Full-frame 26MP image sensor. 45-point autofocus system. Dual Pixel AF in Live view. 6.5fps continuous shooitng. Vari-angle LCD. Integrated Wi-Fi and GPS.
Small AF coverage area. Video limited to 1080p. Omits built-in flash.
- Bottom Line
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II improves upon is predecessor with a new 26MP sensor, improved Live View focus, and a 45-point autofocus system.
By Jim Fisher
The original Canon EOS 6D and the competing Nikon D600 were launched around the same time with the same basic intent: to cut the cost of buying a full-frame camera. Neither had as many features as its pro-grade siblings, putting image quality ahead of burst speed and autofocus coverage. It's been just shy of five years since Canon launched the 6D, and if you've been patiently waiting for its successor, the time has finally come. The EOS 6D Mark II ($1,999, body only) ups the sensor resolution to 26MP, uses the more robust autofocus system from the EOS 80D, adds Dual Pixel AF in Live View, and improves continuous shooting speed to a speedy 6.5fps. On paper it's a solid upgrade to what has remained our favorite low-cost full-frame camera since its introduction.
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The 6D Mark II is similar in size and weight to the original 6D. It's compact for a full-frame body, measuring 4.4 by 5.7 by 2.9 inches (HWD) and weighing 1.7 pounds without a lens. Like most SLRs it's finished in matte black, with a rubberized covering that makes it more comfortable to grip. The viewfinder is a glass pentaprism design with a 0.71x magnification rating—the same size you get with the pro-grade EOS 5D Mark IV.
In addition to the body-only option, Canon is selling the 6D Mark II with the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM for $2,599 and with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM for $3,099.
The new 6D's control layout doesn't stray far from its predecessor, a welcome choice for upgrading photographers. You still find a depth of field preview button at about the 8 o'clock position of the lens mount, angled so you can access it with your right middle finger when shooting. The lens release button is at the standard location, 3 o'clock.
Top controls include a locking Mode dial, with the power switch at its base, to the left of the hot shoe. The 6D Mark II doesn't include a built-in flash—Canon's full-frame lineup omits that feature as a rule—but you can add a Speedlite or wireless trigger to the shoe. To its right you get a monochrome information LCD and a row of buttons to adjust the AF mode, Drive setting, ISO, metering pattern, and to toggle the top LCD backlight. Ahead of them you'll find the top control dial, M-Fn button, and shutter release. M-Fn is new to the 6D Mark II. It's a button Canon uses in its pro SLR lineup; by default it locks in exposure when using an external flash, but you can set it to perform a more useful function if you don't use a strobe.
Menu and Info buttons sit to the left of the eyecup on the rear, and the switch that's used to toggle between still and video capture is at its right. The camera will automatically switch to Live View when set to video mode, with the center Start/Stop button used to control recording. When in still image mode, Start/Stop switches between the optical viewfinder and rear LCD.
The AF-ON, Exposure Lock, and Focus Select buttons sit to its right, running along the top of the rear plate. Below the Live View toggle you find the zoom/magnifying glass button, Play, and Q, which launches an on-screen control menu. The rear control dial, with center Set button and a directional control pad, Delete button, and Lock switch round out the rear controls. The Lock switch is redesigned compared with the 6D—it has an up/down motion, instead of sliding left and right. Zoom and Play are slightly angled, instead of right above one another, but aside from that the rear controls of the Mark II are the same as you'll find in the 6D.
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The big change on the rear is the LCD. Gone is the fixed display. It's replaced by a 3-inch, 1,040k-dot, vari-angle, touch LCD. It's a huge upgrade for both still shooters and videographers. You can more easily shoot at a very low angle, without having to get down on your knees and peer through the viewfinder. Instead, just tilt the LCD up and use Live View to get your shot. And, yes, you can swing the display forward to snap a selfie.
The 6D Mark II sports Bluetooth, NFC, and Wi-Fi for communication with a smartphone, and it can work with both IR and Bluetooth wireless remote controls. The wealth of connection options improve the pairing process with your phone. The camera can transfer photos and videos to Android and iOS devices, and you can also use your handheld device as a remote control.
There's also built-in GPS, which adds the location from which a photo was captured to its metadata. Physical connections include a microphone input, HDMI, and USB. Images are stored on SD media; there's a single slot with support for SD, SDHC, and SDXC formats at UHS-I speeds.
Faster, More Pixels, Still 1080p
We've not yet had a chance to test the 6D Mark II. On paper, the camera promises to shoot at 6.5fps with tracking. Its 45-point autofocus system is the same you'll find in the APS-C EOS 80D, so the points are bunched fairly close together on the full-frame sensor. Canon states that it covers a similar physical area as the 9-point system used by the 6D. All of the points are cross-type, so even though the coverage area isn't huge, you can expect it to accurately track subjects and lock focus within its confines.
The image sensor uses Dual Pixel AF, which should be much faster and smoother than the 6D's contrast detect system. We've seen DPAF on other Canon cameras and have been quite pleased, especially when recording video, as it delivers smooth, steady transitions in focus. The 26MP resolution offers an advantage over the 6D, which uses a 20MP full-frame sensor.
Video is limited to 1080p. We're seeing more and more cameras with 4K capture, so this is a disappointment. You can shoot in 1080p at 24, 30, or 60fps, with IPB compression at a 30 or 60Mbps bit rate. Time lapses can be created in-camera at 4K, with full-quality 500Mbps Motion JPEG compression—basically you're getting an 8MP still for each frame, with the same quality that the 6D captures when shooting stills. If you don't want to fill up your card, there's also a 90Mbps, 1080p time-lapse option.
We really love the 6D, and price has a lot to do with that. It debuted at $2,099, but it's been around long enough to enjoy some significant price cuts. The current MSRP is $1,699, and I've seen it sell for less with regularity—right now you can get it for $1,399. If you're used to thinking of it at that price, the $1,999 asking price for the 6D Mark II may give you some sticker shock. But it's a better camera, with more resolution, improved autofocus for both stills and video, and a higher shooting rate. In the current market its closest competitor is the Nikon D750, also priced around $2,000, and an Editors' Choice winner. You also can't forget about the Sony a7 II, a $1,700 mirrorless camera that is more compact and offers some technical advantages over SLRs, including in-body stabilization. The EOS 6D Mark II ships in late July. We'll decide if it's a better buy when we review it.
Other Canon Digital Cameras
By Jim Fisher Senior Analyst, Digital Cameras
Senior digital camera analyst for the PCMag consumer electronics reviews team, Jim Fisher is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he concentrated on documentary video production. Jim's interest in photography really took off when he borrowed his father's Hasselblad 500C and light meter in 2007. He honed his writing skills at retailer B&H Photo, where he wrote thousands upon thousands of product descriptions, blog posts, and reviews. Since then he's shot with hundreds of camera models, ranging from pocket point-and-shoots to medium format… More »
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