Does impressive full frame DSLR image quality in a light, compact, nicely-featured body with a very modest price tag sound good to you? The Canon EOS 6D Mark II might be your camera.
Positioned below the 5D series in their EOS lineup, Canon envisions the 6D series as a step-up from an APS-C model or as an entry-level DSLR for those who know the light-capturing value of a full frame sensor's significantly larger surface area. In many ways, the EOS 6D series is to Canon's full frame sensor camera lineup what the Rebel series is to their APS-C sensor lineup. As the original Digital Rebel brought affordability to the DSLR market, the original 6D brought affordability to full frame cameras. While the 6D series of cameras will not be mistaken for the most-advanced and powerful full frame models available, these cameras are very feature-filled, benefiting significantly from recently-introduced technology, yet they are small and light with a highly attractive price and especially high image quality for that price.
That the original Canon EOS 6D remains one of the most popular cameras on this site even at nearly 5 years of age (as of the 6D Mark II's introduction) attests to its value in the eyes of photographers. While maintaining the spirit of the original 6D, the Mark II comes with very significant upgrades including a current-technology-roll-up and it will have no problem taking the popularity handoff. While the 6D Mark II may be light on brand new camera features, it benefits heavily from existing ones and you are going to recognize many features from the excellent general-purpose EOS 80D inherited by this camera.
I always look forward to reviewing a camera introduced with a brand new imaging sensor as I expect the latest technology to be included in a new design and I anxiously await to see the results of that latest tech. And, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II sports just that – a brand new imaging sensor.
Following is a table showing the sensor and some additional specifications for some of Canon's current and recent EOS camera models.
|Canon EOS M5||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||100%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.82x||95%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.82x||95%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS 77D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.82x||95%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS 80D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.95x||100%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark II||1.6x||22.4 x 15.0mm||4.1µm||5472 x 3648||20.2||1.0x||100%||f/6.6|
|Canon EOS 6D Mark II||1.0x||35.9 x 24.0mm||5.75µm||6240 x 4160||26.2||.71x||98%||f/9.3|
|Canon EOS 6D||1.0x||35.8 x 23.9mm||6.54µm||5472 x 3648||20.2||.71x||97%||f/10.5|
|Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R||1.0x||36.0 x 24.0mm||4.14µm||8688 x 5792||50.6||.71x||100%||f/6.7|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV||1.0x||36.0 x 24.0mm||5.36µm||6720 x 4480||30.4||.71x||100%||f/8.6|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||1.0x||36.0 x 24.0mm||6.25µm||5760 x 3840||22.3||.71x||100%||f/10.1|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark II||1.0x||35.8 x 23.9mm||6.4µm||5616 x 3744||21.1||.71x||98%||f/10.2|
While the 6D Mark II's 26.2 MP resolution is high and this number bests the review-time-current APS-C models, 26.2 MP yields an only mid-level pixel density relative to the other currently available full frame format models. Still, the benefits of the large amount of light captured by the larger full frame sensor format is huge and that benefit is not lost in the 6D II.
With roughly 2.5x as much surface area (864mm2 vs. 338mm2), a full frame sensor is able to capture substantially more light than a still-large-itself APS-C model. That difference is noticed in image quality, especially when light levels go down.
Providing angles of view significantly wider than an APS-C format camera using the same focal length, full frame cameras require longer focal lengths for identical subject framing and that means a much stronger background blur can be created. A strong background blur is a very-highly-desired trait for many subjects and alone a strong reason to go with a full frame camera model.
Noise levels are a primary image quality concern and another one of the major benefits of full frame sensors, with their large surface area capturing a larger amount of light than the smaller format options, is the very high signal-to-noise ratio they deliver. The 6D Mark II noise test results in the site's noise comparison tool make the capabilities of this camera readily apparent. Ctrl-click on that link to open the comparison in a new tab. I know, with over 200 samples available, I got a little carried away with this camera test.
Keep in mind that, unless otherwise indicated, these results had no noise reduction applied. Noise reduction is available to images captured by any camera, either in-camera or during post processing, meaning that noise reduction technology is not a big differentiator between models (unless perhaps shooting in JPG format in-camera). What the camera can produce without that help, the sans noise reduction results, can be a very big differentiator.
The evenly-colored blocks in the Kodak test chart make any noise present very noticeable. Starting with the "Standard" results, it is not surprising to see very smooth color reproduction at ISO 100. Even APS-C cameras can do that. The difference between ISO 100 and 200 is hard to discern with results remaining very clean.
Comparing ISO 400 results with ISO 100 results shows a slight difference in noise levels, but ISO 400 can be used with no hesitation in most cases. The noise increase progression continues at ISO 800, but again, the results are very clean and I still have no hesitation in using this setting. The scenario is similar in the step to ISO 1600, though the amount of increase in noise becomes more-noticeably increased. ISO 3200 results still look great and remain usable for most purposes.
The sensor can capture the amount of light that reaches it during the exposure, based on the shutter open duration and the lens aperture opening being used. Turning up the ISO setting does not magically create more light, but instead amplifies the signal coming from the sensor. Less light reaching the sensor means a decreased signal-to-noise ratio that becomes obvious at high amplification and at ISO 6400, 6D II images start taking on a noticeable amount of noise. While I find the noise levels at ISO 6400 very adequate for many uses, those at ISO 12800 start becoming objectionable under an increased number of scenarios.
ISO 25600 is a last resort for me. Noise and details start becoming hard to differentiate. I know, ISO 51200 and 102400 are also available (H1 and H2). But, when noise exceeds details, I see the capability as being included for marketing purposes and bragging rights only. Not only can I not read many of the words on the test chart at ISO 102400, I can't even tell that many are words.
How do the Canon EOS 6D Mark II noise levels compare the original 6D? Despite the increased resolution, the 6D II's noise levels are very slightly improved at the pixel level. Downsizing the 6D II images to 6D pixel dimensions will give an additional advantage to the 6D II results. Is this difference alone enough to warrant an upgrade? Not in my opinion. A reduction in high ISO noise will not likely spur many 6D to 6D II upgrades, but rest assured that many other advantages the II has will justify this upgrade.
How do the Canon EOS 6D Mark II noise levels compare the 5D Mark IV? In this case, the 5D IV has the higher resolution and in this case, I'm struggling to pick a winner. If you can't easily see a difference in these test chart results, you will not see a difference in real world images. That the 5D IV images can be reduced to match the 6D II's image pixel dimensions gives it a slight advantage.
How do the Canon EOS 6D Mark II noise levels compare the 5D Mark III? The 5D III has a modestly lower resolution, but it is an interesting comparable as it costs only slightly more than the 6D II at its introductory price. In this comparison, we see that the 6D II and 5D III perform very similarly throughout the ISO range, although the 6D II of course has a slight resolution advantage.
There are many more comparisons awaiting you in the site's tool. Let your eyes be the judge between the test results. To view a comparison that is easy on the eyes, check out the 6D II up against recent APS-C sensor technology.
Included in the noise tool for the 6D II are three sets of standard results with brightness increased by the designated amount in Canon Digital Photo Professional (excellent free/included RAW image processing software).
Even more interesting to me are the result sets captured at brightnesses ranging from -3 to +3 EV. These results were then equalized to the standard brightness in DPP with dynamic range indications becoming present. The EOS 5D Mark IV is an excellent performer in this regard and comparisons against this camera will help in understanding where the 6D II aligns. In the Exposed -3 EV comparison, the 5D IV shows significantly less noise at ISO 100 than the 6D Mark II does and it still shows noticeably less at -2 EV ISO 100. At higher ISO settings, the differences are harder to detect. There is little difference between these two cameras at -1 EV.
Overexpose the capture and overall noise levels go down noticeably, part of the ETTR (Expose to the Right) strategy. However, dynamic range issues can become present with overexposure and the individual R,G,B channels (or all of them) can become blocked, lacking detail. In the color blocks, watch for the colors to change from the original.
At +1 EV, the 6D II appears similar to the 5D Mark IV. At +2 EV, we see images from both the 6D II and 5D IV beginning to lose some color detail in the brightest portions of the image. The two cameras appear similar at this point and with the exception of the bottom-most yellow block, they are about the same at +3 EV.
What we learned here is that, while the 6D II may fall slightly short of the 5D IV in its dynamic range capabilities, it is not too far off, especially considering its significantly lower price point. In regards to dynamic range, more is always better. If given the option, I'll always choose more. However, keeping exposures within a stop of ideal, between -1 and +1 stop of right-on, is not terribly hard to achieve and that is easily within the 6D II's capabilities. Scenes with dynamic range exceeding the camera's single-image capabilities are a differentiator, but the dynamic range of such scenes can often require exposure bracketing even when using the highest dynamic range full frame cameras available.
A pair of under and overexposed sets of JPG-captured images illuminate a reason to use the RAW format, especially if dynamic range is of any concern.
As usual, a set of in-camera-created JPG images are included. As with the rest of the images presented in the noise comparison tool, these images utilize the standard picture style. A difference is that, for the JPG results, I used the default sharpening parameters of this style (vs. a sharpness = 1 setting) and that difference is quite noticeable. The sharping halos (look for the bright borders to the black dividing lines) are ugly until about ISO 6400 when they begin to get lost in the noise. Fortunately, the standard picture style sharpening parameters can be dialed back in-camera. Definitely make that change.
Noise reduction is a very useful tool, especially for images captured at higher ISO settings. While noise reduction makes a big difference in visible noise, image details can go missing with noise reduction application. My taste is for light noise reduction (and none at low ISO settings), but a variety of sample sets are provided. Those indicating JPG were captured as JPGs in-camera vs. RAW files processed in DPP (and utilized the default standard picture style). The RAW file tests featuring noise reduction (indicated by the "NR" label) utilized settings that were either applied by the camera or as defaults in DPP (the camera and DPP results vary slightly).
The MSNR results show the capability of Multi Shot Noise Reduction, also with the default standard picture style and settings selected (JPG capture is required for MSNR). MSNR merges information from multiple exposures taken in an automatic max-frame-rate burst into a reduced noise image. MSNR shows great improvement (a 2-stop comparison), but this feature has limited usefulness in real world shooting.
The downsides to Multi-Shot Noise Reduction include: MSNR is currently available only with JPG output (I would like to see this feature added to Canon's Digital Photo Pro software for RAW capture processing – perhaps as another HDR preset). Multi-Shot Noise Reduction is not so useful with subjects in motion (or with a moving camera). Long exposure NR, Dust Delete Data, Multiple Exposure and HDR Mode must be set to off to enable MSNR. The 6D II reverts back to Standard NR in Auto/Basic zone modes, during video recording and in Bulb mode. Flash is not supported in MSNR mode.
After the multi-shot burst is captured, the camera remains "busy" for a relatively-short period of time while processing the merged image. So, while this feature is a nice idea, the limitations make it less useful in real-world applications. I am more likely to use a low ISO setting with a longer exposure along with long exposure noise reduction when shooting a stationary subject from a tripod.
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II ISO settings available are 100-40000 in 1/3 stop increments with ISO 50 (L), 51200 (H1) and 102400 (H2) available.
Worth mentioning is that the color delivered by Canon EOS cameras is simply excellent. This attribute alone can be a decision-making attribute and overall, the 6D II produces beautiful image quality.
The following table shows comparative RAW file sizes for a photo of a standard in-studio setup with a moderately-high amount of detail taken with the referenced camera.
|Model / File Size in MB @ ISO:||(MP)||100||200||400||800||1600||3200||6400||12800||25600||51200||102400||204800||409600|
|Canon EOS M5||(24.2)||33.8||34.7||35.7||37.1||39.0||41.3||44.7||46.5||52.8|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (est)||(18.0)||23.7||24.2||24.8||25.8||27.1||28.7||30.8||33.4||37.2|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D||(24.0)||30.6||31.2||32.1||33.3||34.9||37.0||39.6||42.4||47.0||51.1|
|Canon EOS 77D||(24.0)||30.6||31.2||32.1||33.3||34.9||37.0||39.6||42.4||47.0||51.1|
|Canon EOS 80D||(24.2)||31.2||31.9||32.7||34.0||35.9||37.9||40.6||43.7||47.5|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark II||(20.2)||25.5||25.9||26.7||27.7||28.9||30.6||32.7||35.1||37.9||41.0|
|Canon EOS 6D Mark II||(26.2)||33.8||34.1||34.6||35.4||36.5||38.1||40.2||42.9||46.4||50.2||54.9|
|Canon EOS 6D||(20.2)||25.3||25.6||26.0||26.7||27.9||29.2||30.9||33.1||35.3||38.6||42.5|
|Canon EOS 5Ds||(50.6)||64.7||65.7||66.9||69.2||72.5||76.6||81.6||88.1|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV||(30.4)||38.8||39.1||39.6||40.4||41.6||43.5||45.5||48.0||51.4||55.1||59.8|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||(22.3)||28.6||29.0||29.5||30.3||31.6||33.1||35.3||37.8||40.6||44.7||49.2|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark II||(21.1)||26.9||27.1||27.7||28.6||29.7||31.3||33.6||36.7||41.2|
Typical for Canon RAW files is that ISO 100 images are about 1.3 MB per megapixel of resolution. Increase the resolution and ... the files get larger and your memory cards hold less. The Canon EOS 6D Mark II writes image files to an SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I) memory card, a very popular and inexpensive format. Keep a blank memory card (or two) in each of your camera bags to ensure you don't run out of memory at an inopportune time.
A headlining upgrade for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is the 6.5 fps drive speed. Up from 4.5 fps in the original 6D, the additional 2 frames per second are quite noticeable.
While serious sports and action photographers will still prefer the higher frame rates coming from the 7D Mark II and the 1D X Mark II, the 6D Mark II frame rate will sufficiently get the job done in many scenarios.
|Model||FPS||Max JPG||Max RAW||Shutter Lag||VF Blackout|
|Canon EOS M5||7/9||26||n/a|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D||5.0||Full||6|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D||6.0||190/Full||21/27||70ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D||3.0||1110||6||120ms||170ms|
|Canon EOS 77D||6.0||190/Full||21/27||70ms|
|Canon EOS 80D||7.0||77/110||20/25||60ms||n/a|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark II||10.0||130||31||55ms||100ms|
|Canon EOS 6D Mark II||6.5||200||18/21||60ms|
|Canon EOS 6D||4.5||73/1250||14/17||<60ms|
|Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R||5.0||31/Full||12/14||59ms||125ms|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV||7.0||Full||17||58ms||86ms|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||6.0||65/16k||13/18||59ms||125ms|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark II||3.9||78/310||13/14||73ms||145ms|
To test the Canon EOS 6D Mark II's 6.5 fps drive mode and 21 frame RAW file buffer specs, the camera was configured to use ISO 100, the max-available 1/4000 shutter speed (no waiting for the shutter operation), a wide open aperture (no time lost due to aperture blades closing) and manual focus (no focus lock delay). The lens cap remained on (insuring a black file and the smallest file size) and a freshly-formatted fast memory card was loaded.
Using a Lexar 128GB Professional 1000x UHS-II SDXC U3 Memory Card, the 6D Mark II repeatedly captured 24 RAW frames in 3.53 seconds to slightly exceed both the rated drive speed (6.8 fps) and the rated buffer depth. Using this card, an additional frame was captured almost immediately after the 24th and then every .38 seconds upon buffer full state. The full buffer wrote to the card in about 6 seconds.
This buffer capacity should be considered best-possible for the referenced card and your in-the-field results will likely vary at least slightly.
Always beneficial for understanding the speed of a specific frame rate is a visual example. Drag your mouse over the labels under the following image for a visual look at 6.5 fps.
When your dad is a photographer, many of your "senior pictures" are any of those captured during your senior year (or the summer following). We are routinely capturing memories of the kids and one of Brittany's priorities was to have some "senior photos" of herself riding her palomino quarter horse, "Nugget". She raised the horse from a foal, trained it and is going to miss the horse greatly while away at college this fall.
Late on a Saturday afternoon, Brittany came into my studio to inform me that she had the indoor ring at a local stable to herself for an hour and asked if I could come photograph her riding there in 45 minutes. I know, you are thinking that her parents didn't teach her about planning ahead, but I am always looking for photo ops, especially of my kids, and ... I had the 6D Mark II awaiting a good workout. I'll leave the rest of the story for later in the review, but in the two sets above, you see Nugget moving at a modest pace and then cantering fast.
In about an hour and twenty minutes, I had a very adequate 1,800+ images to choose from.
While a high speed burst is a great way to capture a peak moment, the 6D Mark II's very short 60ms shutter lag makes it very responsive, able to capture an image in single frame drive mode at the precise time you decide it needs to be captured.
Following are links to MP3 files capturing the sound of the Canon EOS 6D Mark II.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II One Shot Mode
Canon EOS 6D Mark II Burst Mode
Canon EOS 6D Mark II Low Speed Burst Mode
Canon EOS 6D Mark II Silent Mode
Canon EOS 6D Mark II Silent Burst Mode
Burst Comparison: 5D IV, 6D II and 6D
Camera sounds are recorded using a Tascam DR-07mkII Portable Digital Audio Recorder with record levels set to 50% at -12db gain and positioned 1" behind the rear LCD. Note that the 6D (Mark I) sounds were captured with an older recording configuration, but minimally the frame rate is applicable.
This is a relatively quiet-operating DSLR. While Silent single and Silent continuous modes are available and they have some benefit, their biggest benefit seems more to slow down the rate of sounds happening than reduction of the overall sound level. Live view shooting can also be used to further minimalize the 6D Mark II's audibility.
An interesting new drive mode received by the 6D Mark II is "Continuous shooting after 10 sec. self-timer". Configure the 6D II to take 2 to 10 shots in this mode, release the shutter and the camera proceeds to take that selected number of images after waiting 10 seconds. This is a nice option for placing yourself in a scene and avoiding blinks.
I would like to see the mirror lockup with self-timer featured in this camera, but the 5Ds and 5Ds R remain the only current EOS models supporting this useful feature.
As mentioned, the 6D II's max shutter speed remains 1/4000, a lower-end value. While this speed is fast enough for most uses, those using extreme-wide apertures (such as f/1.4) under direct sunlight may find themselves wanting the 1/8000 option. A neutral density filter is often the answer for this situation.
Common is for Canon's lower end camera models to receive a flash max X-sync shutter speed of 1/200 and even the low-end Rebel T6 gets this rate. The Canon EOS 6D Mark II falls short of even the T6 in this regard with a max X-sync specification of 1/180. While the difference is an essentially-irrelevant 1/6 stop, if the camera is set for 1/3 stop increments (my cameras always are), 1/180 is not an option on the dial. However, the camera will drop down to a 1/180 second when an EX-series flash is attached, a shutter speed faster than 1/180 second is chosen (with high speed sync disabled) and the shutter button pressed halfway. The 1/180 second setting can be specifically selected if the camera is set to 1/2 stop exposure changes.
As most of us rely on autofocus for the majority of our focusing needs, the accuracy of a camera's AF system performance is paramount. And, one of the primary complaints regarding the original 6D was its somewhat antiquated AF system. While I found the center AF point (the only cross-type point available) to be very good (including in low light), the 10 peripheral AF points were not as assuring.
Canon introduced a completely new AF system with the 80D and that system has been migrating to other EOS models, including the Rebel T7i and 77D, and now that list includes the 6D Mark II. This AF system covers the same area within the frame as the 6D I's AF system, but it features 45 AF points that are all horizontal and vertical cross-type focusing (sensitive to lines of contrast in both directions) with lenses having an f/5.6 or wider max aperture.
Allow some room for slight error when comparing the above AF point spreads, but the viewfinder representations are at least close and are helpful in understanding the differences between the cameras. Obvious is that the full frame models give up some percentage of the viewfinder coverage to the smaller format options. Not made obvious is that the full frame viewfinders are much larger than the APS-C models.
The 6D II's center AF point acts as a dual cross-type sensitive point when an f/2.8 or wider lens is used, becoming sensitive to horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines of contrast for higher focusing precision.
While this description provides the AF support for most lenses, reality is a bit more complicated with some lenses receiving reduced support. Canon has grouped all lenses into categories. Most current lenses fall under category A (full capabilities) or B (center AF point not dual cross-type), but some older lenses, for example, fall into category "D", supporting horizontal line detection (not cross-type) in the side AF point banks. Page 145 in the owner's manual (a link is provided at beginning of this review) begins the full details, but categories A through H are included, with decreasing AF capabilities being supported.
While groups G and H have the least AF system support, things are better than they seem. Most of the lenses included in these groups are actually lens plus extender combinations with maximum apertures of f/8. That the 6D Mark II features AF with f/8 maximum aperture lens combinations is a big deal.
Especially valuable to wildlife photographers, an extender can be mounted behind a lens, creating an f/8 max aperture, and AF is retained. Depending on the combination, the vertically centered 27 AF points (category G) or the center AF point-only (category H) is activated. Again, see the owner's manual for the specific combinations supported.
When shooting a still subject, it is easy to focus using only a small number of focus points. Even just one focus point is adequate in many situations when DOF (Depth of Field) is deep enough to compensate for slight discrepancies caused by recomposing. Simply focus on the subject by half-pressing the shutter release, recompose and fully press the shutter release.
However, the story is different when the subject is in motion and AI Servo subject tracking requires a focus point continuously placed on the subject. In this case, there is a great compositional advantage to having more focus points available (both for automatic tracking and for manual selection).
The story is also different when using a focal length and aperture combination with a very shallow depth of field. In this case, the change in camera angle required for the recomposition can tilt the plane of sharp focus to in front of or behind the subject. Thus, more focus points available can reduce (or eliminate) the angle change required for recomposition. The more advanced focus point technology also means that the peripheral points can be relied upon more heavily.
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II's AF Area options are Single-point AF (select one AF point), Zone AF (select one of 9 AF area focusing zones comprised of 9 AF points – one of three on left, 3 in center or 3 on right side), Large Zone AF (select one of 3 large AF area focusing zones – 15 AF points on left, center or right) and Auto AF point selection (all 45 AF points active – closest subject receives priority).
While the original 6D did not have the most-impressive AF system available, it did have one very impressive AF feature and that was the ability to focus in light levels as low as best-available -3 EV (really dark) with its center AF point. That advantage is carried forward with the 6D II's AF system receiving the same spec (center AF point with an f/2.8 or wider lens). The camera models I've tested with this AF system focus in light levels so low that I had difficulty seeing anything and this one also focuses in very dark conditions. Remember, contrast is needed for AF, so place an AF point on contrasting colors in the desired plane of sharp focus. AF lock times can increase significantly in low light, but this low light AF performance improvement will definitely catch the attention of photographers wanting to shoot in dark venues, especially wedding photographers.
Autofocus MicroAdjustment (AFMA) was included in the original EOS 6D and it again is featured in the II.
As I've said before, one of the most-challenging camera features to test is autofocus performance. With an infinite number of possible focus circumstances and numerous camera AF options available, it is not possible to perform an exhaustive set of tests. Still, solid perception of a camera's AF system capabilities can be discerned.
One Shot AF with a still subject is both the easiest AF mode to test and the easiest for the camera to execute. The photographer can carefully control where the focus point is placed and, especially if a tripod is utilized, can insure movement does not influence the results. The 6D Mark II has been performing extremely well in this mode, including under a wide variety of situations. This camera very quickly and reliably focuses on the intended subject.
AI Servo (continuous) AF mode is, on the other hand, very challenging to test and tracking a moving subject is very challenging to the AF system. The point of perfect focus must be predicted for a fast-moving subject to be synchronized with the precise moment the shutter opens. Shooting a challenging scenario that is familiar to me is the best method I've found to at least get a baseline comparison and the performance I've experienced from this AF system has varied a bit, from good on the 80D to reasonable on the 77D.
I started to talk about one of the AF scenarios where I utilized the 6D II in the frame rate discussion. While indoor riding arenas are one step above the definition of a "cave" in terms of brightness, positioning so that the horse and rider were going by a shaded window gave me a not-too-bad 1/1000 shutter speed at f/2 and ISO 2000 (using the Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Lens). Other scenarios in the arena required ISO settings of up to 10000 to gain marginally-action-stopping shutter speeds.
Although the 200mm f/2 combination's shallow depth of field places a high requirement on an AF system, overall, I came away from the barn unimpressed with the action tracking performance of this AF system. This is not Canon's best. However, I have far more sharp images than I have use for and the low light image quality definitely made it worth having a full frame camera in hand. If there are no second chance opportunities for capturing action and getting the shot is critically important, stepping up to the EOS 5- or 1-Series models is recommended. Otherwise, this camera can get the job done.
In addition to the extremely fast conventional AF system, this camera features Canon's very impressive Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. This technology was groundbreaking with the introduction of the EOS 70D, permitting sensor-based phase detection AF. Each pixel on an imaging sensor in a DPAF implementation is dual purposed with phase detection AF being the secondary one. Since the imaging sensor pixels are able to perform both imaging and fast phase-detection focus measurement simultaneously, continuous AI Servo-like AF is available in Movie mode, "Movie Servo AF".
Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology is rapidly making its way throughout the EOS lineup and this particular iteration of Dual Pixel CMOS AF is the same as the 80D. It features improved tracking sensitivity over prior implementations, allowing for better AF results in challenging, low-light conditions. This DPAF implementation performs very similar to the conventional AF system in terms of speed – it is impressively fast.
Live View and Movie focusing modes making use of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF include Face Detection with Tracking, Smooth zone, and Live 1-point AF. All work very well and the face detection technology has been especially impressive. The ability to adjust AF speed and tracking sensitivity is provided in this implementation. This camera supports AI Servo tracking AF and burst mode (reduced max rate) during Live View in Multi and Single AF selection.
As with the 80D, 77D and Rebel T7i, the 6D Mark II's capacitive touchscreen allows for Touch Focus during both Live View still photography and before/during video recording. Just touch the LCD where you want the camera to focus and it happens – smoothly. Touch Focus is very simple, responsive and effective.
Sensor-based AF includes benefits over conventional phase-detection AF. The AF coverage area encompasses a full 80% of the frame (measured horizontally and vertically) with no limit on a "number" of focus points to select from or include in auto AF. No AF Microadjustment calibration is needed because the actual imaging sensor is being used for AF (vs. the focusing screen). And, AF can function with camera and lens combinations having an f/11 or wider aperture (vs. f/8 with the 6D II's conventional AF) – again, using 80% of the frame.
If you photograph using live view or record movies, you are going to love Canon's latest Dual Pixel AF technology.
Thanks to the aforementioned Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, high grade video capture is significantly easier compared to this camera's predecessor.
The 6D II records video in .MP4 or .MOV format using the MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 codec, with audio being recorded in Linear PCM (.MOV) or AAC (.MP4) via dual front microphones (producing stereo sound) or the 3.5mm stereo input jack (the .MOV format is only available in timelapse recording). Sound recording levels can be set to Auto, Manual (64 levels) or Disabled entirely. Unfortunately, Canon decided not to include a headphone terminal in its budget full frame offering. Wind Filter and Attenuator options can be set in the sound recording menu.
Available frame rates and compression include:
MOV: (only used for timelapse recording)
1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps / 24 fps (23.98 fps)
ALL-I compression only
1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 60 fps (59.94 fps) / 50 fps / 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps / 24 fps (23.98 fps)
1280 x 720 (HD): 60 fps (59.94 fps) / 50 fps / 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps
User selectable IPB (Standard) or IPB (Light) compression
One particularly annoying quirk regarding movie recording with the 6D II is that when the camera is set to Shutter Priority (Tv) or Aperture Priority (Av) mode, the camera will vary both the shutter and aperture to maintain exposure, the same as if the camera were set to Program (P) mode. For the ultimate control, use Manual (M) mode with Auto ISO (as needed).
Many of Canon's latest DSLRs have featured HDR Movie capture and Timelapse Movies, and the 6D II follows this trend. However, the 6D II is the first Canon DSLR able to capture 4K, UHD-1 timelapses (.MOV, Motion JPEG, 29.97 fps) in addition to the FHD (.MOV, ALL-I, 29.97 fps) timelapses featured in several other Canon DSLRs. Timelapse movies can be created in nearly any mode and the feature is enabled via the camera's menu system as are the timelapse variables, shooting interval and number of shots. The shooting interval time can be set anywhere from 1-second to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds while number of shots can likely be set from 2 to 3600 (if similar to the 80D).
During Timelapse Movie capture, the camera's battery-saving Auto Off feature is disabled as is any lens Image Stabilization (if applicable).
In HDR Movie Mode, the camera will attempt to reduce highlight clipping with the result of increasing dynamic range when filming in high-contrast environments.
Video recording can be started and stopped using the highly recommended Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote Control and Canon BR-E1 [Bluetooth] Wireless Remote Control accessories with the Remote Control Shooting menu option enabled. Unfortunately, as of review time, the EOS Applications (iOS & Android) do not support remote video capture.
New to the 6-series is in-camera 5-axis digital image stabilization in Movie mode, aptly called Movie Digital IS, a feature intially introduced with the EOS M5. Movie Digital IS has been designed to reduce camera shake during movie recording, and it works with both image stabilized and non-stabilized lenses. Note that in-camera stabilization will not be enabled when a stabilized lens is attached and the in-lens stabilization switch has been set to OFF.
Overall, the 6D II's video-specific features combined with its full frame sensor make it an attractive option for those interested in producing high quality films.
Borrowed from the 80D is the 7,560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, enabling skin tone and color detection that works in conjunction with AF for enhance tracking sensitivity.
Available metering modes are Evaluative (entire scene is analyzed within 63 zones), Partial (6.5% of viewfinder area at center), Spot (3.2% of viewfinder area at center) and Center-weighted (entire scene is analyzed within 63 zones with center of viewfinder having more influence) with a metering range of EV 1 - 20. Live View metering modes are Evaluative (315-zone), Partial (6% of viewfinder area at center), Spot (2.6% of viewfinder area at center) and Center-weighted. The Live View metering range is EV 0-20.
Exposure (and auto white balance) systems are highly advanced and each EOS model seems to bring improvement. This system works very well in the 80D, making it easy to capture ideal brightness and color balance right out of the camera. With a next-generation DIGIC processor, I expected no less from the 6D Mark II and it has delivered on this expectation. New is the ability to influence Auto White Balance via Ambience Priority or White Priority settings, further reducing color corrections needed during post processing.
An awesome relatively new Canon EOS technology that has now arrived in the 6-series is light flicker avoidance. If you have ever photographed under flickering lights, such as the sodium vapor lamps especially common at sporting venues, you know what a problem that type of lighting can cause. One image is bright and the next is significantly underexposed with a completely different color cast. The bigger problem occurs when using fast/short action-stopping shutter speeds under these lights.
I'll share an example of this technology using the 80D. In the top half of the following example are 8 consecutive frames captured in a 7 fps burst with a 1/1000 second shutter speed. The subject is a white wall and the lights are fluorescent tubes (I had to go all the way to my basement to find these two sets of four 4' fluorescent tube lights). All images were identically custom white balanced from the center of an optimally-timed image. What you see is the frame capture frequency synching with the light flicker's frequency to cause a different result in every frame.
The killer problem for post processing is that the entire frame is not evenly affected. Correcting this issue in even a handful of images is a post processing nightmare. The cause of this problem is that, at fast/short shutter speeds, the flicker happens while the shutter curtain is not fully open.
Because the shutter opens and closes only in the up and down directions (with camera horizontally oriented), the area affected runs through the frame in the long direction regardless of the camera's orientation during capture. When the flicker-affected area is fully contained within the frame, the amount of area affected is narrower at faster shutter speeds and wider with longer shutter speeds.
At significantly longer shutter speeds, the effect from the flickering lights is better averaged in the exposures. In a previous test, a 1/25 second image appears very even in brightness and color. As the shutter speed increases, the band of flicker becomes narrower and more pronounced.
In this light flicker test, I shot at 1/500 and 1/1000 (as shown). The 1/500 second test showed approximately 2/3 of the frame severely affected at most, with a handful of images with about 50% of the images appearing evenly lit. The 1/1000 second test showed an even narrower band of the flicker's effect running through the image (a smaller slit of fast-moving shutter opening being used). Not many venues permit shutter speeds faster than 1/1000 sec., but the flicker stripe will become even thinner at faster speeds. The 1/500 and 1/1000 settings are more real world settings.
The bottom set of results show off the Canon's game-changing Anti-flicker mode. The only difference in the capture of the second set of images was that Anti-flicker mode was enabled. These were a random selection of 8 consecutive frames, but the results from all Anti-flicker mode enabled frames were similar. I'm not going to say that these results are perfectly-evenly lit, but ... they are dramatically better than the normal captures and you will not see the less-than-perfectly-even lighting in most real world photos without a solid, light-colored background running through the frame.
When enabled (the default is disabled), Anti-flicker mode adjusts the shutter release timing very slightly so that the dim cycle of the lighting is avoided. In single shot mode, the shutter release lag time is matched to the light flicker cycle's maximum output. In continuous shooting mode, the shutter lag and the frame rate are both altered for peak light output capture.
When light flicker is detected outside of the Basic modes and Anti-flicker mode is not enabled, a flashing flicker warning optionally shows in the viewfinder (enabled by default). The flicker warning shows solid when a flicker is detected and the camera’s setting is enabled.
Since the viewfinder's metering system is required for flicker detection, this feature is not available in Live View mode (as the mirror is locked up). Similarly, the mirror lockup feature is disabled when Anti-flicker mode is enabled.
While Canon's Anti-flicker mode should not be expected to work perfectly in all environments, I have found it to work exceptionally well in those I've tested in, including my basement, at an indoor soccer venue and at a local race track. I've seen the flashing "Flicker!" warning and enabling the Anti-Flicker mode has resulted in optimal image capture. The post processing work required for the referenced soccer venue images was exponentially lighter than any of my pre-Anti-flicker mode shoots at this venue.
Canon's Anti-flicker mode is going to save the day for some events. This feature alone is worth the price of the camera for some photographers.
Another very nice upgrade received by the 6D Mark II is the intelligent pentaprism viewfinder featuring a transparent LCD overlay, similar to that found in the 80D.
Simply having a viewfinder is one of the big benefits gained by stepping up to a DSLR camera. Benefits of a viewfinder include the stability provided by the third point of contact (two hands and a forehead) and the clear, easy to see composition being captured (even in the brightest sunlight). Additional benefits of an optical viewfinder include a crisp, clear ultra-high resolution image with no refresh or lag.
The 98% view spec is an upgrade over 97%, but this spec is probably not going to drive an upgrade from the previous model. While a 98% view is better than the 95% offered in many lessor DSLRs, there is still a small amount of room for unintended subjects in the frame border. From a size perspective, this viewfinder appears identical to the 5Ds R viewfinder while simultaneously looking through both – that is to say, big.
The 6D II’s "Intelligent Viewfinder" features an LCD screen that can be optionally configured to show grid lines, light flicker detection and an electronic level.
With it's always-on (when metering is live), easy-to-see, dedicated, superimposed viewfinder level indicator, the EOS 6D Mark II makes avoiding crooked horizons (for those of us afflicted by HLDS) easy. This is a "dual" axis electronic level, indicating both "pitch" and "roll". While the electronic level feature seems minor and insignificant, the small improvement can make a big difference in the quality of your images if pixel-level-destructive image rotation is no longer required during post processing. Having properly-leveled images right out of the camera can also save many hours of work after a big shoot.
Within approximately +/- 1° of accuracy, an electronic viewfinder level indicator shows approximately +/- 1-4+° for pitch and +/- 1-7.5+° for roll. This indicator is active only while the meter is live (half shutter release press activates). A dual-axis electronic level is also available on the rear LCD and also available during Live View (press the info button until this option displays), but not when face+tracking is selected in the menu (the default).
As usual, a diopter adjustment is provided to focus the viewfinder to your eye.
Canon has designed and produced a very large number of DSLR cameras and the maturity of EOS designs show. Those who have never used an EOS camera before will appreciate this maturity. Part of this maturity means that many camera models share strong design similarities, because what is good for one camera is often good for at least most. Various camera models sharing similar design means that it is easy to switch between models and those familiar with the recent EOS **D (such as the 80D), 5-, 6- and 7-Series cameras will readily familiarize themselves with the 6D Mark II.
The back of the 6D Mark II shows only a small number of changes from the original 6D. But, one of these changes is big.
To compare the 6D Mark II with many more Canon EOS camera models, use the site's camera body comparison tool.
The big change is of course the vari-angle touch screen LCD with the 6D II being the first full frame Canon EOS model to gain this feature. This is a 3.0" (77mm) LCD with approximately 1,040,000 dots and features a solid-state structure design for clarity, durability and an approximately 170° viewing angle. An anti-smudge coating has been applied to this LCD, but an anti-reflection coating has been omitted (you can see the reflection difference in side-by-side comparison).
This LCD is found in many of Canon's current EOS models (including in the 80D, 77D, Rebel T7i, Rebel T6i and Rebel T5i) and ... it is a very strong camera feature. Having the LCD able to articulate into a wide range of angles is a big asset, making the camera easily usable in a wide variety of positions, ranging from on the ground shooting straight up to selfie orientation. Extended and forward-facing (with no blockage when tripod-mounted), this LCD makes self-recording easy. I've often wanted the vari-angle feature in a full frame EOS camera and ... now we have it.
As touch control becomes more common in DSLRs, this feature also becomes more familiar and therefore, more useful. What am I using the LCD's touch capability for? Touching to select the focus point location in Live View or video recording is one of my favorite uses. Pinch-to-zoom when reviewing images – and drag to pan around a zoomed image. Jump from one menu tab or option to a distant menu tab or option by touching that tab or option. Quickly change camera settings such as ISO with no need to click many times to go from a low ISO to a high ISO value – just touch the value. Practically all setting changes can be made using touch.
Touch Shutter control is once again available, allowing a photo taken when the touched point locks focus.
Showing great maturity and making use of the LCD is Canon's very easy to use and logically laid out menu system. Aiding in ease of use are optional Mode and Feature Guides that, when enabled, show information about camera settings as they are being changed.
The Menu and Info button once again take up their Canon-standard positions on the top-left, a location easily found by the left thumb. The Live View/Video selection lever surrounding the Start/Stop button is in the also-current-standard position (to the right of the viewfinder) as are the AF-ON (for back-button AF capability), Exposure lock and AF point selection buttons located at the top right.
The additional real estate consumed by the vari-angle LCD forces some buttons to be moved just slightly in position, but they retain the same functions. Starting at the top right of the LCD, we first find the Magnify button and then the "Q" button, providing "Quick" access to a context-sensitive menu. The ubiquitous playback button is next-down.
Remaining missing in the 6D-series is the joystick controller. Filling the void somewhat is this camera's multi-controller, featuring a rotating outer dial encircling an 8-way directional switch with a "Set" button in the center. While this control positions a lot of functionality at the right thumb, this control continues to not be my favorite. I like using the 6D II's controller better than the Rebel cross keys controls, but think it could be reworked modestly to provide more precise/positive control over settings in use. Unintentional button pressing sometimes occurs when attempting to use the dial. Deeper recessed positioning of the 8-way controller would be a great start (and perhaps enough for perfection).
The also-ubiquitous erase button is next down. Note that this button requires a deep press to function. While this press depth may help prevent inadvertent deletions, it also presents a challenge for gloves-on use. The other camera back change from the 6D I is the lock switch, going from a slide to a lever style consistent with the 80D's design.
The SD card slot cover is located to the far right.
Note that many of the 6D Mark II's buttons and controls can be customized to provide alternative functionality.
The top of the 6D Mark II appears nearly identical to that of the 6D (and a large number of other Canon EOS bodies).
The camera product images comparison tool allows comparison of many additional Canon EOS models.
The one change worth mentioning is the AF Area Selection button added just to the left of the shutter release. This is a very positive addition, providing quick access to the AF Area options.
A key to controlling the camera is the mode dial and the 6D II modes present on this dial are the same as found on the 6D I. The lock button prevents inadvertent changes and with the lock button pressed, the mode dial turns very easily.
Don't want to put any thought into your camera setup? The 6D II has you covered with the "A+" mode, referencing "Auto" combined with DIGIC 7 processor-powered artificial intelligence. While it could be referred to as the "Mindless" mode, that doesn't seem to give it the credit it deserves. There are times when even a seasoned photographer needs to pick up the camera and have it take a picture fast, without hesitating to check settings. This mode does that.
SCN (Special Scene) mode is once again featured, allowing the photographer to give the camera a stronger hint to what is being photographed. Turn the mode dial to SCN, press "Q" and choose between Portrait, Group Photo, Landscape, Sports, Kids, Panning, Close-up, Food, Candlelight, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene and HDR Backlight Control. The camera will automatically choose the settings it thinks are ideal for your situation. How often will some of the SCN modes be used? I'm guessing that the Candlelight option will not be called upon regularly by most. As I mentioned in the 80D review, pulling a camera out during a romantic candlelight dinner *may* sour the mood. But, there is no harm in having all of the modes available and they likely add nothing to the cost of the camera.
Those with some basic photography knowledge can use the CA (Creative Auto) mode to make camera settings adjustments using easily-understandable words instead of numbers. The full set of creative mode options (P, Av, Tv, M and B) are provided for the photographer to take as much control over their exposure settings as desired.
Especially nice is that a pair of "C" (Custom) modes are available for instant recall of camera settings. I use the custom modes very frequently and one just isn't enough (see: Configuring Custom Shooting Modes).
While the 6D Mark II (like the 80D) provides one more button in front of the top LCD than the 7D Mark II and 5-Series bodies, these buttons all have a single-function vs. the dual-function variety found in the other models, resulting in modestly less control overall.
With less real estate available on them, the sides of the camera are seldom exciting, but useful features are found here nonetheless.
The ports on the left side of the camera, from top down, are microphone input (3.5mm stereo mini jack), USB (2.0) and HDMI. An N3-style remote control port is found just in front of the left side.
As mentioned previously, the SD card slot is found on the right side of the camera.
One of the hallmarks of the 6D was small size and light weight, and the 6D II continues these traits. In the 6D Mark II, Canon packs a full frame sensor into a camera that is only very slightly larger/heavier than an APS-C-sensor 80D.
|Model||Body Dimensions||CIPA Weight|
|Canon EOS M5||4.6 x 3.5 x 2.4"||(115.6 x 89.2 x 60.6mm)||15.1 oz (427g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D||4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7"||(122.4 x 92.6 x 69.8mm)||16.0 oz (453g)|
|Canon EOS 77D||5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"||(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)||19.0 oz (540g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D||5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"||(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)||18.8 oz (532g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D||5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1"||(129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6mm)||17.1 oz (485g)|
|Canon EOS 80D||5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"||(139.0 x 105.2 x 78.5mm)||25.8 oz (730g)|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark II||5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1"||(148.6 x 112.4 x 78.2mm)||32.1 oz (910g)|
|Canon EOS 6D Mark II||5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9"||(144.0 x 110.5 x 74.8mm)||27.0 oz (765g)|
|Canon EOS 6D||5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8"||(144.5 x 110.5 x 71.2mm)||26.6 oz (755g)|
|Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R||6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0"||(152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm)||32.8 oz (930g)|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV||5.9 x 4.6 x 3.0"||(150.7 x 116.4 X 75.9mm)||31.4 oz (890g)|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark III||6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0"||(152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm)||33.5 oz (950g)|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark II||6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0"||(152 x 113.5 x 75mm)||31.9 oz (904g)|
The vari-angle LCD pushes the 6D II's dimensions slightly deeper than its predecessor, but ... I think most of us can overlook the .1" (3.6mm) difference for that gain. The 6D II is smaller than the 5-series models, though not dramatically smaller. Weighing about 4 oz (70g) less is also a positive attribute, but also not a dramatic difference.
The 6D II and 5D-series grips feel very similar and that is a very positive attribute. The 6D provides adequate grip space (including for the pinky) for full control of the camera with even the largest lenses mounted. While there are smaller cameras available, those models typically sacrifice the grip and if using a camera much, that sacrifice will be noticed. The 6D II can be comfortably used for long periods of time.
While the 6D Mark II represents the low end of Canon's full frame DSLR models, it feels anything but low end. The construction is tight. The buttons and dials provide good haptic feedback with with positive clicks (the rear 8-way multi-controller being an exception).
Valuable is that this camera is made to take some unexpected weather issues. Canon states "The battery compartment cover, card slot cover, lens mount, terminal covers and buttons are weather-sealed to help keep water and dust out."
The red areas in the Canon graphic show seals and the green indicates high precision parts. Weather sealing is not the same as waterproofing and a wet camera will not likely be repaired under warranty, so use caution (ideally, a rain cover) if wet conditions are expected.
The EOS 6D Mark II has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capability, providing easy transfer of images and movies to compatible mobile devices using Canon's free Camera Connect app (iOS | Android). With lots of potential awaiting development, this app provides some remote control of the camera's settings and shutter when shooting still images. Using Dual Pixel AF, the focus point can be positioned remotely via live view on the device and captured images can be viewed/downloaded remotely. Wireless remote printing to a compatible printer is also supported via WiFi.
The camera’s built-in NFC (Near Field Communication) allows quick and simple pairing to a compatible Android device, or devices that support NFC like the Canon Connect Station CS100 photo and video storage and sharing device.
In addition to its wireless capabilities, the 6D II features a built-in GPS. Images can (optionally) be tagged with the camera's GPS coordinates at the time of capture. Even if you are not interested in having your image capture coordinates stored, you may find the ability of the GPS to precisely maintain the camera's time to be helpful.
New for this model line is a built-in intervalometer (interval timer). The intervalometer is used for the 6D II's 4K Timelapse Movie Mode, a brand new feature able to create 3840px UHD resolution movies.
The 6D II has a self-cleaning sensor unit that seemed to perform well for me.
Notice the seams around the hot shoe? Those seams seem to house a pop-up flash. While this feature would have been another first for a Canon full frame EOS model, as just hinted, that is not the case. This camera has no built-in flash, but it supports the very full-featured Canon Speedlite flash system.
The 6D II utilizes the LP-E6N lithium ion battery pack, the same battery shipping with many other mid-to-upper level EOS camera models including the 80D and 5D IV.
The LP-E6N battery form factor is great (you can easily fit several of these small batteries in most pockets) and they still provide a very significant shot rating, often lasting a day of even very heavy shooting. The 6D II's solid rating of approx. 1200 (at 73°F/23°C) is modestly higher than the 6D Mark I's 1090 spec.
Battery life is always highly variable based on factors such as drive mode, flash use, live view/video use and temperature. Shoot in the high frame rate drive mode and you can expect to far exceed the factory rating. Shoot using live view in below-freezing temperatures and the number of shots rating will be unobtainable.
The 6D II provides a 6-level battery indicator on the top LCD and a specific percent remaining value in the Battery Information menu. This menu also provides a shutter count and a recharge performance rating for the installed battery.
Need twice as much battery capacity? Optional for the 6D II is the Canon BG-E21 Battery Grip. The battery grip accepts two LP-E6N batteries and doubles the shot-per-charge capacity of this camera. Better yet is the vertical grip that the BG-E21 provides, making vertically-oriented shooting easier and far more comfortable. The downside to using the BG-E21 is the additional size and weight. The grip is easily removable, giving you the choice of options best for you at the time.
When you buy a Canon DSLR, you are buying into an incredible, un-matched family of lenses, flashes and other accessories ready to support your most advanced needs. The camera body (or multiple bodies) is the base your system is built on and a lens is the next essential piece of kit. The 6D Mark II is compatible with Canon EF, TS-E and MP-E lenses (EF-S and EF-M models are not compatible).
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is available in a body-only kit (no lens), in a kit with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens or in a kit with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens. Both lenses are good options for general purpose use with the latter being the better quality lens. I expected the STM option to be a better choice if using Movie Servo AF was a significant part of your plans as STM AF historically provides a smoother focusing experience. But, I am impressed with how smoothly the 6D II focuses 24-105 f/4L IS II in Move Servo AF. If your budget permits, get the L lens.
A high quality lens avoids the weak link problem and makes a big difference in the image quality realized by any camera. Review the Canon general purpose lens recommendations page to find the most up-to-date list of best lens options. Then add, minimally, a telephoto zoom lens and a wide angle zoom lens to your kit.
Utilizing this camera's new Bluetooth capability is the Canon BR-E1 Bluetooth Remote. Want to be part of your own family picture? Or just don't want to deal with a remote release cord when using a tripod? This is an accessory you may want. In addition to being able to provide non-line-of-sight remote release functionality, this little device is also able to independently control AF and focal length zooming on compatible cameras and lenses (limited at this time).
The Canon EOS 6D II is also compatible with the small, inexpensive Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote.
While the small size and light weight are highly desired traits of this camera and the image quality, especially in low light, is stellar, it is the addition of the relatively low price to those features that drove the original 6D's popularity and the 6D II, with its many substantial upgrades, takes the baton and will enjoy at least as much success for the same reasons. This camera represents a very good value.
Keeping a review of the incredibly-feature-laden 6D Mark II concise but complete is a difficult balance to find and this review is not a complete description of every 6D Mark II feature available. Canon has published an intimidatingly-long 610-page owner's manual (a link to the manual is provided with this review) that highlights all of the features found on this camera and explains their use. The manual informs you about a huge array of features including Auto Lighting Optimizer, Distortion Correction, Chromatic Aberration Correction, Peripheral Illumination Correction, remote control, flash setup and control, High ISO Noise Reduction, Long Exposure Noise Reduction, Highlight Tone Priority ... and many, many other topics. Read the manual, go use your camera, repeat.
Owning a Canon product gives you access to Canon support and the support I have been provided by Canon's USA division is excellent (sorry, I have no experience with the other Canon divisions). When I call for support, I get an intelligent person who sincerely wants to help me with whatever my question or problem is (let's just say I challenge them sometimes). Canon repair service, though I seldom need it, is very fast and reliable.
The 6D Mark II used for this review was acquired online/retail.
Is the EOS 6D Mark II the right camera for you? In many cases, that answer is going to be "Yes". The 6D II is going to be the right camera to get for a great number of photographers, but there are of course other options. To help your decision making process, we have provided a number of specific comparisons. Look for links to those at the bottom of this review.
Canon positions the EOS 6D Mark II as a step-up from an APS-C model or as an entry-level DSLR for those who know the light-capturing value of a full frame sensor's significantly larger surface area. Many professionals will recognize the value proposition of having a 6D II available for backup to a higher-performing model and professionals on a tight budget will see the fully pro-grade image quality this model delivers and make it their primary camera.
Though very slightly heavier than the Canon EOS 6D it is replacing, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is otherwise the smallest and lightest full frame imaging sensor format Canon camera (as of review time). The 6D Mark II did not impress me with its AI Servo AF capabilities, its dynamic range is only adequate and I'm not a fan of the 8-way multi-controller. But, the image quality benefits, especially color and noise levels, of Canon's full frame CMOS sensors are big, while the footprint of the 6D II remains small – as does, probably most importantly, the relative impact on your wallet. Expectations were that the 6D Mark II would deliver very impressive image quality and rapidly hit the most-popular list. It has delivered on expectations.
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