Canon EOS M6 Mark II Review
What We Love. For those who want performance similar to a DSLR in the smaller size of a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, the Canon EOS M6 Mark II delivers. It has 32.5 megapixels of resolution in an APS-C sized image sensor, delivers impressive autofocus speeds, and records video at a 4K resolution at 30 fps.
What We'd Change. The M6 II carries a pretty high price point, as you could purchase an entry-level DSLR with a couple of lenses for the same price as the M6 Mark II's body alone. It'd be nice to have the electronic viewfinder built into the camera body, rather than as an extra piece.
Pick This Up If... You want the best Canon mirrorless camera on the market. The EOS M6 Mark II's levels of performance are impressive, with fast autofocus and a 14 fps burst mode, so it's a great choice for those who want to catch every spontaneous photography situation with excellent image quality.
| 15 mm | F/8 | 1/320 | ISO 100 |
Although Canon's primary focus as a camera manufacturer has been with DSLR cameras, it has dabbled in mirrorless cameras over the past decade. Canon has a handful of mirrorless camera bodies, including the recent M5 and M6, as well as fewer than a dozen Canon M lenses to represent the company's mirrorless camera family. Clearly, Canon has focused the majority of its attention on DSLRs.
So when we had a chance to test the Canon EOS M6 Mark II mirrorless camera, we weren't exactly sure what to expect. But the strength, speed, and feature set of the M6 II shows Canon is serious about mirrorless cameras. This camera is placed as a significant upgrade for the M5 and M6 models.
The M6 Mark II uses an APS-C image sensor, which is a good size, similar to what you'd find in an entry-level DSLR. But it's this sensor's 32.5 megapixels of resolution that represent a significant step up for this camera from past Canon mirrorless ILCs. Its 32.5MP are more than any other mirrorless camera with an APS-C image sensor on the market. Additionally, this model can record 4K video at up to 30 frames per second.
The M6 II certainly isn't perfect, as it doesn't have a built-in viewfinder, its LCD screen doesn't swivel to the side, and its battery life could be better. It's not cheap, either. But this camera is still an impressive performer, making it one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market.
- 32.5MP, APS-C image sensor (22.3 x 14.8 mm)
- 3.2 µm square pixel unit
- 3:2 aspect ratio
- Canon EF-M lens mount
- JPEG, RAW 14-bit, and C-RAW formats
- Attachable viewfinder for hot shoe
- Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus with maximum 143 AF points
- Evaluative metering using image sensor, 384 zones
- ISO range: 100-25,600 (51,200 expanded)
- Shutter speed range: 1/4000 to 30 seconds
- Exposure compensation: AEB -/+ 3 stops in 1/3 or 1/2 increments
- Flash exposure compensation: -/+ 2 stops in 1/3 or 1/2 increments
- High-speed continuous shooting: up to 14 shots per second
- Maximum 4K video resolution, 30 fps
- 3.0-inch LCD, 1.04 million pixels, touch enabled
- Tiltable LCD, upwards 180 degrees, downwards 45 degrees
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Size: 4.71 x 2.76 x 1.94 inches
- Weight: 12.73 oz. (body only)
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
- Camera body
- Electronic viewfinder EVF-DC2
- Battery charger LC-E17
- Battery pack LP-E17
- Strap EM-200DB
BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN
This is a solidly built camera, so you'll feel comfortable using it in almost any shooting situation. Occasionally, the kit lens felt like it was moving as we carried the camera around, but it does have a locking switch to counteract this issue.
The top panel of the camera includes a large mode dial, as well as two command dials. This simplifies the process of making changes to the M6 Mark II's settings.
The mirrorless Canon M6 Mark II makes use of the Canon EF-M lens mount. This is a different mount than Canon DSLR cameras use, so if you want to use Canon EF lenses with this camera, you'll need to purchase the EF to M adapter. Just understand that the EF lenses are quite a bit larger in size than the M lenses, so you'll lose some of the benefit of the small size of the M6 II by using EF lenses.
There are fewer than a dozen Canon M lenses currently available, but you should be able to find enough choices to give you the versatility you want. The model we tested shipped with an EF-M 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 kit zoom lens.
One complaint advanced photographers may have is that the collection of M mount lenses aren't quite of a high enough quality to take full advantage of the outstanding image sensor in the M6 Mark II. The lenses can't always quite handle the 32.5MP of resolution, leaving some photos just a little bit soft when viewed at large sizes.
We were pleased with the way the M6 Mark II feels in the hand. Despite having a small camera body versus a DSLR, the right-hand grip is a decent size. It is more comfortable to hold than the average mirrorless camera. Canon added rubbery coating on both the front of the grip and on the back to help you hold the camera steadily, even when you're trying to shoot one-handed.
The control buttons are of a good size and are well placed. This layout simply makes sense, meaning the majority of photographers will not require much of a learning curve to begin using the M6 II efficiently straight out of the box.
It might be better if the M6 II had its EVF built into the camera body, rather than as a separate part. When you attach the EVF, the camera seems a little bulky. And because many competitor mirrorless ILCs have the viewfinder built into the body -- including the Canon M5 -- this is a disadvantage of the EOS M6 Mark II.
MENUS & DISPLAYS
The LCD screen on the Canon M6 Mark II has plenty of desirable features, paired with excellent display quality.
It measures 3.0 inches diagonally with more than 1 million pixels of resolution, so it will deliver very sharp images on the screen. Canon gave it a tilting frame, which simplifies shooting odd angle photos or photos when the camera is connected to a tripod. You even can flip the screen 180 degrees, so you can use it to shoot selfies or for vlogging. However, you cannot rotate the screen to the side.
Additionally, the screen has touch capabilities. This is especially handy on a camera where you'll frequently be using the LCD screen to frame the scene.
As mentioned earlier, you do have the option of attaching an electronic viewfinder to the hot shoe. The EOS M6 Mark II kit we tested shipped with the viewfinder, which is a nice feature. (Otherwise, you'll pay almost $200 to purchase the EVF separately.) This viewfinder extends away from the rear of the camera, so you don't have to worry about smashing your nose into the display screen to use it, causing smudges, which often is a problem with EVFs built into the mirrorless camera body.
The viewfinder's display quality is similar to other electronic viewfinders on mirrorless cameras, so it's not pin sharp. We'd rather have it built into the camera body, but having a detachable EVF is better than no EVF option.
SPEED & AF PERFORMANCE
| 45 mm | F/8 | 1/2000 | ISO 100 |
The M6 II includes Canon's DIGIC 8 image processor, which gives this mirrorless ILC impressive performance and operational speed. It can record up to 14 photos per second in JPEG burst mode, which is well above average.
With the Canon EOS M6 Mark II, the autofocus system uses Dual Pixel AF technology Canon has developed. This uses the image sensor to accurately dial in the autofocus and to do so quickly. The M6 II's autofocus performance is a significant step up from previous Canon mirrorless cameras.
The autofocus performance in the M6 Mark II was outstanding during our tests, even outperforming quite a few DSLR cameras that we've tested during low light shooting. Its AF speed means you'll rarely miss a spontaneous photo.
You can pick between a mechanical shutter or an electronic shutter with the M6 II. The electronic shutter has some limitations in burst mode, but it can reach a maximum speed of 1/16,000th of a second. The mechanical shutter's fastest setting is 1/4000th of a second.
| 17 mm | F/5.6 | 1/320 | ISO 100 |
Canon uses the camera's image sensor to measure autofocus points and metering, resulting in strong performance levels.
You can pick among evaluative, partial, spot, and center-weighted metering modes. When shooting in evaluative metering, the M6 Mark II analyzes the scene using 384 zones.
Exposure compensation is available between plus-3 and minus-3 in 1/3 or 1/2 increments.
STILL IMAGE QUALITY
| 26 mm | F/11 | 1/60 | ISO 500 |
Even though the Canon EOS M6 Mark II contains an APS-C sized image sensor, it sports more resolution than the majority of similarly sized image sensors. At 32.5 megapixels, you'll have some options when editing the photos in post-processing, while maintaining a high level of resolution. Full size images have a resolution of 6960x4640 pixels, which is impressive for a mirrorless camera.
As you can see from our sample photos page, the image quality with the Canon M6 II is outstanding in nearly every shooting situation. It produces vibrant colors and sharp images over and over.
We were especially impressed with how the M6 Mark II handled automatic exposure with indoor photos, where the lighting wasn't the best. It did a better job than the majority of entry-level DSLRs we've tested ... and even outperformed some intermediate DSLRs.
You can pick from JPEG, 14-bit RAW, and C-RAW (short for Compact RAW) image formats. (C-RAW reduces the size of the image file by roughly 40% versus traditional RAW.) You also can shoot both JPEG and RAW at the same time if desired.
Canon included a special effect shooting mode on the mode dial, where you'll have access to modes like HDR, fish-eye, and toy camera. Nothing in the special effect modes is particularly unique, as you can reproduce most of these effects in post-processing, but it is fun to shoot photos with effects from time to time.
If you want to use a flash with the EOS M6 Mark II, the popup flash is located to the right of the lens housing (as you're viewing the camera from the front). It's a small flash, but it performs nicely. You even can tilt the head of the flash upwards to create a different angle to the bounce of the light, which is not a common feature in popup flash units.
You also can add an external flash unit to the hot shoe on the top of the camera. However, this means you cannot use the electric viewfinder at the same time.
| 18 mm | F/4 | 1/40 | ISO 6400 |
As with most aspects of the Canon M6 II, the camera's ISO performance is better than you might expect at first glance. You will not notice much, if any, noise up to ISO 3200. There's a bit of noise at ISO 6400, but nothing that will keep you from making large prints.
Even at ISO 12,800, where noise is noticeable, you can create usable photos for medium to smaller prints. Noise is problematic at ISO 25,600, but you probably can share most of these photos at small sizes on social media.
The M6 Mark II offers an extended ISO setting of 51,200, but its quality isn't really worth using.
You can judge the M6 II's ISO performance for yourself with our test photos in the image gallery.
The Canon M6 II improves on previous mirrorless Canon cameras by offering full sensor 4K video. Past models recorded cropped 4K video or HD video only.
Although the video quality is very good with the M6 Mark II, you will notice quite a bit of wind noise with the built-in microphone.
When shooting in full HD video resolution, you can shoot at up to 60 fps. HD video quality is outstanding, and the autofocus performance when shooting movies is well above average versus other Canon mirrorless cameras.
Having a 4K video resolution option is a great feature in this model, especially when it can shoot at up to 30 frames per second.
Now we can't say the EOS M6 Mark II's 4K video performance is perfect. The video quality lags just a bit behind the majority of other 4K cameras. But it's a major improvement for Canon mirrorless cameras.
We did not notice problems with the camera overheating when shooting long 4K video clips, but this issue has been reported for 4K videos approaching 1 hour in length.
| 20 mm | F/22 | 1/80 | ISO 250 |
The Canon EOS M6 Mark II has both Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities.
Battery life is about average with this camera. During our tests, we were able to use the camera regularly for a couple of days before needing a recharge. Slightly better battery performance would be nice, but this is not a significant problem.
PROS & CONS
| 45 mm | F/9 | 1/200 | ISO 100 |
- Significant upgrade in many ways over previous Canon mirrorless cameras
- Offers 32.5 megapixels of resolution
- Autofocus performance is fast and accurate
- Offers a burst mode shooting speed up to 14 fps
- Delivers 4K video recording at up to 30 fps
- Excellent image quality, especially with indoor photos
- Reasonably good ergonomics for a mirrorless ILC
- Plenty of buttons and dials for controlling the camera
- LCD rotates up to 180 degrees for selfies or vlogging
- Touch screen LCD is a nice feature
- Supports UHS II technology in the memory card slot for fast performance
- Pricey camera kit
- Detachable EVF screen isn't as sharp as we'd like to see
- EVF is not built into the camera body
- Can't use an external flash and the external EVF at the same time
- 4K video quality isn't quite as sharp as some competitor cameras
- Camera may overheat during long 4K video recording sessions
- Built-in microphone picks up quite a bit of wind noise
- No ability to shoot in burst mode and silent mode at the same time
The Canon EOS M6 Mark II mirrorless ILC is an impressive piece of tech. It has quickly jumped to the top of the chart of the Canon family of mirrorless cameras, featuring impressive levels of performance along with outstanding image quality and video quality.
At 32.5 megapixels of resolution, the M6 II can pick up details in a scene that older Canon mirrorless models can't match. With such a high level of resolution, you can crop photos successfully, while maintaining plenty of resolution to make large prints. And its color accuracy is excellent.
With the DIGIC 8 image processor, the EOS M6 Mark II is a fast performer, delivering a burst mode up to 14 frames per second. Its high-quality autofocus system works almost instantly in most photography situations.
You'll appreciate the ability to record 4K video with this camera at speeds up to 30 frames per second as well.
It'd be nice if Canon had chosen to build an electronic viewfinder into the camera body of the M6 II, instead of allowing you to add an external EVF by attaching it to the hot shoe. And advanced photographers will really wish Canon had more pin sharp M mount lenses available. The quality of the M lenses almost holds the M6 Mark II back just a bit in terms of image sharpness. (Canon DSLR owners may want to invest in an adapter, so they can use their DSLR lenses with the M mount.)
Ultimately, if you want outstanding performance speeds and image quality, all in a mirrorless camera design that's quite a bit smaller than the majority of DSLRs, the EOS M6 Mark II is a choice that won't disappoint. It's easy to recommend that Canon M6 and M5 mirrorless owners should make the jump to the M6 Mark II.
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