On test: Canon EOS 6D MkII
Canon’s EOS 6D combined high performance with a full-frame sensor and a relatively affordable price, making it a popular choice among landscape photographers. But how does the updated model compare? Fergus Kennedy lifts the lid on the EOS 6D MkII.
Article originally published in issue 225 OP’s December.
Compared to its predecessor, the EOS 6D MkII promises performance improvements across the board, as well as a number of useful refinements, which suggests it could provide the ideal entrée into the world of full-frame DSLRs. There are several advantages to using a full-frame sensor over a cropped-format (APS-C or Micro Four Thirds) sensor: high-quality wideangle lenses can be used to their full potential (which is ideal for those really wide vistas); you can achieve a very shallow depth of field with wide aperture settings; and all other things being equal, a full-frame camera should also be able to deliver cleaner results at higher ISO values, thanks to its larger photosites.
The general layout of the EOS 6D MkII will be familiar to all Canon DSLR users, but ergonomically it is more reminiscent of the crop-sensor EOS 80D than the full-frame EOS 5D MkIV. This is partly because it is noticeably smaller and lighter than its full-frame stablemate, and partly because of its articulating touchscreen LCD and the eight-way controller located within the rear thumb wheel.
Above: At low ISO settings the dynamic range of the EOS 6D MkII is not quite as wide as other cameras. Canon EOS 6D MkII with EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM lens at 29mm, ISO 100, 1/160sec at f/8
Personally, I’m a big fan of articulating rear screens. I know there are photographers who do not consider them ‘professional’, but they can be incredibly handy for low-angle shots. For example, I was shooting at the beach and wanted the camera very close to the pebbles – with an articulating screen and touchscreen AF this is a painless process. Video shooters will also appreciate the versatility it offers. However, I found the eight-way control pad slightly less easy to use than the small joystick found on the back the EOS 5D MkIV, particularly when trying to change the focus point with my eye against the viewfinder. This is probably something that will improve with practice and familiarity.
In my tests, the EOS 6D MkII’s autofocus worked very well. Although it is not generally considered a sports or fast-action model, the camera’s 45 cross-type AF points were up to the task of tracking birds in flight. The camera’s Dual Pixel AF also provides really effective, subject-tracking focusing in Live View mode and during video shooting. It works very well in low-light situations as well.
Continuous shooting tops out at a respectable 6.5fps, although this works best in conjunction with the traditional optical viewfinder. Speaking of which, anyone upgrading from a crop-sensor DSLR will immediately appreciate the larger and brighter optical viewfinder
offered by full-frame models such as the EOS 6D MkII. It may seem to be a minor point, but when you spend a lot of time peering through
the back of a camera, it does make a difference to the overall experience.
Above: The EOS 6D MkII’s AF is more than capable of tracking birds in flight. Canon EOS 6D MkII with EF 70-210mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens at 195mm, ISO 100, 1/320sec at f/8
Image quality from the all-new 26MP sensor is impressive, delivering plenty of detail. As I’d hoped, high ISO images are cleaner than those shot on most crop-sensor DSLRs, and even at ISO 12800 the noise is easily controlled; this would make a good camera for starscapes. On the flipside, the dynamic range at low ISO settings is not quite on a par with its more expensive siblings, but this is only apparent when lifting the exposure in shadow areas to fairly extreme levels.
Weather sealing is always a consideration for intrepid outdoor photographers, and this is well taken care of, with rubber gaskets around all the important areas. Battery life is CIPA rated at a very respectable 1,200 shots, which should help to minimise battery changes in the field.
Video shooters will undoubtedly appreciate the articulating screen and microphone socket, but the lack of a headphone socket limits your ability to monitor the audio quality. Video resolution is pegged at Full HD (1080p). While you can shoot this resolution at up to 60 frames per second, giving the option of some mild slow motion if needed, it is a shame there’s no 4K option.
Sensor 26MP full-frame.
Resolution 6240 x 4260 pixels.
Lens Interchangeable Canon EF mount.
Shutter speed 1/4000sec-30sec, plus Bulb.
ISO 100-40000 (expandable to ISO 50-102400).
Viewfinder Optical, 98% coverage, 0.71x magnification.
LCD 3in tilting LCD, 1040k pixels, static touch control.
Flash Hotshoe only.
Movie mode Max 1080p (Full HD) at up to 60fps.
Card formats SD/SDHC/SDXC (single slot).
Power LP-E6N li-ion.
Size 144 x 111 x 75mm.
Weight 765g (with battery/no lens).
Compact body and great ergonomics.
Fully articulating LCD.
Effective Dual Pixel AF.
No 4K video.
Low ISO dynamic range could be better.
No headphone socket.
Overall, the EOS 6D MkII is a well-rounded and refined camera for those keen to enter the world of full-frame photography without spending too much hard-earned cash. It has a few limitations and shortcomings compared to pricier alternatives, but will certainly tick a lot of boxes for landscape photographers.
Guide price £1,999.99 (body only)