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The New Canon EOS R6 Firmware Is Incredibly Impressive

The Canon EOS R6 won my respect with an impressive autofocus system that excels even with fast subjects and tricky lighting. But, that system just got an upgrade. Earlier this month, Canon released firmware 1.5 for the EOS R6, which adds vehicle detection, among other improvements. I downloaded the latest Canon R6 firmware to see how the new features hold up.

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Firmware Updates to the Canon EOS R6

According to the Canon Update page, Firmware Version 1.5.0 incorporates the following enhancements and fixes:

1. Improves head detection performance to support helmets or goggles in winter sports.
2. Adds [Vehicles] selection to [Subject to detect] selection in the [AF] tab to support the detection of automobiles and motorcycles in motorsports. Adds [Spot detection] when [Vehicles] is selected as the helmet of the driver or rider*.
*Detection may not be possible for ordinary passenger cars or bicycles, or for motorcyclists performing stunts or kicking up dirt and dust.
3. Improves detection performance for eye detection when:
-there are shadows on the face.
-hair is hanging over the eyes.
4. Adds support for torso detection of a person. If the eyes, face or head are hidden or cannot be detected, a person’s torso will be detected and tracked continuously.
5. Adds the ability to import manual white balance (MWB) data from the Quick Control screen when capturing still images.
6. Eliminates the center press operation of the multi-controller to prevent accidentally transferring images during FTP transfer.
7. Adds the ability, when using EOS Utility for remote shooting with two cards inserted, to set the recording method and to select which card to be recorded to.
8. Adds [Suppress lower frame rate] to [Smooth] in [Disp. performance], enabling the shooting screen to be displayed with less drop frame rate even in dark locations.
9. Changes the default value of [FTP server] → [Passive mode] to [Enable].
10. Improves operation stability during FTP transfer.
11. Optimizes controls of In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) when using specific EF lenses not equipped with the image stabilization function.
12. Fixes an issue, in which noise occurs along the edges of bright subjects when using Canon Log for movie recording.

Firmware Version 1.5.0 is for cameras with firmware up to Version 1.4.0. If the camera’s firmware is already Version 1.5.0, it is not necessary to update the firmware.

Testing the New Canon EOS R6

First off, with this new firmware update, you’re getting almost Canon EOS R3 level-performance at a much cheaper price point. Our full review’s findings explain this more. And you can check out our Canon EOS R3 review as well.

The list of new features in the update is 12 items long, with the last seven of those focusing on tweaking the user experience and fixing bugs. For example, Canon says that FTP transfer stability has improved and IBIS controls have improved with some EF lenses that do not have stabilization built-in.

The brunt of the new features, however, goes to Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus system. For faces, Canon says that eye detection has improved when the eyes are in shadow or partially obscured by hair. And if the face isn’t even in the frame, the autofocus system will now lock on to the torso instead. Face detection also gets a boost for people wearing helmets and goggles.

Arguably the biggest feature in the update is the addition of vehicles to the subject detection system. Vehicle detection is programmed for things like race cars and motorbikes, so the feature will work better than with something like a passenger van (though it can still work on those vehicles too). It’s turned on in the menu and available in the tracking AF area mode. A spot detection option in the menu tells the camera to focus on the driver rather than the vehicle itself.

Original JPEG

I downloaded the latest firmware, then tested the new features on an ATV rider. We’ve updated our review with the new experiences. Here’s what we added to our full Canon EOS R6 review:

With firmware update 1.5, Canon has added vehicles to the subjects that the R6 is capable of detecting. After updating the firmware, this option is listed in the AF menu. The camera can also enable spot detection in this menu, which tells the camera to focus on the driver rather than the car. Canon says this feature is designed to work on motorsports such as race cars and dirt bikes more than a minivan going down the road (though it can work in that instance sometimes). The same firmware update also improves human AF when the subject is wearing a helmet. Similarly, eye detection gets a boost when partially blocked by hair.

To test both the vehicle detection and the improvements to people wearing helmets, I photographed an ATV rider wearing a full-coverage helmet with a face shield. The rider was driving at full speed heading directly towards the camera (or as close to heading straight as the camera as possible while still being safe). When the rider was too far away and the face didn’t take up enough of the frame, the R6 easily found the ATV and locked on. Then, it quickly jumped up to the face and stayed locked there. In fact, I didn’t get a single soft shot until the ATV came too close for the 70-200mm f4 lens. It even locked on when the helmet was at the edge of the frame and half cut off.

The vehicle detection and ability to still detect humans in a full helmet was impressive, even with the performance of the new R3 fresh on my mind. I much prefer the R3’s ability to detect and track subjects from any AF area mode. That makes it easy to move the autofocus point around when you switch subjects or if there’s more than one subject to detect. The R3 can also switch the type of subject to detect in the quick menu. The R6, unfortunately, requires digging into the full menu. The feature is located in the first AF menu under “subject to detect.” The spot detection is turned on and off by hitting the info button. But, while the user interface isn’t quite as good as the R3, R6 users will be very pleased with the performance of the latest Canon R6 firmware update.

The latest firmware is available for download directly from Canon.

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