M6II for sports: wow!

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Alastair Norcross Veteran Member • Posts: 7,082
M6II for sports: wow!

I finally got the chance to give my M6II a proper sports workout. There was a 5K on campus today, the Colder Boulder. It starts with 13 separate invitational waves, for people who ran certain times in the Memorial Day 10K, Bolder Boulder. After that, there is an open wave, which has both the fastest and slowest runners (they start at staggered times). I always run in one of the invitational waves, and then get pictures of the wave my wife is in (her wave always starts long enough after mine that I have plenty of time after I finish to get my camera and get out on the course), and of the open wave. The last few years, I've used my 7DII with 70-200 F2.8L IS II, which is basically designed for exactly this sort of thing. This year, I thought I'd try my M6II with 70-200. All I can say is wow! One of the few negatives that the DPR review of the M6II claimed was that it is supposedly not good for sports. They are totally off-base with that claim. Perhaps they didn't set it up properly. Anyway, I used face + tracking, with the option to start the tracking from a pre-selected point. I positioned that point roughly centered left-right, and quite high up in the frame. I shot pretty much exclusively in vertical orientation. I also shot JPEG (I always do for sports) with the fine detail picture style and AWB (white  bias). First thing is the amazing battery performance. I shot 3850 shots, and still had two bars left at the end. I know that you always get better battery life with burst shooting, but this is still very impressive. I was shooting 7fps most of the time, switching to 14fps for the faster runners in the open wave.  I used Av at F2.8 with auto-ISO, with a minimum shutter speed of 1/1000. The ISO was mostly in the 200-800 range.

The tracking was superb. Every bit as good as the 7DII. When I shoot runners with the 7DII, I use single point with expansion, positioned high up and centered (in vertical orientation). My M6II shooting was similar, except I didn't have to worry about keeping the runner under the expanded cluster. Once I started tracking a runner, the focus stuck to them, with very few exceptions (fewer than I get with the 7DII). I used the EVF, and found it really easy to follow the runners in both 7fps and 14fps. Whatever slide show effect there may or may not be is simply unnoticeable at such speeds. I positioned the tracking on the runner's shirt, often their bib, rather than face. This proved very reliable. With one of the faster runners, I shot a 35 image burst, and found none to be OOF. One or two were slightly softer than the rest, but that might even have been the speed of the runner. 1/1000 (or sometimes 1/1250) isn't always fast enough for fast runners. This is an amazing performance. Shooting JPEG, I never filled the buffer. Had I been shooting CRAW (my usual with the M6II), I might have filled it once or twice, but I rarely exceed 35 shots in a burst. Complaints about small buffer are simply irrelevant for me. The only thing I like better about the 7DII for sports shooting is the handling with vertical grip. But the relatively minor discomfort of holding the M6II in vertical orientation is a small price to pay for such incredible performance. Here are a few samples:

My wife in Christmas sweater running shirt (it's actually tech material and not overly warm at all)

This couple were walking, until they saw me with the camera, and then...

they started running again

Lots of Christmas themed running gear

Here she is again (approaching the 2 mile mark)

I didn't notice him (another running friend) until he was almost past me, but the camera grabbed focus right away

And now she's almost done, approaching the 3 mile mark (5K is 3.1 miles)

These guys again. They were close enough to the end that they were already running before they saw the camera.

And now of a few of the fast runners

This guy finished in the top 3 overall (he may have won it).

He was also pretty speedy

So was he

She was one of the fastest women

And here are a few from the 35 shot burst at 14fps. None OOF.

The whole gallery is at:


This was the last piece of the puzzle for me. For all other shooting, I've found the M6II to be the best camera I've ever owned. Now I know that's true for sports too. I've had my 7DII for five years (I bought it as soon as it was announced). Once I got the M6, I only used the 7DII for sports shooting. Now, I don't even need it for that. It's a great camera, but its time has passed. A compact marvel like the M6II can do everything the 7DII can, and do it better. I don't know why the DPR staff didn't like the M6II for sports. All I can think is that they didn't set it up right. But this was my first attempt. I didn't try any AF setting except face + tracking (others have recommended zone or single point), but I still got great results. 14fps is simply amazing. It's overkill for most things, even sports, but it's great to have when you want it. And, I still can't get over the fact that I shot nearly 4000 images, and still had battery to spare. I took 3 spares with me, knowing that I always shoot several thousand images for these events, and didn't need any of them!

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As the length of a thread approaches 150, the probability that someone will make the obvious "it's not the camera, it's the photographer" remark approaches 1.
Equipment in profile

 Alastair Norcross's gear list:Alastair Norcross's gear list
Canon G7 X II Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EOS M6 Canon EOS M6 II Canon PowerShot S100 (2000) +26 more
Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM Canon EOS M6 II
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