Canon EOS M6 Mark II Review

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”Canon’s newest release sets a new standard for the world of APS-C.”

Introduction

Initially released in the fall of 2019, Canon’s EOS M6 Mark II is Canon’s seventh mid-range mirrorless camera released alongside the EOS 90D. Officially, it replaces the older EOS M6, released two years prior. And it leapfrogs their EOS M5 to now become the flagship model in the EOS M lineup. With this camera, Canon’s debuted its brand new 32.5MP sensor to the world. And it currently sits as the highest resolution APS-C camera we’ve seen to date. On paper, this camera’s promising significant improvements over all other cameras in the EOS M range. And it appears that Canon wants to show the world they haven’t forgotten about their EF-M lineup. But, considering a lackluster lens ecosystem is the ongoing bane of this series, are improvements to the alone camera enough? Or, will we see the same repeating dog and pony trick as their previous flagship? This looks to be a turning point for the camera maker, but will it? Canon aims this against some rather fierce competition, namely Sony’s a6400, Nikon’s Z50, and Fujifilm’s X-T30. In today’s post, we assess its strengths and weaknesses and see how it stacks against these mirrorless giants.

Canon-EOS-M6-Mark-II-specs

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon EOS M6 Mark II? 

Pros:

Image Quality

With this release, Canon’s debut the highest resolution APS-C sensor to date at 32.5MP, far surpassing the 24MP average and 26MP of recent Fujifilm releases. And they’ve also paired the camera with the latest DIGIC 8 image processor. The combination creates the best image quality that we’ve seen in this form factor yet. Its 14-bit RAW images are incredibly sharp with ample dynamic range. And they’re stacked with details with Canon’s excellent color science for lifelike skin tones and accurate colors. The only trade-off is that the file sizes from this pixel-dense sensor are hefty, where each RAW image is approximately 50 MBs.

Note: this camera needs to pair with lenses that are sharp enough to resolve the sensor’s full capabilities. In this case, Canon’s L lenses are best.

It provides continuous shooting speeds of 14 fps using the mechanical shutter with continuous autofocus. And the buffer depth is also quite good for the class at 48 JPEGs and 26 RAWs, making it a real contender for sports, wildlife, and journalistic applications. And, in this regard, it outcompetes both Sony’s a6400 and Fujifilm’s X-T30.

The camera obtains the RAW Burst Mode from the Powershot GX7 III, which ups the continuous burst speed to 30 fps, using the electronic shutter. And now, it also supports continuous AF. Plus, Canon’s even installed the Pre-Shooting function, which captures approximately 0.5 seconds (15 shots) into a rolling buffer before fully depressing the shutter. This mode captures 84 frames, from which you can extract either RAW or JPEG images. The caveats with these modes are that they reduce image quality from 32.5MP down to 17.9MP, and it also slightly reduces the images’ field of view. Otherwise, it’s an excellent addition that enables fast continuous RAW shooting to capture the perfect moment from a roll of pictures. And it completely removes any element of timing, making it the ideal feature for sports or action. And it provides a distinct advantage over all other rivals in this class and even Canon’s 90D, which strangely lacks the feature.

Note: since this mode uses the electronic shutter, it can suffer from skewing artifacts caused by rolling shutter.

Video Quality

On the video front, this camera obtains tremendous upgrades over the predecessor and represents a significant milestone for the EF-M lineup. It now shoots 4K UHD video at 30 fps with a full sensor readout without a crop. This addition makes it the second Canon interchangeable lens camera to shoot uncropped 4K video and joins it alongside the EOS 90D. It also shoots 1080p full HD video up to 60 fps. And both recording formats support the higher-end All-I compression method and excellent data rates. In this case, 30 Mbps for 1080p and 120 Mbps for 4K.

Another first, it’s also one of few Canon cameras to support the use of Dual Pixel CMOS AF in 4K. And this is another significant milestone over the EOS M50, SL3, and M200, which all employ a basic contrast AF system during 4K. Overall, the video capabilities on this camera are greatly improved. From a quality standpoint, the 4K video increases fine details and adds sharpness over standard 1080p. And videos are well-exposed with the same pleasing color science. The footage also supplies sufficient dynamic range when shooting in high-contrast scenes. Though, in typical Canon fashion, it’s slightly softer than the competition, more on this later.

It also inherits the High Frame Rate Movie Mode, which allows the camera to capture 1080p Full HD up to 120 fps for super slow-motion videos. And it renders these videos in camera. And the maximum recording time per clip here is 7 min. 29 sec.

Note: a recent firmware update ads 24 fps in all modes.

Like many cameras in this class, video recordings limit at 29 min. 59 sec.

You can pull 8.3MP still JPEG images from a 4K movie.

It obtains the Time-lapse Movie mode, which creates an in-camera 4K or 1080p time-lapse movie.

It obtains the Video Snapshots mode, which records a series of short videos, each a few seconds long, that the camera combines into a single album showcasing the highlights.

It obtains Movie Digital Image Stabilization (IS), a form of electronic stabilization that corrects camera shake during movie recording.  It’s helpful when you’re using a lens without optical stabilization, and it works surprisingly well. However, it does result in a crop into the video, reducing the field of view. Thankfully, enabling the feature doesn’t appear to reduce video quality.

The camera features Auto Level for Movies, which keeps movies straight during recording. Interesting.

It provides a clean 8-bit HDMI output, both 4K or 1080p, for use with external recorders or monitors.

Low Light Performance

Low light performance is excellent, considering the enormous increase in the sensor’s resolution, pixel density, and the overall resolving power. It features a native ISO range from 100 to 25,600, further expandable to the H setting, the equivalent of 51,200. And users can expect usable images up to ISO 6,400, without much processing. And even 12,800 is usable, as images are free from banding. Overall, compared to the predecessor, images only display a slight increase in noise. And this increase is rather insignificant and well worth the trade-off for the increase in resolution. These results are excellent for such a high-resolution camera.

Focusing Performance

Focusing was already a known strength on the predecessor, and this camera surely continues suit. It inherits Canon’s acclaimed Dual Pixel CMOS AF (DPAF), a feature initially introduced on the EOS 70D. However, this is the best implementation of the system seen to date. This system now offers a total of 5,481 selectable AF points, which cover 100% vertical and 88% horizontal portions of the frame. With this amount of coverage, you can focus and track virtually anything seen in the frame. This new implementation now brings along Face+Tracking and Eye Detection AF, which now work in continuous-servo AF. The system can now even focus at light levels of – 5 EV, making it class-leading among peers. Overall, the focusing is relentlessly accurate, even in low light. Not only is it consistent and precise, but it’s also smooth as it transitions in both stills and videos. And rarely, does it ever hesitate, hunt, or miss focus.

The updated Eye Detection, in particular, while not as effective at the same distance as Sony, is also quite accurate. Though, it does work best if the subjects are in portrait range and aren’t turned profile to the camera. Nevertheless, it’s confident and well suited for professional use.

Unlike previous models in this range, this camera does an excellent job focusing adapted lenses to such a degree that it’s well suited for professional sports and wildlife with Canon EF lenses.

For those who prefer manual focusing, the camera supports focus magnification and peaking for more accurate manual focusing.

Display & Viewfinder

It features a 3.0-inch TFT touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1.04M dots. Like the EOS M6, it articulates 180º forward, for front-facing selfies or vlogging, and tilts down 45º for added versatility during high-angle shooting. Overall, the screen remains relatively sharp with good viewing angles and bright enough for outdoor use in harsh sunlight. And since it’s a touchscreen, it supports a variety of helpful touch gestures. These include: touch focus, touch shutter, Drag AF, swiping in playback, pinch to zoom, and full menu navigation.

User Interface

Like the predecessor and many other EOS M cameras, it maintains Canon’s friendly and intuitive user interface. And with its touchscreen, navigating both the Quick and Main Menu are both natural. And the interface is well-optimized for newcomers. A nice addition here is that switching the camera into the Automatic mode also dramatically simplifies the menu, helpful for beginners.

The camera obtains the two custom shooting presets from the predecessor, C1 and C2. These allow users to create and recall full shooting setups quickly.

The camera provides enormous customization for more advanced users. In total, eight physical buttons offer customization, which is perfect to tailor the camera towards your shooting style.

It obtains the customizable My Menu, a preset menu of all of the favorited menu settings on a single page.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

At first glance, the camera looks largely identical to the predecessor. And it remains equally as light at only 361g body alone, closely matching rivals. However, considering its small size, it sports the best ergonomics and grip of its peer group. And it hands down provides the best controls and comfort. Canon’s known for excellent ergonomics, and this camera surely follows suit. The grip is deep, which makes the camera very comfortable during prolonged use. And the button layout is masterfully done. They’ve strategically placed all the physical controls for excellent one-handed operation. And, overall, the ergonomics are much improved over other EOS M cameras.

Compared to the predecessor, Canon’s now done away with the dedicated exposure compensation dial. Instead, replaced with the Dial FUNC button from the EOS M5, which is far more useful. The camera still retains dual control dials with lovely clicky feedback. And Holding this FUNC button alters the setting of the rear dial to provide excellent manual control without changing your grip.

It now offers a dedicated AF-on button for back button focus. And it now also has a dedicated MF/AF selection lever, saving trips to the menu.

Niche Features/Extras

It obtains extensive in-camera image processing, allowing users to process both JPEG and RAW images. You adjust brightness, picture style, white balance, and other settings.

It features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless image transfer and remote control.

It has a built-in intervalometer for time-lapses.

It has a built-in bulb timer, removing the need for a cable release accessory for long exposures.

It has built-in focus bracketing, to increase the depth of field—a helpful feature for macro photography. Though, the camera doesn’t stack the images in-camera. Instead, you’ll have to do this in post-processing.

It has a USB-C port for faster file transfers.

It has a microphone input.

It has a built-in pop-up flash.

It has an entirely silent electronic shutter.

It features the Anti-Flicker Shot Mode, which reduces any changes to color or exposure when shooting under flickering lights.

Cons:

Video Capabilities

Compared to rivals, the 4K footage produced is quite soft, a continued issue plagued by all of Canon’s 4K equipped cameras. It appears that Canon’s using pixel binning to generate the 4K video file. And compared to rivals that downsample from 6K sensors, its 4K videos lack fine details and sharpness. So, to make its videos competitive, you’ll have to do some post-processing sharpening.

Like most mirrorless cameras, this camera also suffers from rolling shutter. So take caution when panning to avoid the skewing and distortion that occurs. But, on a positive note, this camera is far better in this regard than rivals.

When recording in 4K, the camera overheats after approximately 45 minutes of recording. And, unfortunately, there’s no way to override the shutdown or change the auto-shutoff temperature.

When shooting in 1080p at 120 fps, the camera doesn’t record sound and lacks autofocus altogether. And the lack of focus removes much of the use of the feature. But, if you carefully frame your shots and focus prior, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

The camera doesn’t obtain any of Canon’s advanced video-centric features, such as C-log, zebras, or the cropped 4K mode from the 90D.

If you use an SDHC card, the camera will automatically segment video recordings if the file sizes exceed 4 GBs. However, if you use an SDXC card, it saves recordings to a single file. Thank goodness, as this typically requires post-processing merging, which is quite tedious.

Battery Life

It uses the LP-E17 battery, which provides a 30% increase in longevity over the EOS M50. But, sadly, the battery longevity remains average for the class. Canon rates the battery to only provide 305 shots per charge, or 410 using the ECO mode, and 2 hours of video.

Display

Since the display is rather low in resolution, it has cross-hatching effects if you look very closely at the areas of contrast.

Like the predecessor, it also lacks a built-in electronic viewfinder, a shame considering its rivals offer this feature. If you desire this feature, you’ll have to purchase the optional EVF-DC2 that connects to the hot shoe. The caveat is that using it adds quite a bit of bulk to the camera, and you also lose access to the hot shoe.

While the rear screens flip-up articulation is helpful, it’s not ideal. Anything mounted on the hot shoe, be it a microphone or some other accessory, will immediately block the screen, rendering it useless. A side-hinged screen is an ideal choice for maximum versatility without these inconveniences.

Ergonomics

The camera lacks an AF joystick for quick AF point selection. Instead, you’ll have to use the touchscreen as an AF touchpad when using the optional viewfinder.

Canon’s housed the battery and SD cards in the same slot underneath the camera, which makes quickly changing either tedious when using a tripod.

Lacking Features

While Canon’s EF-M catalog is slowly diversifying, the reality is that this system lacks the sharp and fast lens this camera deserves. To date, they only have eight M series lenses, and only two are sharp enough to handle this sensor. With that, the EF-M adapter is a requirement for long term growth with this camera. But, unfortunately, that growth comes at an additional cost and adds bulk, removing much of the compact and distinct advantage of the system altogether. It’s a shame to see the lens ecosystem ultimately hold this camera back, as most of them don’t resolve the full quality of this sensor.

It lacks in-body image stabilization.

It lacks weather sealing.

It lacks a headphone input.

While the camera offers a USB-C port, Canon doesn’t allow it to support USB charging or continuous power with all sources. This port only works with PD rated sources, which means many traditional battery banks don’t work. For this, you’ll have to purchase Canon’s proprietary PD-E1 adapter. By contrast, its rivals are all happy to charge via any USB source and power too. This USB-C port also doesn’t support a headphone adapter, like Fujifilm’s X-T30.

The camera doesn’t offer dual SD card slots.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Yes.

It’s a good beginner’s camera. The automatic modes are helpful, and also simplify the menu. And the camera provides the right amount of physical controls and customization to make it well-tailored towards continued growth. To date, this is the best M series camera in the lineup and a camera that easily keeps up with their higher-end DSLRs. And with its well-rounded feature set, it’s an excellent choice.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Canon EOS M6 Mark II?

EF-M Adapter:

Canon EOS M Mount Adapter

General Photography: 

EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM

Macro Photography:

EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM

Landscape & Astrophotography Photography:

EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Portrait Photography:

EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM
EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM

Sports & Wildlife Photography:

EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM

Product & Still Life Photography:

EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM

Extra Batteries:

Canon LP-E17 Battery

SD Cards:

Sandisk Extreme Pro 64 GB  
Lexar Professional 2000X 128GB

Tripod:

Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum 5-Section Tripod

External Electronic Viewfinder:

Canon Electronic Viewfinder EVF-DC2

Is this a good camera for you?

Yes.

Current EOS M5 and M6 owners should seriously consider an upgrade. With the updated sensor, AF, and shooting speeds, this camera is a worthwhile upgrade.

This is currently the best option in the entire lineup for those looking for a Canon APS-C mirrorless camera.

This camera is an excellent choice for those looking to shoot landscapes, still life, or architectural photography. And in the realm of APS-C, it’s currently the best option for these mediums to date.

This camera is an excellent choice for those looking to shoot sports, journalism, and wildlife. The only drawback is that these mediums will require the EF-M to EF adapter and the use of Canon’s L lenses. However, this camera’s arguably better than the 7D Mark II, with its faster shooting speeds and better AF coverage. And to date, it’s the best APS-C camera in Canon’s lineup for these mediums. So there’s a trade-off here.

It makes a reasonable choice for aspiring videographers. However, for serious videographers, the 90D provides a better package. The 90D doesn’t overheat, and it offers a higher quality cropped 4K mode, fully articulating touchscreen, headphone jack, and longer battery life. Nevertheless, this is Canon’s best APS-C mirrorless camera for video. And while it’s not the filmmaker’s first choice, it’s excellent for new users wanting better results without a steep learning curve.

In the end, Canon’s EOS M6 Mark II delivers the highest resolution from APS-C we’ve seen to date. But, it’s a camera that’s currently held back from greatness by its lens selection. Without a high-quality lens, you won’t enjoy the full benefits of what it has to offer. Thankfully, the lineup is finally diversifying, so this will change with time. But for the time being, users considering this camera will have to temporarily sacrifice portability, discretion, and form, for image quality. Overall, as the newest flagship camera, it does an incredible job and sets a new standard in the APS-C realm. With this release, Canon’s proved they haven’t given up on the EF-M range. And the combination of its updated sensor, uncropped 4K, superior burst, and class-leading AF, it’s quite a powerhouse. And for those looking for a compact high-resolution camera, this is the best one to date and the only one in town.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
4.2

Summary

With the release of EOS M6 Mark II, Canon’s shown they haven’t given up on the EF-M lineup. And with updates to the sensor, video recording, burst rate, and autofocus, they’ve created quite a powerhouse of a release. And strangely, they’ve created the ultimate APS-C camera that’s, unfortunately, held back by a limited lens selection that capitalizes on its power. Nevertheless, it sets a new standard for the APS-C realm and the best in the M series to date.