark II. It is claimed that the only real limitations on recording length at this point are battery life and memory card space. This is especially beneficial for those creating lengthy YouTube videos or live stream content.
The R6 Mark II gets the addition of Movie Pre-Recording, which records either three or five seconds (user selected) before actually hitting the shot. It’s one of those features that’s probably only beneficial to a select group of videographers, e.g. B. for those who record actions. Something almost everyone will benefit from is the combined image stabilization. To smooth video, the camera uses a combination of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), and Movie Digital Image Stabilization.
Autofocus is always an area of focus (pun intended) on new camera releases, and Canon has certainly stayed true to that. The R6 Mark II inherited autofocus from the R3. The R3 will still perform slightly better due to the stacked BSI sensor. However, Canon says the R6 Mark II has an improved deep learning engine to enable even more accurate subject tracking.
One thing we keep seeing in updated autofocus systems is the addition of new subjects in the autofocus tracking settings. Canon added horses and trains, but also added an automatic subject tracking option. This is probably the ideal choice for many people and should simplify autofocus settings. The new system frees photographers from having to fiddle with their settings, as the Auto mode does a solid all-round job. Auto mode selects subjects that are near the center of the frame, larger, a person, or something that was the main subject in the previous frame.
A unique selling point is the addition of individual eye tracking. You can choose either left or right eye (or auto) to lock focus, so even as your subject rotates and moves, the focus stays constant on that eye rather than moving on the face. Another exciting addition for video creators is the detect-only AF, which only focuses on the subject, even if you’re leaving something behind. For example, if your subject is moving behind a wall, the camera will not shift focus to the wall. This should create a much smoother experience in videos.
Prices & Availability
The Canon EOS R6 Mark II will be available in late November and will cost $2,599.00 just for the body. You can also purchase it as a kit with either the Canon RF24-105 F4 L IS USM or the RF24-105 F4.0-7.1 IS STM USM lens for $3,599.00 and $2,799.00 respectively.
RF 135mm F1.8 L IS USM lens
Sticking with sports and action, Canon is launching a new 135mm telephoto lens. The lens will probably be most useful for sports photographers and photojournalists, but could also be a nice portrait lens. Canon says the RF version will be much better than the already excellent EF 135mm in terms of performance and optical quality.
The fast f/1.8 aperture improves focus and low-light performance and, combined with the circular aperture, results in beautiful, smooth bokeh. It features a fast and quiet focusing motor that can keep up with fast action sports. While it’s by no means a macro lens, it boasts a minimum focusing distance of just 2.29 feet. It also offers a maximum magnification of 0.26x.
The lens barrel contains 17 elements in 12 groups. This includes three UD elements to reduce chromatic aberration. It accepts 82mm filters and uses an Air Sphere coating to reduce ghosting for clearer images. It also offers 5.5 levels of image stabilization. And when paired with a camera with IBIS, you can achieve eight full levels of stabilization.
It’s not a small lens, although telephoto lenses of this length never are. It weighs 2.06 pounds, which is slightly more than the EF version of Canon’s 135mm. And it measures 5.1 x 3.5 inches, which again is only slightly larger than the EF 135mm. It offers tons of customization options with two buttons and a control ring with a long list of possible assignable functions, giving you quick access to the settings you need most.
Prices & Availability
If you want the RF 135mm F1.8 L IS USM lens, you’ll have to wait a little longer as it won’t be available until late January 2023 for $2099.00.
The final component of this release is a new, more affordable Speedlite. It’s essentially a junior version of the EL-1, both in price and weight, making it an ideal choice for intermediate amateurs or those looking to start playing with blitz. At just 1.08 pounds, it’s 20% smaller than the EL-1 and $500 cheaper, but offers the same power output.
It is important to note that it includes the new hot shoe type. As a result, the camera’s flash compatibility is limited at this point. However, it can be used with other devices as an external flash if you don’t have the new hot shoe system. In fact, the lower price of this device makes it a much more accessible option for building a multi-light setup, even if you don’t have the latest hot shoe style.
An exciting feature is the built-in modeling light. It makes setting up your lighting a lot easier, especially when working with off-camera flash. The Speedlite also has an AF assist light that’s electrically adjustable, so you can adjust it to the size of the room you’re in. It features a custom settings menu and one-button operation to make it much easier to use. And it’s dust and weather resistant. The maximum guide number is 196 feet with a normal recycle of 1.2 seconds or a fast flash of just one second.
Prices & Availability
The Speedlight EL-5 will ship in late March 2023 and is available for $399.99. All cameras require a firmware update to work with this new speedlight, which is one reason for the later delivery date.