It took a while for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II to arrive. In fact, it was some five years after the primary Canon EOS 6D was announced – and at the time it was the most affordable full-frame DSLR available. While it lacked some of the more desirable features found on Canon’s pricier models further up the range, it offered users a pretty affordable way into full-frame photography.
In the five years between the launch of the original 6D and its successor in 2017, a lot had changed, with not only Nikon offering some very tempting competition in the shape of the D610 and D750, but Sony’s Alpha A7 and A7 II offering another affordable route into full-frame photography. Of program, faster and more capable full-frame cameras have arrived since then too, but does the EOS 6D Mark II still hold its own? Check Out: Best Lenses for Canon EOS 6D Mark II
As you’d expect after a five-calendar year gap, the EOS 6D Mark II has a wealth of improvements over the EOS 6D. Perhaps the headline change is the new sensor, with the EOS 6D Mark II sporting a 26.2MP CMOS sensor that not merely gives a sizeable boost in resolution over the 20.2MP chip in the EOS 6D, but also a lot more pixels than the EOS 5D Mark III’s 22.3MP sensor.
The new sensor brings with it a native sensitivity range of ISO100-40,000 which can be expanded to an equivalent of ISO50-102,400, coordinating the expanded sensitivity ranges of both the EOS 6D and EOS 5D Mark III. While these cameras may all share the same ISO ceiling, the EOS 6D Mark II offers Canon’s DIGIC 7 processing engine, which is capable of processing information some 14 times faster compared to the previous DIGIC 6 (the EOS 6D featured the DIGIC 5 engine), and should see it handling image noise better at higher sensitivities. While the latest DIGIC 8 has found its way into the likes of the EOS R and EOS RP, it had been the very first time the DIGIC 7 engine has been used in a full-frame EOS DSLR; until then it was only featured in some of Canon’s recent APS-C DSLR bodies and PowerShot compact cameras.
Build and handling
Like the original EOS 6D, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is crafted from a mixture of aluminum alloy and polycarbonate with glass fiber, and while it doesn’t have quite the same ‘pro’ feel as the likes of the EOS 5D Mark III or Mark IV, it nonetheless feels very well put together. It’s also nice to see the camera featuring dust and dampness seals – having used the 6D Mark II in a few very wet conditions in Norway, with the camera getting drenched on more than one occasion, we can confirm that this camera will more than hold its own when the elements are against you.
Proportions-smart, the camera is ever so slightly more compact than the EOS 6D – those looking to upgrade from the older model may be a little disappointed to hear that the BG-E13 battery grip created for the 6D isn’t compatible with the EOS 6D Mark II, with a new BG-E21 battery hold accompanying the new camera. The grip on the body of the 6D Mark II is excellently sculpted, and ensures the camera fits extremely comfortably in the hand, while the weight of 765g with battery and card in place is just 10g heavier compared to the original 6D (though it’s actually not much lighter than the 800g EOS 5D Mark IV). It also felt very well balanced in the hand when teamed with the EF 24-105mm f/4L Is certainly II USM we shot with.
As for the layout of buttons and controls, if you’re coming from the EOS 6D you should feel ideal at home with the EOS 6D Mark II, while the control layout on the two cameras is just about identical. There’s a large LCD display on the top plate with plenty of info on tap, while there are settings for the AF, drive, ISO and metering between your LCD and the front command dial. The only new addition is a small button next to the control dial that affords access to the camera’s focusing modes to complement the 6D Mark II’s more sophisticated AF system.
It’s no surprise to see that Canon offers upped the burst rate of the EOS 6D Mark II to 6.5fps, from the 6D’s 4.5fps. Not only that but the burst depth has also been improved, with the brand new camera with the capacity of shooting 21 raw files in succession compared to its predecessor’s 17. Interestingly for those who like to shoot JPEGs, however, the 150-frame burst depth offered by the EOS 6D Mark II is actually quite a drop from the 1,250-shot limit about the EOS 6D, although a 150-frame burst depth is hardly limiting. It’s also interesting to see that Canon hasn’t included UHS-II support for the EOS 6D Mark II’s single card slot, which might have improved that quantity, although any benefit would depend on how quickly the camera can cope with the information to begin with.
Either way, this isn’t a camera aimed particularly at sports photographers, and 6.5fps is a very credible burst price for a full-frame camera at this price point, potentially suiting it to situations where the original EOS 6D might have fallen short. The 6D Mark II uses the same 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor as the Rebel T7i / 800D, with 63-zone Evaluative, Partial, Centre-weighted and Spot metering options.
As we’ve found with other Canon DSLRs that use this system, the evaluative system will a sound job most of the time, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the weighting is applied to the active AF point, which can mean you need to use exposure payment in high-contrast circumstances; we experienced a couple of occasions where in fact the same shot threw up two different exposures simply because we shifted the AF stage slightly.