EOS 6D Mark II for Landscape Photography
By: Rudy Winston
June 29, 2017
If you are a passionate landscape photographer, here are reasons you should consider the new EOS 6D Mark II camera. As you read this, keep in mind especially the appeal to users who are considering stepping-up to this camera, from any of the following:
- The original EOS 6D camera
- An older digital SLR (Canon or a competitive brand)
- An entry-level DSLR (Canon EOS Rebel series, or a competitive brand)
Even though subjects usually aren’t moving, landscape photography is a challenging and demanding venue. All aspects of image quality come under close scrutiny — fine detail rendering, how tones in highlights and shadows are recorded, color, and more. Full-frame cameras are the ultimate step-up for photographers looking to succeed in this competitive field, and the EOS 6D Mark II represents a strong yet affordable way to get great landscape and scenic results.
One of the hallmarks the landscape photographer expects is excellent rendering of fine details, along with excellence in tonal values, shadow and highlight details, and color rendering. In a number of important ways, the EOS 6D Mark II offers tremendous potential to these photographers.
- Full-frame, 26.2 million pixel CMOS image sensor
Greater pixel resolution than the popular EOS 5D Mark III and original EOS 6D cameras, and with full-frame size. Larger individual pixels, which generally equate to greater light sensitivity, and potentially better performance at higher ISOs.
- Detail for large prints — 6240 x 4160 pixel resolution, which translates into about 13x19-inch prints (at 300 dpi), directly from full-res EOS 6D Mark II files, with no up-scaling or enlarging of the camera-generated file. Of course, larger prints are well within its grasp, if enlargement is performed in image-editing or RAW file processing software.
- Enhanced tools for sharpening of image details, for both RAW and JPEG images:
- Fine Detail Picture Style, with greater and more precise sharpening dialed-in. This is a big asset for in-camera JPEG shooting, and an excellent tool for more RAW image detail when files are processed in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software.
- Added sharpening commands for all other Picture Style settings…“Fineness” and “Threshold” are new commands not present in the original EOS 6D camera, giving sharpening control similar to the “Unsharp Mask” command in some image-editing software.
- Diffraction Correction is built-in (can be turned on or off, on camera’s menu). Added sharpening applied to counter both the effects of lens softening at small apertures which are common in landscape shooting (f/16, f/22, etc.), as well as providing specific sharpening to counter the softening effect of the low-pass filter immediately in front of the EOS 6D Mark II’s image sensor (when shooting at wider apertures).
- Linear Distortion Correction, to counter lens-induced bending of straight lines such as horizons with wide-angle zooms and other lenses. Again, this can be turned on or off by the photographer (it’s off by default; note that in-camera distortion correction will slightly crop the final image file).
Landscape images aren’t always in isolated, rural areas. But either way, they put a premium on overall image quality. The detail captured by the EOS 6D Mark II and its full-frame sensor, along with its color and tonal range, will be an impressive step forward for many users considering stepping-up to full-frame from less-expensive, crop-sensor cameras.
Tripod Operation, and the Vari-angle LCD Monitor
This is a great new feature — the EOS 6D Mark II is Canon’s first full-frame DSLR with an articulated, vari-angle LCD monitor. And unlike “tilting” monitors of some other interchangeable lens cameras, this monitor remains useful when shooting vertical still images. Used with the camera’s Live View, it’s a great tool for landscape shooters who work with a tripod.
Live View Operation
The vari-angle LCD monitor is just the beginning of what the EOS 6D Mark II offers the landscape photographer. For still-image shooting, its Live View offers some great refinements.
- Superb Live View autofocus, with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. Positive, responsive and sensitive AF, for still and even moving subjects. Photographers can choose from three AF Methods, to change the size of the focus area onscreen.
- Touchscreen operation. For focus, simply touch the area you want as the sharpest plane of focus, and this camera puts focus right there. And, you can touch the screen, and then magnify that area, to check focus or confirm other details before you shoot.
Level Displays, for Composition Accuracy
Whether you shoot using the eye-level, optical viewfinder, or the vari-angle LCD monitor, the EOS 6D Mark II provides available aids to ensure that horizon lines and other important aspects of a scene are straight and level.
- Grid lines in the viewfinder: The camera has Canon’s Intelligent Viewfinder II technology, with an LCD overlay immediately above the focus screen. The benefit is that a multitude of visual aids can be selectively turned on or off (most in the camera’s Set-up Menu), and that includes horizontal and vertical grid lines, to help in keeping straight lines straight, and also with compositional placement in a picture.
The Intelligent Viewfinder II display in the EOS 6D Mark II camera is an active LCD overlay, allowing the viewer control over what’s visible or not when looking through the eye-level viewfinder. As much or as little information as you want can be laid over the actual picture area. Here, the available grid lines are displayed, as well as all AF point locations (Automatic AF point select mode is shown here, indicated by the thin outlines around the AF point array), and camera settings at the bottom of the picture area.
- Grid Lines on the LCD monitor, during Live View
- Dual Axis Level Display, in the viewfinder: This can be turned on and off as the photographer desires. It’s visible at the top of the viewfinder, within the picture area, and is precise to within approximately 1° for side-to-side tilt, and to display if the camera has been aimed upward or downward as well. It can be combined with the viewfinder grid display, if desired.
The Dual Axis Electronic Level display is shown here as it would appear in the EOS 6D Mark II’s eye-level viewfinder. Visible at the top of the picture area, it shows completely level (with about ± 1° accuracy) by a single tick-mark in the dead-center of the horizontal and vertical lines. Tilt is indicated by a sequence of tick-marks away from dead-center. As mentioned above, this display can be combined with the grid lines, if desired. It’s all adjusted with the Viewfinder Display command, in the yellow Set-up Menu area.
- Dual Axis Level Display, during Live View: This one’s different from the viewfinder display. Press the INFO button on the back of the camera repeatedly, and cycle through a number of possible displays for Live View shooting. One is the Live View level display, again showing both side-to-side tilt, as well as whether the camera is aimed upward or downward.
The bottom line is that for critical landscape shooters — who frequently don’t have one single, solid horizon line to visually use for composition — the combination of grid lines and the Dual Axis Level Displays provide very useful tools for consistent composition, and minimizing of errors when setting-up a shot.
GPS and Built-in Wi-Fi®
These two items are clearly valuable to the landscape shooter. The built-in GPS is able to geo-tag images with longitude, latitude and elevation data (as well as coordinated Universal Time), making it easy to display on a map where a particular image was taken. Two things to keep in mind about the built-in GPS in the EOS 6D Mark II — the GPS cannot display directional or compass orientation, and the camera is not compatible with Canon’s accessory GP-E1 or GP-E2 GPS devices.
Wi-Fi has been enhanced, too. Some of the features of possible interest to landscape shooters include:
- Wi-Fi now includes Bluetooth technology, to maintain continuous communication with compatible Android and iOS tablets and smartphones, with very minimal camera battery drain.
- Canon’s free Camera Connect App can be downloaded and installed on compatible devices, allowing them to act as remote controllers — especially useful for tripod-mounted cameras in landscape shooting. Numerous camera settings can be adjusted with your phone or tablet, which can be up to about 50 feet (15m) from the camera.
- Easily and quickly view camera images using the mobile device, and copy any to the phone or tablet for rapid uploading to e-mail, or to your own social media accounts on popular sites like Facebook, Instagram and more.
Video Operation and Landscape Shooting
This is an increasingly important aspect of nature and landscape shooting, as online video continues to become a powerful means to deliver image content to viewers. Even if you’re a committed still-image landscape shooter, know that with the EOS 6D Mark II, you have a strong camera for one-man video operation.
- Full HD (1080p) video, at up to 60 fps: Any pans of the camera on a video tripod head, or movement such as flowing water, birds in flight, and so on can be rendered with excellent smoothness at the 60 fps recording speed.
- The combination of Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and touchscreen operation of the LCD monitor: Just touch the part of a scene you want in focus, and you can expect the camera to promptly deliver sharpness right there.
- Time Lapse video, in-camera: You select the time interval between each video frame, and the number of total frames to shoot. The EOS 6D Mark II displays how long it’ll take to record a video, and how long it’ll run when played-back. The camera produces a processed Time Lapse Movie file, in-camera, and you have a choice of that file being in 4K or Full HD (1080p) size. (Important note: The 4K file size option is strictly for processed Time Lapse videos; EOS 6D Mark II is otherwise a Full HD camera, recording video at up to 1920 x 1080 HD resolution.)
- HDR video, in-camera: In harsh, contrasty light, you can tame bright highlights, without darkening mid-tones or shadows with the HDR Video feature. The camera takes a Full HD (1080p) video at 60 fps, but every other frame is intentionally under-exposed by about two stops. Then, the file is processed in-camera, into a finished 30 fps file, with the darker information used to tone-down bright highlights. HDR video is available when the camera is set to record video, and the Mode Dial is set to its SCN (Special Scene) position.
Canon certainly has been a major player in the full-frame, digital SLR market for photographers who specialize in landscape photography. But not every potential Canon customer is ready to make the leap to a camera like the 50 million pixel EOS 5DS series. Compact size, and relatively compact pricing, make the EOS 6D series a popular point of entry for users who understand that the right gear can raise the level of their imagery. With the latest EOS 6D Mark II camera, significant and important enhancements have been made, making this camera especially appealing to the full-frame customer looking for value without sacrificing image quality or flexibility.
Full-frame opens the door to numerous wide- and ultra wide-angle lens possibilities, with each providing the wide coverage intended by the optical designers. Wide-angle is often a huge part of landscape photography, and another really important reason to consider stepping-up to full-frame if you’re presently using a crop-sensor camera. The EOS 6D Mark II even offers and affordable, full-frame platform for working with Canon’s specialized tilt-shift (TS-E) lenses.
Look at the features and the ultimate image quality the EOS 6D Mark II delivers, and assess for yourself whether this camera is the right tool for you and your landscape imagery.
The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.