Conclusion

Pros Cons
  • Updated 26MP sensor with good high ISO performance
  • Pleasing JPEG color
  • Generally good ergonomics and controls
  • Effective Dual Pixel autofocus
  • Polished touchscreen operation with fully articulated touchscreen
  • Weather-sealed
  • 6.5 fps burst shooting through optical viewfinder
  • Updated autofocus system
  • Wi-Fi with NFC and GPS
  • Effective video stabilization system
  • Less low ISO dynamic range than even crop-sensor competitors
  • Limited autofocus spread in optical viewfinder
  • Viewfinder autofocus system accuracy lags behind competition
  • Very slow burst shooting with autofocus in live view
  • 1080/60p video is soft and lacks detail
  • Lacking headphone port
  • Rear control dial is mushy and imprecise

Overall Conclusion

Canon is the world's largest camera manufacturer, and that hasn't happened by accident. Through careful research and, yes, some market segmentation, it's found a way to sell a lot of cameras that make a lot of people happy. The risk it's been running lately, though, is one of perceived stagnation; despite their continually impressive high-end offerings, many competing manufacturers are moving more quickly to bring to market products that some consumers may perceive as more 'exciting' in some form or other.

With all of that in mind, the EOS 6D Mark II is a classic Canon DSLR. Is it particularly exciting? No, but really, neither was the original 6D aside from its fairly accessible price point. What the 6D Mark II is, though, is a solid, well-built camera that is capable of producing great images while improving upon its predecessor in almost every measurable way.

Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L II @ 360mm.
ISO 640| 1/1250 sec | F8
Photo by Carey Rose

The real question we have to answer now is whether any of that's enough: It's a different world now than in 2012 when the 6D's only real competition was Nikon's D600. Now, we have the likes of mirrorless full-frame challengers from Sony as well as updated and highly capable DSLRs from Nikon and Pentax, all at similar or even lower price points.

So let's dig in and see how the EOS 6D Mark II stacks up in today's crowded market.

Body and Handling

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the EOS 6D Mark II is the latest in the company's continuing line of 'black hunks of DSLR.' As with so many other mid-to-high-end DSLRs, the 6D Mark II's design isn't going to turn heads, but it sure is comfortable to use.

Despite being far more plasticky than the EOS 5D Mark IV, the 6D II is reassuringly solid and 'creak free,' while being lighter weight to boot. The grip is a good size for my medium-sized hands, with comfortably familiar Canon controls. The rear dial is there for easy scrolling through images, but we really dislike the eight-way controller. Best to hit the AF selection button near the shutter and twiddle the dials for moving your AF point.

The 6D Mark II's fully articulating touchscreen combines with Dual Pixel Autofocus to make the camera a competent handler in live view. It's relative bulk compared to Canon's smaller offerings means it's a little unwieldy to hold out at arm's length, but it's great for shooting above your head, from the hip, or from a weird angle on a tripod. The touch interface is typical Canon, meaning it is responsive and easy-to-use.

Performance and Autofocus

Being a DSLR, the 6D Mark II starts up and starts taking images quite quickly. Live view starts up in just under one second, though if you leave the camera in 'video' mode, it will take a few seconds upon startup before you can actually begin recording video.

With 6.5 fps burst shooting, the 6D Mark II shoots fast enough for a wide variety of uses when you use the optical viewfinder. When you switch to live view, burst shooting slows to 4.5 fps, though if you switch to 'focus priority' in live view, you'll be lucky to get 1-2 fps most of the time if you're photographing a moving subject with Dual Pixel tracking - more on this below.

Out-of-camera JPEG, Canon EF 24-105mm F4L II IS USM @ 105mm
ISO 1000 | 1/500 sec | F5.6
Photo by Carey Rose

You'll only occasionally find yourself waiting for the card to write after long bursts, and the battery life shouldn't be an issue unless you're using live view all the time. Annoyingly, though, you get Canon's less-than-ideal three-bar battery meter most often found on its lower-end offerings.

Autofocus through the viewfinder is adequate, if nothing more. The 45-pt all-cross-type system is lifted directly from the EOS 80D, and the limited size of the AF spread in the viewfinder can be a constraint if you like placing your subjects off-center. And following in the footsteps of the original 6D's autofocus system, only the center point is good in the dark, as it's rated down to -3 EV; every single other point is rated to a rather disappointing -0.5 EV.

Live view autofocus is a little disappointing on the 6D II as well. The burst speed of 4.5 fps sounds promising enough, but that's 'high speed continuous,' which emphasizes speed over focus, meaning your hit rate for moving subjects will be dismal. 'Low speed continuous' prioritizes proper focus while dropping to an almost unusable 1-2 fps for erratic subjects, such as fast-running children or bearded men on bicycles.

Image and video quality

Here's the rub. As it turns out, Canon is a victim of its own success here. Its strides in sensor technology in the EOS-1D X Mark II, 5D Mark IV, and even Rebel T7i meant we had high hopes for the new 6D II. Unfortunately, while you do get a bump in resolution, you get similar dynamic range at lower ISO values as you got on the original 6D five years ago. That means high contrast scenes like sunsets will look better even on Canon's new APS-C sensors than they will with the 6D II.

Out-of-camera JPEG Processed to taste from Adobe Camera Raw
Perhaps we've been spoiled a bit, but we'd expect far less noise from this relatively modest push of an ISO 100 image. Click through to see the full adjusted image, with default noise reduction and sharpening applied. Photo by Dan Bracaglia

On the other hand, like the original, the 6D II excels at high ISO values. Once you get past ISO 1600, the 6D II handily pulls away from its crop-sensor cousins and is broadly competitive with market peers.

In true Canon tradition, we love the color output of the 6D Mark II, with reds and skin tones being pleasing in particular. JPEG sharpening and noise reduction is crude at default settings, but once you tune them a bit, you'll get noticeably better results.

Out of camera JPEG.
Canon EF 70-200mm F4L | ISO 100 | 1/640 sec | F4
Photo by Carey Rose

In a developing Canon tradition, video features are somewhat disappointing on the 6D II. Like most of Canon's recent consumer offerings, it tops out at Full HD quality, with footage that's rather soft and lacking in detail. It also foregoes a headphone jack for audio monitoring, and you get no exposure aids (such as Zebra warnings) during recording.

For casual use, though, the 6D II is perfectly serviceable. The footage may be soft, but the digital + in-lens stabilization provides incredibly smooth footage, and Dual Pixel AF minimizes hunting much of the time. For casual use and viewing on smartphones and tablets, the absolute ease with which the 6D II allows you to get stable, in-focus footage is impressive.

The final word

After five long years, the 6D Mark II has some big shoes to fill. The original 6D had it a little easier, with a less mature market willing to forgive its shortcomings somewhat in favor of a full frame sensor in a well-priced body. But things have changed a bit since then.

It's true that nearly every objective specification of the 6D Mark II has been improved upon when compared with its predecessor, while the release price has remained the same. Unfortunately, unless you're a die-hard Canon user with an investment in glass and you just need an affordable backup body, it's difficult to look past all that competing cameras have to offer.

Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM | ISO 100 | F4 | 1/500 sec
Photo by Carey Rose

For the same price, Nikon's D750 offers nearly the same resolution, loads more dynamic range and a far more sophisticated autofocus system. Same goes for the Sony a7 II, though that camera is even cheaper. The Pentax K-1 is an incredible value and gives you even better build quality, unique and innovative features like Pixel Shift, and far more resolution. The only thing that makes the EOS 6D II stand out is Dual Pixel AF, which turns out is only of real value in this camera when shooting single shots of slow-moving subjects or HD video.

Let's be clear: The EOS 6D Mark II is, like so many other cameras, capable of outstanding images in the right hands. But even considering all the traditional Canon bonuses like great color, ease of use for video capture and comprehensive lens ecosystem, the 6D II falls too far short for us to recommend it over the competition, and therefore it doesn't merit our highest awards.


Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Category: Mid Range Full Frame Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
As it should be, the EOS 6D II is a better camera than its predecessor in almost every way. With plenty of resolution, respectable burst shooting speeds and pleasing Canon color, it's a camera that's capable of producing great images in a variety of situations. Despite this, it is simply overshadowed by competition that is made up of more capable cameras at similar or lower prices.
Good for
Social and general use, easy capture of casual video clips and those looking for a backup body for Canon full-frame glass.
Not so good for
Photographers needing the best image quality for landscape work, or sports and action photographers needing a more capable autofocus system.
80%
Overall score