Image Quality

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

The EOS 6D II's JPEGs are pretty typical for Canon, with rich reds, a very slight orange tinge to the yellows and no obvious cast to the blues. The result is one of our favorite color responses of any of the current JPEG engines. This is also likely to mean a more attractive starting point for Raw conversions if your software of choice makes any attempt to mimic the brand's own color response.

At its default settings, the sharpening has a comparatively wide radius, which gives obvious emphasis to some edges at the expense of the very finest detail (when viewed at 100%). As with other Digic 7-powered Canons, you gain the ability to tune the radius, amount and threshold of the sharpening, to match your specific needs. Better still, you get in-camera Raw conversion, so you can output the same image with various settings to help you find the combination that works best for you. [See below]

At high ISOs, the noise reduction does a reasonable job of retaining edge information, so it doesn't smudge detail away as aggressively as the D750. However, the simpler, grittier output of the Pentax K-1 appears to retain much of its detail if you view the cameras at the same scale, which makes the Canon's result look a little mushy.

Raw performance

Raw detail capture is pretty much what you'd expect from a 26MP camera. What looks like a fairly subtle anti aliasing filter seems to protect against the worse excesses of moiré, adding only a very slight softening to the very finest detail in return. It's an unfashionable and more expensive choice for Canon to make, but it reduces the risk of moiré ruining that crucial shot. That's not as elegant as an AA filter (or filter simulation) system that can be disengaged but it's arguably a safer choice than just doing away with it altogether.

Noise-wise, the camera is competitive at moderate ISO settings (though the Pentax K-1's higher resolution gives it a significant detail benefit, despite the downsizing). The 6D II remains comparable to its peers at more limited exposures as the ISO setting increases, only dropping significantly behind at the highest settings.

Dynamic Range

We've already covered the 6D II's dynamic range in a separate article. It's our single biggest reservation about the EOD 6D II's image quality. Essentially the 6D II's Raw files shot at low ISO have significantly less latitude for adjustment than we're used to seeing in contemporary cameras, before noise starts to intrude on the image.

This is most likely to affect landscape photographers, who are more likely to find themselves having to bracket in high dynamic range scenes, but it'll also affect anyone (including EOS 80D users) who's become used to having a high degree of processing flexibility in their files.

JPEG sharpening

The 6D Mark II's JPEG engine allows control over three aspects of its sharpening: Strength, Fineness and Threshold. Strength specifies the degree to which edges are emphasized, Fineness specifies how fine the detail being emphasized is and threshold specifies the contrast level that the sharpening will be applied to.

Strength 3
Fineness 4
Threshold 4
Our preferred settings
Strength 4
Fineness 1
Threshold 1
ISO 6400
Strength 4
Fineness 1
Threshold 1

We ran our studio scene through the camera's Raw conversion process several times, to find a balance we thought optimal. Reducing the fineness to 1 instantly improves things, helping to bring out finer detail. Doing so gives a more subtle result, which provides scope for increasing the Strength from 3 to 4. Finally, we found that reducing the Threshold setting also helps pull out fine detail and, having checked some higher ISO images, we found a setting or 1 or 2 gives results that look better overall, despite noise also gaining a little more emphasis from this sharpening.