WHEN THE FIRST generation Canon EOS 6D launched about five years ago, it instantly became a popular choice for many who wanted to take their photography seriously. After a long wait, the second iteration is here with improvements that make the EOS 6D Mark II a well-rounded camera for anyone looking for an affordable full-frame DSLR.
Canon has increased the pixel count in the Mark II, producing a brand-new 26.4MP sensor (up from the original 6D’s 20MP chip) with Dual Pixel technology that improves on the camera’s autofocus (AF) system when using Live View during shooting. The new sensor also bumps the native ISO range to 100–40,000, but still has the same expanded ISO of 50–102,400 as in the original 6D and the 5D Mark III. That said, the 6D Mark II boasts Canon’s latest DIGIC 7 image processor, which is capable of processing information about 14 times faster than the DIGIC 6 (the 6D had the DIGIC 5 engine) and improves the new shooter’s noise performance.
The 6D Mark II has inherited the 45-point all-cross type AF system from the 80D — a massive improvement from the 11 AF points on the 6D — with the central point being a dual cross-type. This improves the camera’s autofocus precision from the older model. And despite the higher burst speed of 6.5fps (as compared to 4.5fps in the 6D), the Mark II doesn’t quite cut it as a sports camera as autofocus performance in burst mode is a bit hit-and-miss. Tracking slow-moving objects is perfect enough, but shooting high-speed activity (like a moving car or train) means lowering the burst speed for focus priority.
Low-light performance is fair, with some luminance noise creeping in at ISO4000, but no chroma noise. Bump that to ISO12,800 and both will make an appearance, although post processing those RAW files will result in satisfactory end results.
The new camera is capable of shooting up to 21 RAW files in sequence. For those shooting JPEGS, however, the 6D Mark II tops off at 150-frame burst depth, a significant drop compared to the 1,250 shot limit in the original 6D. However, there’s no UHS-II support for the single card slot, severely limiting the Mark II’s burst depth.
Canon has steered clear of 4K video capture here, too, which makes it hard to recommend for professional use. The 1080p recording (at 60fps) on the camera, however, is smooth and stable, keeping the casual shooter quite happy.
The viewfinder has also seen a small improvement over the original in terms of coverage — 98% compared to 97% in the 6D. While this is only a minor change, the rear display has been given a complete overhaul. The Mark II sports a 3-inch vari-angle which is now touch sensitive. It simply makes the camera easier to use — tapping on the screen where you want the camera to focus is a pleasure that will be very familiar to smartphone owners.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity via the associated smartphone app works quite well — it took us barely a minute to connect to the camera and then another couple of minutes to transfer about 30-odd images with no hiccups whatsoever. Battery life has been given a tiny boost as well, going from 1,090 shots in the 6D to 1,200 in the Mark II, but it’s possible to squeeze more out of it, depending on your use.
Given the camera’s new articulating screen, it’s a pleasant surprise that Canon has managed to retain the light and comfortable form factor of the original 6D, with the Mark II weighing just 10g more.
Competing camera manufacturers seem to have evolved their tech by leaps and bounds, leaving some to think the 6D Mark II a lazy upgrade. But given the new camera’s price point (roughly $100 cheaper than the Mark I's launch price), it is a feature-packed and capable all-rounder that will please many a hobbyist and enthusiast, more so when paired with a great lens.
CANON EOS 6D MARK II
$2,250 (body only) www.canon.com.au
26.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor; Full HD 1080p video at 60fps; built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; 45-point cross-type AF system; 6.5fps burst shooting; 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD display; 1,200-shot battery life; 765g