Two weeks back I purchased the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II, as soon as it got released in India. Since many were insisting me to write a review, as they had appreciated my previous reviews of various Canon cameras, I had to compile this review within the short time constraint I had. A bout of viral fever pushed this blog as well as testing to one extra week.
Readers would do well to remember that this is a not an in depth technical analysis, but rather a compact hands-on review, as I’ve only had so much time on my hands between treating the masses and testing my latest acquisition. My test methodology is to use 6D Mark II just as use my regular camera and see where new camera differs. I feel this is a better method than what most reviewers do, by using a standardized laboratory type review. My methodology will produce less technical jargon and more practical insights. I have provided few review links for you to go through at the end of the review if you want technical analysis. I have taken several inputs from these reviews, but conclusion I have drawn is my own.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a full frame DSLR in a light, compact, nicely-featured body with a very modest price tag. Positioned below the 5D series, the 6D series as a step-up from an APS-C model. It is an entry-level DSLR for those who know the light-capturing value of a full frame sensor’s significantly larger surface area. The original 6D brought affordability to full frame cameras. While 6D series are not the most-advanced and powerful full frame models available, these cameras are very feature-rich, small and light weight with a highly attractive price and especially high image quality for that price.
As a replacement for the original Canon EOS 6D which came out nearly 5 years back, the Mark II comes with a very significant upgrade. In a nut shell it is almost a 5D Mark III fitted into a body taken from the excellent general-purpose EOS 80D.
Presented below, for your critical analysis, are some of the more notable features, exclusive to the device.
- New 26.2 MP CMOS imaging sensor featuring Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- 45-point AF system (all cross-type)
- ISO 40000 expandable, to 50 (L), 512600 (H1) and 102400 (H2)
- DIGIC 7 processor
- Intelligent viewfinder featuring 98% view
- First full frame model to feature Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD (1.04 million dots)
- 5 fps
- Flicker Mode adjusts shutter release timing to avoid flickering light issues
- Full HD 1080p 60p movies with 5 axis electronic image stabilization
- WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth & GPS
- Continuous shooting after 10 sec. self-timer (2 to 10 shots)
- Intervelometer with 4K Timelapse Movie Mode featuring 3840px UHD resolution
- Deeper grip design for better control
- Dust- & Water-resistant
- Only 685g
If you look closely at the camera, you’ll see that it’s not just another rehash of the EOS 6D. Quite a few features have changed and improved. It is, in my opinion, that much closer to EOS 80D than to original 6D.
The 6D Mark II now sports a much stronger construction with weather sealing from its predecessor. However, It looks like 80D and sensor feel much more like rehashed EOS 5D Mark III. The grip is now significantly larger and has a nice rubbery feel to it, making for a comfortable hold, with vastly improved ergonomics. It is still quite a bit smaller than 5D series and lighter. Those with big hands will find it small in their hand.
Control-wise the layout is almost exactly as the EOS 80D with one extra change, the addition of zoom button on the back. The camera also has a similar battery to 5D & 6D series of recent origin. The new The LP-E6N battery has a higher rating, at 1865 mAh, and lasts up to 1200 shots in the Canon EOS 6D Mark II. The lonely SD slot is once again, only UHS-I. Canon is behind in their adoption of the newer and better quality standards (UHS-II). Lacking second card slot is also quite a disappointment.
The Canon 6D Mark II is able to fire off shots at up to 6.5 frames per second. When you switch to live view, burst shooting slows to 4.5 fps, though if you switch to ‘focus priority’ in live view, you’ll be lucky to get 1-2 fps most of the time if you’re photographing a moving subject with Dual Pixel tracking. Flash sync speed is pathetic 1/180th sec. Top shutter speed also capped to 1/4000th sec.
With 1200 shots per charge, battery life shouldn’t be an issue, though, you get Canon’s less-than-ideal three-bar battery meter most often found on its lower-end offerings.
Autofocus through the viewfinder is adequate if nothing more. The 45-pt all-cross-type system is lifted directly from the EOS 80D, and the limited size of the AF spread in the viewfinder can be a constraint if you like placing your subjects off-centre. And following in the footsteps of the original 6D’s autofocus system, only the centre point is good in the dark, as it’s rated down to -3 EV; every single other point is rated to a rather disappointing -0.5 EV. It has 98% viewfinder visibility.
The above chart is from William J. Claff’s Photons to Photos website ( Check this link for original chart – http://www.photonstophotos.net/ ) which does excellent testing of dynamic range. Photographic Dynamic Range (PDR), like any dynamic range, is the difference between a high and a low measurement; highlight and shadow.
As you can see 6D, 6D Mark II & 5D Mark III all of them share the same characteristics, while 80D & 5D Mark IV sensors show a better PDR performance.
The World is abuzz with talks about a lower dynamic range of 6D Mark II. This was because Canon showed better quality sensors in 80D and 5D Mark IV which has a better dynamic range which allowed you to pull greater details from an under exposed area with the lesser amount of noise. 6D Mark II shows a lower contrast in the shadows at increasing ISOs and quite a bit of luminance noise. This is almost like Original 6D as well as 5D Mark III. If you compare with Latest Canon’s offering like 80D and 5D Mark IV, the results are vastly different. Both 80D and 5D Mark IV have vastly improved dynamic range, whereas 6D & 5D Mark III resemble 6D Mark II.
I love two great features imported from 80D. Fully articulating LCD and a touch-sensitive LCD. For me, these are two features which are first on a full frame camera which makes 6D Mark II versatile and useful. In macro photography, I always struggle
It has most of the video-centric features like mic and Dual Pixel CMOS AF but sorely lacks headphone jack to monitor audio. You do get an option to record 4K time lapse, but actual 4K video recording is missing restricting you to 1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 60 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC or lower settings.
Unfortunately, while you do get a bump in resolution, you get similar dynamic range at lower ISO values as you got on the original 6D five years ago. That means high contrast scenes like sunsets will look better even on Canon’s new APS-C sensors than they will with the 6D II. Low light performance is on par with original 6D. Here is a wonderful review by Alan Dyer (https://amazingsky.net/2017/08/09/testing-the-canon-6d-Mark-ii-for-nightscapes/ )which might interest Night owls who are deep into Astro photography.
So is it all that as it made to be. Definitely NO. Think about the pricing. For $1999 Canon is not going to give you everything that is in 5D Mark IV. It won’t make business sense even though we all like to have a bigger slice of pie from Canon.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II is lower end spectrum of the full frame camera line up. Nearly every objective specification of the 6D Mark II has been improved upon when compared to its predecessor, while the release price has remained the same. Just like the original 6D incorporate essential from 5DMark II, 6D Mark II got its components from 5D Mark III.
I want you to think for this price of 6D Mark II, is really giving you almost all the good features of 80D like articulating LCD, Touch, GPS and Wifi along with most of the video features dual pixel autofocus. On top of that, it has a sensor which is full frame and which is almost identical in performance ( including the dynamic range) of 5DMark III. It also has 27 focus points which can focus at f/8 aperture. All these make it a compelling buy.
Since most of the reviews don’t try to evaluate various scenarios a buyer goes through before deciding to buy 6D Mark II, I have compiled few of the scenarios taking help of the review done by DPReview (https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canon-eos-6d-Mark-ii-review/)
Instead of giving verdict whether 6D Mark II is a worthy camera or not, I will be explaining the camera from the buyer’s point of view under various scenarios below answering why should I buy Canon EOS 6D Mark II?
What if I own an EOS 6D?
Unless you have purchased 6D few weeks back, it would make sense upgrading to the Mark II if you have a budget to do so. While the image quality is almost similar to 6D for most day to day shooting, the Mark II is noticeably faster and offers a better user experience. Its AF system is much better. The fully articulating touch-sensitive LCD and Dual Pixel AF alone will be game-changers for some photographers. Dual Pixel AF offers some of the most accurate autofocus, face detection and subject tracking – for both stills and video. But to use it, you need to use Live view instead of viewfinder.
If you rarely use live view and you’re happy with the 6D’s AF system, you can skip upgrading. The increase in resolution from 20 to 26MP makes not a huge impact for most photography needs.
You might find that improvements like the revamped AF system (now with 27 points that focus down to F8) may be beneficial for low light long tele lens users, like those who want to do Sports and Wildlife.
What if I own 5D Mark III?
If you replace your 5D III with a 6D II you’ll get a faster, lighter camera with a (slightly) higher resolution sensor. The live view feature is very much usable, and amazingly accurate autofocus in both live view and video. Touch enabled articulating LCD is a pleasure to work with. Be aware though that if you shoot sports or action, or anything where a wide AF array is useful, you might find the 6D II’s smaller PDAF array coverage a bit limiting.
One area where the 6D II’s AF system exceeds that of the 5D III is when it comes to wildlife photography: the former offers 27 AF points that focus with lens + tele converter combinations offering maximum apertures of F8. In the case of 5D Mark III, only the centre point works down to F8.
The 6D Mark II adds built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, which most photographers really appreciate once they’ve used a camera that offers them.
But remember, 6D Mark II probably won’t represent a huge step up in terms of image quality, at least at low/medium ISO sensitivities. While the more modern 5D IV offers greater dynamic range, 6D Mark II’s dynamic range is exactly similar to that of the 5D Mark III.
But 5D III has earned a reputation for reliability over time. 6D Mark II is weather-sealed though, so you should be able to use the 6D II for travel and outdoor photography in moderately wet conditions.
If you’re itching to replace your 5D Mark III, if your budget permits, I would suggest you consider the 5D Mark IV. It’s more costly than the 6D II but offers nice extras like an AF positioning joystick, greater resolution and the option to shoot 4K video.
I own a 5D Mark IV – should I buy a 6D Mark II?
Oh, you already own a 5D Mark IV? Then stick with it. The only sensible reason that I can see to replace your 5D IV with a 6D Mark II would be if you really, really need that articulating rear LCD.
As a second body, on the other hand, the 6D Mark II really shines. It’s relatively lightweight, and more compact than the 5D IV, but offers excellent image quality for everyday photography. It also boasts a superb live view implementation, which makes it really useful for tripod-mounted shooting. Don’t expect the same dynamic range or absolute resolution as the Mark IV, or 4K video, but for most purposes, the 6D II will probably keep even the most demanding pixel-peeper happy.
If having a second, backup camera matters to you as in the case if you’re a wedding or events photographer, the 6D Mark II would make an excellent choice alongside a 5D Mark IV. If you are a sports or a wildlife photographer, and not extremely bothered about having full frame sensor, Canon 80D is a better choice as a second body. Almost all the features of 6D Mark II and few more extra video related ones exist in 80D which you can have for a cheaper price than 6D Mark II. For details look next scenario.
I own an 80D – should I upgrade to the 6D Mark II?
If you have a decent set of lenses that you’re happy with, the upgrade to full-frame might be more painful than you’d expect. Since any EF-S lenses physically not attach to the 6D Mark II, but replacing your favourite glass with full-frame equivalents will add a lot to the total cost of upgrading.
I personally believe 6D Mark II is basically an 80D fitted with full frame sensor taken from 5DMark III. Being full-frame, the 6D Mark II generally supposed to offer better image quality across most of its ISO’s. The sensor inside the 80D actually has a better dynamic range at low ISOs because of its more modern sensor technology. This you’ll only notice this difference in Raw as the in camera JPEG processed images of both looks alike.
Because of its larger sensor, the 6D Mark II will also allow you get shallower depth of field, which is useful for portraits, but again this will depend in part on your choice of lenses. And shallow depth of field on APS-C is perfectly achievable – a cheap EF 50mm F1.8.
If you’re still rolling with an older APS-C body though, like the 60D or a Rebel-series DSLR, the 6D Mark II will offer a better experience all-around. Again – just remember to factor in the cost of new EF lenses
I have EOS 7D Mark II.
The 6D Mark II and 7D Mark II are very different cameras. The EOS 7D Mark II was designed to be a pro-grade, fast-action camera. If you are using 7DMark II for sports or wildlife it is not worth upgrade to 6D Mark II as a lower framerate and less sturdy construction, you’ll also lose the handy 1.6X focal length increase of APS-C format.
Beyond this, all the points raised in 80D apply here too. If you use your 7D II for portraiture, landscapes or event photography, or video, you might find that the 6D Mark II’s extra resolution, better low light performance and much more flexible live view/movie implementation make it worth the upgrade.
I’m thinking about buying a Nikon D610 or D750
Assuming that you’re not already committed to either a Canon or Nikon lens system you have a choice. If you are, just buy whatever camera you already have the right lenses for.
Your choice is really just between the 6D Mark II and the Nikon D750. The D610 is a poor option by comparison, unless you find a really good deal on a lightly used or refurbished one (in which case – go for it).
The 6D Mark II and D750 are pretty similar cameras, all things considered. The 6D Mark II’s major advantage is its vastly superior live view feature and Dual Pixel autofocus system in live view/video modes. The D750’s live view implementation is basic by comparison and its non-touch-sensitive rear LCD isn’t fully-articulating.
The areas where the D750 outperforms the 6D Mark II are far greater Raw dynamic range (by around 3 EV more), and a better viewfinder autofocus system. If you’re intending to shoot sports or action, the D750 offers both state-of-the-art ‘3D-Tracking’ AF and low light AF capability. The D750 also offers a more sophisticated metering system. It includes modes such as highlight-weighted and spot-metering that’s linked to the AF point and also feeds scene information to the AF system to support with face detection and subject tracking.
In most other respects the 6D Mark II and D750 are pretty evenly matched. Both offer a similar maximum continuous shooting rate, with similar battery life, and both are similarly small and light by the standards of full-frame DSLRs. Both shoot acceptable HD video, but Dual Pixel AF and a fully articulating screen mean that doing so is both easier and more enjoyable on the 6D Mark II than it is on the Nikon. The D750 has a built-in flash, though, which can be very handy. Both are excellent cameras, but the chances are one of them will just feel ‘right’.
I want to shoot only video
In some respects, the EOS 6D Mark II is a very capable video camera. It’s certainly lots of fun to use. Dual Pixel AF and a fully articulating, touch-sensitive rear LCD make for a very fluid, enjoyable user experience. For professional or aspiring filmmakers though, it has some serious limitations. There’s no headphone jack for audio monitoring, which is a shame, but the lack of focus peaking, zebras or log, along with an inefficient video codec are bigger handicaps. This is a perennial complaint about Canon’s DSLRs and Canon seems in no hurry to address. Of course, the footage is limited to FHD/60p only. If you need 4K, you’ll either need to look higher up Canon’s DSLR range, to the 5D IV and 1D X Mark II or to other systems altogether.
For video, there are better cameras on the Market if this is your main use. The EOS 80D offers pretty much the same specification for less money.
I do hope, this brief review has helped you to decide whether to buy 6D Mark II or not. I sincerely feel, you should not get bothered by any of these reviews including this one. Each and every camera, even the cheapest one is very capable of taking great pictures. It depends on who is behind the camera and not the gear itself. As for me, I found it was easier for me to keep my older 5D Mark IV as I was not in need of a second camera. I sold 6D Mark II to a good friend of mine who was most willing to buy from me. I should thank him for that great gesture.
Here are several reviews I have referenced to create my review.
Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I purchased the camera from my dealer at Market price from my own money. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. The photos of the Camera are used from Canon website.