Enthusiasts looking for a robust and well-specified digital SLR will find much to like about the latest full-frame model from Canon
- Neat design layout
- Excellent 3in LCD monitor
- Fast and responsive autofocus system
- No integral flash
- Autofocus struggles when tracking moving subjects
- Full HD, rather than 4K, the highest resolution available
If you’ve reached a stage in your photography journey when you feel the time is right to upgrade your camera to a model capable of handling serious use – potentially to make money from your photography – then enthusiast-level models like this Canon EOS 6D Mark II are the types to consider. They’re made to a higher standard than entry-level models and over a wider range of features, if not necessarily a higher resolution, yet lack the bulk and price tag of more expensive models.
As the market leader, it’s no surprise to find Canon offer several models in this category: along with the EOS 6D Mark II are the 24.2-megapixel EOS 77D and EOS 80D, EOS 7D Mark II (20.2-megapixel) and – for the time at least – the original EOS 6D (also 20.2-megapixel). And let’s not forget the EOS 5D series aimed at semi-pros/pros.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II review: Features
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a full-frame model that’s suited to photographers ranging from ambitious newcomers to very experienced users. Despite its incredibly high specification, it’s neat design layout ensures it’s not too intimidating to use.
It’s clear from the moment you pick it up that it is designed for serious usage – it feels solid and weighty, although at 765 grams shouldn’t be classed as a heavyweight. With an aluminium alloy chassis and polycarbonate body boasting a high level of weather sealing, it’s ready to endure usage in all manner of conditions. It doesn’t feel as tough as its more expensive stablemates, but is a stretch head of the mid-range models.
The body shape and layout of key dials and buttons is classic Canon, so existing EOS users will feel right at home. The large exposure model dial sits on the left of the top-plate with the on/off switch at its base. A small LCD panel sits on the right side behind the handgrip and primary input dial, with several control buttons around its edge. On the rear are further buttons, along with an eight-way control pad and a secondary input dial. Despite the large number of controls, the EOS 6D Mark II isn’t a difficult camera to use.
The viewfinder is a big step up from mid-range models – it’s large, bright and comfortable, offering around 98% coverage and with AF points superimposed over the screen. The 3in LCD monitor is excellent too – its 1,040,000-dot screen is bright and sharp, features a touchscreen facility and sits on a vari-angle platform.
This latest model sports several improvements over its predecessor, which you’d expect as the original EOS 6D first appeared in 2012, but has it enough to stand out against the latest models from its rivals?
Its full-frame 26.2-megapixel CMOS sensor sports the Dual Pixel AF system that’s used on several other models and has proven extremely adept with LiveView focusing, while the powerful DIGIC 7 chip handles image and video processing, albeit with the latter, Full HD, rather than 4K, is the highest resolution available. The sensitivity range is extensive, with the nominal range of ISO 100-40000 offering an expansion to a generous ISO 50-102400.
The original EOS 6D had only 11 AF points, but the Mark II uses a similar set-up to the EOS 80D, boasting 45 points, all of which are the more sensitive cross-sensors. The central point uses a double cross-type sensor that focuses as low as -3EV, allowing it to work in extremely low light. Switch to LiveView and 63 points are available.
The exposure system is comprehensive and handled by a 7,560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor. There are four metering patterns to choose from, including a very capable 63-zone Evaluative pattern, along with spot, partial and centre-weighted.
There’s a full complement of exposure modes too, along with the semi-auto and manual modes, there are over a dozen fully-automatic modes available, as well as two custom modes and Bulb.
Along with the usual selection of Picture Styles (Landscape, Portrait, etc), the Canon offers a fair degree of in camera image processing, including a HDR mode, multiple exposures and an intervalometer.
There is no integral flash, which would adversely affect the body’s build quality, but the menu system offers a full range of options for when an external flashgun is attached to the hotshoe. Other features of note include a 6.5 frames-per-second shooting rate, a silent shooting mode, GPS, Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II review: Performance
The Canon produced a solid performance in all the key areas that make it a safe bet for use for all types of general enthusiast photography. The autofocus system is fast and responsive, although it isn’t so accurate at tracking moving subjects. There’s no complaints with the Evaluative metering system, which produces very consistent results, struggling only with backlit subjects, as every multi-zone pattern does. The White Balance system also proves very reliable and while dynamic range is very good, it’s not as wide as some of its rivals.
The EOS 6D Mark II definitely builds on the success of the original EOS 6D and delivers a strong all-round performance. It doesn’t offer anything spectacular of note, but as a safe and solid entry into full-frame photography, it’s a worthy option.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II review: Verdict
If you’re looking for an affordable yet capable full-frame DSLR, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is an excellent choice. It’s not revolutionary, but ticks the boxes for what is required by the majority of enthusiasts. It handles nicely, offers a solid and well-rounded range of features and delivers a performance good enough for professional as well as hobbyist photography.