canon r6 wedding videography

What Canon R Series Camera is Right for You?

One of the most common questions on photography forums and facebook pages is which Canon R series camera to buy, and for good reason. All four cameras are phenomenal pieces of equipment with massive price differences, so the choice has an impact not only on the gear you get but on your wallet as well.

Now that we’ve owned the entire line of R series cameras for several months (and after rewriting some version of this about a hundred times on forums), I decided it was time to put my advice on the right R series camera to buy into a blog.

Is the Canon R Series Right for Me?

The most important consideration here is something that really has very little to do with the details of the cameras themselves. You have to think about the kind of lenses you’re going to be investing in. If you’re just starting out, there are two very good reasons to start in the R series – they’re full frame and they’re mirrorless. The former is important because eventually you’ll want to upgrade to a full frame camera and it will be an expensive transition if you only have crop sensor lenses. 

The latter is important because all of Canon’s R&D money is going into their mirrorless lenses. There are still plenty of high quality EF lenses on the market, but they will become increasingly outdated. If you’re going to start building up an investment in a new system, you should be thinking about its future and the RF glass is only going to get better. Remember that high quality glass matters more than the camera body and glass is a much longer term investment, so positioning yourself within a system that you can stick to is essential.

The people that might not want to think about moving into the R series are primarily Sony or Nikon users that are already heavily invested in their systems. Ultimately Nikon, Sony, and Canon mirrorless cameras are all phenomenal and each system has their own advantages and disadvantages. For most people, switching systems, selling your glass and investing in an entirely new environment probably isn’t worth the cost. But if you’re just making your first transition into the mirrorless market, you can’t beat Canon’s glass.

Which R Series Camera Should I Choose?

So you’ve decided that the R series is right for you. Which of the four cameras do you choose? Ultimately the decision will be determined by a mix of your budget and what kind of photography or videography you do. I think it makes sense to split the decision into two stages. The first is to choose between the two classes of cameras, the first containing the RP and R and the second containing the R6 and the R5. The second is to choose within the class.

The reason this makes sense is that the R6 and R5 really are in an entirely different class than the RP and the R. You’ll notice an increase in image quality between the RP and the R, but the move from the R to the R6 is just astounding. The R has essentially the same sensor as the Canon 5D Mark IV, which means you’re getting the image quality of one of the best renowned DSLRs with the features of a mirrorless camera. With the R6 and R5 you’re getting a truly revolutionary system with gorgeous color depth, phenomenal low light performance, in body image stabilization, huge dynamic range, among many other cutting edge developments.

So who are these classes for? The RP and the R were clearly designed by canon to be enthusiast level cameras. The main indicator of this is the lack of the second SD card slot. That doesn’t mean you can’t produce professional quality images with these cameras, though, and depending on what you shoot the R may be enough. You still get beautiful images off of both cameras and if you’re not shooting events like weddings where image security is essential, the lack of the second card slot might not matter as much to you.

That said, these cameras are really for the people without the budget for the R6 and the R5. If you’re just getting started or want a good mirrorless camera without the high budget, these are good choices. In fact, if you’re just starting out and don’t have a good set of lenses, I would recommend getting the RP or the R with an L series lens. Upgrading your glass will do more for the quality of your images than upgrading the camera body.

The R6 and the R5 are built to be truly revolutionary professional level cameras. But they do come with a high price tag that may not be worthwhile for everyone. Moving into this class of systems is definitely worthwhile, but don’t sacrifice the quality of glass you can get just to get the R6. You’re going to do better with a good L series lens on an R than you will with a cheap lens on the R6.

Should I Get the RP or the R?

If you’ve decided that you just don’t have the budget for the R6 right now (which is perfectly fine! No shame in that at all and you’re still looking at very high quality cameras), the next choice is to decide between the RP and the R. To start out, if you do any video work, the choice is easy and you should get the R. Beyond having a lot more options for video settings, the R can shoot in CLOG, which will preserve a greater level of dynamic range and color depth. Both cameras have a pretty substantial crop when shooting in 4k, which is annoying at best, but the R will still give you much better quality than the RP. In fact, the R may be the sweet spot for vloggers and youtubers who don’t have the budget for or who just don’t need a camera like the R5 but still need to shoot high quality video.

If you only shoot stills, the R is still a much better camera. It has a higher resolution sensor, and you will notice the difference especially if you do much cropping in post. It also has noticeably better dynamic range and color depth. If you can stretch the budget to the R, it’s definitely worthwhile. And I’d recommend shopping used – you can get a good quality used R for around $1,500. But if you really can’t stretch the budget, the RP is still a great camera and an easy camera to start out on for beginners.

Should I Get the R6 or the R5?

First of all, no matter which of these cameras you get, you’re going to be blown away. But the decision between these two is important, particularly because there’s a substantial price difference. And it’s important to recognize that the price difference is larger than it initially appears because the R5 uses CFExpress cards. These are what allows it to shoot in 8k raw, but they’re also wildly expensive. Make sure to price out the memory cards you’ll need and factor that into your budget.

So who is each camera right for? 

If you shoot video, there’s no question that the R5 blows the R6 out of the water. It can shoot in 8k raw, 4k at 120p, and CLOG3. It also has more options like custom video modes, which is a major firmware limitation built into the R6. Additionally, if you do any hybrid photo/video work (like we do for weddings), the R6 is much harder to use. The reason is that the only way to use the record button on top while in a photo mode is in auto exposure mode, which means you have no control over your camera settings. The workaround is to make C3 mode on your dial into your manual mode so you can easily switch between that and manual video mode (otherwise M is on the opposite side of the dial from video), but even then the transition is clunky. With the R5, the record button is linked to C3 video, meaning you can set that up as a manual video mode.

All that said, the R6 still shoots gorgeous video and with the latest firmware update can shoot in CLOG3. It’s still limited to 4k 60fps as its highest quality video mode, but that’s more than enough for many video shooters. Given the massive price difference, it’s certainly worthwhile thinking about whether you need all of the high quality video settings of the R5. But if you do hybrid work, I don’t think there’s much of a question that the R5 is a necessity.

If you only take photos, the decision is harder. To start out, there is an image quality difference between the R6 and the R5. When you upgrade to the R5, you get a bit more color depth, which is noticeable in editing if you’re comparing images side by side. But you probably will never notice if you’re not editing similar images right next to each other. I think that the extra megapixels on the R5 do make images seem a tad bit sharper, but that’s again something that you’re probably not going to notice unless you’re comparing images side by side. It’s nice to be able to crop a lot on the R5 and does help you not miss shots in fast moving environments because you know you can crop later in post. But the size of images coming off the R6 are plenty large to blow up the images as large as the vast majority of photographers will ever need to. I have noticed little to no difference in low light performance. Ultimately these are fairly minor differences and for most photographers the R6 will be more than enough.

So here’s my recommendation for photographers: if budget really isn’t a concern, get the R5. It’s overall the better camera and you’ll get the best image quality that Canon can offer. But if you’re at all budget constrained, I think that for most photographers it will make more sense to get the R6 and save the money that makes up the cost difference to invest in some of the phenomenal RF series glass that Canon has released. That’s going to make a far greater difference in image quality than the marginal differences between the R6 and the R5.


If you shoot video, there’s no question that the R5 blows everything else here out of the water and for most video shooters, it will be the right choice. If you shoot hybrid photo and video, the R5 is also the most functional.

If you only shoot stills, the RP and the R are good options if you’re on a tight budget. If you’re looking for a professional level camera, the R6 will make the most sense for most photographers and you can use the substantial price savings to invest in the incredible RF series glass that Canon has been coming out with. If budget isn’t a concern at all, then get the R5.