Canon EOS M6 Review Conclusion

Canon EOS M6 Review: Conclusion -- Gallery Image
Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM at 33mm (53mm equiv.), f/8.0, 1s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

The Canon EOS M6 joins the EOS M5 in Canon's current mirrorless lineup as a more affordable, more compact alternative. The M6 and M5 are essentially the same in terms of functionality and performance, which is to say that they are both noticeably improved over the Canon EOS M3 and M10 cameras.

During our field time with the camera and in the laboratory, the Canon M6 proved impressive in many respects, including image quality and performance. We are ready to conclude our review of the Canon EOS M6, so let's see how it stacks up in greater detail.

Shooting Experience

Image Quality: Canon EOS M6 offers good image quality and is improved over the M3

The EOS M6 uses Canon's latest 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor which delivers good image quality across a wide range of situations. Considering color accuracy first, the M6 captures images with pleasing colors and excellent hue accuracy when using manual white balance.

Canon EOS M6 Review: Conclusion -- Gallery Image
EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 STM at 127mm (203mm equiv.), f/6.3, 1/1000s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

When using automatic white balance, the results varied quite a bit depending on the lighting. Indoor incandescent lighting caused a lot of difficulty for the M6 with results showing reddish and orange color casting with automatic and incandescent white balance settings. Outdoors, the results with auto white balance were much better, although a bit on the cooler side.

Looking at our test images, we found that images are slightly soft at the default sharpening settings yet still display noticeable sharpening halos. The M6 does however provide Canon's Fine Detail Picture Style, which provides a lot of flexibility in the sharpening strength, fineness and threshold, producing results similar to unsharp mask sharpening in Photoshop.

ISO performance is good for a 24-megapixel APS-C camera. At ISO 100 and 200, images are clean, and at ISO 400 a bit of noise grain creeps in. It is not until ISO 1600 when image quality noticeably drops. At ISO 3200 and 6400, the image quality is much softer, but you can still make a nice 8 x 10 inch print at ISO 6400. Beyond that, print sizes drop to 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800 and then 4 x 6 at ISO 25,600.

Canon EOS M6 Review: Conclusion -- Gallery Image
Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM at 11mm (18mm equiv.), f/6.3, 1.3s, ISO 100.
Click for original image.

We no longer perform our own dynamic range tests, but the fine folks at DxOMark have tested the Canon EOS M6. When comparing the EOS M6 to the EOS M3 at base ISO, the new M6 is much better, producing a peak dynamic range of about 12.6 EV compared to about 11.8 EV from the M3. The advantage vanishes as you increase ISO, but the M6 is still a marked improvement at low ISOs. When you consider other APS-C competition, such as the Sony A6300, the situation is not as good for the M6 as the A6300 offers up to about a 1.2 EV advantage over the M6. Nonetheless, despite lagging behind some leading rivals, the M6 is a big improvement over the M3.

Overall, image quality from the 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor in the Canon EOS M6 is quite good. The M6 produces image quality which is demonstrably better than its predecessor.

Autofocus: Dual Pixel CMOS AF works very well

The Canon EOS M6 utilizes Canon's impressive Dual Pixel CMOS AF autofocus technology. The system provided fast, reliable autofocus performance during our real-world and laboratory testing when shooting both stills and video. The 49-point autofocus system offers Face+Tracking, Smooth Zone AF and 1-point autofocus modes. The touchscreen allows for touch to focus functionality, which worked well during our testing.

Canon EOS M6 Review: Conclusion -- Gallery Image
Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM at 200mm (320mm equiv.), f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 100.
This image has been cropped. Click for original image.

In the lab, full autofocus with the single-point (center point) autofocus mode focused and captured an image in as little as 0.126 second, which is the same as the EOS M3, but faster than many mirrorless cameras. Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF system has worked well in other cameras we've tested and that continues with the EOS M6.

Performance: DIGIC 7 processor provides good performance gains for the EOS M6

For its class, the Canon EOS M6 offers very good performance. The DIGIC 7 image processor provides a lot of improvements over the Canon EOS M3 and offers performance in line with the very similar Canon EOS M5. Single-shot cycle times are just over 0.5 second, which is a huge improvement over the M3's 1.1 to 1.3 seconds. The M6 can capture images at over 9 frames per second with AF locked at the first frame, compared to only about 4fps for the M3. RAW buffer depth is improved as well, at 17 frames compared to only 4 frames for the M3, despite the faster burst rate. This is very good performance overall for its class.

Canon EOS M6 Review: Conclusion -- Gallery Image
Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM at 22mm (35mm equiv.), f/6.3, 1/10s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

It is not all good news, however, as the M6 still comes up a bit short in the battery life department. Battery life is CIPA-rated for only 295 shots. While this is improved over the M3's 250 shot rating it is still below average for a mirrorless camera. It's a good idea to have an extra battery pacl for your Canon M6.

Overall, though, performance is very good. Despite below average battery life, every other aspect of the Canon EOS M6's performance is impressive for its class.

Video: Full HD video is good, but the lack of 4K UHD recording is unfortunate

If there is a weak area for the Canon EOS M6, it is likely its video performance. While the video quality proved to be fairly good, the camera tops out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) and a frame rate of 60 progressive frames per second (60p). Compared to some of its APS-C competition, the features list is lacking. The M6 does offer manual video recording though, which is nice and it includes a microphone jack, although no headphone jack. It is not well-suited for users who are primarily interested in video, but it can record good-quality Full HD video and offers a decent level of control as well as great autofocus performance.

Canon EOS M6 Review  -- Product Image Front

Build Quality and Handling: Compact M6 offers a nice alternative to the M5

The Canon EOS M6 is a compact, stylish camera. It is small, but it still offers a good amount of physical controls, including a pair of command dials, a dedicated exposure compensation dial, a control dial and a multi-function button, and a lot of the buttons and dials can be customized. The highlight of the camera is its 3-inch tilting touchscreen, which works very well. The display tilts up 180° and down 45°, though the bottom of the screen is partially blocked by the top deck when facing forward. The default brightness level is insufficient when shooting in bright outdoor conditions, but thanks to the ability to make it brighter and tilt the display, it can still be completely usable even in bright conditions.

Canon EOS M6 Review  -- Product Image Back

If you want a viewfinder, the EOS M6 can use an optional one via the hot shoe on the top of the camera. However, if you want an electronic viewfinder and think you'll use it frequently, then the Canon EOS M5 might be a better option as the M5 and M6 are very similar except for the camera body design and the M5 has a built-in EVF. It's great that Canon offers consumers a choice and the M6, thanks to its compact but functional design, is likely a great option for many users looking for a Canon EOS M series camera.

Canon EOS M6 Review  -- Product Image Front

Summary

The Canon M6 is a compact but powerful mirrorless camera and is Canon's best combination of portability and performance to date in its M series. While the M5 has the nice built-in electronic viewfinder and larger body, for users looking for something more compact and lightweight, the M6 offers that without skimping on image quality and performance, making it a definite Dave's Pick for those that don't need advanced video features or 4K.

Canon EOS M6 Review: Conclusion -- Gallery Image
Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM at 12mm (19mm equiv.), f/8.0, 1.6s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

Pros & Cons

  • An M5 without a built-in EVF that is smaller, lighter and less expensive
  • New 24-megapixel sensor offers much improved dynamic range compared to the M3
  • Good high ISO performance for its class
  • Excellent color and hue accuracy
  • HTP and ALO useful in high-contrast scenes
  • Fine Detail Picture Style offers a lot of control over sharpening
  • In-camera HDR mode
  • Fast startup
  • Very fast single-shot autofocus
  • Low prefocused shutter lag
  • Fast single-shot cycle times
  • Fast ~9 fps burst mode (vs ~4 fps for M3)
  • Decent buffer depths even when shooting RAW files, much improved over the M3
  • Good buffer clearing times
  • Tilting 3-inch touchscreen display
  • Built-in flash and hot shoe
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
  • Twin-dial controls work well
  • Great touchscreen
  • Optional hot shoe mounted EVF
  • User-friendly interface
  • Microphone input
  • Compatible with EF and EF-S lenses (via an adapter) and Canon Speedlites
  • Dynamic range still not as good as some APS-C rivals
  • Default JPEG processing could be better, especially at higher ISOs
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance settings too warm in tungsten lighting
  • Auto white balance a bit cool in daylight
  • Otherwise good autofocus system can struggle in low light with slower lenses
  • Shooting speeds limited to 7fps with continuous autofocus
  • Video features are lacking
  • No 4K UHD video recording
  • Native EF-M lens selection is very limited
  • No headphone jack
  • Weak flash with very narrow coverage
  • Below average battery life (but improved over M3)


Follow Imaging-Resource.com on Twitter!

 



Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate