Canon EOS M6 Mark II Review

This review is based on hands-on experience with a production Canon EOS M6 Mark II at a recent Canon media event (just under 2,000 images captured) along with information provided by Canon USA. Further updates and details will be added when the M6 II hits the streets.

As with this camera's obvious predecessor, the M6, entry-level through advanced amateur photographers looking for an extremely high image quality to camera size ratio have a great option in the Canon EOS M6 Mark II. While the M6 II is a tiny camera, with the brand-new Canon 32.5 MP CMOS imaging sensor, it (along with the simultaneously-introduced EOS 90D) leads the pack terms of image quality among Canon's other current APS-C sensor format EOS models as of review time. This includes both DSLR cameras and MILCs (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras).

From a performance perspective, this camera rocks. The 14-fps continuous frame rate with autofocus and autoexposure remarkably outperforms all Canon EOS models except the venerable Canon EOS-1D X Mark II which it remarkably matches. If 14 fps is not adequate for you, try the new 30 fps RAW burst feature with AF tracking and up to 0.5 seconds of pre shooting available. And, featuring further improved, DIGIC 8-powered Dual Pixel CMOS AF, this camera is a great performer from the very-important image quality-affecting AF speed and accuracy perspective with Eye AF including in still and video servo modes performing exceptionally well. Like the rest of the EOS M models, the M6 is very well-built and Canon has packed a full set of controls into the small amount of space availed by the compact camera, making it easy to realize the image quality potential of this camera.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Body

Following is some M-series background information (skip to the features bullets if not interested):

When Canon introduced their first mirrorless ILC, the EOS M model, we had the great Canon DSLR image quality we have grown to love in a tiny camera body. While the M's image quality per square inch (cm) and per lb (g) was a home run and that nearly all of Canon's entire lineup of DSLR accessories were available for it was a huge advantage, there were some aspects of this camera that left many of us wanting more. I purchased and long-owned an M.

Subsequently, an M2 model became available in some locales and the EOS M3 was (eventually) released globally. The M3 brought about some welcomed changes, including multiple dials on the top making some settings changes easier and faster, an improved AF system, a tilting LCD, a built-in flash and a better grip. This camera packs very compactly and delivers excellent image quality. While the improvements were quite positive, I still struggled with it in some aspects; even though it focused faster than the M, the M3 still seemed a bit slow and lacking in responsiveness. I also owned an M3 for a long period of time.

An M10 hit the streets around the same time as the M3, though the M10 was positioned below the M3.

The Canon EOS M5 was the next M model released and it featured many big upgrades that made it a compelling choice for those wanting DSLR-like capabilities and functionality in a smaller body. It was only a matter of time before Canon's excellent, fast, imaging-sensor-based phase-detection AF system, Dual Pixel CMOS AF (DPAF), made its way to the M series. In addition to DPAF, a DIGIC 7 processor enabled 7 fps high-speed continuous shooting performance that exceeded the capabilities of many full-sized DSLRs and the built-in EVF made this camera far more usable.

The Canon EOS M6, succinctly, an M5 without a built-in EVF and a lower price tag, came next.

As you may have already determined, the EOS M naming convention had an unfortunately complicated beginning. "EOS" of course refers to Canon's interchangeable lens camera models and the "M" line refers to the mirrorless APS-C imaging sensor format variants. Beyond the "M" is where the naming convention trouble starts.

The "M2" and "M3" came in succession. To that point, it appeared that number would simply be incremented and higher numbers were better and that plan works. Then came the "M5" and "M10", which could still make sense if the "M5" was not the higher-end camera model. Not long after these two models came the "M6" which slotted between the other two models.

The current EOS M strategy is that lower number represents higher-end models. With a "Mark II" version of the M6, it seems that this strategy is sticking. While it has become difficult to discern based on features, Canon has informed me that the EOS M5 remains the flagship model in the M lineup, though from a features perspective, it now needs the Mark II treatment.

Here is a summary of the features and improvements found in the M6 Mark II:

Summary of Canon EOS M6 Mark II Features

  • Newly Developed 32.5 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with no loss of image quality or increased noise levels
  • 14 fps continuous shooting with AF and AE
  • 30 fps RAW burst with AF tracking and up to 0.5 seconds of pre shooting available
  • DIGIC 8 Processor for enhanced image quality and performance
  • Further improved and powered by the DIGIC 8 processor, high-performing Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 88x100% coverage, 5,481 selectable AF points, and eye detection/tracking including in servo mode for both stills and video
  • Ultra-low-light EV -5 AF (EV -2.5 in 4k video recording and EV -3 in Full HD)
  • New Single-point Spot AF available for precise control of AF
  • Touch & Drag AF with optional EVF (this feature is awesome and alone worth getting the EVF for)
  • 4K UHD video at 30p/25p, uncropped or cropped (for a narrower angle of view from same focal lengths)
  • Full HD video at 120p/100p
  • ISO 100-25600, H(51200)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability for easy/auto transfer of images and movies to compatible smart devices
  • Touch screen 3.0" (77mm) 3:2 Clear View II TFT, approx. 1040K dots, tiltable 180° up and 45° down
  • Mechanical shutter provides speeds up to 1/4000 with the electronic shutter enabling 1/16000
  • New Dual Function and Quick Control Dial
  • New AF/MF focus mode switch and AF Start button
  • Fv Mode
  • Very compact, light and fully-featured APS-C camera

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Front Silver

Sensor and Image Quality

The EOS M6 Mark II receives Canon's first new CMOS APS-C imaging sensor in quite some time and the 32.5 MP resolution is a serious upgrade from previously-best 24 MP options.

ModelFOVCFSensorPixel SizePixels/MegapixelsViewfinderDLA*
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm4.14µm8688 x 579250.6 .71x100%f/6.7
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm5.36µm6720 x 448030.4 .71x100%f/8.6
Canon EOS 6D Mark II1.0x35.9 x 24.0mm5.75µm6240 x 416026.2 .71x98%f/9.3
Canon EOS 7D Mark II1.6x22.4 x 15.0mm4.1µm5472 x 364820.2 1.0x100%f/6.6
Canon EOS 90D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.20µm6960 x 464032.5 .95x100%f/5.2
Canon EOS 77D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 .82x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.1 .87x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.1 .80x95%f/6.0
Canon EOS R1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm5.36µm6720 x 448030.3 .71x100%f/8.6
Canon EOS RP1.0x35.9 x 24.0mm5.75µm6240 x 416026.2 .70x100%f/9.3
Canon EOS M51.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 100%f/6.0
Canon EOS M6 Mark II1.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.20µm6960 x 464032.5 opt100%f/5.2
Canon EOS M61.6x22.3 x 14.9mm3.72µm6000 x 400024.2 opt100%f/6.0
View the full Canon-EOS-M6-Mark-II specifications to compare additional cameras.

Remarkably, despite the size of this camera, at review time, the only EOS cameras (aside from the simultaneously-introduced 90D) with more pixels are the full frame 5Ds and 5Ds R.

Does everyone need this much resolution? No, but from an image quality perspective, I can't think of a negative reason for having too many pixels. All other aspects remaining equal, more is better. That said, there are some negative aspects to ultra-high image resolution. More specifically, higher resolution magnifies things you don't want to see including:

  1. Lens aberrations (high-quality lenses will make the best use of the resolution available)
  2. Subject motion (an increased pixel density means that details will cross over individual pixels at a greater rate of speed, meaning that slightly faster shutter speeds will be required to avoid increased blur at the pixel level)
  3. Shortcomings in your technique including camera shake (you will need slightly faster shutter speeds for sharp handheld images with image stabilization and use of a tripod becoming more important)
  4. Environmental issues such as heat waves are magnified
  5. Diffraction

The details of diffraction do not necessarily need to be understood but all photographers should be aware that, as the aperture opening decreases (higher f/number), images become less sharp at the pixel level beyond the approximate aperture we refer to as the Diffraction Limited Aperture ("DLA", included in table above). As resolution increases, that point of visible degradation occurs at a wider aperture, negating a bit of the higher resolution advantage. While you will frequently want to use apertures narrower than this camera's f/5.2 DLA, the decision to do so should happen with the understanding that pixel-level sharpness becomes a compromise being made. Those wanting to retain maximum sharpness in their ultra-high resolution or create very deep DOF (Depth-of-Field) images may decide that tilt-shift lenses and focus stacking techniques are especially attractive.

Large file sizes require large amounts of storage, increased file transfer/load times, and increased computing cycles. The C-RAW format significantly reduces the impact of those first two downsides. Perhaps it is time to buy higher capacity memory cards and disk drives and to get a faster computer if necessary.

I've mentioned "pixel-level" very frequently here and want to emphasize that, when the final output size matches that from lower resolution imaging sensors, the entire list of magnification issues just presented are negated and down-sampling to a lower resolution has benefits.

The advantages of the increased detail captured by a higher resolution imaging sensor abound and include the ability to output at a larger size or to crop while retaining high resolution. I often find myself using the entire image dimensions to frame the final composition I am seeking, attempting to have the most detail for viewing or printing large. While this strategy is usually a good one, sometimes that tight framing gets me in trouble such as when I clip wingtips, need a bleed edge for printing, and/or need to format the image to a non-3:2 ratio such as for an 8x10 print. Having this much resolution available provides the freedom to frame subjects slightly looser to better accommodate such needs with high resolution not being sacrificed by moderate cropping. Birders especially will love that the ultra-high pixel density of this imaging sensor effectively increases the "reach" of all lenses. With this much resolution, the potential exists to crop a variety of final compositions from a single image.

I have no reservations about the image quality I'm seeing from this camera but will wait to critically evaluate image quality until we can lab test this model. Canon said I should expect no loss of image quality or increased noise levels from this imaging sensor relative to the previous 24 MP models.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Front

File Size and Media

The Canon EOS M6 Mark II writes image files to an SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II) memory card with a single slot is available. SD cards are reliable (pin-less), very compact, very popular (found everywhere), and available in a wide range of speeds, capacities, and prices. Card readers are also readily available and even built into some computers. I'm always happy with this card format choice.

Introduced with the Canon EOS M50 was the .CR3 RAW format and the Canon EOS M6 Mark II gets this feature. This RAW file format enables new features including C-RAW, compressed RAW with lossy compression vs. the normally compressed RAW with non-lossy compression. Instead of the not-full-featured small and medium RAW formats Canon formerly offered, C-RAW provides full RAW file support along with an estimated 40% file size reduction over Canon's already efficient RAW file format size. The math adds up quickly, significantly impacting both memory card and hard disk storage capacity requirements. With the M50 review, what started as a quick evaluation of this new feature turned into a sizable project. Check out the article: Should I Use Canon's C-RAW Image File Format? for more information.

Frame Rate, Buffer Depth, Shutter

The Canon EOS M6 Mark II delivers a very remarkable 14 frames per second and that spec comes with AF and AE. In Canon's interchangeable lens camera lineup at review time, only the professional EOS-1D X Mark II compares. And with 30 fps RAW burst with AF tracking and up to 0.5 seconds of pre shooting available, nothing else comes close.

When photographing action, it is all about capturing the perfect moment in time and this camera is built with that capability. Photographers do not often need to keep every frame out of a long burst, but very frequently a fast-continuous shooting rate enables capture of the ultimate body, ball, etc. position and having the perfect moment captured makes a huge difference in the image chosen to share. Here is a comparison table featuring many current and recent EOS models:

ModelFPSMax JPGMax RAWShutter LagVF Blackout
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R5.031/Full12/1459ms125ms
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV7.0Full1758ms86ms
Canon EOS 6D Mark II6.520018/2160ms 
Canon EOS 7D Mark II10.01303155ms100ms
Canon EOS 90D10.0/11.057/5824/2559ms96ms
Canon EOS 80D7.077/11020/2560msn/a
Canon EOS 70D7.040/6515/1665ms97ms
Canon EOS 60D5.3581659ms100ms
Canon EOS 50D6.3901659ms100ms
Canon EOS 77D6.0190/Full21/2770ms 
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D6.0190/Full21/2770ms 
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D5.0Full1075ms; 
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D3.011106120ms170ms
Canon EOS RP4Full50/Full55msn/a
Canon EOS R2.2-810034/4750msn/a
Canon EOS M57/92617 n/a
Canon EOS M6 Mark II14/30542353msn/a
Canon EOS M67/92617 n/a
View the full Canon-EOS-M6-Mark-II specifications to compare additional cameras.

In its fastest continuous shooting mode, this camera's image buffer is filled with 54 large JPG images and 23 RAW images (the same specs hold for both standard and UHS-II cards). The 54 figure is very comfortable, providing nearly 4 seconds of continuous shooting time. The 23 figure yields under 2 seconds of shooting, a short enough time duration that makes burst timing important in some scenarios. Always beneficial for understanding the speed of a specific frame rate is a visual example, so let's head to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for a look at the 14-fps rate.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II 14 fps Frame Rate Example

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

While this frame rate may make the car appear to be moving slowly, it is moving at full/high speed. Based on the specified frame rate, the 10 frames were captured in well under a second.

Information about the M6 Mark II's 30 fps RAW burst feature was limited at the product launch, so I inquired of the man who seems to know everything about the Canon EOS system, Rudy Winston of Canon USA. Here is the very helpful information Rudy shared with me:

RAW burst is a separate line item in the camera’s shooting menu; it’s not one of the listed “Drive” speed choices. So it’s handled like a separate feature, and not just another FPS choice.

As the specs suggest, RAW burst fires at up to 30 fps, and will do so for up to 80 shots in a continuous burst, assuming a fast UHS-II compliant SD card is installed. I’ve tried it with UHS-I cards, and gotten around 50 or so images in a burst.

There’s a separate Menu choice for “Pre-shooting,” which by default is off. If user-enabled, it starts collecting image data **when the shutter button is pressed half-way down,** and then once it’s pressed FULLY to begin shooting, the last 0.5 seconds worth of images before the full press are recorded to the memory card as well. We’ve seen this before, in the video world, and the idea is if waiting for some split-second event to occur (for instance, a bird on a branch, waiting for it to take off in flight), you get the half-second before you actually reacted and fully pressed the shutter button down.

A few other points about RAW burst mode:

  • It always records lower-resolution, slightly cropped RAW images (approx. 18 million pixels, 5184 x 3456 resolution); about 75% x 75% (H x V) of the sensor’s full dimensions is used during RAW burst shooting. Obviously, with the electronic viewfinder or LCD monitor, the user always sees the actual recorded image area.
  • RAW burst is only possible in Creative Zone shooting modes (P, Tv, Av, Fv, or Manual)
  • Processing is 12-bit, vs. 14-bit processing for standard RAW images
  • Electronic shutter (only) is active during RAW burst shooting (the maximum drive speed with “mechanical” shutter is the camera’s normal 14 FPS high continuous setting)
  • Servo AF **is** possible during RAW burst shooting
  • RAW burst images are recorded in a “roll,” and play back in-camera slightly differently than a normal continuous sequence of files.
  • RAW images have a “.CSI” prefix when taken in RAW burst mode; a compatible version of Canon’s DPP software (or third-party RAW processing software) is required to view and process them.
  • The camera does NOT have to be pre-set to a continuous Drive setting, before activating RAW burst shooting in the Menu.
  • At least on my pre-production sample camera, if RAW burst is set on the Menu, and the camera is turned off (or the card is removed), the camera reverts to normal Drive operation, and RAW burst is disabled. I don’t know of a way to force it to stay active if the camera’s turned off, at least at this point.
  • Again, on my pre-production camera, it’s not possible to save RAW burst mode to one of the memorized, “Custom” shooting modes (C1 or C2)… if RAW burst is enabled, the Custom Shooting Modes within the Set-up Menu are grayed-out. They immediately are restored if RAW burst is disabled on the Menu.

The last two points MAY be a matter of the camera I evaluated being a pre-production version. I don’t have documentation from Japan to confirm or deny that these limitations will carry over to the production model, but thought I’d mention it. At this stage of pre-production, I wouldn't’ be surprised if actual production cameras behave the same way as my sample camera.

Two of the keys that make RAW burst possible are the use of a DIGIC 8 processor, and most importantly, faster read-out speeds of the new 32.5 MP image sensor (while still allowing Dual Pixel CMOS AF to be carried out).

As a practical matter, at least judging from my pre-production sample camera, this feature is VERY sensitive to SD card write speed. A SanDisk UHS-I card, rated at 95 MB/sec, was not sufficient to record anything close to 80 straight images, and the little vertical buffer “scale” on the LCD monitor appeared almost immediately as shooting began. In other words, users should expect to require fast, UHS-II cards to really get the most out of this feature. Fortunately, unlike previous EOS M-series models, the M6 Mark II **is** compatible with UHS-II cards!

Again, we can thank Rudy Winston for sharing the above information.

In the Creative zone, the M6 II offers shutter speeds from 1/4000 sec. to 30 sec., bulb (Bulb timer available with 1 sec. to 1 second less than 100 hours) and, when the electronic shutter is selected, the fastest speed is 1/16000 sec. The Basic Zone offers exposure durations of ranging 1/4000 - 1 sec. The highest flash-sync shutter speed is 1/200 sec.

The self-timer offers Off, 2 sec. delay, 10 sec. delay, Custom, Remote Shooting, and Continuous shooting options.

An interval timer is provided with 10 sec. to 1 second less than 100 hours available with 1-99 or unlimited shots specifiable. Canon noted that when certain lenses are in use (notably the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM, EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM), and if auto power off operates during interval timer shooting, the focusing position may be shifted. Disabling auto power off function or using lenses other than the ones just mentioned is recommended.

Autofocus

Image quality matters and it is easy to show/see differences on a website in this regard, but a camera's autofocus system is an incredibly important factor in maximizing image quality. A misfocused image will likely be deleted immediately and any focus lock lag can mean a moment missed. The more I use mirrorless cameras, the more I appreciate the accuracy of the sensor-based AF systems (especially with third-party lenses). Canon's Dual Pixel AF system performed excellently in the M6 and it is even better in the M6 II.

The M6 II's AF system has speed similar to Canon's conventional DSLR phase-detection AF systems and I didn't notice any speed difference between the 90D and M6 II I was alternately using, even when photographing exotic cars at high speed on the track.

AF accuracy in both One Shot and Servo modes has been excellent, even at 14 fps. With ultra-low-light EV -5 AF (EV -2.5 in 4k video recording and EV -3 in Full HD), this camera has no fear of the dark and EV -5 is really dark.

Using the imaging sensor for AF also enables great features. Canon has had high-performing face-tracking AF available on other camera models, especially when using sensor-based AF, but the EOS R first brought us a sub-option for Face Tracking AF logically called Eye AF. The M6 II now has this feature and it is awesome. When enabled, Eye AF selects the closest eye (vs. face). When photographing people, set the camera to Servo AF with eye tracking enabled and then concentrate on your composition and shutter release timing. AF takes care of itself even when very shallow depth of field is available.

Live View and Movie focusing modes include Live View: Single-point AF (5,481 selectable AF points), Zone AF (5x5, 25 points), Face + Tracking AF (13x11, 143 points), and Single-point Spot AF (new) The AF zone covers 88x100% of the frame and while I have not found this spec yet, AF is likely possible with max. apertures of f/11 or wider.

The M6 II's capacitive touchscreen allows for Touch Focus during both live view still photography and before/during video recording. Just tap your finger on the LCD where you want the camera to focus and it happens promptly and smoothly. It's really easy.

Canon's awesome Touch & Drag AF interface (debuted with the M5) was not included in the M6. While that feature is of little use without the optional electronic viewfinder accessory and the LCD can simply be touched to select the AF point location, I find that EVF to be very useful and missed having touch and drag available when using it. Fortunately, Canon gave us Touch & Drag AF in the M6 II. With Touch & Drag AF, the entire LCD or a specific portion of it can be used as a trackpad to position the AF point during stills or video capture. By touching and dragging on the LCD, the active AF point can be very quickly repositioned, either absolutely based on the touch location within the LCD (or selected portion of the LCD) or moved relative to drag direction.

Overall, this camera's AF technology is very impressive — I now prefer Canon's Dual Pixel AF over conventional DSLR phase-detection AF.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II AF Example

Exposure/Metering System

In addition to AF, the 6D Mark II also uses the imaging sensor for metering. Available metering modes are Evaluative metering (entire scene is analyzed within 384 zones, 24x16), Partial metering (approx. 4.5% of screen, at center), Spot metering (approx. 2.6% of screen, at center), and Center-weighted evaluative metering (entire scene is analyzed within 384 zones, center of viewfinder given more weight).

The metering range is EV -2–20 (at room temperature, ISO 100) and EV 0–20 for movie recording. Available exposure compensation is +/-3 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments and auto exposure bracketing is +/-3 stops in 1/3- or 1/2-stop increments.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II with EVF

Viewfinder and LCD

Ideally, the camera stays out of your way and that was my take of this camera's optional Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). No, the currently-common EVF frame freeze is not completely gone as one would ideally want for photographing fast side-to-side action, but I could usually keep up with Formula Drift drivers in the skidpad. Check out the Comparing Electronic Viewfinders to Optical Viewfinders article for more relevant information.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II LCD Open

This camera gets Canon's excellent 3" (7.5cm) Clear View LCD II monitor, featuring capacitive touch and high resolution with approx. 1,040,000 dots. The LCD tilts 180° up and 45° down. A benefit of this type of tilting LCD (vs. the side-pivoting vari-angle feature found on many EOS DSLRs) is that it does not interfere with cables attached to the left side of the camera. A benefit from tilting 180° up (vs. the M5's tilting 180° down) is that a tripod does not interfere with the visibility of the LCD, making this model better-suited for selfies, including both still and video recording/vlogging.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II LCD Open Front

The LCD's touch capability provides great control over camera settings. Pinch, tap, double-tap, flick, etc. gestures are supported. The M6 II's LCD stays surprisingly clean even with fingers frequently touching it and, when needed, a microfiber cloth simply removes any dirt/oil that accumulates.

Tour of the Canon EOS M6 Mark II

The EOS M line is all about delivering big camera image quality from a tiny package and next we will look closer at the physical attributes of the camera. While the original M had very few controls, subsequent models have been adding them and the M6 Mark II has a substantial number.

The usefulness of a camera relates in part to your ability to control how it works. While the defaults for all of the provided dials and buttons are very well thought out, the M6 II features a high level of programmability, making the ideal-for-you customized setup available.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Back

Back of the Camera

At a quick glance, the back of the M6 II may not appear to be substantially updated, but upon closer inspection, some big-deal changes have been made. First, the 5 basic controls are farther from the grip. This position makes them easier to reach (less-cramped thumb access) and with more grip surface available, inadvertent palm button presses are better avoided.

The other big change is the addition of the AF button and AF/MF surround switch. With EF-M lenses typically being void of an AF/MF switch, a menu option was previously required for control. Now, the short throw of a lever handles this function.

From the back view, the neck strap holders can be seen. This design is somewhat of a reversion back from a design new with the M5 and M6. If you watch details such as this, you see that Canon is constantly trying new concepts and sometimes they don't stick for one reason or another.

The buttons on the back of the M6 II are in excellent order, useful, well-labeled and nicely located with space remaining mostly for the LCD.

The M6 II's Rear Control Dial has an especially great design including a crisp edge that is easy to grip and the directional switches within it are easy to use without much finger movement.

All of Canon's interchangeable lens cameras feature easy-to-use, logically-laid-out menu systems. A series of tabbed menus are especially quickly accessed using the touch screen and the My Menu provides a customizable list of frequently used options.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Top

Top of the Camera

There is one substantial change on the top of the M6 II vs. the M6. Like the M6, the left side of the M6 II's top is dominated by the pop-up flash, the hot shoe is next to the right and the mode dial comes next. The shutter release surrounded by a substantially-sized dial carries over as does the M-Fn button and the power switch.

Going missing is the M6's stacked quick control dial and dedicated exposure compensation dial. Replacing those dials are the dial function button and quick control dial, as first seen in the EOS R. These controls are able to perform an array of setting changes (ISO, drive mode, AF mode, white balance and exposure compensation) and with some acclimation, are quite powerful.

The power switch is easy to use with the right thumb while gripping the camera and the dials work very well.

The M6 II has a full set of shooting modes, ranging from crazy-easy point-and-shoot and smart to fully manual with most everything in between covered including a wide range of special effects that can be applied while shooting. Hybrid Auto Mode (counterclockwise to the green mode) creates a short digest movie of the day by recording 2-4 second clips before each still image capture.

A mode recently introduced with the EOS R is FV, Flexible-priority AE mode, and it is back with the M6 II.

Canon EOS R FV Mode

"With Fv mode, shutter speed, aperture setting, and ISO sensitivity are set automatically by default, and change according to the setting changes the photographer makes. This gives the user the freedom to specify or change aperture, shutter speed or ISO sensitivity, without having to change modes, providing confidence that the camera will select the correct corresponding settings." [Canon] Fv (Flexible Priority) mode acts like P mode when first activated, but the not-specified settings remain automatic as specific ones are adjusted. This mode continues to be highly-touted by Canon.

A friend pointed out that Fv mode is an ideal choice for programming into the custom modes. Once set, a custom mode's mode (P, Av, TV, M) cannot be changed without resetting the custom mode using the menu. With Fv, one can make the programmed custom mode act as one of the other modes on the fly.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Left Side

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Right Side

Size of the Camera

Certainly, you've been taking notice of how small this camera is relative to the non-M series models being compared above. Small size and light weight are hallmarks of the entire EOS M series.

ModelBody DimensionsCIPA Weight
Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0"(152 x 116.4 x 76.4mm)32.8 oz (930g)
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV5.9 x 4.6 x 3.0"(150.7 x 116.4 X 75.9mm)31.4 oz (890g)
Canon EOS 7D Mark II5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1"(148.6 x 112.4 x 78.2mm)32.1 oz (910g)
Canon EOS 6D Mark II5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9"(144.0 x 110.5 x 74.8mm)27.0 oz (765g)
Canon EOS 90D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.0"(140.7 x 104.8 x 76.8mm)24.7 oz (701g)
Canon EOS 80D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"(139.0 x 105.2 x 78.5mm)25.8 oz (730g)
Canon EOS 70D5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"(139.0 x 104.3 x 78.5mm)26.7 oz (755g)
Canon EOS 77D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)19.0 oz (540g)
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)18.8 oz (532g)
Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7(122.4 x 92.6 x 69.8mm)15.8 oz (449g)
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1"(129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6mm)16.8 oz (475g)
Canon EOS R5.4 x 3.9 x 3.3"(135.8 x 98.3 x 84.4mm)23.4 oz (660g)
Canon EOS RP5.2 x 3.36 x 2.76"(132.5 x 85.3 x 70mm)17.3 oz (485g)
Canon EOS M54.6 x 3.5 x 2.4"(115.6 x 89.2 x 60.6mm)15.1 oz (427g)
Canon EOS M6 Mark II4.7 x 2.8 x 1.9"(119.6 x 70.0 x 49.2mm)14.4 oz (408g)
Canon EOS M64.4 x 2.7 x 1.8"(112.0 x 68.0 x 44.5mm)13.8 oz (390g)
Canon EOS M4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3"(108.6 x 66.5 x 32.3mm)10.5 oz (298g)
View the full Canon-EOS-M6-Mark-II specifications to compare additional cameras.

As you can see from above, the EOS M6 II is basically the same size as the M3 but 0.9 oz (25.5g) heavier. The EOS M and M10 are the smallest, but they have very little grip surface. When the absolute smallest option is needed, these models may be the best choice. However, the increased grip size found on the M6, M5 and M3 make these cameras much easier to hold onto and, if much time is spent with the camera in hand, these models are a better choice for this reason alone. The additional controls these models provide are further reason to take the modest size hit.

Ergonomics, Build Quality and Durability

All models in the entire current Canon EOS line (and most discontinued models as well) feature very nice build quality and even the least expensive models appear this way. Construction is tight with dials and buttons that assuredly click affirmation of use. As usual for EOS models, Canon has ergonomically rounded most of the camera and especially the areas intended to be gripped are void of sharp corners. Unless the retro look is what you are going for, you will likely find this design aesthetically pleasing and kind to your hands. That said, the silver and black model does have a retro appearance.

Additional Features

Like many of Canon's recently released EOS models, the M6 II has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (NFC and GPS are omitted). These technologies provide easy transfer of images and movies to compatible devices.

Smartphone and tablets connect using Canon's free Camera Connect app. In addition to transferring movies and still images, this app provides some remote camera control features and provides a live view display of the scene. I need to check out the latest version of Camera Connect, but it previously left a lot of potential untapped with the feature set being somewhat basic.

Bluetooth is a relatively new EOS technology feature. Utilizing this camera's 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).

Now common is for Canon's latest EOS DSLRs to feature built-in RAW conversion to JPG, complete with many adjustments available for doing so and the M6 II once again supports this feature. While shooting in RAW format ensures the highest image quality, this file format is not so welcomed by many of the wirelessly-connected devices. With the built-in RAW conversion, you can photograph in RAW format, create a JPG file and then wirelessly transfer it.

This camera does not feature a built-in GPS, but the Canon Connect App is able to serve as a GPS logger, though battery drain will be high on the logging device. While the M5 and M6 II do not directly support the Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver, the GP-E2's logging function can be used to geotag images later (accuracy depends on the camera's date and time being accurately set).

The EOS M6 Mark II has a self-cleaning sensor system.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Flash Up

Flash

Yes, this little camera has a built-in flash. No, you should not expect too much from it. With a guide number of approx. 15.1'/4.6m (ISO 100), you are not going to be overwhelmed with the output. But, sometimes a bit of fill light can make a big difference with close subjects. A 15mm angle of view is covered.

Battery

The M6 II again utilizes the LP-E17 lithium-ion battery pack, the same battery shipping with EOS M6, M5, Rebel T7i, and 77D.

This battery is quite small, light and convenient. But, in a mirrorless camera, this battery's approx. 305 shots rating (or approx. 250 shots when used with the EVF-DC2) is unlikely to impress you. There are many factors that affect battery life (including drive mode, flash use, and temperature), but enabling the M6 II's Eco Mode extends the rating to 410 shots. The key is to take enough charged batteries with you to satisfy your needs (and keep an eye on the 4-step battery level indicator to make sure the battery change happens at a convenient time). Expect to far exceed these rating when shooting in high-speed continuous mode.

The M6 II's battery slot is not keyed to stop incorrect insertion until the battery is nearly fully seated. Just because the battery goes into the slot does not mean that it will fully click into place. While I can easily determine that the side with the contacts goes in first, the other two options are not as easily differentiated.

If an electrical outlet is available, the Canon CA-PS700 AC Adapter will provide continuous power to the M6 II.

Which Lens Should I Get for the Canon EOS M6 Mark II?

When you buy a Canon EOS camera, you are buying into an incredible family of lenses, flashes, and other accessories. 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 Canon EOS M6 Mark II is available as a body-only kit, in a kit with the very small Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens, or in a kit with the modestly larger Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens. The two with-lens kits include the tiny EVF-DC2 (you want this).

Those opting to purchase the M6 are likely choosing it in part because of its great image quality and small size. To realize the great image quality requires a high-quality lens. The APS-C image sensor is large and large imaging sensors require a large image circle to cover them. This means that lenses, at least those with wide apertures, may not be able to scale down relative to this camera's size.

Canon's EF-M Lenses are very compact and they are all good choices for this camera. I appreciated the 15-45 lens' smaller retracted size and wider angle of view compared to the 18-150, but the focal length range of the 18-150 is really nice and it delivers very good image quality. To remain as similarly compact as the M cameras, the currently available EF-M lenses have narrow max apertures with two exceptions. The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens pancake-style lens and the Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM Lens. Both of these lenses offer good general-purpose utility and the EF-M 32 has especially remarkable image quality.

Via the EF-EOS M Adapter, all of Canon's lenses (EF-S, EF, TS-E, and MP-E) can be mounted on all of the M models. While only a small percentage of these lenses retain the small size and light-weight spirit of the Ms, having them available is a big asset, especially for those already having (or planning to have) a larger EOS model in their kits.

As mentioned, the Canon EVF-DC2 Electronic Viewfinder is a valuable accessory, especially when photographing in bright sunlight. Also helpful is that the EVF-DC2 features diopter adjustment, meaning it can be focused to the needs of your eye. A button on the right side switches the EVF between off and auto mode where the proximity detector automatically switches between the camera's rear LCD and the EVF based on the presence of an eye (or something else). The round eyecup is comfortable, the EVF provides a nice amount of nose relief from the rear LCD, and the quality of the image presented is very good. Get it.

Price

While the M6 II is slotted below the current flagship M5 in Canon's M-series lineup, it is list/MAP-priced slightly higher without an EVF factored into the price and, at review time, the discounted M5 is moderately less expensive. While that does not sound logical at a surface level, I think that the M6's feature advantages more than offset that difference. Though it is a full-featured camera that performs extremely well, it is priced toward the bottom of the overall EOS range with a moderate price. Compare the M6 to similarly equipped DSLRs such as the 90D and it appears to be a good value.

Wrap Up

Reviewing one of the feature-filled EOS cameras currently hitting the streets is a daunting, time-consuming effort. One could write many books about using this camera and getting the most from it. Hopefully, I've given you the basics needed for decision making.

To dig deeper into this camera's capabilities, I recommend reading the owner's manual (a link to the owner's manual appears at the beginning of this review). I know, there are a LOT of pages in the manual, but ... the pages are small in size with big print. The manual will tell you all about a huge array of features not mentioned in this review – including lens aberration correction.

Owning a Canon product gives you access to Canon support and the support I have been provided by Canon's USA division is excellent. When I call for support, I get an intelligent person who sincerely wants to help me with whatever my question or problem is (I challenge them sometimes). Canon repair service, though I seldom need it, is very fast and reliable.

The EOS M6 II used for this review was on loan from Canon USA.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Angle

Alternatives

When selecting a camera, one usually wants to compare it to the closest alternatives and to get started, I'll compare the Canon EOS M6 Mark II to the Canon EOS M6. That link along with the visual comparison reveal most of the differences. What are the differences between the Canon EOS M6 Mark II and the Canon EOS M6? Here is a summary of the differences:

  • 32.5 MP vs. 24.2 MP (6960 x 4640 px vs. 6000 x 4000 px)
  • Pixel Size of 3.20µm vs 3.72µm (DLA of f/5.2 vs. f/6.0)
  • 14 fps continuous shooting with AF vs. 7 fps (9fps w/o AF), 54/23 JPG/RAW frames vs. 26/17
  • DIGIC 8 vs. DIGIC 7 processor
  • Eye AF
  • Maximum of 143/99 auto selected AF points (depending on the lens) vs. 49
  • Still image metering range of EV -2–20 vs. EV 1 - 20
  • Movie recording metering range of EV 0–20 vs. EV 2 - 20
  • 1/16000 sec. shutter speed with electronic shutter
  • Has C-RAW
  • 4k, Full HD at 119.88
  • Has Flicker Mode, adjusting shutter release timing to avoid flickering light issues
  • Does not have NFC
  • Has a Wireless menu tab
  • Supports UHS-II memory card standard vs. UHS-I
  • Slightly larger: 4.71 x 2.76 x 1.94" vs. 4.4 x 2.7 x 1.8" (119.6 x 70.0 x 49.2mm vs. 112.0 x 68.0 x 44.5mm)
  • Slightly lighter: 12.73 oz vs. 13.8 oz (361g vs. 390g)
  • Has a dedicated rear AF/MF switch and AF-ON button
  • Has a multi-function top dial and button vs. stacked dials

Numerous of those bullets could alone justify an upgrade from the M6 Mark I. For example, the twice-as-fast (with AF) continuous shooting frame rate. Eye AF is alone worth the price of the camera to those photographing people with any frequency. Do much video work? The 4k feature is noteworthy. Want higher resolution or more reach with the lenses you currently have? The increased sensor resolution is going to be noticeable. As with most model upgrades, price remains the primary feature advantage of the previous camera version.

I'll expand this section later, but here are some additional specification comparisons to get you started:

Canon EOS M6 Mark II vs. Canon EOS M5 Comparison

Canon EOS M6 Mark II vs. Canon EOS 80D Comparison

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Portrait Sample Picture

Does the Lamborghini Huracan make the background too distracting? It definitely vies for attention.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II Drifting Sample Picture

Summary

If you have been waiting to jump into a Canon MILC and an APS-C sensor format works for you, the EOS M6 Mark II is a great choice. This camera is also a superb choice for those wanting to step up from earlier models of this series.

While one may feel a tendency to treat a camera of this size as a point and shoot model, using it only for those still-important snapshot opportunities that pop up (it works extremely well for these) would mean underutilizing a highly-capable camera. The M6 II has very impressive AF system (intelligent, quickly controllable and good speed) and an impressive set of features and controls that complement the 14 fps continuous shooting rate very nicely. While a complete beginner can use this camera to capture high-quality images with little effort, the advanced user who takes the time to learn this camera's features will have great control over their imagery. Whether it is tucked into a pocket, in a camera case for backup purposes, or used as a primary camera, the M6 Mark II is a little camera that deserves serious attention.

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My Recommended Canon EOS M6 Mark II Retailers

Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my purchases. Get your Canon EOS M6 Mark II now from:

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the Canon Store (new)
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