Canon 6D Mark II is a new full-frame DSLR aimed at the semi-pro level, positioned between Canon 5D Mark IV and the Canon 7D Mark II. it is a popular option among amateur photographers who want to step up to full-frame photography, without the funds to invest and upgrade to the Canon 5D Mark IV.
Build & Design
The EOS 6D Mark II is currently one of the lightest and most compact full-frame DSLRs currently on the market. The basic framework of the camera is made using aluminum alloy and polycarbonate resin which ensures durability while also being light-weight. The camera is made dust and drip-resistant which is a treat for photographers who intend to use the camera in messy conditions. This Canon body also has effective weather-sealing (although not comparable to the standards of 5D Mark IV), with robust protectors over the battery compartment cover, card slot cover, lens mount, terminal covers, and buttons.
With the button placement virtually identical to the Canon 6D, existing Canon users will find it very easy to pick up and become familiar with the new camera body. The power (on/off) switch is placed under the mode dial, on the top left corner of the body. The left side of the top plate has buttons to set AF modes, drive modes, ISO, metering modes and LCD panel illumination. There are also, buttons for advanced controls, such as an AE lock/FE lock button for locking exposures for shooting and an AF-ON button to perform back button focusing.
The camera does not have a button to control exposure compensation but it can be controlled by the rear scroll dial in program mode, shutter priority mode and aperture priority mode. The lock switch beneath the dial prevents accidental knocking of the dial. In manual mode, exposure compensation can be accessed through the main menu or the quick (Q) control button. It is, however, possible to assign a button for exposure compensation through the custom functions menu.
The camera also lacks a joystick controller to move the AF point through the frame (as in 5D Mark IV) but has a four directional pad set in a rotating rear command wheel (as in 6D). A small button located between the shutter button and the top-plate dial is used to switch through the AF point selections, making them easily and quickly accessible.
A vari-angle screen is introduced for the first time with this full-frame Canon DSLR, which is a distinct advantage over a fixed screen for framing complicated shots from an unusual perspective. Above the screen is an optical viewfinder providing 98% coverage. Apart from revealing the usual exposure and autofocus information, it can be set up to display the drive mode, battery level, alert symbol, flicker detection, and image quality. A large rubber eyecup cushions the viewfinder against the eye and diopter control just off the corner to adjust it to photographer’s eyesight
The camera has a single SD card slot at the side. So there is no possibility of saving and backing up files to another card or an internal backup card in case the first one gets full. Nor is there a possibility of assigning separate cards to stills and video recording.
Built around a new 26.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and the Digic 7 processor, the camera has the following notable features:
- 45-point, all-cross-type AF system
The 45-point, all-cross-type autofocus sensor is one of the quickest and most consistent AF systems ever and allows tracking fast subjects accurately through the frame. However, it doesn’t cover the entire frame.
- 5 fps burst rate in continuous shooting mode
Burst rate in continuous mode has seen a dramatic boost, from 4.5 fps in the previous version of the camera to 6.5 fps in the new version. This comes in just shy of 7fps in the new 5D Mark IV.
- Dual Pixel Autofocus (DPAF) technology
The DPAF technology delivers fast and accurate AF with the ability to detect movement shifts at the pixel level, enabling continuous automatic AF and AF tracking for sharp still images as well as smooth focus transitions in videos. However, with continuous autofocus in live view mode, the burst rate reduces to only about 2 fps.
- 7560-pixel RGB IR metering sensor
The 7560-pixel RGB IR metering sensor has demonstrated reliability in consistently delivering accurate exposures. The camera has also inherited the anti-flicker technology as in other Canon DSLRs that counteracts the rapid on/off pulsing of artificial lights.
- DIGIC 7 image processor, ISO 100-40,000
The new processor aids the camera in producing high image quality and fast operation, even in low light, allowing for sharp and detailed images in any lighting situation. The camera boasts of an impressive ISO range of 100 to 40,000, which can be further expanded to 102,400.
- Vari-angle 3” fully articulated touchscreen
The new, vari-angle, fully articulated touch screen allows pulling out and tilting the screen to a preferred angle, enabling photographers to compose photos and videos from tricky angles and unusual perspectives with ease. However, including this feature has led to a compromise in the form of weather resistance as compared to the 5D-series camera.
- Wi-Fi w/NFC and Bluetooth
The camera has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. This allows photographers to control the camera wirelessly from a device (such as a smartphone or tablet) using the Camera Connect app designed by Canon. A smartphone can also be used as a remote to control the camera using the Bluetooth connectivity feature of the camera.
- Built-in GPS
The camera’s built-in GPS functionality can be used to geotag images. This comes in handy for documentary and travel photographers who require accurate location data of their images and can also help write accurate image captions describing the shoot location.
- 1080/60p video capture with in-lens + digital stabilization
The 6D Mark lacks 4K resolution for video and offers little to entice video shooters. It can shoot 1080p at 60 fps but leaves much room for improvement in terms of sharpness. The camera offers image stabilization for movie recording, which further reduces effective resolution. Also, there are no advanced settings to compress the file type. The camera doesn’t even have a headphone jack. Simply put, the video feels like entirely an afterthought. However, the 6D Mark II can, at least, do in-camera 4K time-lapse sequences.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II has been, like other Canon DSLRs, a reliable performer. The battery lasts for about 1200 shots. However, the battery drains faster in the live view mode or while using features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The remaining power can be checked from the battery info in the main menu.
For this review, I used Canon 6d Mark II with EF 50mm f/1.8 lens and EF 100mm f/1.8 lens. I felt comfortable using push controls for most shots but also found the touch controls and vari-angle screen extremely helpful for composing a few shots. I shot most pictures in JPEG+RAW format and as one would expect, JPEGs were lighter as compared to RAW while RAW had more recoverable details (in shadow areas of high contrast images exposed for highlight) as compared to JPEG during post-processing in Photoshop.
The camera metering system performs a commendable job at analyzing scenes. Most of the time, I felt confident using the camera in its evaluative metering mode with very little exposure adjustment. Occasionally, I set the exposure to -0.3EV to prevent highlights from being clipped. For scenes that are harder to expose, spot, partial and center-weighted metering modes can be helpful too.
In low light situations, the Auto ISO setting used with a lower limit on the shutter speed and an upper limit on the ISO can assist the camera in figuring out the best combo for the shot. The camera performs well in low-light situations, although going to the upper limits of ISO can deteriorate image quality. Shooting at high ISO with the “Standard” noise-reduction filtration turned on has the effect of softening the image. So it is advisable to use a tripod with a reasonable ISO setting in low-light situations.
The camera has fast and accurate focusing, even in low light. Focusing can be done using button controls as well as touch controls. There are innumerable focusing patterns, in term of zones, areas, and points. This aids in focusing on a specific area, that is critical for close-up shots, as well as selecting broader zones to focus for tracking and landscape shots. For touch shutter, frame the shot, touch the zone/area/point where you want to focus on the screen and the shutter will release.
The camera offers various options for drive modes. These are single shooting, high-speed continuous shooting, low-speed continuous shooting, silent shooting, silent continuous shooting, 10-sec self-timer shooting, 2-sec self-timer shooting, and self-timer continuous shooting. Canon has increased the burst rate of the EOS 6D Mark II to 6.5fps from 4.5fps in the EOS 6d. Further, the burst depth has also been improved, allowing the new camera to shoot 21 RAW files in succession compared to 17 in its predecessor. Although with the burst rate of 6.5fps, it won’t be the first choice for action, wildlife or sports photographers, the camera delivers strong results using the continuous shooting modes for freezing and capturing the perfect frame in controlled motion situations such as splash photography. However, the silent mode of the camera seemed the only namesake and does not fulfill the silent shooting requirement. At best, it is the mode is only slightly quieter than other drive modes.
The camera offers the ability to assign different settings/actions to different buttons using the custom functions menu. This feature aids photographers to make changes, such as setting the exposure lock button to enter AI Servo mode when it’s depressed, specific to their working style. Further, dial functions can also be switched according to the photographer’s convenience, for example, the top dial can be set to adjust aperture while the rear dial controls shutter speed.
Canon has also provided ample control over image processing settings. Apart from the default Auto picture style, which determines the best processing and rendering settings for any given scene according to the camera, there are seven other picture styles to choose from. These styles only affect the JPEG file. In playback, users also get a fine selection of raw processing options with the ability to save an image as a new file after editing.
With the latest version of the Canon’s Camera Connect app on your mobile device, it is possible to establish a Wi-Fi connection between the phone and camera, and shoot remotely. The app provides control of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, adjustment of focus point position, change of AF method as well as the setting of variables including drive mode, white balance, and exposure compensation. Images are loaded and displayed in thumbnail form, with date, time and metadata in the app.
The EOS 6D Mark II features a 26.2MP sensor, with the ability to resolve an exceptionally fine level of detail and create massive prints. The camera has an admirable noise performance and can produce high-quality images even in low-light situations when pushed up to ISO 6400. Above this, however, there is a noticeable drop in image quality. Interestingly, JPEG files appear very clean throughout the ISO range, but when you look at the corresponding RAW files, it becomes evident how much noise reduction is being applied to those JPEGs.
ISOs up to 800 deliver images with high resolution and minimum signs of noise. Results at ISO 4000 are also pretty good too but there are certainly signs of noise at this sensitivity. Although pushing the ISO further high does pronounce luminance noise, the setting of 6400 can create some very usable results with some vigilant noise reduction.
Beyond the ISO setting of 6400, the decrease in resolution and increase in noise lead to a decrease in image quality. Pushing up to ISO 12800 isn’t out of the question, and it is possible to get a satisfactory result with some post-processing but, unless absolutely necessary, it is advisable to avoid going any higher than that.
The camera does not perform very well in terms of dynamic range, especially at base ISO (as compared to other modern cameras). This means that the camera is not well equipped to maintain good image quality in high contrast situations. Essentially, while processing from The AW file of a high contrast scene at low ISOs, there is much less freedom in terms of how the image can be edited. Trying to pull out shadow details or pushing the histogram, poses the risk of hitting the electronic noise floor of the camera. However, from ISO 800, the dynamic range is much closer to the performance of other modern cameras at the semi-pro level.
Few Sample Images