Canon 6D Mark II Review
|Full model name:||Canon EOS 6D Mark II|
(35.9mm x 24.0mm)
|Viewfinder:||Optical / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 40,000|
|Extended ISO:||50 - 102,400|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 seconds|
5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9 in.
(144 x 111 x 75 mm)
|Full specs:||Canon 6D Mark II specifications|
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6D Mark II Summary
While familiar in appearance, the Canon 6D Mark II brings a lot of improvements over its wildly popular predecessor. At the heart of the 6D II is a new 26-megapixel sensor and a DIGIC 7 image processor. These combine for good image quality and impressive overall performance. However, in other ways, the camera feels like a missed opportunity. The dynamic range is disappointing and there is no 4K video. Ultimately, the 6D II is a good entry-level full-frame DSLR even if it feels like it could have been much more.Pros
Great vari-angle touchscreen; Dual Pixel CMOS AF; Good image quality in most situations; Impressive performance for its class.Cons
Disappointing dynamic range; No 4K video; Optical viewfinder comes up short; Narrow AF point coverage through viewfinder.Price and availability
Available since July 2017, the Canon 6D Mark II body retails for just under US$2,000. The camera is currently available as part of a kit bundled with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens for around US$2,900, or with the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens for about US$2,400.Imaging Resource rating
4.0 out of 5.0
Canon 6D Mark II Review
Despite debuting all the way back in 2012, the Canon 6D remained an extremely popular camera even a half-decade later. Marketed as Canon's "entry-level" full-frame DSLR, the 6D offered a brilliant, large CMOS sensor, but saved cost in a few areas, such as build quality, memory card choice, AF system sophistication, among others. It didn't skimp too much, though, as it was still quite full-featured, and yet offered then-unique features for a Canon full-frame DSLR: built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. All told, it was a lighter, smaller and more affordable alternative to Canon's main full-frame staple at the time, the 5D Mark III, and an excellent choice for advanced amateurs and enthusiasts looking to upgrade to the full-frame experience without completely wiping out their bank account.
Five years later, the 6D Mark II has made its highly anticipated debut, and it addresses many of the shortcomings of the original, such as the AF system and burst performance, for example. In keeping with its heritage, the 6D Mark II is still Canon's affordable-class full-frame DSLR, sitting under the 5D Mark IV, and maintains a more compact and lightweight design, and of course, a more affordable price point. Plus, like its predecessor, the 6D II offers a few new features not currently available in a Canon full-frame DSLR.
Sensor & Processor: Canon ups resolution, brings latest processor to DSLRs
At the heart of the camera is a Canon-designed and manufactured 26.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (with a fixed low-pass filter), offering a nice, but not extravagant resolution bump from the 20MP sensor of the original. The 5D Mark IV and 5DS R models, for example, still offer much more resolution, at 30MP and 50MP, respectively, but at 26MP, the 6D Mark II offers plenty of fine detail for large prints or flexibility for cropping for most situations and applications.
Paired with the new sensor is a DIGIC 7 image processor, the first 7-series processor in a full-frame Canon DSLR. In terms of the image quality improvements, in addition to pure resolution improvements thanks to the sensor, the new image processor helps the camera with high ISO performance. With a native ISO range of 100 all the way up to 40,000, the 6D Mark II is more powerful in low-light situations than the original model, which only offered up to a native ISO 25,600. The camera offers an expanded ISO range, down to ISO 50 and up to ISO 102,400 -- the same expanded range as the original 6D.
The large area of the full-frame sensor and latest-generation DIGIC processor of the 6D Mark II make it quite a solid low-light performer.
The 6D Mark II offers a faster burst rate than the 5D Mark III
In addition to the high ISO performance gains, we finally get to one of the main issues that Canon focused on for improvements to the 6D Mark II: burst rate increase. The original 6D shot at a maximum of 4.5fps (or 4.4, according to our lab tests), but the 6D Mark II shoots up to 6.5 frames per second thanks to the faster processor -- which is also slightly speedier than the 5D Mark III and only a bit slower than the 7fps 5D Mark IV.
Now, for super-fast, pro-level sports and action, 6.5fps is hardly "up to snuff" nowadays. If you need faster shooting in a Canon body, the 7D Mark II offers up to 10fps if you're okay with an APS-C body, or if you need full-frame and money is no object, the 1DX Mark II is there with its amazing 14fps burst rate. However, the 6D Mark II seems to strike a good balance of high-resolution and high-speed performance; 6.5fps is still quite the capable continuous burst rate for most photographers who aren't dedicated sports photographers.
According to Canon, the 6D Mark II's buffer capacity when shooting RAW files has been improved despite the larger files and faster burst speed. RAW-only buffer capacity is rated at 21 frames when using a UHS-I memory card, while the original was rated at 17 shots. RAW+JPEG (Large/Fine) capture looks to be a better improvement, with the Mark II rated at 18 frames whereas the original was rated at a mere eight frames. For Large/Fine JPEGs, the Mark II's buffer capacity is rated at a generous 150 frames, though the 6D was rated at a whopping 1250 frames, but keep in mind the smaller files and slower burst speed. In our 6D Mark II performance lab testing, the camera managed 98 large/fine JPEGs, 20 RAW and 18 RAW+JPEG frames at 6.5fps, which is pretty close to Canon's specs. (Our test target was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG buffer depths are often much less than manufacturer claims.)
The optical viewfinder in the 6D Mark II offers approximately 98% field coverage, has about 0.71x magnification and a eye point of around 21mm.
Another significant improvement for the 6D Mark II is its autofocus system, which gains a big upgrade over the original model. The original model used a rather modest 11-point AF system, while the 5D Mark III offered a whopping 61-point system. It was a fairly stark difference in AF point flexibility and overall AF performance. Now, the 6D Mark II utilizes a 45-point, all-cross-type AF system. The center AF point is a dual cross-type point that supports both f/2.8 and f/5.6 apertures, and 27 total AF points support autofocus down to f/8 -- great news for teleconverter users.. (Note that the number of available AF points, cross-type points and dual cross-type points vary depending on the lens being used, as with other Canon DSLR models.)
Essentially, the 6D Mark II utilizes the same autofocus system as the Canon 80D, and the AF point spread covers the same area, which is the one primary downside to its inclusion in the 6D II. Given the APS-C sensor of the 80D, this 45-point AF system covers a good portion of the sensor area (62% of the horizontal width and 48% of an image's height), however when used on a full-frame sensor, the array of AF points is clustered more in the central area of this larger sensor. Nevertheless, the AF points are quite densely packed next to one another, which should help successfully nab a sharp image, especially when using continuous AF. Like the 80D, the 6D Mark II's phase-detect AF system allows for autofocus in very low light conditions, down to -3EV with the central AF point.
Like other Canon EOS DSLRs, the 6D Mark II offers both Single-Shot AF mode and AI Servo (continuous AF), plus an automatic "AI Focus AF" mode that automatically switches between single-shot and C-AF as the scene requires. The 6D Mark II offers a variety of AF point configurations beyond the single-point setting, including Zone AF (points divided into nine groupings), Large Zone AF (three large point groups) and Automatic selection AF (where all 45 points are active, and the camera automatically picks a point or points).
The camera's metering system gets a solid upgrade compared to the original's 63-zone, dual-layer iFCL metering sensor from the 7D and 5D Mark III. Now, the 6D Mark II uses the 80D's 7,560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor. In addition to its metering functionality, works in conjunction with the AI Servo AF II autofocusing system to provide skin tone and color detection for better facial recognition and subject tracking.
Like most recent Canon DSLRs, the new 6D Mark II now also offers Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology in addition to its traditional through-the-viewfinder phase-detect AF. As we've seen with other "Dual Pixel" Canon cameras, this Live View focusing tech uses phase-detect pixels on the sensor surface to provide super-quick and very precise autofocusing in Live View shooting and video recording -- all without the visible hunting and wobbling effects seen with contrast-detect AF systems. In our testing, Dual Pixel CMOS AF-capable cameras offer outstanding live view AF with super-quick speeds, and we enjoyed similar excellent performance from the 6D Mark II.
Similarly light, but with one striking new feature for a full-frame Canon DSLR
Overall, the 6D Mark II maintains similar design principles as its predecessor, in that it remains a fairly compact and lightweight full-frame DSLR. Compared to the original, the 6D Mark II weighs more or less the same, approximately 685g compared to 680g for the 6D -- or about 1.5 pounds. This is compared to the 800g (1.8 pounds) weight of the 5D Mark IV, making the 6D Mark II a bit more easy to carry around. Size-wise, too, the 6D Mark II keeps about the same overall footprint at the original model, which again is subtly smaller than its bigger 5D-series sibling.
For the most part, the 6D Mark II looks just like any other modern Canon DSLR, which is pretty great when it comes to familiarity and operability -- especially if you're already accustomed to the Canon EOS system, menus UI, button layout and general control scheme. Regarding button layout and design, the 6D II looks very similar to the 5D Mark IV, but compared to other full-frame Canon DSLRs, the 6D Mark II has one striking new feature: a fully-articulated 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD.
The 6D Mark II features an articulated 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD with 1.04 million dots of resolution, provides approximately 100% field coverage, and includes adjustable brightness as well as coatings to reduce smudges and reflections.
Typically relegated to Canon's more entry-level and less weather-sealed DSLRs, the 6D Mark II is the company's first full-frame DSLR to include this handy vari-angle rear LCD touchscreen. And despite it likely being more fragile than a fixed LCD, Canon states that the 6D Mark II offers a tough, water and dust-resistant body, with the same degree of sealing as on the 5D Mark IV, which is quite impressive.
As most will probably already realize, the benefits to an articulated LCD over a fixed one include easier and more comfortable shooting from low or high angles. Plus, you can also tweak and tilt the screen to help avoid any nasty glare when out in bright sunlight -- although the optical viewfinder can seriously help in that regard, at least when you're shooting stills. However, where a vari-angle LCD really shines is with video recording. When shooting video, be it on a tripod or shoulder rig, or simply in-hand, you can easily flip the screen out to pretty much any angle that you require for comfortable filming. Plus, the 6D Mark II's screen flips around a full 180-degrees, so if you're a solo filmmaker, you can easily self-record interviews or film vlogs and still be aware of your framing and exposure.
Plus, with touch capabilities and the 6D II's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, the tap-to-focus makes it a breeze to quickly and smoothly adjust focus, for both photography and video shooting.
Lack of 4K is glaring, but video on 6D II is good for entry-level
And while we're on the topic of video, let's dive into the 6D Mark II's video specs and features. While the 6D Mark II is a full-frame DSLR with an articulated screen, which seemingly positions it as an indie filmmaker's dream camera, the 6D Mark II doesn't include all the bells and whistles for video as do some of Canon's higher-end models. Namely, the lack of 4K video recording resolutions is the most glaringly absent feature. Alas, the 6D Mark II offers video recording a maximum of Full HD resolution at up to 60 frames per second at a bitrate of up to 60Mbps (1080p60). The 60p frame rate is great for fast action subjects, and particularly with instances where you may want to slow the footage down in post for 30p or 24p videos.
The 6D Mark II, however, does offer a sliver of 4K functionality and that's a new built-in Timelapse movie mode; a feature not present in the original 6D. Here, the 6D Mark II offers timelapse movies capture in either 4K Motion JPEG recording (4K 30p playback) or Full HD (ALL-I 1080p30 playback). The camera also includes Canon's HDR Movie mode (1080p30 IPB).
As for other movie file formats and quality settings, the 6D Mark II doesn't offer as diverse of a selection as on, say, the 5D Mark IV. Other than the aforementioned timelapse movie mode, all other video resolutions and framerates use M-PEG4/H.264 MP4 file formats with the space-saving IPB compression scheme. The camera does not offer MOV format or the higher-quality ALL-I (intraframe) compression.
As with most other Canon cameras, the maximum sustained video recording time limit is 29 minutes, 59 seconds, after which point recording will stop and must be re-started manually. The camera does include a 3.5mm microphone input jack, but it doesn't have a headphone jack, which is another limiting factor for more advanced videographers.
Overall, the video features on the 6D Mark II aren't groundbreaking but are decent for new shooters or for those who primarily focus on still photography, but want to dabble with video every now and then. The lack of 4K is likely disappointing to a good swath of folks looking for a new video-capable DSLR, as we've seen more and more new cameras from other manufacturers add 4K in the recent past. However, if you only need 1080p, the 6D Mark II jut might fit the bill.
Like its predecessor, the 6D Mark II uses a single SD card for file storage, as opposed to CompactFlash and/or CFast like larger full-frame Canon DSLRs. The camera is compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, including UHS-I-type card (no UHS-II support). Eye-Fi wireless connectivity memory cards are also compatible.
You may not need to use an Eye-Fi card, however, as the 6D Mark II has a slew of built-in wireless connectivity features. Indeed, like its predecessor -- which was the first full-frame Canon DSLR to have Wi-Fi -- the Mark II version offers the latest set of wireless connection options. There's both Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity as well as Bluetooth 4.1 (Bluetooth Low Energy), which maintains an always-on, low-power connection to a paired smart device in order to easily see and transfer images without manually reconnecting to its Wi-Fi.
With a compatible iOS and Android smart device, the user can connect to the 6D Mark II for both image browsing and transfer as well as remote control shooting capabilities.
The 6D Mark II also has built-in GPS connectivity that lets you geotag your photos. In addition to the GPS satellite system for the USA, the 6D Mark II is also compatible with the Russian GLONASS and the Japanese QZSS systems.
As for battery life, thanks to the updated LP-E6N rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, the CIPA-rated battery life is slightly extended compared to the original 6D in both viewfinder and Live View shooting. At typical operating temperatures, the 6D Mark II earns a CIPA rating of 1200 shots/charge for the OVF and 380 for the rear LCD, a bump up from the respective 1090 and 220 shot/charge ratings of the original. When using the new, optional BG-E21 Battery Grip (no, the 6D's battery grip will not fit this new model), the battery is practically doubled. Though the 6D II uses the newer LP-E6N battery packs, the camera is still compatible with the older, lower-capacity LP-E6 batteries.
Canon 6D Mark II Pricing & Availability
The 6D Mark II began shipping in late July 2017 with an MSRP of US$1,999 for the body-only configuration, which is slightly under the $2,100 body-only of the original upon its debut. The 6D Mark II is also sold in two kit-lens configurations, one with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM with a list price of US$3,099 and another with the non-L EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM for a suggested price of US$2,599. The BG-E21 battery grip lists for around US$240.
Canon 6D Mark II Hands-On Preview
Hands-on in Yellowstone
Earlier this month, Canon arranged for various members of the press to gather at Yellowstone National Park to test out the 6D Mark II ahead of its reveal. If you want to learn more about the camera's features and specs, click here. The following will be a recap of the experience in Yellowstone along with observations about the camera itself.
Note: It is important to keep in mind that my hands-on experience here was with a pre-production sample of the 6D II and that all images in our gallery from Yellowstone were captured with a non-final camera. Further, all RAW processing was done with a beta version of Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4 software with the processed files then edited to taste in Adobe Photoshop. Full-resolution JPEG samples are available for you to view, but original RAW files are not.
Canon 6D Mark II Field Test Part I
Does the 6D Mark II avoid a sophomore slump?
When the original Canon EOS 6D launched in late 2012, Canon made a camera specifically for prosumers who wanted a full-frame DSLR but didn't want to pay for a more expensive Canon 5D Mark III. The full-frame camera market is vastly different than it was nearly five years ago. With the EOS 6D Mark II, Canon has made some notable improvements and added new features. What does the Canon 6D II offer? Let's find out.
Familiar 6D II body features notable upgrades including tilting touchscreen
Camera Body: The 6D Mark II looks very similar to its predecessor, but there are some important differences between new and old. One of the most obvious is the new tilt/swivel touchscreen display (more on that in the next section). As soon as you pick up the 6D Mark II, it'll be familiar for seasoned Canon shooters. The controls are located in familiar places and are well placed on the camera body.
Canon 6D Mark II Field Test Part II
Video features and performance
Let's get one big issue out of the way, the 6D Mark II does not record 4K video. In the current market, that's not unheard of -- after all, only a small handful of full-frame DSLRs offer 4K video recording -- but is a notable omission from the Canon 6D II's features list. If you need a full-frame camera that records 4K UHD video, this simply is not the camera for you. However, many don't need 4K UHD video. After all, the vast majority of homes don't have a 4K display yet, so 1920 x 1080 resolution is surely still sufficient in many cases. The 6D Mark II records 1920 x 1080 resolution video at up to 60 frames per second -- a faster framerate than its predecessor, which topped-out at 30 fps.
Canon 6D Mark II Image Quality Comparison
See how the 6D Mark II's IQ compares to siblings and rivals
NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page...
Canon 6D Mark II Print Quality
Find out how large you can print Canon 6D II images!
The 6D Mark II delivers exceptional print quality results, especially when you factor in the relatively affordable price tag for a full-frame camera. Matching stride for available print sizes with its pricier, higher-resolution sibling the 5D Mark IV across the available ISO range, the 6D II delivers a lot of value in the ability to achieve very good image quality output in print. The 6D Mark II also bests the sizes available from the popular predecessor 6D at all ISO settings from 400 through 12,800, yielding a good argument for trading up to this newer model. Indeed, at just $2,000 for the body, the 6D Mark II certainly represents very solid value for the image quality potential offered, for those that can live with its below-par dynamic range at low ISOs.
Canon 6D Mark II Conclusion
A worthy successor despite a few flaws
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.
In the Box
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II body-only kit contains the following items:
- Canon EOS 6D Mark II body
- Eyecup Eb
- Battery pack LP-E6N
- Battery charger LC-E6
- Body cap RF-3
- Wide neck strap EW-EOS6DMKII
- Camera instruction manual
- Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. Higher speed UHS-I types recommended.
- EF lenses
- Extra battery pack LP-E6N
- Battery grip BG-E21
- AC adapter kit ACK-E6N
- Canon Speedlite flash
- Large DSLR bag
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