Canon 6D Mk ii Review – A Small Body That Packs a Big Punch

Introduction - an oldie in a bright new world?

The Canon 6D Mk II has been one of Canon’s many success stories. As an upgrade to the earlier 6D it took all of 5 years for this model to come out and during that time the opposition had been busy with newer, faster, better models.

So is the Canon 6D Mk ii coming to the end of it’s days?

The main attraction of the Canon 6D Mk II (and the 6D before it) is the full-frame sensor. In order to introduce a full-frame camera at the price that Canon did certain cuts had to be made in other areas – notably the body and a few scaled backed feature.
Overall though they did a sterling job and the Canon 6D Mk II is truly an “entry level” full-frame camera at a very affordable price.

Key Specifications

Sensor Size:
Sensor Type:
Megapixels:
Built-in Processor:
ISO Range:
Focus Points:
Body:
Weight:
External Dimensions:
Weather Sealed:
Touchscreen:

Articulated Screen:
Shutter Speeds:
Maximum Frame Rate:

Battery:
Battery Capacity:
Image Quality:
Focusing:
Memory Cards:
GPS:
WiFi:

Price:

Full Frame – 35.99 x 24mm
CMOS
26
DIGIC 7
100 – 40,000 (expandable to 50 – 204,000)
45 Point all-cross-type system
Magnesium Alloy
765 g (17oz/1.7 lbs) with battery inserted
5.67 x 4.4 x 2.95″ (144 x 111 x 75 mm)
Yes
Yes
Yes 3″
30 secs – 1/4000th
6.5 fps
LP-E6N Lithium Ion Type
1200 Photos
RAW, JPEG fine and normal
Auto and Manual
1 x SD
Built in
Built in with NFC and Bluetooth

Packages available starting with body only @ $1,299.00

Body, Menus and Controls - great body, intelligent and confident?

The Canon 6D Mk II’s body is a little bit plasticky if we have to be honest, but that is part of the cost of producing a full-frame camera at this low price as mentioned earlier. Despite the plastic look and the diminutive size (by full-frame standards) it does feel pretty solid in the hand.

The size of the Canon 6D Mk II is akin to that of a crop sensor body and is probably the most compact and lightest full frame DSLR on the market – making it attractive to those with small hands or those who don’t want to lug around a big body all day.

Canon 6D Mk ii Weather sealing is robustI’ve always been a bit sceptical of what manufacturers call “weather sealing” simply because it creates a false sense of security – you need to bear in mind that it is not totally water or weather proof so some caution should be practiced.

I’ve seen people going into the ocean with weather sealed cameras and getting sea water sprayed all over them. Of course I have no idea what happens after that but it is not something I would advocate with any camera unless it is correctly housed in a waterproof housing designed specifically for such use.

That being said the weather sealing on the Canon 6D Mk II is pretty robust with good protectors over the ports and a decent gasket around the battery door.

For the rest the menus and functions are fairly standard for Canon except one feature that almost every user of the Canon 6D Mk II complain about; the rear dial and multi-controller.

So what it wrong with it?  The dial is ok but the multi-way controller is a nightmare. Since focus tracking on the Canon 6D Mk II is one of it’s weak points you will land up having to manually move your focus point around in the view finder. 

You’re going to struggle to cope using the eight-way controller.  The solution is to revert to the method used on older Canon bodies. 

To do this simply disable the controller and use the selection button (found next to the shutter button) in combination with the control dials. If you haven’t used the older Canon bodies this may take a bit of getting used to but becomes easy pretty quickly and is well worth the frustrations it will save you.

A quick word on the touchscreen.  In combination with the Dual Pixel tech the camera operates very well in live view mode.  This is very useful for landscape and other tripod work, as well as clandestine or awkward shots where you will be using the articulating screen.

When not using live view mode the larger viewfinder (as a result of having a larger mirror to cover the larger sensor) is a great improvement on the smaller APS-C models.
The only real issue I had was that the viewfinder does not quite cover 100% of what your shoot.  This can be annoying when you find unwanted clutter in the corner of a photo that you took time to compose. Surely this could have been avoided?

Wireless Connection - the ability to communicate is paramount ...

The Canon 6D Mk II has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth with NFC for pairing with Android and smartphones.  

Pairing your iPhone and Canon 6D Mk II using the Bluetooth can be a bit tricky.  To pair them up both units have to be on and then you have to manually initiate WiFi – once that is done you’re good to go and can operate the shutter remotely and browse and download photos from the Canon 6D Mk II to our phone.

The NFC makes pairing your Android even easier and provides all the other functionality as well.

The Canon 6D Mk II gets top marks for connectivity.

The Canon EOS 6D Mark II - coping in the real world.

As with all cameras the true test is in the field and actually using the camera in a variety of conditions – lighting being the main one.

The Canon 6D Mk II is an all round stellar performer and still does a good job despite its age.

Social - is your 6D ii socially acceptable?

Day to day family photography, weekends, family meals, weekend BBQ with friends, baby/grandparent photos etc. fall into this category and the Canon 6D Mk II does a pretty good job.

It’s small and lightweight body make for easy handling and once your muscle memory is trained the camera is quick to respond.

The fast shutter rate of 6.5 fps and a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th is plenty fast enough to capture those fast moving children.

Canon 6D Mk II does a pretty good job for everyday social photography

The high ISO range makes taking photos in low light conditions a breeze.

The articulating screen is a great way to take those candid photos.  To do this you will need to be in live view which is no problem except that you will use a bit more battery life and your burst speeds will slow down a bit but not enough to really worry about. One of the advantages in live view mode is you can move the face detection around simply by toggling between faces.  Pretty nifty feature to make sure Gran’s in focus and not that nosey neighbour!

Street Photography - Can you take your 6D ii out in public?

Street photography  is easily handled with the Canon 6D Mk II and being a smaller full frame camera seems to attract less attention than some of the bigger ones – such as the 5D Mk IV.  It’s strange how people react to what they consider “professional” cameras while not reacting at all to phone cameras and point-and-shoot.  Somewhere in the back of society’s psyche is a flag that says “Big camera = PERVERT!”

Be aware of this and behave according to the law and without being a jerk. Lecture over.

The Canon 6D Mk II is as adaptable in the street as it is socially and you should have a lot of fun with it.

The only warning I would issue is to be aware of the very centralised focusing.  If you are taking a long distance shot the edges of your frame will not be as sharp as the middle bits.  This can be a problem with subjects being off centre. To overcome this allow yourself more image in the frame that you can crop out later. 

This little problem applies equally to portraits (especially formal ones) but the more you become familiar with your camera the more automated your shooting becomes in allowing for this.

Canon 6D Mk II is a great camera for street photography

Hit the streets and have fun but remember to act within the law and respect others.

Landscape - does your 6D ii enjoy nature at its best?

There’s good and there’s some bad news when using the Canon 6D Mk II for landscape photos.

First the good news …

The Canon 6D Mk II has a lot going for landscape photography.  Firstly that full framed sensor, coupled with a decent lens, is going to give you a lot of detail with 26 megapixels resolution. 
Landscape photography often entails long exposures where a decent battery is needed – tick!  They are also often taken in inclement weather or near the sea where there is a lot of spray about and weather sealing is a must on both body – tick, and lens (hens why a good quality lens is recommended.

The articulating screen makes taking those difficult angled shots (you know the ones I mean where you have one tripod leg in water, the other two on rocks and you are dangling off a bridge barely managing to hold on) a whole lot easier to compose focus and take. Can you tell I love articulating screens?

The Canon 6D Mk ii lacks detail for high quality landscape portrait prints

Now the bad news …

If you’re going to be doing landscape photography unless you are very lucky and have great views from your back porch chances are you’re going to be hiking fair distances to get to good spots.

If that is the case then a smaller, lighter mirrorless camera with higher resolution and more dynamic range will be a better option and provide more flexibility in post processing.

While the Canon 6D Mk II is very capable of taking decent landscape photos it is not the ideal tool for the job especially where detail is required and prints are to be made.

I would not recommend it specifically for landscape photography for this reason.

Travel - will the 6D ii be a good travel companion?

When the Canon 6D Mk II first came out this chapter would have read a lot differently but times have changed.

The Canon 6D Mk II is a good travel camera but as in landscape there are better, smaller more advanced options – for a similar price.

Point #1

You’re travelling and you probably don’t want to be lugging around a lot of gear. Mirrorless makes much more sense with the smaller bodies and lenses that provide a more options while taking up less space and less of your weight allowance.

Point #2

Camera bags/backpacks look like they contain expensive equipment. With a mirrorless camera you and your bag/backpack will not scream “CAMERA GEAR” quite as loudly.

The Canon 6D Mk ii is a great travel camera being small and compact despite being a full frame camera

With that being said the Canon 6D Mk II will be better than adequate for travelling and everything relating to street photography, landscape, social etc. still applies.

It does of course allow for uploading to social-media and your phone so sharing with friends and family back home and in far away places is a plus but can also be done with newer cameras.

Take it if you must for the one-off trip but if you intend being a regular traveller well … time to rethink maybe.

‘Nuff said.

Action and Sports - is the 6D ii sporty or a couch potato?

Whenever you watch a sporting event you see those big white Canon lenses – they’ve become synonymous with sports photography and are testament to some clever marketing by Canon. 

I’ve even heard people proclaim “I want to get one of those cameras with the white lens!”

Anyway the point is the Canon 6D Mk ii, coupled with those “white’ zoom lenses, will give you that lovely soft blurry backgrounds.  Full frame cameras are renowned for producing better, softer bokeh and the Canon 6D Mk ii delivers on this score

Unfortunately the auto-focus system on the 6D ii is less than accurate for high speed sport and you will likely be disappointed with the not quite sharp images.  This is certainly one of those times you can blame the gear.

The Canon 6D Mk ii is only just adequate for sports and action photos and only undeer certain conditions

looking at the image above you might say I am being picky but if you were to zoom into 100% you would begin to see areas that lack that detail and sharpness.

In addition the low dynamic range in low ISO will further add to your frustrations.

As mentioned earlier the subject tracking on the Canon 6D ii is inferior and even in burst modes (used often in sports) there is an unacceptable percentage of soft focus images in the middle.

Your best bet for producing good consistent results is to be shooting in low light with high ISO settings and a fast shutter speed – but we all know we cannot order the light to suit our equipment.

Like most genre’s the Canon 6D Mk ii is all right as a back-up camera but not as your front line action camera.  There are too many better options these days.

The Canon 6D Mk ii Video - Oscar time - or not?

For anything other than the casual video, such as birthday parties, short snaps etc. there isn’t much to recommend the video capabilities of the Canon 6D Mk II.

It’s easy to use and get focus using the live view touchscreen but other than that the video lacking 4K capability (minimum standard in this day and age) is not worth bothering with.

The following clip shows what can be done with the 6D Mk ii if you’re a bit of a whiz with editing videos. 

There’s no headphone port and the video capabilities on the 6D ii are not as good as the Canon 80D – a crop sensor camera.

Compared to what is available on the market today  the video capabilities are a bit dated.

Comparison Chart - let's check out her measurements.

Throughout this review it is apparent that the Canon 6D Mk ii is getting on and falling behind the competitors – so let’s take a look at what is out there at the same level from competitor’s full frame options, including Canon’s next model up – the 5D iv.

I’ve included the Canon 5D iv to indicate the large gap between Canons lowest level full-frame and the next one up.  The price difference between the 6D ii and 5D iv is no deterrent to those who want a top class all round camera. 

Note that the table shows similar cameras, in terms of specs, but there are newer versions of the Pentax and Sony –  the Pentax K-1 Mk ii and Sony A7iii respectively.  

NB: Prices are all from Amazon and are current as at December 2018.

Canon 6D Mk ii

Nikon D750

Pentax K-1

Sony A7ii

Canon 5D iv

Price – body only

$1299.00

$1296.95

$1499.00

$898.00

$2294.00

Megapixels

26 MP

24 MP

36 MP

24 MP

30 MP

Burst Rate

6.5 fps

6.5 fps

4.4 fps

5 fps

7 fps

Native ISO

100 – 40,000

100 – 12,800

100 – 204,800

100 – 25,600

100 – 32,000

Shutter Speeds

30-1/4000 sec

30-1/4000 sec

30-1/8000 sec

30-1/8000 sec

30-1/8000 sec

Touchscreen

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Battery Life

1200 photos

1230 photos

760 photos

350 photos

900 photos

Wireless

Wi-Fi w/NFC
Blue Tooth

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi w/NFC

Wi-Fi w/NFC

Type

DSLR

DSLR

DSLR

Mirrorless

DSLR

The above is not a comprehensive chart.  I have used criteria that, from my experience in retail, are the features that people most ask about.

Other considerations are size, lens availability, simplicity of operation, video capabilities etc.

Every camera has its pros and cons and every photographer has a different range of priorities.

Conclusion - time for a younger model?

The Canon 6d Mk ii is one of those cameras that one reluctantly has to say is now a bit obsolete despite the fact that it really is a great camera and a good introduction to full frame photography.

Will Canon bring out a Mk iii?

Personally I doubt it – the Canon 5D Mk iv would be the perfect upgrade in my opinion and we may see Canon concentrating more on mirrorless in the next few years.

As hard as it is to say I would look elsewhere (brand) or up (ie Canon 5D iv) if I was getting into full frame today.

If you have a substantial investment in good Canon lenses then the solution is simple – go Canon 5D Mk iv.

Pros

Cons

  • A very good all-round camera
  • Excellent wireless Connectivity
  • Small and compact Full Frame
  • 26 MP sensor
  • Very good high ISO performance
  • 6.5 fps Burst shooting
  • Touchscreen
  • Weather sealed
  • Great second or back-up camera
  • Older technology
  • Bad low ISO performance
  • Not a great video camera
  • Autofocus points are bunched and not spread out over entire sensor
  • Pricey compared to similar cameras

   Final Word

There is really nothing wrong with the Canon 6D Mk ii and it still takes as good photos today as it did when launched.  But there are newer, better, faster cameras out there and we all want newer, better, faster don’t we?

If you have a Canon 6D Mk ii keep it as a back-up or give it to an enthusiast friend family member.  It has served you well and will continue to serve you well.

If you want to get into full-frame and are limited by funds pick up a 6D Mk ii second hand and go through the learning curve with it.  Buy excellent glass (lenses) while you are using it as you save up for a newer, better, faster model.

Unless of course …

You intend to switch to mirrorless, well now that’s a whole different story and a dilemma I can fully understand as technology marches on.

The Canon 6 Mk ii is recommended for

  • All general photography
  • As a back-up camera
  • Joining the full frame brigade
  • Those who want a small, light bodied full-frame DSLR

But not recommended for

  • Video – its ok but dated
  • Specialist landscape
  • Photographers who want detailed prints (such as landscapes)

There you go my friend – a full review of the Canon 6d Mk ii for you to pick and ponder over – I hope it has been a help to you.

Let me know your thoughts on the Canon 6D Mk ii, especially if you have owned one?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below …

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