The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is an excellent full-frame camera for landscape and nature photographers. Here’s what we liked most about it
Canon today announced the EOS 6D Mark II, an update to the EOS 6D introduced in 2012, Canon’s most affordable DSLR with a full-frame sensor. The original 6D will remain in the lineup for now, priced at $1,399 for the body only, while the new 6D Mark II will have a list price of $1,999 for the body only when it arrives in stores in late July. The Mark II will also be offered in two kits: with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM lens for $2,599 or the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM II for $3,099.
Earlier this month, we were among a small group of journalists who had the opportunity to test pre-production units of the EOS 6D Mark II in Yellowstone National Park with Canon Explorer of Light Adam Jones. Images taken with that beta model are included here, and while Canon asked us to emphasize that the units we were evaluating were pre-production, in our experience the camera performed flawlessly.
Spec Upgrades In The EOS 6D Mark II
Canon has improved several key specifications in the EOS 6D Mark II compared to its predecessor. The 26.2-megapixel full-frame sensor is new, with an increase of 6 megapixels of resolution over the 6D’s 20.2 MP. The 6D Mark II boosts the continuous shooting rate from 4.5 fps in the original 6D to 6.5 fps, and the AF system for both optical viewfinder and Live View have been upgraded. See the chart below for a spec comparison of the two models.
|Specification||EOS 6D Mark II||EOS 6D|
|Sensor Resolution||26.2 MP||20.2 MP|
|Processor||DIGIC 7||DIGIC 5+|
|ISO Range (Standard)||100-40,000||100-25,600|
|AF (Optical Viewfinder)||45-point, all cross-type||11-point, 1 cross-type|
|AF (Live View & Video)||Dual Pixel CMOS AF||Contrast AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6.5 fps||4.5 fps|
|Metering Sensor||7500 Area RGB+IR||63 Area|
|Video||Full HD 60p||Full HD 30p|
|LCD||3-inch Vari-Angle Touch||3-inch|
|External Mic Terminal||Yes||Yes|
|Wireless Connectivity||WiFi / Bluetooth / NFC||WiFi|
|Weight (Body Only)||24.16 ounces||24.0 ounces|
|Dimensions||5.7 x 4.4 x 2.9 inches||5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8 inches|
One spec that may disappoint some is the absence of 4K video. The EOS 6D Mark II is limited to Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps, an improvement from the original 6D’s 30 fps, but short of the 4K resolution found in the EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS-1D X Mark II. For the 6D Mark II’s target customer — the advanced amateur photographer — this is probably not a deal breaker, but it’s a somewhat surprising shortcoming considering that 4K video is increasingly common even in cameras priced well below the 6D Mark II.
The EOS 6D Mark II In Use
One of the best aspects of the EOS 6D Mark II is its ergonomics and handling. Admittedly this is a judgement that’s highly personal, but the size, weight and grip of the camera all felt very “right.” Compared to professional full-frame DSLRs, the EOS 6D Mark II is considerably lighter and more compact, making it an excellent option for outdoor photographers who want to keep the weight and size of their camera systems to a minimum.
One common complaint about digital cameras of all makes and models is with the deep and often difficult-to-navigate LCD menus. The EOS 6D Mark II’s menu navigation feels more refined, simplified and polished compared to those in many cameras we’ve used, and setting features like exposure bracketing was pleasantly easy and quick. A nice upgrade from the original 6D is the Mark II’s Vari-angle touchscreen LCD, especially when you’re working from a tripod low to the ground.
During our time in Yellowstone, we were up before sunrise and shooting until sundown, and the camera produced excellent image quality in low light. We shot mostly from a tripod and frequently bracketed our exposures so we’d have the option of merging to HDR in post, but the images illustrating this article are all single exposures from the middle (base) exposure of the bracket.
The camera’s Dual Pixel AF was responsive, fast and accurate, and we especially liked the ability to touch focus using the LCD in Live View mode. That feature helped us catch this image of
an American tree sparrow a chipping sparrow (thank you to reader David Gibson for the correct identification) that briefly perched nearby on a fallen tree.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II Hits The Sweet Spot
Taking it all together — price, performance, size and handling — the EOS 6D Mark II is an excellent package for outdoor photographers, especially those who primarily shoot landscapes and scenics. The camera’s max continuous shooting of 6.5 fps is perhaps short of what serious wildlife photographers would like, but it’s acceptably fast for most enthusiasts. Though the lack of 4K video may be a turn off for some, if you primarily shoot stills, the Full HD video quality is very good for those occasions when you do want to take movie clips.
Bottom line: The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is one of the most refined DSLRs we’ve used at any price, and an excellent option for enthusiasts photographers who are stepping up to full-frame.