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Hitting new heights with the Canon EOS R6 Mark II

Adventure sports photographer and filmmaker Teddy Morellec puts the high-performance hybrid through a tough test on a fast-paced action shoot in the French Alps.

Hitting new heights with the Canon EOS R6 Mark II

A mountain biker surrounded by red and blue light trails performs a jump against a dark sky. A Canon EOS R6 Mark II is on a tripod at the side of the dirt track.

Capable of shooting RAW files with full AF tracking at 40fps, the Canon EOS R6 Mark II is the fastest EOS camera to date with full AF and AE. It is also masterful when it comes to movies, with 4K 60p video recorded across the full width of the sensor and oversampled from 6K for exceptional quality.

Although based in Paris, Teddy Morellec spends half of the year living in the French Alps. Between shooting assignments for clients that include Red Bull – a brand he has been working with since 2010 – you can find him biking, skiing or learning to paraglide in the mountains.

Teddy's passion for high-speed and high-altitude action meant the high-performance hero of the EOS R System range, the Canon EOS R6 Mark II, was the ideal companion on a four-day road trip around Lake Montriond, enabling him to capture thrilling views of speed flyers Ugo Gerola and Gaëtan Porté and mountain biker Louise-Anna Ferguson.

Being familiar with the location and the capabilities of the athletes meant that Teddy could get up and running quickly. He also felt instantly at home with the EOS R6 Mark II, a camera that has much in common with the EOS R5 and EOS R3 he uses daily.

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Sports photographer Teddy Morellec crouches by the side of a lake with a Canon EOS R6 Mark II to photograph a speed flyer skimming the water's surface.

The additional autofocus accuracy and subject tracking delivered by the upgraded Dual Pixel CMOS AF II in the Canon EOS R6 Mark II proved invaluable for capturing a sport such as speed flying, which combines elements of paragliding and parachuting.

Blazing burst rate: tracking every move

The shoot got off to a challenging start, as Teddy wanted to capture the speed flyers skimming across the surface of the lake. The plan was for Ugo and Gaëtan to launch themselves from a cliff and quickly descend the mountain before emerging from the tree line near the lake. They would be visible to Teddy for just a few seconds, and as they were following the wind, there was no guarantee they would be on the same path each time.

A team of spotters helped to work out where the speed flyers were coming from, so Teddy could at least aim his Canon EOS R6 Mark II in the right area. The camera's upgraded Dual Pixel CMOS AF II autofocus reacted instantly, picking up the wing of the speed flyer and tracking it all the way through the sequence.

An image, taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II, of a speed flyer splash landing in a lake, their reflection visible on the surface of the water.

"When the speed flyers arrived, we were in a very large valley," says Teddy. "They were coming in very close to us, so I just kept the shutter button pressed and the AF tracked them through the whole sequence." Taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II with a Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM lens at 33mm, 1/4000 sec, f/7.1 and ISO640. © Teddy Morellec

"We didn't think we were going to get any to begin with, but I loved the pictures we got," enthuses Teddy. "When we arrived early at the location, the weather was tricky. It was cloudy, occasionally raining, and a bit windy at the landing site, which was not good for the pilots. After a few failed attempts, the clouds finally parted and we got the shot.

"I really like the mood that we captured. There were still some clouds above the trees, but the sun was highlighting the speed flyer nicely. The lake was also very calm, so there was an almost perfect reflection on the surface. Everything just came together at that moment when the pilot touched the water and created the splash. Being able to shoot the sequence at 40fps was perfect, because it gave me more choice for picking the best moment later."

Sports photographer Teddy Morellec crouches on the forest floor, pointing his Canon EOS R6 Mark II up towards a mountain biker who has just launched themselves off a ramp.

"The Eye AF works so well, whether it's a portrait or an athlete in motion," says Teddy. "I use it a lot of the time so that I can just concentrate on the framing and composition, and I trust the focus to be on the eyes. Even with my favourite lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, when I open it to f/1.2 it's important to have the focus perfect, and it works."

Shot from below, an image taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II of a mountain biker silhouetted against a clear blue sky as they leap from a jump surrounded by trees.

Teddy used Flexible Zone AF to restrict the active autofocus area and enabled RAW burst with pre-capture to ensure he captured Louise-Anna in the perfect position in the frame. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens at 11mm, 1/2000 sec, f/5.6 and ISO500. © Teddy Morellec

Pre-shooting: a unique advantage

In addition to 40fps shooting, the Canon EOS R6 Mark II has a 30fps RAW burst mode with pre-shooting. When this is enabled, the camera starts buffering images when the shutter button is half-pressed, then saves the contents of the buffer – up to half a second's worth of images – when the shutter button is fully pressed. It's the perfect option for shooting unpredictable subjects and in situations where you can't see the subject until the last moment.

Teddy took advantage of this function when photographing Louise-Anna Ferguson in a bike park. To get a dynamic shot of her mid-jump, Teddy set up at ground level underneath a wooden ramp. While he could hear the bike approaching the ramp, he was unable to see Louse-Anna until she entered the frame.

"She was riding quite fast, and I was shooting blind, so it was super helpful to have the pre-capture," he says. "Even if I could potentially have made the shot without this function, it gave me the confidence that even if I didn't press the shutter button at the right moment, I could go back half a second."

Having the pre-capture function available along with the enhanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF II subject detection and tracking gave Teddy more flexibility to frame the shot. He wanted to freeze Louise-Anna in the middle of a clearing between the trees above him, something which the camera's new Flexible Zone AF made even easier.

This function enables the size and shape of the Zone AF frame to be customised. It allowed Teddy to create an autofocus zone that matched the area that Louise-Anna would be jumping into and ensured that the camera wouldn't lock onto other parts of the scene. The EOS R6 Mark II detected and tracked Louise-Anna's head, even though she was wearing a helmet and mask.

Filming with the EOS R6 Mark II: easily switch modes

Video is an increasingly important aspect of Teddy's work, and the ability to effortlessly switch between stills and video is vital. In movie mode, the EOS R6 Mark II uses the full width of the camera sensor, so you don't have to reframe shots when moving from stills, and there's a new photo/video selector on the left of the body that makes it quick to swap between modes.

"On my EOS R5, the on/off button is in that location, so initially I was changing the mode when I thought I was switching off the camera," says Teddy. "But once I was used to it, it was much easier to move from photo to video and back again.

"There were some images I had in mind which I knew I needed to have in stills, but I decided to take a few video clips as well. So, I was photographing portraits of the athletes, then I switched to video mode and I could use the same framing and exposure. With other scenes, I know I had to shoot video first because they would work better as moving images, such as the speed flyers running to take off. But after that, I could quickly take the opportunity to shoot some pictures."

The front and back of a Canon EOS R6 Mark II against a dark background.

Canon EOS R6 Mark II: features not to miss

From a record-breaking 40fps burst mode to 6K RAW filming at 60p, the EOS R6 Mark II sets new standards in the EOS R System lineup.

Hear more of the conversation in this episode of Canon's Shutter Stories podcast:

Sports photographer Teddy Morellec stands in front of tree-covered mountains filming with a Canon EOS R6 Mark II.

The IBIS in the EOS R6 Mark II made it easier for Teddy to get smooth and stable B-roll video footage. "I'd be walking along and spot cows in the grass with a mountain backdrop. It's not the sort of scene where you're going to set up a tripod, you just take the camera that's still in your hand, press record and get the shot."

The Canon EOS R6 Mark II features the same high-performance In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) as the EOS R6, bringing additional smoothness to video footage as well as stills. "I used to have a DSLR with no IBIS and I would often have to add stabilisation in post-production," explains Teddy. "But now, with the EOS R System cameras, you can do so many things handheld. Even panning with the Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM or the RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM, you can just start recording and the video isn't shaky."

IBIS enabled Teddy to grab footage on the fly with the EOS R6 Mark II – sometimes literally. When he was on a tandem flight with the speed flyers, he had to travel light and there was no opportunity to carry a gimbal. Having IBIS allowed him to record smooth clips with the camera in his hands.

"If I could have had a camera like the EOS R6 Mark II when I was starting out, it would have changed my workflow so much," he says. "With the IBIS, 4K 60p video, the crazy-good autofocus and 40fps burst speed, I know that I could do almost everything with this one camera."

Írta: Marcus Hawkins


Teddy Morellec's kitbag

The key kit action pros use to shoot their photos and videos

A top-down shot of a Canon EOS R6 Mark II on a wooden surface, surrounded by Canon lenses, sunglasses, a map, a set of keys and a water bottle.

Camera

Canon EOS R6 Mark II

A high-speed EOS R System camera equipped with an upgraded DIGIC X processor and a 24.2MP full-frame sensor with super-fast data readout. "It's a really nice camera to hold," Teddy says. "The build quality is great and it's lightweight. The 24.2MP resolution is enough for everything too, and it's what I have on my EOS R3. As for the speed, I didn't even know 40fps was possible – I used to be happy with seven!"

Lenses

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

Teddy used this lens while shooting in the bike park. It's a versatile, compact L-Series zoom that includes a 5-stop Image Stabilizer and dual Nano USM motors for responsive continuous focusing for both video and stills.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM

A high-quality all-purpose zoom lens that covers a useful range of focal lengths for video. "I normally use the RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM," explains Teddy, "but I went for the RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM, as it would be able to cover a larger range for the lake pictures."

Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM

A fast ultra-wide zoom that incorporates three Aspherical and two UD elements for biting sharpness, as well as a 5-stop Image Stabilizer. "If I want to be fast and efficient on a job, I take three zoom lenses: the RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM, RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, and RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM. You can cover almost everything with those."

Accessories

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