At first glance, you might not think the M6 is a mirrorless ILC. It's a bit thicker and boxier than some other brands' ILCs, especially those that use a retro design. For example, the Olympus PEN E-PL8 that we recently reviewed
is about 1.5 inches in thickness without a lens. The M6 measures about 1.8 inches.
There just isn't much that stands out about the Canon M6's design, other than silver trim on the top and bottom and the tiltable LCD screen. (Canon also offers an all-black EOS M6.) It certainly isn't an ugly camera; there's just not much that'll excite you about the design.
Our test model of Canon M6 felt sturdy and well balanced in the hand with either lens attached. The battery and memory card compartment on the bottom of the camera locks firmly in place, while remaining easy to open when needed.
Canon estimates the battery life for the M6 at 295 shots per charge, and our tests showed that number to be only a little high. Our test numbers were more in the 270-300 range for shots per charge. This is an improved battery performance over the EOS M3 by about 20% and the same battery performance as the EOS M5 offers.
Many mirrorless ILC cameras can be tough to hold and use one-handed because of the lack of a right-hand grip on the front of the body. Such cameras sacrifice the size of the grip to keep the camera thin.
Canon did not follow that design with the M6, as the right-hand grip is a perfect size to feel comfortable shooting one-handed. The M6 is a little thicker than some other mirrorless cameras to accommodate the usable right-hand grip.
The right-hand side of the camera includes the HDMI port and a remote switch terminal behind a compartment cover. The Wi-Fi connection button is on the right side too.
The M6 has a series of control buttons on the back right side of the camera body, as is the case with most digital cameras. These buttons are a little small for my liking, making them tough to press comfortably. This is a common problem with smaller Canon cameras.
There is a large thumb pad at the top of the right-hand panel, to the left of the AF lock button (marked with a star) and the AF frame selector button (marked with a cross in a rectangle). This thumbpad is a perfect size and contributes to allowing for easy one-handed shooting. Below this area is a series of other control buttons, including the Info button, a small movie recording button, the four-way button, the Menu button, and the Playback mode button.
The tiltable LCD is a nice feature, as it can rotate up to 180 degrees. Additionally, because the screen is touch enabled, you can control it while it's facing you for selfies or for shooting video of yourself.
One slight complaint about the tilting screen is that when it's tilted 180 degrees, the bottom of the screen is covered by the camera body, so you can't access touch controls on the lower 1/4 inch of the screen. A slightly extended hinge mechanism would've easily fixed this problem. It's especially curious that Canon did not include such a hinge with the M6, because the manufacturer has used this type of hinge with previous mirrorless ILC models, including the Canon EOS M3
Even with the bigger 18-55mm zoom lens fully extended, the EOS M6 feels well-balanced.
The left side of the M6 camera body has the popup flash button, as well as a compartment with a USB port and a microphone port.
On the front of the camera body on right side is the lens release button (just above the EOS logo).
Several buttons and dials are on the top panel of the EOS M6 body. On the far left side is the pop-up flash compartment with the hot shoe in the center of the top panel.
You'll find a mode dial on the top of the camera body containing 12 options, many of which involve automatic and special effect shooting features. There are two Custom settings on the mode dial that you can configure through the on-screen menus.
To the right of the mode dial is the EV dial, through which you can set the exposure valuation. Although it certainly looks like you could inadvertently knock the EV dial out of position because of its position and size, I didn't really have a problem with this during testing. It takes a bit of force to turn the EV dial, which helps to avoid knocking it out of position accidentally.
Around the base of the EV dial is a back command dial. The default setting for this dial is the ISO setting. The back command dial is not available on the EOS M3.
To the far right is the power toggle switch. I did bump this switch out of position a couple of times while handling the camera. It's an odd placement for a power switch, and I'm not a fan of this aspect of the Canon EOS M6 design.
The shutter button is toward the front of the top panel, located on an angled portion of the top panel. The angle is about 30 degrees, and it actually works to make the shutter button more comfortable to use. The shutter button is surrounded by the front command dial, which you'll use to change the aperture setting in Aperture Priority mode.
The Function button is to the right of the shutter button.
MENUS & DISPLAY
Without the optional electronic viewfinder available for our review, having a tiltable LCD is a good feature to help with avoiding sun glare when lining up shots. The LCD screen is of an average size at 3 inches diagonally with 1.04 million pixels of resolution. It's touch-enabled, which is helpful for selecting the autofocus point or making changes to the M6's settings. This is the same size and resolution of the screen used with the Canon M3. With the Canon EOS M5, the screen is larger, measuring 3.2 inches with 1.62 million pixels of resolution.
When considering the design of the camera's menus, I have to give Canon credit for attempting to sort related menu commands into different groups, making it easier to find certain commands.