In Use...

The 6D Mark II comes with DSLR-responsiveness and a fairly well-rounded spec sheet, and so looks to be well suited to a variety of tasks. Let's dig in and see just how it stacks up for some common types of photography.

Landscape

In many ways, the 6D Mark II is a fine choice for the landscape shooter. With 26MP of resolution, you'll have no problem zooming in to fine details or going big with your prints. It's weather-sealed, so it should stand up to some inclement weather with a similarly sealed lens. Being a DSLR, the battery life is excellent for extended shoots and long exposures, and the tilting touchscreen makes it easy to work at odd angles on a tripod.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | EF 35mm F2 IS | ISO 100| F9 | 1/200th
Shadows lifted, highlights lowered, slight selective brightening to couples' faces. Blue gradient added along upper edge. As you'll see if you click to view the full-sized image, noise in the areas of lifted shadow is very apparent. Click here to download the Raw file.
Photo by Richard Butler

Perhaps most important is that full-frame sensor. It opens up a wide variety of high-quality wide-angle lens options, from primes to zooms. Sure, there are plenty of low-cost, entry-level wide options available for crop-sensor cameras, but specialty lenses like Sigma's 14mm F1.8 and the like will really come alive when they can offer their intended field-of-view on the larger sensor.

The 6D II's dynamic range at lower ISO's is lacking, which will result in less flexibility in post-processing and flat-out noisier images.

But there are some significant downsides to using the 6D II for primarily landscape work. For one, there are mirrorless options out there that may allow you to keep your kit both smaller and lighter, if you're hiking into the wilderness. Lastly, we've seen that the 6D II's dynamic range at lower ISO's is sorely lacking, which will result in less flexibility in post processing and flat-out noisier images. In fact, even Canon's newer APS-C sensors offer better performance in this regard, despite their smaller size.

In less contrasty situations, the output from the 6D Mark II is generally pleasing, even in out-of-camera JPEGs.
Canon 24-105mm F4L II IS USM @ 41mm | ISO 200 | 1/160 sec | F11
Photo by Carey Rose

So can you use the 6D Mark II to shoot landscapes? Of course you can - just like you could with a Nikon D5, which also lacks dynamic range at lower ISO values. But if you're a specialist looking for the right tool for this job, it's best to look elsewhere.

Social

The 6D Mark II is a very responsive camera, and will allow you to react quickly to changing social situations, whether you're just taking photos of friends at a barbecue, covering an event, or even, perhaps, photographing a wedding. Despite our qualms with its low ISO dynamic range performance, it still performs so well at higher ISO values that you may need for dim lighting or freezing motion with fast shutter speeds.

Image processed to taste from Raw.
Canon 50mm F1.8 STM | ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F4
Photo by Carey Rose

If you opt for using the optical viewfinder instead of live view, the burst speed of 6.5 fps should be enough for most situations to capture just the right expression or moment. If you're not into firing off speedy bursts, you can switch into live view (where burst speeds slow appreciably), and take advantage of the excellent face detection in Live View. You can also easily swap between detected faces in a scene by just toggling left or right on the directional pad.

The shutter is quiet even before you shift into the 'soft' shutter mode, which will further help you be a fly on the wall.

If you're into more formal portraits, the limited autofocus coverage through the viewfinder may be problematic if you're putting your subject far enough off-center, and falling back on the 'focus-and-recompose' method at wider apertures can result in out-of-focus subjects. We've also had some issues with outright focus accuracy when using the viewfinder, so for formal portraits or perhaps paid event coverage, it's best to switch into live view just to be safe.

If you do opt for live view though, the tilting touchscreen makes it as easy as can be. It allows for 'shooting from the hip,' which can be a little more inconspicuous despite the relatively large size of the camera. The shutter is quiet even before you shift into the 'soft' shutter mode, which will further help you be a fly on the wall.

The articulating screen and quiet shutter allowed for me to easily get this quick candid during a conversation. The highlights are a little blown, but overall, not a bad exposure in 'full auto' mode for an out-of-camera JPEG.
Canon EF 28mm F2.8 IS USM | ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F5
Photo by Carey Rose

The 6D Mark II is also equipped with a well-implemented Wi-Fi system with Bluetooth, making it fairly easy for you to send images off to your friends, family, or whoever, immediately after taking their photograph. It's a very nice touch that people appreciate, should you not be too much of a stickler about post-processing your files before handing them off.

One item missing for social photography is a built-in flash. It's not a deal-breaker, and the high ISO performance of the 6D II is darn good, but it can be helpful in a pinch. In all, we find the 6D Mark II to be a good option for social photography, though for greater dependability for off-center subjects and using lenses with wider apertures, we recommend switching into live view.

Sports / Action

When people think of photographing sports and action, they often think of Canon's signature big, white telephoto lenses. The 6D II's full-frame sensor does mean that you'll get less reach than you may be used to if you're coming from an APS-C camera, but you'll get more subject separation (blurrier backgrounds) as a tradeoff.

You can photograph moving subjects with the 6D II, but there are better options out there.
Canon 70-200mm F4L @ 200mm | ISO 1250 | 1/1250 sec | F4
Photo by Carey Rose

Unsurprisingly, the autofocus performance when shooting the 6D II through the viewfinder performs similarly to the older EOS 80D from which the system was lifted, and it's still not terribly competitive in terms of absolute accuracy. The spread of autofocus points in the optical viewfinder is very small, limiting usefulness and compositional options.

For shooting sports in bright daylight, you may still find yourself hampered by the limited dynamic range at lower ISO values. If you're shooting in lower light or very fast shutter speeds that necessitate higher ISO values, the 6D II's image quality is broadly comparable to the competition.

If you're a sports and action shooter, you're faced with two imperfect options in the 6D II.

Subject tracking, where you choose a subject and watch as the autofocus points continue to follow them, is a mixed bag on the 6D Mark II. Using the viewfinder autofocus system allows for short blackout at the camera's maximum 6.5 fps burst speed, but the limited spread of the points may prove less than useful, and the system still struggles with strings of out-of-focus shots in the middle of bursts.

Is paddle boarding a sport? Anyway, the 6D II can easily handle this sort of sport.
Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 330mm
ISO 320 | 1/1600 sec | F5.6
Photo by Carey Rose

If you switch into live view to tap-to-track your subject with Dual Pixel AF, be aware that there is a noticeable delay from when you tap your subject to when the camera begins to actually track it. After it begins tracking, it will stick tenaciously to that subject for single shots, but burst shooting at 'high' speed in this mode is embarrassingly bad, with the camera often just giving up on focusing altogether. Switch into the lower speed burst mode, and the hit rate is acceptable, but the shooting speed often drops to 1-2 fps, which is honestly too slow to really be usable.

In the end, you're faced with two imperfect options on the 6D Mark II. It may be a fine backup camera for a sports shooter invested in the Canon ecosystem and for the photographer that only needs to shoot moving subjects occasionally. But if sports and action is really your bread and butter, there are far better options out there.

Travel

We tend to find the colors in out-of-camera JPEGs from the 6D II to be both pleasing and punchy.
Canon EF 24-104mm F4L IS II USM @ 46mm
ISO 100 | 1/800 sec | F5.6
Photo by Jeff Keller

The 6D Mark II is, arguably, both a good and bad travel camera. Do you like to travel with something you'll forget is on your shoulder, or slides into a pocket? If you prefer the latter, you can stop reading right now: the 6D II is a full-size DSLR, and even though it's light compared to a 5D IV or a Pentax K-1, it won't be light enough for you.

If you don't mind a bit of heft, or even enjoy larger cameras for their comfortable grips and ergonomics, the 6D Mark II has a lot going for it.

The built-in wireless will allow you to upload images to the wilds of the Internet with ease.

The battery will easily last you multiple days of moderate to heavy use, provided you don't spend too much time chimping your images, or using the camera in live view. The weather sealing should help it stand up to unexpected weather events regardless of where you find yourself in the world, and the wide selection of excellent Canon-mount lenses is a nice bonus.

The built-in Wi-Fi will allow you to upload images to the wilds of the Internet with ease and built-in GPS will never leaving you wondering where a shot was taken, and it can be a huge help in terms of cataloging images. The plastic casing does appear to be durable and our test unit is 'creak free;' it should be able to shrug off a knock or two if you're the more adventurous type.

Canon EF 28mm F2.8 IS USM | ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F2.8
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

If you're into shooting sunsets or sunrises on your excursions, we must again bring up the limited dynamic range of the 6D Mark II at low ISOs. Despite having a good number of megapixels, these sorts of very contrasty scenes will just be noisier on the 6D II than any of its direct competition.

Despite this, we've found the 6D II to be a fine travel companion if you're the sort of photographer that likes the ergonomics and grip comfort that come with using larger cameras.

Video

For anyone looking to produce professional video, the 6D Mark II is difficult to recommend. In keeping with most of Canon's latest consumer offerings, it lacks 4K capability, and adding insult to injury, its 1080p video is soft and lacking in detail. The absence of a headphone port also makes it difficult to critically judge audio from either the internal microphones or an external unit.

Curiously, Canon has also removed any option for All-I video compression, as well as the option to shoot in the MOV format, both of which are options on the existing EOS 80D.

On the other hand, for the casual user, the 6D II makes the capture of smooth, stable and in-focus footage incredibly easy. The touchscreen controls are excellent, with simple tap-to-focus and track capability. In-lens stabilization combines with digital stabilization to produce almost glidecam-like footage, and the colors are pleasing. For casual capture of daily life and for viewing on smaller devices like tablets and smartphones, the 6D II is a fine option.