Canon 6d Mark ii Review

Canon_6d_Mark_ii_review

This is a Canon 6d Mark ii guest review by Daniel and Lindsay Stark of Stark Photography, wedding and portrait photographers based out of Portland, Oregon.

This review of the Canon 6d Mark ii is written from the point of view of a wedding and portrait photographer. We tested out this camera at 8 weddings, 10 portrait shoots and a handful of engagement shoots.

We’ll talk about the focus, the quality, the build, the bells and whistles like the flip touch-screen and wifi.

We hope this review will be informative for photographers who use different mediums and at any level. However, we do understand that it might not cover everything for everyone. But we still hope you enjoy it.

Before we begin…a little history and a little camera industry rant.

Our History Before the Canon 6d Mark ii

Canon 6d Mark ii (left) compared to the Canon 6d Mark i (right)

We met in photography class (some you might remember the dark room days) in college, many moons ago.

Since then, we got married, started a business, had a couple kids and well, we’ve been taking photos together ever since the day we met and it’s only gotten better. Somewhat in part to the practice of our craft but also largely in part to the amazing technological advances in the photography industry.

That said, the photography industry is changing at a staggering pace and to quote Bueller… if you blink, you might just miss it.”

Between the two of us, we used to own and shoot with four Canon 5D Mark iii’s. What’s $3500 x 4? $14,000. Fourteen THOUSAND dollars. And to be honest, half the time, the damn things still wouldn’t even focus.

Portrait of Chiney Ogwumike shot by Stark Photography for ESPN
Portrait of Chiney Ogwumike shot for ESPN. One light set up balanced with the setting sun. Great colors SOOC. Settings: Canon 6 Mark ii, Canon 24-70mm @ 65mm, f/7.0, 1/80th, ISO 100

So we sold them. Sold them all but one.

We bought 3 Canon 6D’s for the price of one Canon 5d Mark 3. As our tax dude said, “That’s a good return on your investment.”

After just a short period of time with our new Canon 6D’s, we became super advocates for this camera. We felt like it was a professional grade camera for a cost we could justify. We’ve shot close to 100 weddings with them. (Critics will now start to mumble things that the Canon 6D doesn’t have compared to the 5D…read on!)

What we love about the Canon 6D is a lot of the same things you will love about the Canon 5d Mark ii, if you choose to get one. It’s quick, it’s light, has awesome ISO performance and of course, that’s one heck of a price tag.

These are the perks of the original 6D. So needless to say, when we heard the Canon 6d Mark ii was coming, we were pretty excited.

A beautiful black and white bridal portrait by Stark Photography shot with a 6D Mark ii
A bridal portrait exposing for strong highlights and still keeping some detail in the shadows. Settings: Canon 6D Mark ii, Canon 35mm, f/2.5, 1/650th, ISO 2000

But first…A CAMERA INDUSTRY RANT!

Cameras are ridiculously expensive. And they’re not getting any cheaper.

We feel like camera companies take advantage of the consumer’s eagerness to want the “latest and greatest”. The thinking that whatever gear just came out will make our images that much better or make taking photos that much easier. We love to use buzz words like “game changer.” Sometimes we think that the camera companies are the ones winning the game and we’re just playing it.

Now, we’re not saying don’t buy professional equipment. Like we said in our back story, the advances in the camera industry have contributed a lot to our success as professional photographers. We just think all photographers and customers need to be aware of what you’re investing in and see if it truly does justify the cost.

Like the expression goes, and for the millionth time, the camera doesn’t make the photographer. But it can help. So now that we got that off our chest, let’s get into this Canon 6d Mk ii review!

Canon 6D Mark ii with f/POP camera strap bottle opener.
The Canon 6d Mark ii featuring the F-Pop bottle opener – an awesome Stark Photography creation!

WHAT WE NEED IN A CAMERA … aka the backbone to this Canon 6d mark ii review.

#1 Focus & shooting: It has be quick and reliable. In all lighting conditions.

#2 Image Quality: A camera that has a full frame sensor, 20+ megapixel count (but not too high), nice color, good dynamic range and high ISO capabilities without too much degradation of the image.

# Function, Feel & Fancy Features: When you hold a camera in your hands, it has to feel good. Something you want to pick up and carry with you. So with that said, it helps if it’s lightweight without feeling cheap.

If a camera has these things, we’re interested. If it’s under 2k, we’re really interested.

Canon 6d Mark ii Review | Focus & Shooting

THE AUTOFOCUS SPECS

PLUS: The Canon 6d Mark ii has 45 focus points with a new dual pixel focus system., which we have gathered is just for live view.

The Canon 6d Mark ii uses the light sensitive pixels to achieve focus and achieve faster. While shooting, we noticed it can lock focus quickly and the focus tracking in live view is great too.

We found this to be very helpful during the wedding processional and reception dancing.

Canon 6D Mark ii low lit wedding portrait of a bride and groom.
Low light wedding portrait. Settings: Canon 6D Mark ii, Canon 35mm, f/2.0, 1/1000th, ISO 5000

MINUS: Now, on the flip side, one of the most frequent complaints we hear is about the amount of focus points because it has less than the latest 5D. It’s true the Canon 6d Mark ii has 45 focus points less than the 5d Mark iv has.

Now how did we find this to be in camera?

Simply put, this is not a deal breaker for us. All we really want it just one that works. We’re focus-and-recompose shooters, so we always leave our cameras on the center focus point.

If we wanted exact control over the focus on the outside of the frame, we would just use the live view touch screen.

Canon did make it easy to toggle between 3 focus setting areas. You can keep the focus points within a range in the frame. So if you only want to move it with in a certain smaller area in the frame instead of the entire frame you can do that.

We tested it all out and still just went back to the using the center focus point.

THE FOCUS IN ACTION

PLUS: The focus does seem faster then the original 6D. Not by a lot though. One of the main reasons why we switched from the Canon 5D Mark iii was because of focus.

In contrasty (new word!) light, it focuses fast and accurately. In backlight, it did ok but we still tried to focus on something that had contrast and then recomposed.

The worst was in low light situations, which is difficult really for any camera. You can nail the focus but it had a little harder time. This is when using the focus assist beam on your flash or switching to live view would come in handy.

Sunset wedding portrait by Stark Photography
Sunset wedding portrait. Natural beam of light coming through trees. Settings: Canon 6D Mark ii, Canon 35mm, f/2.8, 1/1000th, ISO 160

MINUS: Canon could still use a little work on their overall focus system but as far as the Canon lineup goes, it works just as well as any of their other professional cameras.

One major issue: The red focus indicator that let’s you know the camera has achieved focus is VERY hard to see. It was a major complaint with the old Canon 5d Mark ii but was later fixed. It’s brighter in the original 6D but with the Canon 6d Mark ii it’s back to being very unnoticeable.

FRAMES PER SECOND

The Canon 6d Mark ii can shoot up to 6.5 frames a second – 2 frames faster than the original.

But we feel like if you can’t nail your shot in 6 frames in one second than I don’t know how to help you. We completely understand having a fast frame rate for sports, but for weddings and portraits, having 6 is plenty.

Can you imagine shooting film and having to advance the frame by hand? We’ve come a long way.

Only during certain times did we put it on the high frame rate. We actually felt like it was too fast and we hated culling through so many images that were all exactly the same. Most of the time we kept it on single shutter and waited for the moment.

Canon 6d Mark ii Review | Function, Feel & Features

The Canon 6d Mark ii has a great feel for a DSLR. It’s big enough to feel good in your hands but small and light enough so you can comfortably carry it around for an 8hr wedding.

The build is solid. It’s mostly plastic but you can’t really tell. It’s almost identical to the original 6D which is just a tad (we’re talking grams) heavier.

Right when you flip it on, it’s ready to shoot – no lag time. There is only a second lag time when turning it to live view.

Portrait of Kathryn Budig for ESPN shot by Stark Photography
Kathryn Budig, yoga celebrity and best selling author photographed for ESPN. Settings: Canon 6D Mark ii, Canon 24-70 @ 47mm, f/13, 1/160th, ISO 100

The button navigation is simple and can also be customized. The menu layout is also fairly straight forward.

A big upgrade on the body is the weather and dust resistance sealing. We’ve taken the original 6D out in every weather possible and never had a problem but were always still nervous about it. With the Canon 6d Mark ii, we felt more peace of mind.

BATTERY LIFE

One of the best things about DSLR’s compared to mirrorless is the battery life. Out of all the years of shooting weddings, we can count on one hand how many times we’ve had to switch a battery during a 10 hour day.

While shooting with the Canon 6d Mark ii, we never had to switch out the battery once. Since we used the touchscreen a lot, we did notice a bigger drain battery but it never died on us.

VIDEO

We didn’t use the video feature much, since we are still photographers primarily but we will say that there’s no headphone jack and no 4K capability.

And now for…

LCD SCREEN

The 3” fully Reticulating LCD Touchscreen is by far our favorite feature, and for this alone, we would upgrade.

Canon_6d_Mark_ii touch screen
Full reticulating touch screen on the Canon 6D Mark ii.

Shooting weddings requires you to be flexible in multiple situations and surroundings. You can be shooting in an expansive field one moment and a cramped bathroom the next.

We shoot from every angle imaginable – high, low, close, far. Having a touchscreen that flips and rotates in any direction makes composing in different angles so much easier.

Daniel’s favorite use was shooting high up during the reception and then having the tiny flip where you can see exactly what you were capturing. Add the touch shutter on live view and you’re on fire. In the image below, Daniel was able to compose a photo with some great leading lines, and a little assistance of the Canon 6d Mark ii to make sure he wasn’t just crossing his fingers with each shot. Both of us are 5’6” tall…thank you flip screen for making life easier on us!

Canon 6d mkii flip screen behind the scenes.
6D Mark ii flip screen made it so easy (and fun!) to compose hard to reach angles.

The touch screen also makes simple functions so much easier, from changing camera settings to scrolling through your images. But hands down, the best thing about it was the Touch Shutter feature.

The Touch Shutter can be activated during live view and all you do is touch on the screen where you want the focus and the camera focuses and automatically captures the photo. It’s pretty amazing.

We also loved the touch screen for instances where it was tough to achieve a focus. Turn on the live view and you can zoom in on the eyes or wherever and tap for the focus.

MINUS: And kind of a big one.

The hot shoe does not work while in live view. It is the weirdest thing. We checked it with the original 6d and it’s the same.

So if you’re shooting with a flash or remote trigger and you have liveview enabled – whatever is mounted to your hotshoe will not work.

Wi-Fi & BLUETOOTH

The wireless communication on the Canon 6d Mark ii is pretty flawless. It’s really easy to connect to your smartphone. It’s even better if you have an android phone because then it’s connected at all times. We used this feature a lot while testing the camera.

Claire Anderson from Koin News 6 in Portland photographed by portrait photographers, Stark Photography.
Fine art studio portrait of Claire Anderson top meteorologist for Portland’s Koin 6 News. Settings: Canon 6D Mark ii, Canon 85mm 1.8, f/2.8, 1/125th, ISO 200

You can use your phone as a remote trigger or to download photos that you just took. If you want to post photos straight away to your Instagram, print or share with guests, it’s easy to do. Pretty swanky for the instant gratification world we’re living in.

If you were a wedding photographer that really wanted to impress your clients, you could fire off some downloads and prints before the night’s end and blow your client’s mind. All with a few clicks on the camera.

DUAL CARD SLOTS (Gassssp, there aren’t any!)

This is by far everyone’s biggest complaint about this camera. It’s what some say separates it from being a professional camera.

This is not a deal breaker for us. Here is why:

There was a time where professionals used to shoot on film and then mail (mail!) their negatives to get them developed. Can you imagine the margin of error? A lot. Believe it or not, we know of a few professionals now still doing that.

99.9 percent of the time cards become corrupt when putting them in or taking them out of the camera.

And by the very off chance your card is corrupt – there are plenty of recovery places that can work wonders. But again, the chance is slim.

Low angle creative portrait of a wedding couple using the Canon 6d mark ii with a low angle lens by Stark Photography.
Another example of where the flip screen comes in handy; getting low to the ground without getting your pants dirty. Creative portrait durning the couple’s rehearsal dinner. Settings: Canon 6D Mark ii, Canon 14mm, f/3.2, 1/2500th, ISO 320

Do you shoot with 2 camera bodies at weddings and shoots? Us too. And there are two of us shooting so that’s 4 cameras working on 4 cards. We got our events covered.

Our advice would be to shoot on high quality cards with a lot of space. Limit taking your cards in and out through out a shoot. Do not delete images in camera (rumors say this creates corruption…debatable but a worthy practice to not delete as you go).

Periodically playback your images to make sure they’re being recorded. And download immediately after a wedding. Then back ‘em up. Then double check it all.

Then still sweat yourself to sleep the next time you format because…you’re a wedding photographer.

BUT don’t stress over not having a dual card slot. We believe that if you’re prepared, you shouldn’t have to.

Canon 6d Mark ii Review | Image Quality

Being that it’s 2017 and iPhones take amazing photos – it’s hard to find a camera that doesn’t have great image quality – especially if it’s a full frame camera with 20+ megapixels. So it’s function and speed that outlays image quality.

With that said, the Canon 6d Mark ii has a new 26.2 MP and Digit 7 Image processor so it can capture amazing photos.

Despite incredible advancements by competitors, the colors are on Canon files are still unbeatable. Even with non L series lenses, files are sharp and colors are rich.

Canon 6D Mark ii creative portrait of a bride and groom by Stark Photography.
Live view focus for low light situations combined with Canon’s color rendering. Settings: Canon 6D mark ii, 85mm, f/2.5, 1/250th, ISO 5000

The detail with the Canon 6d Mark ii is great even at high ISO’s. Which brings us to mention that Canon did a good job with noise performance.

The Canon 6d Mark ii offers 7 picture styles all for shooting JPG along with other contrast and saturation adjustments. These are great to play around with if you don’t do any post processing after you take the image.

We shoot RAW so these picture styles don’t do a whole lot for our finished product. It’s for people who want a finished image straight out of camera and we think it’s a pretty neat feature.

Canon 6d Mark ii Review | Final Words

So…who should buy this camera?

Canon markets this camera towards people who want to get into shooting a full frame camera that otherwise don’t want to spend the money on a higher end one. I don’t completely buy into that.

This camera is a professional grade camera disguise as a consumer camera with a consumer price.

If you’re not a professional but want a professional camera at a good price point – this is your camera.

If you’re a professional who wants a back up camera – the Canon 6d Mark ii is your camera.

If you’re a professional wedding or portrait photographer who doesn’t want to break your bank or your back – this is your camera.

If you already on a 6D and are looking to upgrade – I’d say yes there is enough on this camera to upgrade but it’s not a definite must.

Sue Bird with the WNBA photographed by Stark Photography on the 6d Mark ii
Portrait of Sue Bird WNBA player for ESPN. Settings: Canon 6D Mark ii, 24-70mm @ 70mm, f/13, 1/160th, ISO 100

In summary, if you’re a wedding or portrait photographer who already shoots Canon but debates the worthiness of the Canon 6d Mark ii you’re missing out by not giving this camera a try.

If you think you’re not “pro enough” by owning a Canon 6d or 6D Mark ii, then you need to work on your confidence, not your camera.

This camera rocks and is growing in popularity in droves. We’re not turning back (or switching to Nikon, or switching to Fuji, or switching to Sony, etc.) until Canon comes up with another upgrade.

The Canon 6d Mark iireally is a great camera. Great function and form, beautiful images, nice little perks and truly – you just can’t beat the price point.

Now if Mark from Shotkit would only let us keep the loaner Canon 6d Mark ii we used to write this review…. Never mind, we just bought two. :)

Guest review by Daniel & Lindsay Stark | www.starkphotography.com

Buy Canon 6d mark ii

9 Build Quality

10 Ergonomics & handling

9 Viewfinder/Screen Quality

8 Metering & focus

9 High ISO Performance

9 Image Quality

10 Features

10 Value for Money

BREAKDOWN

9.3

16 Comments

  • I largely agree with your review. Where we differ is on the focus points. Keep in mind, my previous camera was a T4i, which had, IIRC, 9 focus points, so the 6DII is definitely an improvement there. I just wish the focus points weren’t as bunched around the center of the frame as they were. I could live with having more room between the points so that the focus points went closer to the edge of the frame.

    My T4i also had the same limitation on not firing the hot shoe in live view. It’s been a while since I’ve tried it with a Canon flash, but from what I remember, it wasn’t a problem if I used a TTL-capable flash or a TTL-capable controller (even when using flash in manual mode), but it definitely wouldn’t work for manual-only speedlites.

    Finally, I’d ask how you feel about the “limitation” of only having one SD card slot. I’ve seen many people say that they would never trust wedding photography to a camera with only one slot. I was just curious if you’re using the 6DII as your primary at weddings or as a secondary camera.

    • Hi Tim! Thanks for taking the time to read and post a comment!

      Yes, focus wise it’s an upgrade for sure from the Rebel. With the 6Dii there are 4 focus modes where you can adjust where it grabs the focus points from so it’s not all grouped together – which is cool. So I hope that helps out with that.

      Yeah, it’s crazy about the Live View not firing thing – I am using all canon flashes and or pocket wizards for Canon and still no dice. I’ll have to talk with my Canon guys and let you know what they come up with.

      Again, (knock on wood) but I have never had a corrupt card from 10 years of shooting. Yes, dual slots gives you a little piece of mind but I don’t think it’s justifiable if you’re already using multiple cameras and good quality cards. Most photogs I know rarely even use the 2nd slot and if they do they are shooting to the 2nd card in small jpg.

      If you only shoot with one camera body and also a solo shooter than I would consider getting a camera with a dual slot.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your review and shots. You have made a clear understanding on what you’re getting. I should be making my purchase soon.

  • I rarely read camera reviews as I find most of them pretty boring and long winded. Nice to see an exception to that rule. I love my 6D, and will be picking up a MKii soon. Thanks for a well crafted review.

    • Don, thank you so much for the kind words. So happy you found this review useful. Let me know how everything goes with the MK2 – excited to hear your thoughts. Best, Daniel.

    • Hi Deidre – thanks for the comment. You can upgrade both by just getting the 6D2. If you have a local camera shop try to test them out.

  • I’d be really interested to find out if this is your primary camera too? Your review really does tempt me as a 5dmkiii/6d owner to upgrade. The money I can save from the 5dmkiv is substantial.

    • Hi Ian – yes, primary camera. The 5D3 has been collecting dust. Yes, the savings would be drastic over the 5D4. All the bells and whistles that you will actually use on the 5D4 that 6D2 has it.

  • What a fantastic review. I’ve been saving for ages to upgrade from my Canon 5d mark ii and was debating between mark iii and mark iv. The dual slot issue made me veer away from the 6d but this review has completely changed my mind. Looks like I’ll be getting a new camera for Christmas after all! Thanks again.

    • Hi Deb! Thanks for the nice comment! The 6D2 would be the way to go over the 5DMK3 – if you have the budget and the back support for the 5DMK4 than go for it. But simple math you can get about 4 6D2’s for that price ;-). Keep me posted with what end up with. Cheers!

  • People keep saying the 6D II doesn’t have a headphone jack. My buddy’s 6D II arrived shipped to the island a few days ago. It came bundled with a few cheepo accessories and included the new nifty fifty and an external microphone. I had read several reviewers take on the camera beforehand and the majority also mentioned the lack of a headphone jack. So I very cheekily chided my buddy for having the packaged external microphone in a bundled purchase for a camera without the jack. He promptly corrected me “you don’t know what you are talking about” and showed me the supposedly “missing” microphone jack. Take another look.

    • Wil – I am sorry for the misunderstanding. Correct, no headphone jack there is a mic jack but it’s sorta of useless since you can’t hear and adjust what it’s picking up.

      I appreciate the comment and taking the time to read the review! Cheers – Stark Photography.

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