Canon EOS M6 Mark II
Although many enthusiasts could be drawn more to the handling and optical viewfinder of a DSLR like the EOS 90D, the EOS M6 Mark II will interest the increasing number of photographers being drawn to the compact nature and live view-centric design of a mirrorless camera.
There are plusses and minuses in either approach and the differences between the two cameras will affect both usability and what the camera can actually do. Physically, the compact body of the M6 II is smaller, lighter, has a smaller handgrip, fewer physical controls, and some restrictions on functionality.
The M6 Mark II camera performed well in our image quality tests (as did the EOS 90D, which shares the same sensor and processor).
Back in late August, Canon announced the EOS M6 Mark II at the same time as the EOS 90D, a logical move since both cameras used the same 32.5-megapixel sensor and DIGIC 8 processor. The mirrorless M6 Mark II is smaller and lighter than the 90D, although with the EVF attached it’s not pocketable. Its monitor screen tilts up through 180 degrees and down through 45 degrees, making it more suitable for vloggers. Its Dual Pixel CMOS AF system works with the viewfinder instead of just for Live View shooting as it does in the 90D.
Angled view of the EOS M6 Mark II with the bundled 15-45mm kit lens. (Source: Canon.)
Although most of the controls and functionality of the EOS 90D have been shoehorned into the EOS M6 Mark II’s more compact body, some sacrifices in handling and functionality have been necessary. Interestingly, performance has remained largely unaffected.
Key features shared by the EOS M6 Mark II and EOS 90D include the following:
- The APS-C sized (22.3 x 14.8 mm) 32.5 megapixel CMOS sensor
- The DIGIC 8 image processor
- The ability to record 4K UHD movie clips at up 30p (25p for the PAL system) and support 1080p FHD video recording at up 120p (100p) without cropping the frame so video footage has the same angle of view as stills
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Live View with 5,481 manually selectable AF positions
- An electronic shutter that can extend shutter speeds to 1/16000 second
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth low energy technology for image sharing.
There are, however, some significant differences between the two cameras. While the body of the 90D is made from aluminium alloy and polycarbonate resin with glass fibre reinforcing, the M6 II’s body is made from magnesium alloy and electrolytic zinc-coated steel sheeting, an improvement over the previous model’s polycarbonate body.
The review camera was supplied with the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens and EVF-DC2 viewfinder. This is the standard retail kit in Australia.
Who’s it For?
Despite its relatively high resolution, the M6 II remains an amateur’s camera like all of its predecessors. Canon still hasn’t produced a mirrorless cropped-sensor camera with huge appeal to serious photo enthusiasts. (Nor, for that matter, have they made a ‘professional quality’ lens for the EOS M series.) We think many enthusiasts could be drawn more to the EOS 90D, although choosing between it and the M6 II will probably be dictated by personal usage preferences.
If you’re among those who prefer the handling and optical viewfinder of a DSLR, that’s the way you’ll lean. If not, an increasing number of photographers are being drawn to the compact nature and live view-centric design of a mirrorless camera.
There are plusses and minuses in either approach and the differences between the two cameras will affect both usability and what the camera can actually do. Physically, the compact body of the M6 II has a smaller handgrip and fewer physical controls. Its body design also imposes some critical restrictions on functionality.
Whereas the monitor on the 90D is fully articulating, the screen on the M6 II can only tilt up through 180 degrees and down through 45 degrees, which might be fine for taking selfies and low-angle shots but is much less versatile. It also creates a few significant problems.
Firstly, you can’t use flash when the monitor is up – even when you really need fill-in flash. Popping up the flash or slotting an external flash into the hot-shoe puts it in front of the flip-up screen, obstructing its field of view.
Similarly, you can’t mount an external microphone on the hot-shoe for the same reason. Essentially, the hot-shoe can only be used for one accessory at a time so if you want to fit an external microphone you must forgo use of the EVF. Neither of these limitations affect the EOS 90D, which has a pop-up flash and built-in optical viewfinder.
The add-on EVF also has positive and negative features. As well as making the M6 II much easier to use for framing videos, it also enables users to select and move AF positions by touching and dragging a fingertip on the monitor screen. This can be done when the photographer has the camera held to the eye.
Two options for shooting with the EOS M6 Mark II: without the EVF requires use of the monitor to frame shots (top), while adding the EVF lets users frame shots using the OLED screen (below), a better option in bright outdoor lighting. (Source: Canon.)
Using the EVF raises the continuous shooting rate to a maximum of 14 fps with AF and AE tracking and the M6 II includes the RAW Burst mode first seen on the G7X III and G5X II, which further increases frame rates up to a maximum of 30 fps and includes a nifty pre-buffering option.
The 90D’s built-in optical viewfinder is advantageous but the camera body is larger and the overall weight of the camera and 18-55mm kit lens is around 916 grams, whereas the M6 II kit weighs 567 grams with the lens and EVF included. However, the dedicated AF sensor in the 90D gives it a slight edge in tracking performance over the Dual Pixel AF system the M6 II depends upon.
Lens options are also reduced for owners of Canon’s EOS M cameras. While the 90D will accept both EF and EF-S mount lenses without requiring an adapter, only eight ‘native’ EF-M lenses are currently listed in Canon’s line-up. To use the camera with an EF or EF-S lens, you require the EF-EOS M mount adapter, which is listed in Canon’s online store at AU$129.
Build and Ergonomics
Physically, the EOS M6 II resembles the earlier EOS M6, with a compact body and reasonably generous front grip plus a rear grip and thumb rest. Small refinements to the body design make the new camera more comfortable to hold and operate, while the metal body has a more solid feel and finish than the polycarbonate used for the previous model.
The inset LED used for AF-assist/red-eye reduction/ self-timer and remote control has been shifted across from the grip on the original M6 to the opposite side of the lens mount on the new camera and the rear control dial on the top panel is better integrated into the camera body. Otherwise little has changed.
Front view of the EOS M6 II with the bundled EVF fitted. (Source: Canon.)
The mode dial is in the same position on the right hand side of the M6 II’s top panel but some of the settings have changed. There are still 12 settings but new camera replaces the M6’s Creative Assist Mode (located in the Basic Zone) with a Flexible Priority AE setting in the Creative Zone, which lets users combine the P, Tv, Av or M settings with exposure compensation adjustments.
This is useful as the exposure compensation dial on the M6 is replaced by a more versatile dial/function button that sits atop the power on/off lever. It combines a quick control dial with a programmable function button. The main control dial/shutter button combination is unchanged from the M6.
The top panel of the EOS M6 II with the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens fitted. (Source: Canon.)
Otherwise, the top panel of the new camera is the same as the M6’s with a programmable M-Fn button right of the shutter button. The hot-shoe for the EVF (or flash or external microphone) is in the centre of the panel with the pop-up flash recessed into the left hand side of the camera body. A lever on the left side panel pops up the flash.
The rear panel of the EOS M6 II with the monitor flat on the camera body. (Source: Canon.)
The tilting monitor dominates the rear panel, covering most of its surface. To its right is the arrow pad with a surrounding control dial and four cross keys that access the exposure compensation, flash, erase and drive settings.
Below the arrow pad are two buttons for the Play and Menu functions, while above it are the Info and Movie buttons. Above this assembly is a focus mode switch with a central AF start button.
The AF point selector and AE/FE lock buttons sit at the right hand edge of the rear panel while, around the corner below a pull-up cover lie the USB and HDMI out terminals. The battery and memory card slot into the base of the hand grip, a common situation in a snapshooter’s camera. But at least the tripod socket is located on the les axis.
Sensor and Image Processing
We’ve covered both in our review of the EOS 90D which has identical specifications. Consequently, the parameters for both stills and video recording are the same in both cameras.
Connectivity options are also the same as in the EOS 90D, with built-in Wi-Fi and low-power Bluetooth, the latter providing a constant connection between the camera and a smart device. Playback and software facilities are essentially the same as with other recently-released EOS cameras, with the software supplied via a free download service that is accessed from a central website (www.canon.com/icpd), which also provides a link for downloading the full user manual in PDF format.
Unsurprisingly (since they have the same sensor resolution), the overall performance of the review camera was somewhat similar to the results we obtained from the EOS 90D camera. The lower overall resolution produced by the M6 II can be attributed mainly to the differences in the lenses used for the Imatest tests of the two cameras.
The 15-45mm kit lens for the M6 II is no match for the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens we used when reviewing the EOS 90D in either build quality or performance. This was highlighted by Nikon guru, Thom Hogan in a recent survey of the state of the mirrorless camera market, where he noted: The M6 m2’s new 32mp sensor shows just how poor many of those few M lenses really are.
That said, the fact that the best CR3.RAW files from the review camera were just able to meet expectations for the 32.3-megapixel sensor shows the sensor and processor combinations are up to scratch. It’s a pity the camera isn’t supplied with a lens that could take advantage of its higher resolution.
Resolution declined steadily across the review camera’s sensitivity range. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests for both JPEGs and CR3.RAW files.
Our Imatest tests also revealed the review camera provided highly effective corrections for the three most common aberrations we test for: chromatic aberration, vignetting and rectilinear distortion. All three were addressed successfully in JPEGs with in-camera corrections, although raw files showed obvious barrel distortion and vignetting at 15mm (but little of either at other focal lengths).
Lateral chromatic aberration in raw files remained within the ‘negligible’ range, although it was close to the upper limits. In contrast, JPEG files had extremely low levels of this aberration, thanks to the in-camera corrections.
Test shots were almost noise-free up to ISO 6400, after which both noise and softening became increasingly visible in long exposures. By ISO 12800, both noise and softening were obvious when images were enlarged even slightly. Both were more evident at ISO 25600 and quite obvious at ISO 51200, although it was difficult to separate the softening due to the lens from that caused by noise-reduction processing at this level.
In the P shooting mode, most flash exposures were taken at f/7.1 when the lens was at the 45mm position. As in the M6, slight under-exposure occurred at with the 45mm focal length at ISO 100, although correct exposures were maintained between ISO 200 and ISO 6400 (inclusive).
Shutter speeds remained consistent at 1/60 second from ISO 100 through to ISO 12800, after which the lens was stopped down to f/8 and the shutter speed increased to 1/100 second. At ISO 25600, flash exposures defaulted to 1/100 second at f/8, reducing to 1/125 second at f/9 at ISO 51200. However, exposures at the three highest ISO settings were all noticeably over-exposed.
Auto white balance performance was similar to the results we obtained with the EOS 90D, which is to be expected since both cameras use the same sensor and processor. Shots taken under incandescent and warm-toned LED lighting were only partly corrected, while shots taken with fluorescent lighting and with the camera’s built-in flash were largely cast-free.
The white priority AWB settings did little to counteract the warm casts of incandescent and LED lighting, while the pre-sets for the incandescent and fluorescent lighting types slightly over-corrected. Manual measurement delivered a neutral colour balance for all lighting types and plenty of in-camera adjustments are provided, including white balance bracketing across three levels in one-step increments..
Autofocusing was faster and more accurate than we found with the previous model, even in very low light levels. The AF system was also able to keep pace with moving subjects in movie mode, producing clips with few lapses in focusing – or exposure.
As expected, video quality was similar to the results we obtained with the EOS 90D, with any differences largely reflecting differences between the lenses used for our tests (the 90D had the better lens). Support for 4K recording, albeit at 30/25 fps, is a given in contemporary cameras, as is the provision of a 50 fps frame rate for Full HD recording.
The camera’s autofocusing system was able to keep pace with moving subjects in movie mode, resulting in clips in which there were few lapses in focusing – or exposure. The dynamic range in movie clips was acceptably wide, even in contrasty lighting.
Audio quality was also similar to the EOS 90D’s and good for the size and location of the built-in microphones. Some wind noise was picked up when shooting outdoors in windy conditions, although the wind filter could generally suppress gentle breezes. No camera noises were detected in movie soundtracks.
We conducted our timing tests with a 32GB SanDisk ExtremePro SDHC II Class 3 card which supports read speeds up to 300MB/s and was considerably faster than the card we used when testing the previous model. The review camera took just under a second to power up ready for shooting, once the lens was in working position.
We measured a consistent capture lag of 0.1 seconds when the shutter button was used to trigger the exposure and 0.2 seconds with the touch shutter in Live View mode. This lag was eliminated in each with pre-focusing and focusing manually.
Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.3 seconds without flash and 3.6 seconds when the flash was used. Processing times ranged from 0.2 second for Large/Fine JPEGs to half a second for CR3.RAW files and marginally less for C-RAW files.
In the high-speed continuous shooting mode the review camera recorded 49 Large/Fine JPEGs in 3.4 seconds, which equates to approximately 14 frames/second. It took 11.6 seconds to process the burst and clear the buffer memory.
With CR3.RAW files, the capture rate stalled after 26 frames, which were recorded in 1.8 seconds and is also equivalent to 14 fps. It took 6.8 seconds to process this burst. When the camera was set to record RAW+JPEG pairs, capture rates slowed after 25 frames, which were also recorded in 1.8 seconds. It took 8.2 seconds to process this burst.
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Image sensor: 22.3 x 14.8 mm CMOS sensor with 34.3 million photosites (32.5 megapixels effective), Primary Colour filter
Image processor: DIGIC 8
A/D processing: 14-bit
Lens mount: Canon EF/EF-S
Focal length crop factor: 1.6x
Image formats: Stills: JPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.31), CR3.RAW, CRAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies: MP4 [Video: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: MPEG-4 AAC-LC (stereo)]
Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 6960 x 4640, 4800 x 3200, 3472 x 2320, 2400 x 1600; 4:3 aspect: 6160 x 4640, 4256 x 3200, 3072 x 2320, 2112 x 1600; 16:9 aspect: 6960 x 3904, 4800 x 2688, 3472 x 1952, 2400 x 1344; 1:1 aspect: 4640 x 4640, 3200 x 3200, 2300 x 2300, 1600 x 1600; Movies: 4K 3840 x 2160 (29.97, 25 fps), Full HD – 1920 x 1080 (119.88, 100, 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25 fps), HD – 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps), HDR – 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25 fps), 4K Timelapse – 3840 x 2160 (29.97, 25 fps)
Aspect ratios: 3:2, 4:3, 16:9, 1:1
Image Stabilisation: Lens-based (digital IS available for movies)
Dust removal: EOS integrated cleaning system
Shutter (speed range): Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter ( mechanical shutter: 30 to 1/8000 second, electronic shutter up to1/16000 second plus Bulb; available range varies with shooting mode)
Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps (stills and movies)
Exposure bracketing: +/-3 EV 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments
Other bracketing options: WB – +/-3 levels in single level increments, selectable Blue/Amber or Magenta/ Green bias, focus – up to 30 frames
Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
Intervalometer: Yes, for time-lapse movies
Focus system: Dual Pixel CMOS AF
AF points & selection: Maximum AF area: 88% horizontal, 100% vertical; Max. 5481 AF point positions; 143 points available for automatic selection
Focus modes: One-Shot AF, Servo AF, Touch & Drag AF, Eye Detection AF (One-shot & Servo), Face & Tracking. MF (peaking display available); tracking sensitivity and AF speed adjustable in Movie Servo AF mode
Exposure metering: 384- zone (24 x 16) real-time metering with image sensor. Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Partial and Spot metering supported
Shooting modes: Scene Intelligent Auto (Stills and Movie), Hybrid Auto, Creative Auto, SCN, Creative filters, Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual (Stills and Movie), Bulb, Custom1, Custom 2
Scene presets: Self-Portrait, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Food, Panning, Handheld Night Scene, HDR Backlight Control
Picture Styles: Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Defined (x3)
Creative Filters: Filters (Grainy B/W, Soft Focus, Fish eye Effect, Art bold effect, Water painting effect, Toy camera effect, Miniature effect)
In-camera processing: Highlight Tone Priority, Auto Lighting Optimiser (4 settings), Long exposure noise reduction, Digital Lens Optimiser, Peripheral illumination correction, Distortion correction, Chromatic aberration correction, Diffraction correction. Creative Assist adjustments: Base Style (Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, Picture Style File, Monochrome (Sharpness Strength / Sharpness Fineness / Sharpness Threshold / Contrast (9 levels) / Filter effect (Ye -Yellow / Or -Orange / R -Red / G (Green) / Toning effect (S -Sepia / B -Blue / P -Purple / G -Green))
Customisable buttons and dials: 15
Colour space options: sRGB and Adobe RGB
ISO range: Auto (ISO 100-25600) with expansion to ISO 51200 available; ISO 100-12800 for movies with expansion to ISO 25600; adjustable in 1/3 or 1 EV steps
White balance: Auto (Ambience / White priority), Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten light, White Fluorescent light, Flash, Custom, Colour Temperature Setting; +/- 9 steps of adjustment on B/A and M/G axes
Flash: Built-in flash, GN 4.6 (ISO 100, meters), coverage to 15mm focal length, 4 second cycle time
Flash modes: E-TTL Auto, Manual flash, red-eye reduction is available, Integrated Speedlite Transmitter
Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 2EV in 1/3, 1/2EV steps
Sequence shooting: Max.14 frames/sec. with locked AF
Buffer capacity: Max. 54 Large/Fine JPEGs, 23 RAW files, 34 C-RAW files
Storage Media: Single slot for SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (UHS-I, II compatible)
Viewfinder: Bundled EVF-DC2 (0.39-type OLED with 2,360,000 dots, 100% frame coverage, up to 120 fps refresh rate, 22 mm eyepoint, 29 grams)
LCD monitor: Tilting (180 degrees up and 45 degrees down) 3-inch, 3:2 type Clear View LCD II touch screen with 1,040,000 dots, 100% frame coverage
Playback functions: Single image with/without information (2 levels), index (4, 9, 36, 100), Jump, 1.5x to 10x playback zoom, histogram (brightness/RGB), highlight alert, grid, RAW image processing, red-eye correction, movie edit, slideshow, erase, protect, rotate, print order, Photobook set-up, Creative Filters, create album, crop, resize, rating, search
Interface terminals: USB type-C, HDMI Type D, 3.5 mm stereo mini jack (microphone), compatible with RS-60E3 remote control
Wi-Fi function: Built-in (IEEE 802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.1 low energy technology
Power supply: LP-E17E rechargeable Li-ion batteries in special base pack; CIPA rated for approx. 305 shots/charge with LCD (Eco mode, approx. 410 shots/charge), 250 shots/charge with EVF
Dimensions (wxhxd): 119.6 x 70.0 x 49.2 mm
Weight: Approx. 408 grams (with battery and card)
Distributor: Canon Australia; 1800 021 167
Based on JPEG files taken with the EF-M 15–45mm f/3.5–6.3 IS STM lens.
Based on CR3.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting.
Auto white balance with flash lighting.
ISO 100, 30 second exposure at f/5.6, 32mm focal length.
ISO 800, 13 second exposure at f/8, 32mm focal length.
ISO 6400, 2.3 second exposure at f/9, 32mm focal length.
ISO 12800, 2 second exposure at f/11, 32mm focal length.
ISO 25600, 1.3 second exposure at f/13, 32mm focal length.
ISO 51200, 1.4 second exposure at f/18, 32mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 100, 1/60 second at f/7.1, 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 800, 1/60 second at f/7.1, 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 6400, 1/60 second at f/7.1, 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 12800, 1/60 second at f/7.1, 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 25600, 1/100 second at f/8, 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 51200, 1/125 second at f/9, 45mm focal length.
Close-up at 15mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second exposure at f/8.
Close-up at 45mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second exposure at f/8.
38mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/80 second exposure at f/6.3.
Strong backlighting, 17mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second exposure at f/8.
15mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/400 second exposure at f/8.
20mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/50 second exposure at f/8.
36mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/60 second exposure at f/7.1.
29mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/250 second exposure at f/6.3.
26mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second exposure at f/6.3.
45mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/20 second exposure at f/8.
15mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/80 second exposure at f/5.
16mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/60 second exposure at f/5.
45mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/100 second exposure at f/6.3.
45mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second exposure at f/8.
45mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/100 second exposure at f/8.
23mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second exposure at f/9.
23mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/60 second exposure at f/8.
45mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second exposure at f/8.
45mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/100 second exposure at f/7.1.
18mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second exposure at f/7.1.
45mm focal length, ISO 1000, 1/80 second exposure at f/6.3.
Still frame from 4K video clip taken at 25p
Still frame from Full HD 1080 video clip taken at 50p.
Still frame from Full HD 1080 video clip taken at 25p.
Still frame from HD 720 video clip taken at 50p.
Still frame from HDR video clip taken at Full HD 1080 resolution with 25p frame rate.
RRP: AU$1849; US$1099 (with EF-M 15-45mm IS STM lens)
- Build: 8.6
- Ease of use: 8.5
- Autofocusing: 8.8
- Still image quality JPEG: 8.5
- Still image quality RAW: 8.8
- Video quality: 8.9