Canon EOS R6 Lab Test – Rolling Shutter, Dynamic Range and Latitude

November 11th, 2020 icon / message-square 16
Canon EOS R6 Lab Test - Rolling Shutter, Dynamic Range and Latitude

Looking at the specifications of the Canon EOS R6 camera, it sports 4:2:2 10 bit video recording with a 20.1 Megapixel full frame sensor – hence, big pixels and thereby very promising in terms of image quality and dynamic range. Does it live up to this expectation? Read on!

Despite the overheating limitations, which have been partially improved with the latest firmware, the Canon EOS R6 delivers a beautiful image – as you can see in this review by my colleague Johnnie.

Looking at competing offerings in the market of full frame cameras, the Canon EOS R6 falls into a similar price bucket as the Panasonic S1 (considering the additional cost of the VLOG upgrade). The SIGMA fp is even less expensive, similar to the Panasonic S5 – all of which we have tested at CineD recently (click the link on each camera to see the respective article).

So, let’s take a look at what the Canon EOS R6 brings to the table – also in comparison to the cameras mentioned above. Firmware version for this Canon EOS R6 lab test is 1.0.

Canon EOS R6 – Rolling Shutter

As usual, we use our 300Hz strobe light to record the pairs of black & white bars that appear due to the read out nature of CMOS sensors. Analysing these, the rolling shutter of the Canon EOS R6 in full frame UHD 25fps turns out to be 30.6ms.

Canon EOS R6 Rolling Shutter
Canon EOS R6 full frame 25p rolling shutter measurement: 30.6ms!

30.6ms in full frame UHD is the second highest value ever measured in our lab (only the Z Cam E2C with a MFT sensor had a higher value) – the higher the value, the more pronouced are rolling shutter artefacts. At least the Canon EOS R6 features IBIS (in body sensor stabilization), so to an extent, the bad rolling shutter is mitigated.

In UHD 50fps full frame mode, the camera shows 15.3ms – hence, some subsampling seems to be happening to allow for 50 frames per second.

In crop mode (1.6x), at 25fps the Canon EOS R6 exhibits 20.3ms rolling shutter – on the high end for a Super 35 sampling. In 50fps crop mode, a similar value to the result in full frame 50fps is obtained – 15.3ms.

Canon EOS R6 – Dynamic Range

As usual, please click here to see how we perform dynamic range tests.

Let’s have a look at the waveform first for full frame, UHD 25fps, C-LOG (Canon Log 1), ISO400, internal 10 bit 4:2:2 H265 recording. Here we find about 11 visible stops, and an almost invisible hint of a 12th stop inside the noise floor.

Canon EOS R6 - Dynamic Range
Step chart waveform plot for the Canon EOS R6 at UHD full frame H265 ISO400 CLOG: around 11 stops are visible.

What can be observed is the fact that almost no noise floor is visible – it looks like lower stops are simply cut off.

Hence, it will not be possible to dig into the shadows much without losing color and creating banding – confirmed by our latitude (underexposure) test in the subsequent section below.

IMATEST calculates 10.5 stops at SNR = 2, see the result below. The total patch range identified is 12.7 stops.

Dynamic Range chart
IMATEST result of the Canon EOS R6 in UHD H265 ISO400 CLOG: 10.5 stops are calculated for SNR = 2

So, we are getting a very simple summary: the Canon EOS R6 shows the highest rolling shutter and the lowest dynamic range of any full frame camera we have tested so far.

The Panasonic S1 and S5 both exhibit a tad above 12 stops of dynamic range (for a signal to noise ratio of 2) and both have a rolling shutter value of 22ms and 21ms respectively, whereas the SIGMA fp shows 20.8ms rolling shutter and a dynamic range reading of 11.3 (at SNR = 2).

Canon EOS R6 – Latitude (Underexposure) Test

As usual, for our underexposure test, we arrange the scene in such a way that Johnnie’s face is exposed at a maximum luma value of 60% (using a waveform monitor). This gives a base exposure of F4 at 1/25s shutter at ISO 400 using C-LOG.

Then, we successively reduce the shutter value to 1/50s, 1/100s, 1/200s, 1/400s and 1/800s giving 5 stops of underexposure.

Latitude Test
Image credit: CineD

Our standard scene is arranged so that the shadow behind the Datacolor color checker is 5 stops below the luma value on Johnnie’s face.

So, let’s have a look at 3 stops of underexposure:

Underexposure Test
Image credit: CineD

For 3 stops of underexposure, pushed back to zero, the image is still usable, however, noise starts to kick in which can be removed by noise reduction (see the slide below).

Underexposure 3 stops under
Image credit: CineD

As can be seen above, the noise can be effectively removed by noise reduction (Using DaVinci Resolve 16.2.7).

At 4 stops of underexposure, pushed back, the limits are reached (see below slide):

Underexposure 4 stops under
Image credit: CineD

Horizontal stripes start to appear in the image, and the noise becomes excessive. However, it is finely dispersed, so noise reduction again can help a bit – you can get away with this image. Also, colors start to fade from the image and banding becomes visible – transitions from brighter parts of the image to darker areas show stepwise transitions – which are dithered by the noise.

Looking at the waveform plot in the section above, this behaviour was expected. The 60% luma value represents stop 3, the shadow area is 5 stops below that at stop 8. Now, underexposing 4 stops pushes the shadows to stop 12 – which shows basically no code value difference to stop 11 – hence banding has to occur.

Canon EOS R6 underexposure test
Image credit: CineD

And finally, just for reference, a 5 stops underexposed image, pushed back to zero. Noise reduction does not help at this point.

EOS R6 latitude test
Image credit: CineD

Summary

When the Canon EOS R5 (see our lab test here) and EOS R6 were announced a while back, I thought that the EOS R6 should be the better choice for video – boasting a lower resolution with a 20.1 mega large pixel sensor.

The opposite has happened in this case. The Canon EOS R6 has the highest rolling shutter and lowest dynamic range of all the full frame cameras we tested so far.

In the underexposure test, the Canon EOS R6 behaves as expected. 3 stops underexposure is possible, and with some noise reduction applied, 4 stops. This is not so bad, and can be attributed to the pleasing nature of the noise (a very fine grain), which helps to hide banding and looks quite good.

Last but not least, please allow me to remind everybody again that dynamic range and rolling shutter are just some of the pieces of the puzzle, when comparing cameras. Color science, usability, weather sealing, overheating and more can be more important to get the shot you need and the job done. All recent cameras, including the Canon EOS R6, have enough dynamic range to shoot beautiful images – and at the end, it is the person behind the camera who shoots the film and not the camera… ;-)

Have you worked with the Canon EOS R6 already? What are your experiences with the camera? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Shawn Kenessey
Shawn Kenessey
Member
7 days ago

I’m not surprised the R6 is worse than the R5 for video. After all the R5 costs more and has a newer sensor. It would be bad news for R5 customers if the R6 was beating it across the board don’t you think?

Max Kern
Max Kern
Member
9 days ago

Dear Gunther, thank you very much for another insightful review!

I wonder how the r6 is able to shoot 20fps with electronic shutter and still perform so bad in rolling shutter test. Aren’t those two performances related to each other?

As I highly appreciated your reviews, is there a reason why you limit your tests to rolling shutter, dynamic range and shadow recovery? I’m just curious because I would also be interested in highlight rolloff/recovery or how much detail a sensor can capture in different recording modes.

Max Kern
Max Kern
Guest
8 days ago
Reply to  Gunther Machu

Alright, makes sense, thank you!

Oh nice, that’s fantastic news! :)

Paul Corneille
Paul Corneille
Guest
November 12th, 2020

Why you test a photocamera on cineD???

Admin
November 12th, 2020
Reply to  Paul Corneille

Maybe because it can shoot high quality video? (I’m just guessing, no idea)…

Admin
November 12th, 2020
Reply to  Paul Corneille

Why do you consider it a “photo camera” if the manufacturer puts in video functionality? It’s 2020 for god’s sake, people work with system cameras all the time for photo and video, it’s not too much to ask to make the best camera they possibly can.

Member
November 12th, 2020
Reply to  Paul Corneille

Why you post silly questions on a sophisticated online forum???

Last edited 20 days ago by Konstantin Konstantinou
Michael Red
Michael Red
Guest
November 12th, 2020

There have been some comments on some videos about the colour of the r6 slightly mismatching that of the r5 and the higher cinema models even in C-log. Is this something you have observed?

Cliff Totten
Cliff Totten
Guest
November 11th, 2020

It’s funny….in my experience talking with people, its the Sony and Panasonic customers that always seem to care about dynamic range, shadow detail and highlight handling. The Canon people often tell me “What does all that mean and why should I care….i’m buying a Canon regardless!”

Some people just want to associate themselves with a brand or logo they like and that’s all that matters.

Josh Dahlberg
Josh Dahlberg
November 13th, 2020
Reply to  Cliff Totten

I buy Canon not for the brand name but because I care about skin tones and ease of use. DR isn’t everything. My experience with Sony cameras in particular (maze like menu structure, funky colour science) sends me back to Canon cameras which just work. That said, I’m skipping the R6 due to overheating… the DR is just fine for anyone who can properly expose and / or light a shot.

Last edited 19 days ago by Josh Dahlberg
Christopher Dobey
Member
November 11th, 2020

As always the very informative Lab Test series is much appreciated!

I asked in September why RED cameras didn’t get tested and the answer was time constraint. Since then, CineD has tested the A7S III, S5 and R6. Is there any timeline to when a RED may be tested?

Thank you!

Admin
November 11th, 2020

Hi Christopher.

We will soon get the RED Komodo and put it through its paces.

Thank you

Hugues Dagallier
Hugues Dagallier
Guest
November 12th, 2020
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

+1.
Thank you for this test and your work, but Red Komodo should be a priority.
Another thing is to actually test the benchmarks (ARRI Alexa LF, Sony Venice, Red Monstro) to actually have an idea how all these other cameras perform compared to the best of the best.

Rent them for one day and be done with it. Hell, I am pretty sure there would be owner here or on group who would be glad to lend them.

Having the same metholody testing you used is primordial.
These tests would be extremely useful and would become extremely popular.

Thank you for your work.

BOUNCE
Member
November 13th, 2020

This is very true, and I’m certain this post echos the sentient of many, if not most of your readers. Having baseline data from what is considered the industry’s best is crucial to adding validity and context to these test.

In addition to the missing baseline data from Arri, another popular brand is also woefully absent of any data-points; Namely, Red is not represented in any of these test.

@Johnnie Behiri I’m certain you would agree both of these oversights need to be addressed?

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