CONTENTS 12/2023

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Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review – Entry Level Full Frame Camera

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Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review – Entry Level Full Frame Camera

What are the experiences with the new Canon 6D Mark II, is it worth switching from the Canon 80D or the Canon 77D to the new full-frame camera? Is the camera the perfect “dream” camera for YouTubers and vloggers? What are the impressions of the Canon 6D Mark II and is the extra cost of a full-frame camera worth it compared to a camera with an APS-C sensor? Many questions that I have asked myself in recent weeks and I would now like to answer in a detailed field report and review of the Canon 6D Mark II on my technology blog.

The entry-level full-frame camera

The Canon 6D Mark II was introduced in the summer of 2017 and is considered the entry-level full-frame camera. Anyone who has ever shot with a Canon camera will immediately find their way around, and from a button layout standpoint, the Canon 6D Mark II is relatively identical to the Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D.

Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review - Entry Level Full Frame Camera - Comparison full-frame camera vs. Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D - video format, advantages and disadvantages - purchase recommendation, practical tip

The biggest change that immediately stands out – compared to its big brother, the Canon 5D Mark IV or even the professional camera 1Dx Mark II – the display and touch screen is rotatable on the Canon 6D Mark II and can thus be used perfectly for vloggers. The camera is still handy and also in my use with various lenses, such as the Canon EF 24mm 1:1.4 L II USM extremely well usable.

The first video use had the Canon 6D Mark II on a Christmas market in darkness, relatively much rain in the afternoon and the first results impressed me. While most of the stores had already closed and the shopping street was relatively deserted and dark, the first impressions were very promising (see video above).

While I last presented the entry-level cameras for bloggers and YouTubers, such as the Canon EOS 200D or Canon EOS 77D in my introductions and experience reports on the technology blog, the Canon 6D Mark II is aimed at ambitious hobby photographers and semi-professional users, as well as bloggers and YouTubers with higher demands.

The first impression that is immediately noticeable, already on the screen compared to the 200D and 77D, is the significantly lower image noise. While the entry-level cameras get noise in the images in the dark (as do many high-quality smartphones), this is much less present in a full-frame camera, like the Canon 6D Mark II, and only occurs in very difficult light situations.

Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review - Entry Level Full Frame Camera - Comparison full-frame camera vs. Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D - video format, advantages and disadvantages - purchase recommendation, practical tip

At first glance, Canon seems to have managed a skillful combination between the flexibility of the Canon EOS 80D and the professional Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, creating a camera that could be interesting for both groups of customers. But how are the values and the experience in the long-term test and in different situations, in fashion, in portrait, in landscape and sports – but especially in video shooting?

Is the Canon 6D Mark II a very interesting “all-round full-frame camera” at an attractive price of under 2,000 EUR?

In any case, the camera’s specs already sound promising:

26.2 MP full-frame sensor
ISO 100-40000 (expandable 50-102400)
Dual Pixel autofocus (ideal for live view and video production) – see blog post
Autofocus sensor with 45 cross-type points
Additional LCD display on the camera for quick adjustment
The new Digic 7 processor
6.5 frames per second
Full HD video recording at up to 60 frames per second (great for slow motion), plus the ability to shoot time lapse video in 4K
External microphone input (my recommendations on microphones).
Connection via WiFi and Bluetooth with smartphone and computer possible
GPS sensor already built in with power saving function

For me, the camera is used as a “second” camera together with the Canon 5D Mark IV or the Canon 1Dx Mark II and I like the handling right away. The camera just feels good in the hand and is fun to take along. For me as a blogger and YouTuber, it’s important to just “feel like” grabbing the camera and being on the go. Spontaneously take photos, record videos and the whole thing once without great planning or scripts and concepts. I see something, take out the camera – maybe even a selfie and later I want to use it in a new video or on the blog. For this, the camera must be easy to grab and simply not too heavy.

Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review - Entry Level Full Frame Camera - Comparison full-frame camera vs. Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D - video format, advantages and disadvantages - purchase recommendation, practical tip

The Canon 6D Mark II comes in a grippy plastic case, but it also takes weather well and didn’t show any problems during the rainy and foggy days in Hamburg. December seems perfect for a camera review and offers many challenges.

What you immediately get used to and wish you had in the higher-end cameras, such as the Canon 1Dx Mark II and Canon 5D Mark IV, is the rotating touch screen.

It’s still surprising to me why this feature hasn’t become standard on all cameras, as it makes everyday life much easier, both for landscape photographers who no longer need to lie on the ground for a special shot, for detail shots in food photography, but especially for videographers. The possibilities with a rotating screen are manifold and give completely different perspectives for cinematic video sequences.

With the flexible touch display, which of course also controls the dual AF function and makes focusing much easier, Canon clearly stands out from the competition with the Canon 6D Mark II, some of which do not even have a touch screen (such as the Sony Alpha 7 II, Nikon D750 or Pentax K-1).

What is very important and immediately noticeable, especially for videographers, is that Canon’s autofocus is accurate and especially when filming yourself, you have to be able to rely on the image being in focus and the camera maintaining the sharpness.

Here, Canon is again absolutely in its own element and clearly outshines the competitors. Especially with many well-known YouTubers (like Casey Neistat, who currently uses a Panasonic Lumix GH5 for his vlogs), it is noticeable how often the autofocus of other manufacturers misses them. That’s a shame, because the videos lose some of their appeal, and you often can’t shoot video scenes a second time for a vlog.

As a photographer and especially videographer, I have to be able to rely 100% on my camera and this is always an absolute evaluation and purchase criterion for me. I don’t want to come back from a beautiful trip or have photographed a wedding where afterwards only 70-80% of the images are razor sharp. I need to have absolute confidence in my camera in order to work creatively.

Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review - Entry Level Full Frame Camera - Comparison full-frame camera vs. Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D - video format, advantages and disadvantages - purchase recommendation, practical tip

The entry-level full-frame camera Canon 6D Mark II – impression and handling

Anyone who has held a Canon 80D in their hands before will immediately remember. The Canon 6D Mark II is almost completely identical in terms of dimensions and button assignments and feels very good in the hand. Only the familiar “Q button” has moved a bit to the right on the back and now provides a place for the magnifying glass, but otherwise the handling is almost identical.

Like the Canon 80D, the Canon 6D Mark II has a second control dial with joystick function and allows easy focusing on the desired subject.

For my hands, the joystick is a little too far down, but is still easy to reach and combined with the second dial. For me, it’s also because the solution with the external joystick exactly at thumb height in the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II is absolutely perfect. There is no situation where you miss once when you spontaneously want to adjust a motif – it’s quick and easy.

The solution with the joystick on the second dial takes a few photos to get used to, but then works very well.

If you shoot a lot with the optical viewfinder, you should keep in mind that the Canon 6D Mark II only covers 98% of the surface (in comparison, the Canon 5D Mark IV covers 100%), so you should always leave yourself some space on the sides when composing your pictures.

Like the recently introduced entry-level Canon 200D and Canon 77D cameras, the Canon 6D Mark II is of course also designed with Bluetooth via NFC and WiFi and can easily be connected to a smartphone, laptop or even tablet.

Especially those who also want to use a full-frame camera for night shots or landscape photography will love the connection with the smartphone after a short familiarization. Once the camera is mounted on the tripod, you can comfortably adjust the composition from rest and try it out. The finished photos are displayed on the connected device and can still be adjusted afterwards.

Another advantage is the already frequently mentioned benefit for YouTubers and videographers. I also use the Camera Connect function very regularly in my Talk videos. You can even look at the picture again before you start filming and control the camera and the recordings comfortably over it and if necessary also adjust brightness, shutter speed.

Especially those who don’t always have a good friend nearby will enjoy not having to search behind the camera for the best setting.

Tip from me: Be sure to put the record button for videos on the shutter button. It’s much more tangible and leads to less shaking at the beginning of the video. (Set video function -> press menu button -> find camera icon (top left) and then select in 4th or 5th tab -> select “eye icon” button function -> change from “AF/-” to “AF/camera icon”. Now the camera will not only record when pressed on the red “record button” on the back, but also when the shutter button is pressed down.

Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review - Entry Level Full Frame Camera - Comparison full-frame camera vs. Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D - video format, advantages and disadvantages - purchase recommendation, practical tip

Canon 6D Mark II – everyday use – PHOTOS

The Canon 6D Mark II is something you just want to have with you and is suitable for a variety of uses. For 99% of users, the camera is a very good all-round camera that can show its strengths in many different subject areas.

For landscape photographers, the camera convinces with its full-frame sensor and very good shots even in difficult lighting conditions. For me, it is always interesting to see how a camera behaves when it gets hazy, the sun goes down and there seem to be a thousand different lighting moods and colors in one picture.

Here, the camera accurately reproduces the differences and also doesn’t tend to produce noise, which is a regular occurrence with APS-C cameras from the various manufacturers due to the smaller sensor.

The size of the housing and the insensitivity to rain and dust literally invite you to travel. The camera is not too big, but also not too compact to share very good results with friends and family after the trip. The larger battery (which is also installed in the Canon EOS 80D and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) is enough for over a thousand photos per battery without continuous use of the live screen, the Canon replacement battery costs about 70 EUR and is always recommended for long trips or even wedding photographers.

What I personally find very pleasant, especially when traveling or also at events with friends or a very large group, is the function to share the images immediately via smartphone with the network or also immediately with the participants.

Often one is on the road, also agrees to send the picture immediately after returning, but then it is forgotten. So it is only one click and the picture is immediately and already during the journey with the receiver. For me, a clear simplification in everyday travel.

For action photographers or sports photographers, the DUAL AF function is of course an important factor and a great help. Through the, only available on Canon cameras, function, objects are tracked very precisely. Be it the dog on the meadow, the race car on the track or even a cyclist. You just press the shutter button and the shot is safely taken.

I’ve worked with a wide variety of cameras from all brands, but Canon’s Live and Dual AF feature is simply very good. When I’m at an event like the Olympics, the Superbowl, or even fashion week and only have one chance to get the shot, the camera has to be absolutely reliable with the lens, and Canon succeeds time and time again. The Canon 6D Mark II currently shoots at 6.5 frames per second in RAW (assuming a fast memory card).

Those who want to use the camera for fashion photos, wedding photos or even events will also immediately take the Live View option and the DUAL AF function to heart. Of course, it is also possible to take pictures with the optical viewfinder, but the rotatable touch display and the full-format function give the camera completely new possibilities for creative pictures – away from the mainstream.

At events, the most beautiful photos are often taken spontaneously, regardless of the lighting situation, whether it’s a dark club or a bright beach, windy moments or a group in motion, and this is where the low image noise and autofocus features come into their own. The face detection works impeccably and allows for a good event accompaniment. The image quality is still very good even in difficult lighting conditions in the evening and does not require an external flash, which would only spoil the mood anyway. As a picture viewer, I want to experience the event as it was – without getting an artificial mood from glaring flash.

Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review - Entry Level Full Frame Camera - Comparison full-frame camera vs. Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D - video format, advantages and disadvantages - purchase recommendation, practical tip

The entry-level full-frame camera – everyday use VIDEO

The Canon 6D Mark II also, like the Canon 80D, Canon 77D and Canon 200D already presented, does not have a 4K option, which I also, as mentioned several times, find absolutely unnecessary for productions by vloggers and YouTubers. It’s not always just the camera that’s needed, but also all the equipment behind it to be able to process the amount of data afterwards.

What good is a camera that can record videos in 4K, but my laptop or PC can no longer process the data, the hard drive is too slow or the calculation of a video would no longer take 20 minutes, but 4 or more hours.

If I “have” to produce a 4K movie once with my equipment for my purposes, I also put the computing times at night, because it simply takes too long. So why should I use a significantly higher price for a camera that would be used for 4K in the rarest of cases by all users?

If you ask the currently major YouTubers and especially vloggers, very few YouTubers film in 4K and provide the videos accordingly “only” in Full HD. Especially when you consider that 80% of the videos on the video platforms are consumed via a smartphone or tablet, the topic of “4K” is currently absolutely irrelevant for most buyers.

The video and DUAL AF function is always a great help with the camera as already mentioned above and with the other models from Canon. However, the new Canon 6D Mark II convinced me at first impression directly with another function – the “digital 5-axis image stabilization” in videos.

Especially if you’re a vlogger who is often on the go, holding the camera in your hands, with the screen turned towards you and you’re walking, you can quickly see blurry images that are distracting to the viewer and preclude pleasant video viewing. With Canon’s new entry-level full-frame camera, the videos are very smooth and soft, as if they were filmed with a glidecam or gimbal. The camera immediately convinced me with the result. If you edit the videos further in Adobe Premiere or other video editing programs, you will get a fantastic result that is clearly superior to other cameras.

Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review - Entry Level Full Frame Camera - Comparison full-frame camera vs. Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D - video format, advantages and disadvantages - purchase recommendation, practical tip

Questionable remains for me, why Canon in the new Canon 6D Mark II, the headphone jack, the MOV format, as well as the All-I-Video compression for videos abolished, which is still present in the Canon EOS 80D and was just useful for post-processing, but for most users in Europe it will not matter.

Those who just want to shoot their regular videos with it and then do some editing or upload to YouTube can work very well with the MP4 format and IPB and get faster performance.

Background knowledge – difference All-I-Video and IPB-Video: In IPB video, the images are more compressed and treated together. The subsequent file is smaller by a factor of 3-4. A video recording in Full-HD format of one gigabyte size can record videos of 18-19 minutes. In the All-I-Video format, the images are treated completely individually and can be better extracted later as still images or adjusted more precisely and individually in post-processing. A recording in the All-I-Video format of one gigabyte contains about 4-5 minutes of video.

Background knowledge – difference MOV video and MP4 video: Basically, both formats are identical in terms of codec and content. While videos in MP4 format are more compressed and the files are therefore smaller, the format is very suitable for direct playback on the TV, tablet, etc. or also for uploading to YouTube. Those who want to edit their videos in detail, seriously adjust or correct the colors (and have the appropriate equipment and processing power to do so) should choose the MOV format.

For 95% of the video users of the Canon 6D Mark II, the Full HD format and recording in IPB standard and as MP4 format should therefore be a very good solution.

For vloggers and YouTubers, I can therefore only recommend, similar to the report about the Canon 77D, to check the sound quality of the videos in advance and to keep an eye on the levels in the image. If you regularly shoot your videos in the same rooms, it’s not a big problem and I now know my values for both indoor and outdoor recordings that I have to set depending on the situation to get a good sound result.

Even with the two minor drawbacks for videographers (MOV/All-I video format and lack of headphone output), the Canon 6D Mark II is a very good camera for videographers. The compact size, the rotatable display and of course the full-frame format make the camera an absolute tip for good and professional videos at the moment.  Videos first start to come alive and entertain with lighting mood and then the Canon 6D Mark II plays to its strengths – little image noise, vivid colors and an almost uncanny stability in the images due to the Digital Image Stabilizer.

Canon 6D Mark II Experience and Review - Entry Level Full Frame Camera - Comparison full-frame camera vs. Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 80D - video format, advantages and disadvantages - purchase recommendation, practical tip

The entry-level full-frame camera Canon 6D Mark II – CONCLUSION

The Canon 6D Mark II is Canon’s link between the very successful xx series (like currently the Canon 80D) and the higher priced x series cameras (like the Canon 5D Mark IV), offering a balancing act at a good price.

Those who value fast photos and a full-frame sensor, and want to record videos in high quality with low image noise, will get a very good camera with the new edition of the Canon 6D.

Especially when you compare the price difference of about 1,500 EUR to the higher-end Canon 5D Mark IV, the Canon 6D Mark II is a very good alternative and, on the other hand, offers users of the 80D a good full-frame option into another world of image composition for a surcharge of “only” 700 EUR.

Clearly, the Canon 6D Mark II again plays to its strengths in live view and dual autofocus, offering an absolutely reliable camera for high-end photos and videos.

If you’re a vlogger and YouTuber looking for a camera that offers full-frame shooting on the one hand, and a rotatable and flexible touch display with reliable autofocus in any shooting situation on the other, you can’t get around the Canon 6D Mark II.

YouTubers and videographers looking for a smaller camera with an APS-C sensor will find very good alternatives at a smaller price with the Canon 77D and Canon 80D.

Decision-making aid Canon 6D Mark II or Canon 5D Mark III

In the last few weeks I have been asked several times whether I would rather go for the Canon 6D Mark II or the Canon 5D Mark III, which is in a similar price segment (but older), since I now know both cameras relatively well and have spent quite a bit of time photographing and also partly filming with the Canon 5D Mark III myself.

The decision is not quite easy and there is no clear tendency, because it simply depends too much on what the camera is to be used for and what your focus is or what your priorities are. Therefore, I would like to compare some strengths:

Canon 6D Mark II – Strengths compared to Canon 5D Mark III.
Clearly – dual pixel autofocus with Live View
More modern image processor (Digic 7 vs. Digic 5+)
Flexible touch display with 1 million pixels
Built-in GPS option, as well as WiFi and Bluetooth
Significantly lighter weight (760 grams vs. 950 grams)
Better continuous shooting speed 21 frames in RAW vs. 18 frames in RAW
More precise autofocus (just centered – 27 points vs. 4 points)
Higher resolution 26.2 MP vs. 22.3 MP
Canon 5D Mark III – strengths compared to the Canon 6D Mark II
More AF points – 61 points vs. 45 and higher percentage of cross-type sensors
Joystick! For me a major factor and also mentioned above. The joystick fits perfectly on the thumb and makes focusing easy.
Optical viewfinder with 100% coverage
Higher quality housing
Dual card slot with Compact Flash and SD card (especially for events and weddings an advantage and security with backup)
Headphone output (especially helpful for videos and interviews), for example if you want to produce without an external recording device
Faster shutter speed (especially for action and fashion shots 1/8000 sec vs. 1/4000 sec.)

Finding the perfect full frame camera is simply difficult, if you want to shoot events or occasions with a lot of people you will clearly lean towards the Canon 5D Mark III as the security of having two memory cards is practically priceless. When you only have one option to take the shots, you need to be able to rely on the memory cards (and everyone experiences your defective memory card at some point).

The Canon 5D Mark III is heavier, but it also feels good in the hand and gives a “workhorse” feel. Again, you notice this in the joystick function for focusing, which is simply priceless, as well as the higher possibilities for individual adjustments and settings.

If you want to start with videos, want to take practically only “private” shots, and want to move in full-frame for now, the Canon 6D Mark II is the right camera. The Dual AF, the Motion AF function and the touch display are unbeatable and allow both beginners and professionals to immediately experience success and take atmospheric photos.

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