Canon EOS M6 Review

Introduction

Initially released in the spring of 2017, the EOS M6 is Canon’s sixth mirrorless model and their current middle child camera. Officially, it’s successor to the EOS M3, and a camera they position slightly below the EOS M5 in their mirrorless lineup. While the naming convention used here is a bit confusing, one that remains crystal clear is that this camera represents a significant leap in the right direction in Canon’s mirrorless evolution.

The release of EOS M5 was finally their mirrorless camera that won over DSLR users, though it had a few shortcomings. Most notably, its demanding price tag. With this release, however, Canon aims to give users another lower-cost option, without skimping out on the performance. On paper, this camera promises significant improvements, inheriting several critical features from the flagship, and looks to be another turning point for the camera maker.

However, this camera faces some seriously stiff competition from Sony’s a6500, Panasonic’s G85, Olympus’ Pen F, and Fujifilm’s X-T20. Has Canon positioned this release to take on the likes of these mirrorless giants? And is price alone enough for users to forgo such appealing options? Let’s find out.

canon-m6-specs

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

Pros:

Image Quality

It uses the same 24.2MP CMOS sensor as the EOS M5, 77D, and T7i cameras, along with the updated DIGIC 7 image processor. Compared to the original EOS M’s 18MP setup, the combination of a better processor and the updated sensor has gone a long way in making the camera competitive in the market. Overall, the image quality it produces is excellent and now rivals the higher-end 80D in performance.

One of the significant improvements is the increase in dynamic range, allowing users more flexibility in adjusting files without artifacts and banding showing up in the shadows. Outside of this, the image quality is what we’ve come to expect from recent Canon cameras with the typical pleasing Canon color rendering.

The updated processor allows the camera to now sport continuous shooting speeds of up to 7 fps with AF-C and tracking, or 9 fps when autofocus is locked following the first frame. Surprising to see such speeds and performance in a camera of this class, as these speeds match the 80D. The buffer depth is also respectable. The camera provides 18 RAW + JPEG or 28 JPEG images before buffering.

Video Quality

Like the EOS M6, it also shoots 1080p Full HD video up to 60 fps, allowing users to shoot slow-motion videos. Overall, the video quality is good and supplies sufficient dynamic range when shooting in high-contrast scenes. Though, in typical Canon fashion, it’s slightly softer than the competition.

Low Light Performance

The addition of the DIGIC 7 processor allows the camera to sport better low light high ISO performance. In this case, it now provides a native ISO range from 100 to 25,600, a one-stop improvement over the predecessor. And it can produce usable images up to ISO 3,200.

Focusing Performance

It obtains a 49-point all cross-type autofocusing system, a similar setup to the 80D but identical to the M5, along with Canon’s acclaimed Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. These points cover 80% of the frame and allow this portion of the sensor to double up as phase-detection AF points for added precision. Autofocusing performance is excellent across the board for both stills and movies.

The system is quite intelligent, particularly at subject tracking, and delivers smooth and confident continuous focusing. The inheritance of this system represents a significant leap over the predecessor, and we’re pleased to see Canon making this technology an element that translates between both its DSLR and entry-level mirrorless lineup.

The camera also supports manual focus peaking for more accurate manual focusing.

Display & Viewfinder

It features a rather large 3.2-inch touchscreen TFT LCD with 100% coverage of the imaging area and a resolution of 1.04M dots. The screen also articulates 180º forward, for front-facing selfies or vlogging, and tilts down 45º for added versatility during high-angle shooting. The screen also pulls out slightly before articulating, which separates it from the camera and allows for use in a variety of different angles outside of just full front-facing.

It’s a small detail, but one that removes any of the inconvenience typically associated with this type of design. This articulation, however, is a departure from the EOS M5’s, which featured a tilting down screen, a strange choice. With this release, Canon has recognized this was a classic design versus usability issue and has inverted the articulation. Now, users can mount the camera on a tripod or Gorillapod for more convenient use, without blocking the screen. And since the camera doesn’t include an electronic viewfinder, this design works well overall.

The screen itself is relatively sharp with superb viewing angles and bright enough for composing outdoors in harsh sunlight. The touch implementation is also well-executed, and the screen is very responsive. Outside if that, it also supports touch focus, touch shutter, pinch to zoom, and full menu navigation.

User Interface

Like many other EOS M cameras, it maintains Canon’s friendly and intuitive user interface. Navigating and mastering these menus is easy, and they’re well-optimized for new users. You will find the menus well organized and simple to operate. The user interface also supports full touch navigation, which is well implemented and quite responsive.

The camera features two custom shooting presets, C1 and C2.

It also offers the customizable My Menu, which is a preset menu of all of the favorited menu settings on a single page.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

As a mid-range body, Canon has equipped the camera with the physical controls suited towards the enthusiast demographic the camera aims. And considering its size, it features a surprising amount of controls as well as strong ergonomics. The grip is quite large, with a nice rubber finish, and there’s also a comfortable thumb rest, which all combine to provide excellent handling.

Overall, the camera shares many physical similarities with the EOS M5 and M3, including build quality, which remains excellent for this class of camera. The camera feels durable in hand and has a premium finish that provides a reasonable sense of quality. Overall, it is one of the better-built cameras in this class.

And also, despite its size, it provides a solid set of controls, along with similar customization to Canon’s larger DSLRs. And when combined with its touchscreen, the camera rewards users with a very fluid operation. Canon’s even placed all of the main control dials on the right-hand of the camera for immediate access.

These include a dedicated exposure compensation dial, dual control dials as well as an auto-exposure lock button. The auto-exposure lock button is a wonderful addition, as it helps prevent unwanted changes in exposure during filming or time-lapses by locking exposure after the first frame. The camera also offers a dedicated Wi-Fi button for quick access to the camera’s wireless connectivity settings, saving time digging through the menus.

Niche Features/Extras

It has a built-in pop-up flash.

It has a microphone input.

It has a remote control input.

It has in-camera RAW processing, allowing users to edit, resize, and crop images in-camera.

It features digital image stabilization, which combines with the optical stabilization in applicable lenses to create 5-axis stabilization. While not as effective as traditional sensor-shift stabilization systems, the results are excellent. However, it’s important to point out that enabling this feature reduces video quality below 1080p due to the software adjustments and also crops into the frame. So, sadly, there is a trade-off associated with using this feature. Thus, use it only when needed and rely on optically stabilized lenses to maintain maximum quality.

It features built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and is now complemented by Bluetooth connectivity as well for added functionality. With that, the camera supports wireless image transfer and remote control. However, the addition of Bluetooth allows the camera to be remotely awakened from sleep and initiate image transfer, and it also reduces shutter release latency when using the app. Overall, the app is fully featured and supports full remote control over the camera for stills, though video recording isn’t supported.

It offers a built-in time-lapse movie mode, which renders a full time-lapse movie in-camera, saving time. This mode is quite fully-featured and provides excellent customization over the creation of the lapse. Canon has even installed presets, which can also be customized to your liking – a nice touch.

Cons:

Video Capabilities

The camera doesn’t offer 4K video. A shame, considering this is otherwise an excellent camera for video and further disappointing since the competition offers this feature.

Battery Life

Sadly, battery life isn’t great. It uses the same LP-E17 battery as the M5, and Canon rates the battery to deliver only 295 shots per charge or 85 minutes of video recording, which are both below industry-standard. Thankfully, the camera has the Eco mode, which increases the lifespan to 425 shots per charge. Nevertheless, you will need extra batteries.

Display

It lacks a built-in electronic viewfinder. Instead, if you desire this particular functionality, you can purchase one and mount it on the hot shoe. At this point, you get access to the same capabilities and specifications as the EOS M5.

Unfortunately, the screen becomes rendered virtually useless when the screen flips 180º forward if a shotgun microphone or other accessory is mounted on the hot shoe. In essence, the solution here is to use a bracket to offset the hot shoe, thus avoiding this issue. However, the bottom edge of the display remains partially blocked by the camera, making it impossible to access the critical touch controls at the bottom of the screen. On the predecessor, the screen pushed upwards slightly more, preventing this issue. However, the mechanism that did that isn’t on this camera.

Ergonomics

The stacked dials, while convenient and helpful, increases the likelihood of accidental changes to camera settings. If this becomes problematic to you, you can disable the dials operation by using aperture or shutter priority modes.

Since Canon housed both the battery and memory cards in the same compartment, replacing either when using a tripod becomes tedious as you must first remove the tripod plate, slowing workflow.

Lacking Features

It doesn’t have a headphone input.

Like the EOS M5, and the other EOS M cameras before it, Canon still neglects the M lineup of entry-level cameras. And, sadly, the native lens selection is still lacking. At the time of writing, only eight lenses are available for this series, none of which are fast or particularly exciting. Overall, enthusiasts have precious few options to select from that are native to this platform. Thus, users will have to purchase the EF to EF-M adapter, as it’s a necessary component to increase the lens versatility.

Thankfully using the adapter doesn’t result in any drops in performance. However, it’s a shame to see Canon still overlook the development of lenses for the enthusiast demographic these cameras aim to sway.

The camera lacks an electronic shutter, which means it doesn’t offer completely silent shooting or shutter speeds greater than 1/4000 of a second.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Yes. It makes an excellent beginner’s camera. In many respects, this camera is largely identical to the EOS M5, where the main difference is a slightly redesigned body and the lack of a viewfinder. Otherwise, you get all of the features and capabilities of the higher-end flagship, in a more compact form factor and lower price—quite a bargain. Frankly, this camera is also quite similar to the EOS M50, with the difference being their screens articulation.

With that said, while these cameras offer slightly more controls, this camera remains as one of Canon’s best mirrorless cameras for beginners and first-time users. It’s a camera that easily keeps up with their pricier DSLRs, and is the smallest package with Dual Pixel AF. And for these reasons, it makes an excellent choice.

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

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 32GB
SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB 
SanDisk Extreme PRO 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 possibly.

In many respects, it’s a more compact and affordable EOS M5. And, for most, it makes for a better overall option with its added portability and articulating flip-up screen. It takes much of the features of that camera, placing them in the more affordable body of the M3 and adds versatility. And it creates a camera that’s essentially the EOS 77D, without its bulk. The only real drawback with this camera is the lacking native lens selection and possibly the missing electronic viewfinder, which will add a minor inconvenience to some.

Nevertheless, it makes an excellent choice for those looking for a video camera, and arguably the company’s best and smallest APS-C mirrorless camera for this purpose, thanks to the missing viewfinder. It delivers a confident focusing system, microphone input, and an articulating screen. So, if you’re happy with shooting in 1080p, this is an excellent choice. While it may not be the filmmaker’s top choice, it’s perfect for new users wanting better results without a steep learning curve.

For those looking to shoot sports, wildlife or photojournalism, it’s a capable option here, though not the strongest. It offers fast shooting speeds and strong autofocus, the only minor setback is the buffer. However, it’s reasonably capable of needed.

In the end, Canon’s EOS M6 is an excellent mid-range mirrorless camera and a camera that stands tall in the face of stiff competition. It provides a similar shooting experience along with image quality that matches Canon’s higher-end DSLRs, with the benefit of a compact and friendly form factor. It’s only real setback is the lack of native lenses.

Thus, it’s a camera that will appeal most to current Canon users and DSLR shooters looking to adapt their current stash of EF lenses. However, for those not already attached to a brand, this is a good starting point. It’s a good all-rounder and perfect for current EOS M and M10 owners looking for an upgrade in performance. And for the right user, the ergonomics and superb image quality give this camera a real edge over the competition. Canon’s released a solid installment into their EOS M lineup, despite a few minor flaws and one that remains relevant today.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
4.1

Summary

Canon’s EOS M6 is an excellent mid-range mirrorless camera and a camera that stands tall in the face of stiff competition. It takes the best features and capabilities of the higher-end M5 flagship, in a more compact form factor and lower price—quite a bargain. It’s only real setback is the lack of native lenses. Otherwise, it remains as one of Canon’s best mirrorless cameras for beginners and first-time users. And a camera that easily keeps up with even their pricier DSLRs.