6 Weeks with the 6DMKII

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G Dickson Regular Member • Posts: 249
6 Weeks with the 6DMKII
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My review of the 6DMKII:

I am a keen amateur photographer.  I do a lot of marketing stuff for our safari lodge (in Zambia) and have done unpaid work for other lodges just as favours. While wildlife is very important to me it is not the only type of photography that interests me. Basically anything and everything at times will be my subject. I have had a keen interest in photography as long as I can remember, although only really got at all serious about it about 7 years ago. I have had images used by the Outdoor Journal, Huffington Post and some more local publications. I recently have started dabbling a bit in video.

My main camera is a 1DmkIV (bought used) which has been my absolute constant companion for the last 4 years. But I got to that stage. That stage where a second body started to make sense. And a body that could make full use of my wider lenses. So it meant going FF for sure. Basically I thought about it on and off for a year. I contemplated the 5DIV, the Sony A7III and various other older bodies. But eventually the price drop of the 6DII made me sit up and revisit this camera. The final nudge was that my 1DIV started showing error 20 fault codes at times. With family coming out to visit it was weirdly a snap decision in the end (despite a years research).

Lenses used with the 6DMKII have been: Samyang 14mm f2.8, Sigma 20mm F1.4, 24-105 F4L IS, 100-400 L II, Canon 1.4x TC vII.

Let us start with a few cons and hopefully I maybe come out with some new pros and cons and not just the old dynamic range, lack of 4K and one card slot stories...

  • No .raw HDR (the humble old EM10 does it!)
  • Timelapse movie mode... Let me explain. The movie mode whether in TV or Av means that the camera takes over complete control... Av is not really Av, it is really full auto. Shooting a day to night timelapse transition I found that in Av "movie timelpase mode" the camera for some reason would not start to fully open the aperture as the light fell. This was with a Sigma lens (I haven't tested it with a canon lens yet). But regardless, surely Av should allow you to choose the aperture? As a workaround I use a fully manual rokinon in timelapse move mode so that at least I can get control over the aperture. I am very thankful now that I have that lens in my kit... But I just don't understand why they don't include a proper Av mode in timelapse movie (or indeed normal movie) mode.
  • Silent shutter; there actually is a sort of e-shutter available (as it is used in Timelapse movie mode) so why on earth wasn't it fully incorporated in live view. Surely this would have been possible and have been a handy feature.
  • No 4K. Its not a deal breaker for me but it would have been handy. As would a slightly better 1080 and 120fps. Again, it is slightly galling that my little Olympus TG5 can do 4K and 1080 120fps but my FF canon cannot.
  • No joystick: really I miss this and it is is probably the most difficult adjustment coming from a 1DIV.
  • You can punch in to focus in video mode, but once you start recording the camera jumps back out to the full field of view. In a hide trying to video small bee-eaters this was quite frustrating.

Those are basically the cons that I can think of.

  • Really outstanding image quality. I have never shot with the original 6D so I cannot compare, but for me it totally gets the job done. Nice colours. I feel that this is easily overlooked in spec based reviews. The reality is that with say my 100-400II on it and in nice light with a decent composition or subject the results are (to my eye at least) simply spectacular.
  • Good balanced file size. While more MP is always nice I really don't need much more than this. I can crop a fair bit with these files and they are not too huge. I wouldn't like to be handling and storing say 5DSR files at the moment.
  • High ISO/low light performance is great. I routinely shoot quite a lot of astrolandscapes as well as very low light stuff for lodge marketing and this camera works very well. Pretty clean ISO 6400 astrolandscapes are possible which really are not with the 1DIV.
  • Build quality. Owning a 1D series means I know what a very well built camera feels like. The 6DII feels top quality: good materials and fit and finish. I was out trying to shoot lightning last night and the camera got a good soaking and did just fine.
  • Ergonomics are outstanding. Any smaller than this body size and my hands feel a bit cramped. Okay, that D-pad thing is almost guaranteed to drive you mad if you try to use it when the camera is up to your eye... But for me at least a camera any smaller than this (especially grip height) is going to be a problem with prolonged use. It is kind of a sweet spot size and not too small and not too big. Just right.
  • Video: ease of use. I know that in the cons I mentioned video, but for run and gun 1080 amateur videos (like I do!) it is a quick, flexible and capable(ish) tool. DPAF is amazing.
  • Timelapse movie mode: I know it was a con as well, but this is actually very handy. If you have ever brought several hundred shots into Lightroom and then exported into LRTimelapse and rendered then you will appreciate just how handy this feature is. It works pretty well too.  Even "holy grail" day to night transitions have been pretty good.  
  • The flip out screen is a revelation. Not only for video but also for astrolandscapes and odd angles. The touch screen works brilliantly. For astrolandscapes you can put your lens into manual focus but then use the briefest of touches to the screen to trip the shutter. No need for a cable remote or self timer.
  • As a second body to use beside my 1DIV I was actually quite pleasantly surprised at how well it performs in terms of speed. It is no slouch and is totally capable of BIF or any wildlife scenario I could think of as well as following canoeists through rapids (which is the only sport I have tried it with). In fact the only scenario where I felt the AF kind of disappointed was small back lit birds where it hunted a bit. I kind of felt in the same scenario with my 1DIV it was nailing focus better (despite not having the spot AF function). But overall I felt the AF servo was more than I expected. For most of my photography the AF points being clustered towards the middle is not an issue. For the few times I need a better spread I would most likely be in live view so can work around this with no problem at all.
  • I know it is a cliche, but coming from other canons it was easy to get used to the 6dII. The menus are clear and logical. I have lost count of the number of times I have been driven mental trying to find a particular setting in the olympus menus! Being familiar with your camera is a huge advantage: just yesterday we had two guests on a game drive. Mr X was shooting with his brand new Sony A7RIII and 100-400. Mr Y had an em10mkIII and some sort of long zoom. A 20 second leopard sighting saw Mr X totally fail to get the shot as he was not familiar with his camera. I know this is totally user error, but in picking up my new 6DII everything immediately fell into place and I have never felt I am missing a shot or fumbling for a feature.

Overall summation: I went into buying a 6DII after a LOT of careful research and knowing full well all the rumours of an upcoming FF ML from Canon. I had looked long and hard at the A7III but probably the thing that swayed me to the 6DII was that I wanted native performance with my 100-400II as well as the massive price drop (grey import purchased in the UK). I read and watched plenty reviews where say portrait photogs were singing the praises of adapted canon glass. But for wildlife and fast action I just wasn't seeing the same love (or indeed any) and so could not take a risk. So after the canon EOS R release am I disappointed that I didn't wait?

In a word: No. I am not going to wait around reading spec lists over and over and waiting for price drops. I wanted a full frame, that suddenly became a need and I made to me what feels like a good choice. I feel the 6DII is a bit like my swiss army knife. Sure my Leatherman Charge Ti or Victorinox swisstool is a far more capable tool in certain circumstances. But sometimes the small and light and cheaper tool is the right one. It can do a bit of everything and do it all fairly well.

I am planning to keep it for a few years until funds allow and the evolution of the EOS R range really tempts me. Here are a selection of images taken over the last 6 weeks that I have had the camera. A variety of scenes and settings that hopefully give an idea of how rounded the camera is. I have kept them small as out satellite based internet can be pretty slow.

Hopefully someone finds this useful as I in turn found so many reviews useful in making my decision.

 G Dickson's gear list:G Dickson's gear list
Olympus TG-5 Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Olympus OM-D E-M10 Canon 6D Mark II Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM +9 more
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
26 megapixels • 3 screen • Full frame sensor
Announced: Jun 29, 2017
G Dickson's score
4.0
Average community score
4.2
bad for good for
Kids / pets
great
Action / sports
great
Landscapes / scenery
great
Portraits
great
Low light (without flash)
excellent
Flash photography (social)
great
Studio / still life
great
= community average
Canon 6D Mark II Canon EOS 5DS R Canon EOS 6D Canon EOS-1D Olympus OM-D E-M10
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