Although I have not yet held the R8 in my hands, I feel it is a camera I am very familiar with already. On the outside, it has the same design as the Canon RP, a model I bought and reviewed a few years ago. On the inside, it shares many important things with the Canon R6 II that I recently finished testing, and whose first review is already online (see the list of links further down).
The R8 is positioned as an entry level camera, but it has some of the best technology Canon has to offer today, which makes it a very competitive product. I can’t share with you complete real-world feedback about the new camera, but I can certainly do more than just compare the main specifications.
In this article, I talk about the most important differences between the R8 and the original R6, another Canon model I know extremely well, and that I still own at the time of writing this piece. The R6 remains on the market and can be found for a good price second-hand, putting it close to the R8. I hope this post can help you to make a decision. And don’t hesitate to leave a comment at the end if you have any questions!
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1. Image Quality
Both cameras sport a full frame sensor with a low pass filter. The R6 has 20.1 megapixels, whereas the R8 has a higher pixel count at 24.2MP.
The ISO range is the same: 100 to 102,400 ISO, which goes down to 50 and up to 204,800 ISO with the extended values.
The image processor is also the same on both cameras: the Digic X.
I’ve tested and compared these two sensors, and overall the image quality between the R6 and R8 should be very similar, with the extra 4MP of the new model being the main talking point.
You can expect the R8 to preserve details a bit better with a strong shadow recovery using the RAW file, as well as slightly smoother noise at high ISOs, but we’re talking about very small differences. Below you can see a few tests from my R6 vs R6 II full comparison.
2. Movie Capabilities
The R6 and R8 can record 4K video up to 60p by oversampling, which means they use all the pixels available on the 16:9 portion of the sensor.
The main difference is that the R6 applies a small crop of 1.07x, and that means it oversamples from approximately 5K. The R8 doesn’t produce any crop, and works with a resolution of 6K that is then downsampled to 4K.
In real world use, don’t expect much disparity between the results: both cameras should deliver the same amount of sharpness and overall quality at low ISOs.
In Full HD, the R8 can record up to 180fps with the HFR mode (High Frame Rate), whereas the R6 stops at 120fps. Note that the HFR function doesn’t record audio, and delivers the slow motion effect in camera. For example, with the R8 you can get 6x slow motion on a 30p clip, versus 4x on the R6.
If you want to record more colour information and grade your footage in post, you can do so by choosing the HDR PQ or Canon Log3 profiles. These work in 10-bit 4:2:2 and can be saved internally on the SD card. The R6 has an additional profile, C.Log, which starts from ISO 400 instead of 800, but has less dynamic range in comparison to C.Log3.
The performance should be pretty close for low light shooting as well, at least if I base this on my R6 vs R6 II findings. Keep in mind that the normal ISO range is 100 to 25,600 ISO, so two stops lower than the photo mode. You can still raise the value up to 204,800, but the amount of noise is very high.
If the R8 performs like the R6 II, then it should also produce less distortion (rolling shutter) when moving with the camera.
Finally, let’s talk overheating. The R6 has never been a great performer on this front, despite a few firmware updates. On average, it struggles to record after 45 minutes, with the camera shutting down and then allowing you to record another 5 or 10 minutes before stopping again. (Based on 21˚C room temperature).
I can’t really comment on the R8 yet. Canon has improved the heat management of its recent cameras after receiving serious criticism, but the R8 is smaller than the R6. Canon says it can record up to two hours without interruption in 4K 30p, but there is a 30 minute / clip limitation at 50/60p.
By the way, the R6 has the 30min/clip limit whatever the frame rate you select.
Here is a summary of all the main specs.
4K 30 / 60p
Full HD (HFR)
30min / clip
No limit (4K 30p)
30 min / clip (4K 60p)
3. Image Stabilisation
Here we have one of the major differences between these two products.
The R6 features in-body 5-axis stabilisation, with a maximum compensation of 8 stops, although that can decrease to 7, or even 6.5 stops depending on the lens used.
Most Canon RF lenses have optical stabilisation, which is combined with the 5 axes on the sensor to improve the performance. I’ve been very impressed with the R6 since it came out (Canon’s first 5-axis IBIS camera). I can take images hand-held with a shutter speed of two seconds, as in the example shown below.
The R8 doesn’t have any stabilisation mechanism on the sensor, so you’ll have to rely on lenses with IS technology.
For video, you can add Digital IS (electronic stabilisation). On the R6, it works with the IBIS and the OS of the lens, whereas on the R8 it works with lens stabilisation only. Keep in mind the sensor gets cropped as a result.
The R6 delivers good performance for video, if you record a static shot. If you walk with the camera, the footage won’t be perfect but it looks much better than some of Canon’s competitors in my opinion. If you use a wide-angle lens, you will notice some warp distortions in the corner however. Although I don’t expect the R8 to deliver the same performance for video given the lack of in-body stabilisation, the warp distortion should be less of a concern.
It goes without saying that for professional results, you’ll want to mount either camera on a quality gimbal stabiliser.
The two cameras have some of Canon’s best autofocus technolgy, starting with the Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system, as well as advanced software to detect multiple types of subjects.
The R8 may sit a category below, but it is more recent and, as such, inherits the latest version of the software and algorithm, which is exactly what you’ll find on the more expensive R6 II.
This means the R8 has a better understanding of human subjects, and can detect more species of animals and more types of vehicles. It also has an Auto setting, so you don’t have to specify the type of subject manually.
I expect these two cameras to deliver similar results for portraits and people detection in good light conditions, but the R8 should give you a better keeper rate in low light, not because it has more sensitivity (-6.5EV at f/1.2 for both), but because the improved software has more of an impact when the subject is less visible.
I expect the R8 to do very well for birds in flight too. The R6 has always delivered an excellent keeper rate of 93%, and the R8 should be on the same level.
5. Shutter and Continuous Shooting
The R6 has a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000s, no matter which shutter mode you select.
The R8 is slower with the mechanical shutter (1/4,000s) but faster with the electronic shutter (1/16,000s).
Now, when I say mechanical shutter for the R8, really I should write electronic-first curtain shutter (EFCS), because the new camera doesn’t a full mechanical movement (1 rear curtain, but no front curtain).
In 95% of cases, this should be of no concern. However, take note that if you capture a photo with a large aperture and a fast shutter speed, the bokeh could be affected and less pleasant to look at. In many instances, you’ll need to pixel peep to see a difference, but if you love portraits with lots of shallow depth of field and an attractive bokeh, keep this in mind.
Next, let’s talk about the drive speed. The R6 can work up to 12fps with the mechanical shutter, and 20fps with the electronic shutter.
The R8 is slower with the EFCS, only 6fps, but faster with the electronic shutter with a superb 40fps burst. Also note that you can select other speeds such as 20fps and 5fps when using the e-shutter. On the R6, it’s always 20fps, no matter which continuous shooting setting you select.
I expect the R8 to have less rolling shutter when using the electronic shutter, just like the R6 II. This should be especially valid when panning quickly. See the test I made with the R6 II.
Finally, when it comes to buffer I have no hesitation in saying the R6 delivers better performance. It can shoot at 20fps for 13 seconds (260 RAW files) before slowing down. With JPGs, it can go on for more than 30 seconds.
The R8 official data shows the camera is much more limited, which is partially understandable given the higher megapixel count and faster drive speed. It should do 56 RAW (not even 2 seconds) or 120 JPGs. At 6fps thankfully, the performance is much better and the camera shouldn’t slow down.
6. Extra Features
The R8 gets most of the latest features Canon has added to other cameras in recent years. Here is a list of the most interesting ones.
- Breathing Compensation: reduces the change in angle of view when focusing from the minimum to the maximum distance. Only valid for select RF lenses.
- Dual Pixel RAW: make small adjustments to the focus point and the bokeh in post (requites the Canon Digital Photo Professional desktop app)
- Focus Stacking: both cameras have focus bracketing, but the R8 can also create a stacked image in-camera. My experience with the R7 and R6 II tells me it works quite well if you’re careful in selecting the right focus increment.
- Plug-and-play webcam: use the R8 as a webcam without additional software or plugins, just the USB cable. It works in Full HD 30p. Webcam use is possible with the R6, but you need to install the EOS Webcam Utility.
- High-Frequency Anti-flicker: eliminates banding caused by LED lights working between 50Hz and 2011 Hz.
- Detection only for Subject Detect. AF: you can stop the R8 from focusing on the background when your subject leaves the frame (works in video mode).
As for the things they have in common, you’ll find 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, time-lapse mode, and exposure bracketing among other things.
7. Design and Functionality
The R6 is larger and heavier, but that also translates into a taller grip and more advanced weather sealing. The R8 is very similar to the EOS RP that I used for some time. It has good ergonomics and a decent grip, but certainly lacks a number of features advanced or professional photographers will seek.
- R6: 138.4 × 97.5 × 88.4mm, 680g
- R8: 132.5 x 86.1 x 70mm, 461g
The R6 has additional controls such as the AF Joystick and a three-way dial system (two on top, one on the rear) to control your exposure settings.
On the R8, you can move the AF area with the 4-way pad on the rear, or use the touch screen (valid also when using the viewfinder, an option available on the R6 too).
One nice addition on the R8 you won’t find on the older camera is the photo/movie switch. This frees up the main shooting dial, that can be used to select a specific shooting mode, or the Custom modes, for stills and video.
As for the physical connectors, the two cameras are similar. They both have:
- mic input
- headphone output
- remote input
- Micro HDMI output
- USB Type C (10gbps)
The R8 also features the new multi-function shoe that can work with digital audio (up to 4 channels) when using compatible microphones.
The R6 has a very good viewfinder with enough resolution, clarity and magnification to be used comfortably. The eyepoint is long enough to maintain a good experience when wearing glasses.
The R8 viewfinder is not up to the same standard: it is smaller, has less resolution and less magnification, but reaches the same frame rate of 120Hz. Here are all the specs.
Note that both cameras use the same multi-angle touch LCD with 1.62M dots.
9. Memory Cards and Battery Life
The R6 has two SD card slots (both UHS-II) with the dedicated compartment found near the grip, on the side of the camera.
The R8 has only one slot (SD UHS-II), and the card has to be inserted into the battery compartment, underneath the camera.
The R6 uses a larger and more powerful battery, the LP-E6 series, whereas the R8 comes with the smaller LP-E17.
The official CIPA rating for battery life suggest that the R6 is more capable, with 510 frames when using the LCD, and 360 frames when using the EVF.
The R8 has a lower performance, with 370 photos (EVF) and 220 pictures (LCD).
As always, these numbers are more pessimistic than what you can achieve in real world use.
You can charge or power the two cameras with a high current power bank, compatible with power delivery. Note that when the cameras are turned on, the battery won’t charge.
Finally, you can buy the optional BG-R10 battery grip for the R6 if you want to extend the battery life further (and improve the ergonomics for vertical shooting). This option is not available for the R8.
The R6 is more expensive to buy brand new, with retail costs of $2300, £1900 or €2500.
The R8 is available for $1500, £1700 or €1800. These prices are for the body only.
If we look at the second-hand market, the R6 can be found for around $1700 £1600 €1800, which puts it closer to the R8.
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Conclusion and Final Thoughts
I’m aware I haven’t compared these two cameras directly side-by-side, and that building my claims based on the performance of a third model (the R6 II) can be a bit of a gamble, no matter how close the specifications are. But, based on what Canon said, as well as early reviews of the R8, I’m confident that what I’ve written is enough to give you a good preview of what these two cameras are capable of, and how they differ.
The R6 offers better ergonomics and a more professional body with things like an AF joystick, a larger viewfinder and two card slots. Despite being three years old now, firmware updates have kept it competitive and aspects that have been excellent since the beginning, like image quality and autofocus performance, are still top in class today. You also get excellent in-body stabilisation, a good drive speed and superb buffer capabilities.
If there is one area I would struggle to recommend the R6, it is video, not because of the quality (it’s really good), but because the overheating problem can severely impact your work if you’re not careful. You certainly don’t want it as your A camera.
The R8 comes as a fresh package, taken from one of the best full frame mirrorless cameras I’ve tested recently, the R6 mark II, which means it offers state of the art autofocus performance, an excellent sensor, and what should be great video capabilities with fewer overheating issues. The body design is not pro level however, and that is the compromise you get for the lower price, plus the absence of in-body stabilisation.
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