Canon 6D Mark II Conclusion

A worthy successor despite a few flaws

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 10/30/2017

This summer, Canon released the successor to its very popular entry-level full-frame 6D camera. The 6D Mark II was several years in the making and we have put the camera through its full paces. In many ways, the 6D II is a very good full-frame camera. In other respects, it's a disappointment because it doesn't take as many strides forward as you would expect for a camera released roughly five years after its predecessor.

Canon 6D II Performance: First full-frame DSLR with a DIGIC 7 processor and it impresses

The 6D Mark II has strong performance for a prosumer full-frame DSLR thanks to its DIGIC 7 image processor. The 6D II is Canon's first full-frame camera to employ the DIGIC 7 image processor and it proved impressive in the field and during our lab testing.

The 6D II's maximum shooting speed of 6.5 frames per second when recording full-resolution RAW and JPEG images proved sufficient in most real-world situations, including wildlife photography where faster frames can be very important.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 371mm, f/6.3, 1/500s, ISO 2500.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

It is not only shooting speed that matters, but also buffer depth and the ability for the camera to clear its buffer. If you are shooting JPEG images, the camera can record nearly 100 images in a burst and it clears its buffer in only four seconds, which is very good. The RAW image buffer is much smaller at around 20 frames and it clears in about eight seconds, which while not as impressive as it is when recording JPEG images, it's still good. See our Performance page for details. In real-world shooting scenarios, the 6D II worked great and we never had to wait long for the camera to be ready to use.

Battery life is particularly impressive in real-world shooting, at least when you are using the optical viewfinder. The camera is rated for well over a thousand shots when using the viewfinder, which is great for a relatively compact full-frame DSLR. If you use Live View mode, the battery life is a bit under 400 shots, which is still pretty good.

Overall, the DIGIC 7-powered Canon 6D II has good performance for its class and handles well.

Canon 6D II Autofocus: Much improved through the OVF and Dual Pixel CMOS AF for Live View and video

The 6D Mark II ups its autofocus game compared to its predecessor in a few big ways. First, the autofocus points when using the viewfinder has increased from 11 to 45. The higher density is great, although we still found that the overall autofocus point coverage is lacking. If you want more coverage, you can shoot with Live View and use Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which covers 80 percent of width and height of the full-frame image sensor.

In real-world use, both the 45-point autofocus system and the Dual Pixel CMOS AF proved to be quick and reliable across a wide variety of shooting situations.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens at 24mm, f/8, 1/30s, ISO 12,800.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Canon 6D II Image Quality: Great high ISO performance but poor dynamic range results

With a 26-megapixel full-frame sensor, the 6D Mark II has more resolving power than its 20-megapixel predecessor, but the camera still includes an optical low-pass filter, although it appears to be perhaps weaker than the one found in the original 6D. Compared to the 6D, the 6D II definitely delivers images with a bit more fine detail, which is nice. You can see more comparisons here.

When looking at print quality, the Canon 6D II delivers excellent 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 50 through 200. At ISO 400 and 800, you can still make a nice 30 x 40 inch print, although there is a bit less fine detail. This is still an impressive result. At ISO 1600 and 3200, the maximum print for a good print drops to 24 x 36 and 20 x 30 inches respectively. If you want to shoot at ISO 6400, the maximum print size that still passes our test is 13 x 19 inches. Impressively, you can still make a good 11 x 14 inch print with ISO 12,800 images, which is quite the feat for any camera. Overall, print quality analysis results for the 6D Mark II are exceptional, especially when considering the camera's reasonable price tag.

Dynamic range is a weak spot in the imaging performance of the 6D Mark II. While the 6D II does not have bad dynamic range in absolute terms, it is disappointing that it cannot match its predecessor in terms of dynamic range performance despite being a much newer camera with an all-new image sensor. Not only can the 6D II not match the 6D in terms of dynamic range, it trails its competition quite considerably, being bested by the Nikon D750 and Nikon D610 cameras by over two EVs according to DxOMark. For many users, the 6D II's dynamic range should prove sufficient, but for photographers looking for the best performance out of a 20-something megapixel full-frame sensor, the 6D II won't quite cut it.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 255mm, f/6.3, 1/500s, ISO 100.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Color is a more positive story with the 6D Mark II thanks to good hue accuracy and natural-looking colors. For more information on the 6D Mark II's image quality results from our lab, click here. Overall, the 6D II's greatest imaging strengths are its excellent high ISO performance and good color accuracy. The weakest link is definitely dynamic range, but it is debatable how important this consideration should be when evaluating a camera's image quality and its importance will certainly depend upon the user. However, there is no getting around the fact that the 6D Mark II's dynamic range performance is below par relative to the competition.

Canon 6D II Video: Still no 4K, but other features are impressive

Canon continues to not offer 4K video in many of its cameras, including the new 6D II. While we don't fully understand the decision, it is what it is. Fortunately, Full HD video quality is pretty good on the 6D Mark II. Further, the 6D II is the first full-frame EOS camera to include 5-axis in-camera digital stabilization, which does work quite nicely, although it crops the video and does decrease the image quality slightly.

Full HD video is not particularly sharp, but it looks pretty good across a wide range of ISO speeds, which makes the 6D II a pretty versatile video camera. Even at ISO 6400, we still found the video usable. Automatic exposure and autofocus performance was good too, particularly the autofocus. Dual Pixel CMOS AF certainly helps a lot here.

Ultimately, the lack of 4K video recording is a big knock on the 6D II, but for users who only need 1920 x 1080 video, the 6D II should prove to be a fine option, although it is certainly not a videographer's camera.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 300mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 640.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Canon 6D II Build Quality: An excellent tilting touchscreen is a welcome addition to a tried and true camera body

The 6D Mark II camera body may not look much different from its predecessor. Why mess with a good thing, right? The camera is quite compact for a full-frame DSLR but includes some nice features. The new tilt/swivel touchscreen is excellent and proved very useful during our hands-on time with the camera.

One of the few downsides to the camera's body is that its optical viewfinder offers only 98% coverage, which is a bit surprising for a full-frame DSLR, especially one which costs $2,000. It does cover most of the frame, of course, but there were times when we couldn't see a small distracting element through the viewfinder only to find it in along an edge of an image.

Overall, the 6D II body is familiar yet updated and the touchscreen display is not only well-optimized, but its tilt/swivel capabilities are very useful. The 6D II is a refined camera body which feels excellent in real-world use.

Summary: A very good camera, but one which feels like a missed opportunity in some respects

The 6D Mark II does a lot of things well. The 26-megapixel full-frame image sensor performs admirably throughout a wide range of ISO settings and in traditional Canon fashion, the camera produces pleasing and accurate color when manual white balance is used. Unfortunately, the 6D Mark II cannot match the competition in terms of dynamic range performance.

Regarding speed, the 6D Mark II and its DIGIC 7 processor do well delivering very good overall performance for an entry-level full-frame DSLR camera. Autofocus performance is quite good too, particularly when considering the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system at play during Live View and when recording video.

Further, the camera handles well in the field, thanks in large part to its tilt/swivel touchscreen. Overall, the 6D Mark II is generally what you would expect from the successor of the popular 6D, even though we had hoped to see a bit more advancement.

Although its competition may have passed it by in terms of dynamic range and video features, the Canon 6D II remains a good sub-$2,000 full-frame DSLR and thus still earns a Dave's Pick, especially for those already invested in the Canon ecosystem or who are looking for a second full-frame body.

 

Canon 6D II Pros & Cons

  • New 26-megapixel full-frame sensor offers an increase in resolution and very good high ISO performance
  • Pleasing color with good hue accuracy
  • Fine Detail Picture Style offers a lot of control over sharpening
  • Comfortable and ergonomic design
  • Well-located buttons
  • 45-point all cross-type dedicated AF system
  • Vari-angle touchscreen LCD
  • Fast startup
  • Good single-shot autofocus speeds
  • Great autofocus in Live View mode thanks to Dual Pixel sensor, much better than most DSLRs
  • Low shutter lag
  • Fast cycle times
  • Very good 6.5 fps burst speed for its class
  • Deep JPEG buffer
  • Decent RAW buffer depth
  • Good buffer clearing speeds with fast UHS-I card
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth and GPS
  • Excellent battery life
  • External mic jack
  • Canon Camera Connect App works well
  • Disappointing dynamic range
  • Default JPEGs can look a bit soft compared to competitors
  • Directional pad feels mushy
  • No 4K video capture (other than time-lapse)
  • Optical viewfinder coverage only 98%, and is slightly shifted/tilted on our copy
  • Narrow AF coverage with optical viewfinder
  • No built-in flash
  • Default auto and incandescent white balance settings can struggle
  • Single UHS-I card slot
  • 1/180s x-sync speed
  • No headphone jack
  • No clean HDMI out


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