Canon 6D MK II: Full, in-depth review

A winner

Canon 6D MK II
  • Canon 6D MK II
  • Canon 6D MK II
  • Canon 6D MK II
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Vari-angle Touch LCD screen
  • 45-point AF system - up from 11-point AF system
  • Excellent image performance - better than the original 6D
  • Light weight at 650gm
  • Better sealing for all weather conditions

Cons

  • No 4K video except in time lapse mode
  • No built-in flash
  • No slot for a second memory card

Bottom Line

Arguably, still the best DSLR at its price point in the market, if you can forgive Canon for not adding 4K video except in time lapse mode. Original 6D users should definitely upgrade.

Would you buy this?

For me, the MKII is personal. This isn’t a preview camera on loan. This is my camera, my upgrade for a much loved 6D which I recently drowned while shooting big waves on one of those very stormy winter weeks Sydney copped in July/August. So why would I choose a 6D and now the MKII when various Canon and Nikon DSLRs offering more pixels and an even greater barrage of features are within reasonable dollar-spend distance? It has a lot to do with what you need the camera for.

Yes, I shoot semi-professionally (roundtables, portraits, events and so on) but my camera has to be my best friend too: It needs to be able to take stunning landscapes in the wildernesses I like to frequent; it needs to deliver street shots anywhere at anytime (because I love street photography); it needs to shoot our dog, our extended family’s dogs; it needs to capture birds, possums and any other wildlife I can find; it needs to deliver any and every family shot; and it has to be at home with a trout screaming out of the water at its lens. And that’s just the beginning.  

To achieve that I have paired it with four lenses: the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM, the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM, and the EF 135mm f/2L USM. Yes, a full professional would probably have twice as many but, you know what, most events I’ve shot where full professionals are operating I’ve noticed that they rarely use more than three lens over the whole shoot. I also have a very good tripod and monopod (both vital) and flash. If you are going to take photos seriously you need the right equipment! My back up isn’t another DSLR it’s the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX-100 which is light, goes anywhere and delivers incredibly good images with its Leica lens and at a price point that’s just ridiculous.  

Back to the 6D MKII. I thought long and hard about moving up to a 5D MK IV or a 5DS. It would have felt good! But was the extra $700-$1200 worthwhile? Sure I could have got 50+ MP images but I don’t think most of what I do is going to end up on the back of a bus or a billboard!  The cropping possibilities did appeal but are they that much different for a 6240 pixel-wide file which the MKII delivers compared with say an 8000+ pixel file which the bigger DSLRs offer? Essentially, not that much.  

Size doesn’t matter, too much

So the first revelation about the upgrade is that while size does matter, it doesn’t matter too much. My old 5D offered a 5472 pixel-wide file in 3:2 format so there’s a 768-pixel increase that comes with the 6D MKII’s  26.2 Megapixel Full Frame Canon CMOS Sensor - that is up from the 20.2 Megapixels of the original. It’s significant and it gives me more room to move. 

Thinking about it mathematically: I often crop about 700-1000 pixels (sometimes more on a tight square crop, for instance) off a photo so if I do this on the new camera I am left with a file around 5200 to 5500 pixels wide. That is the same size as the old 6D’s full size pre-cropping file. Nice! And before you say  ‘imagine what 8000 pixels offer’, I recently test drove Nikon’s excellent D850 which - with its 45.7 MP sensor - gives 8240 pixel wide shots, but at twice the price! My economics say that's brilliant for a professional but the rest of us probably don’t need that kind of firepower unless money is no concern, of course.

Snowy Mountains back country. This raging rapid becomes a churning pool when the water level drops in summer and is nicknamed The Sauna. 70mm, 1/4000, ISO 2000, f10Credit: Mike Gee
Snowy Mountains back country. This raging rapid becomes a churning pool when the water level drops in summer and is nicknamed The Sauna. 70mm, 1/4000, ISO 2000, f10

Working with the 6D MK II’s files in Photoshop - I always shoot in RAW - I found the extra cropping freedom just right and the file size, while larger, wasn’t eating up all my storage either. Important tip: don’t download your DSLR files to your desktop or laptop and leave them on it - you’ll run out of memory faster than you can blink. I download direct to external hard-drives (either HDD or SSD), preferably 2TB (HDD) or 500GB (SSD). I have filled three 2TB HDD drives in the past 30 months which means my Mac desktop 3TB drive would have been completely filled in about 15 months! Also the processing speed would have eventually been affected. The more you have on your desktop the slower your PC.

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