Image Quality

Canon EF-M 22mm F2 | ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F8
Photo: Richard Butler

Key Takeaways:

  • The M6 II's sensor is very good, producing high levels of detail, with well-controlled noise and good dynamic range.
  • JPEGs are attractive, with good color rendition.
  • Default noise reduction and sharpening don't always make full use of the underlying performance, but are generally good (and can be adjusted to taste).

The EOS M6 Mark II is essentially a match for the EOS 90D's image quality, since they share sensors and processors. This is to say that it's very good: the M6 II can produce very detailed images with noise that's well-controlled and a good amount of dynamic range. Its JPEG response is attractive (something Canon has built an impeccable reputation on).

The camera's default sharpening doesn't quite tease-out as much detail as some of its rivals do. There are quite sophisticated controls for fine-tuning this, but the defaults tend to look good, so it's probably only worth spending time re-processing Raws to find your optimal settings if there's something very specific you're trying to achieve.

Studio Scene

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 camera offers a choice of Mechanical or Electronic shutter modes, with no Electronic First Curtain option. We saw very slight shutter shake at moderate shutter speeds in Mechanical shutter mode, so have used the Electronic shutter mode for low ISO shots in the studio scene.

Noise reduction is a different story. The Raw performance, when viewed at the same output size, looks directly comparable to the camera's peers in terms of noise, but the JPEG noise reduction smooths away more detail than the more sophisticated, context-sensitive systems that Panasonic and Sony offer. Again, the real world results still look pretty good, but you may find you can squeeze a bit more detail out of them, if you process the Raw files in a good editor.

Highlight Tone Priority lets you capture additional highlights and incorporate them into your image.
Canon EF-M 22mm F2 | ISO 200 | 1/160 sec | F6.3
Photo: Richard Butler

The camera's dynamic range is a match for that of the 90D: good enough to provide plenty of flexibility when you process, but not class leading.

In terms of exploiting the camera's dynamic range, it offers both Auto Lighting Optimizer (which selectively brightens parts of the image, to try to give a well-balanced image), and Highlight Tone Priority, which uses a different amplification and tone curve balance to provide images with more highlight capture but 'correctly' exposed mid-tones and shadows. On the M6 II there are two levels of HTP: D+ and D+2, which raise the minimum ISO by a stop, indicating that they'll capture one stop of additional highlights, with a concomitant increase in shadow noise. The D+2 setting applies a more extreme tone mapping but doesn't capture any additional data.

Shutter modes

The EOS M6 II comes with two shutter modes - mechanical and electronic. The mechanical mode is fully mechanical, meaning it doesn't appear to use an electronic front-curtain shutter (EFCS). A fully mechanical shutter generally comes with the risk of 'shutter shock,' or slight image softness due to the mechanical movement of the shutter. We noticed some softness from this effect in shooting our studio scene, but we were hard-pressed to find it impacting our images in more casual shooting.

The electronic shutter mode is handy for shooting in sensitive environments where absolute silence is important, though be aware that the sensor reads out very slow. This may result in banding under artificial lights or a rolling shutter effect (slanted vetical lines) if you are panning, even moderately, while shooting.