Canon EOS M6 Mark II: Highlights
August 28, 2019
Canon’s EOS M-series provides both an entry point for the first-time photographer, and a compact alternative for the advanced enthusiast or even professional. With a dedicated series of compact EF-M lenses, and ability to attach nearly any Canon EF or EF-S lens from the digital SLR line (via the optional Lens Mount Adapter EF–EOS M), the EOS M system is Canon’s lightweight and portable answer for a variety of potential users.
The introduction of the Canon EOS M6 Mark II brings new levels of performance and video capabilities to this mirrorless camera line, and we’ll shed some light on some of the important highlights of this camera in this article.
A compact mirrorless answer
Like the previous EOS M6, the M6 Mark II preserves a very compact form-factor by eliminating a built-in eye-level viewfinder. Instead, its hot shoe accepts either of two separate electronic eye-level viewfinders — the Canon EVF-DC1, or EVF-DC2.
Equipped with any of the EF-M lenses, this is a great alternative to a DSLR or full-frame mirrorless camera for travel. Standard zooms in the series:
EF-M 15-45mm lens (field of view equivalent to a 24–72mm lens, on a full-frame camera)
The extended-range EF-M 18–150mm zoom (29–240mm equivalent).
In fact, a key market for the EOS M6 Mark II is anticipated to be experienced DSLR users, who want a compact yet flexible, interchangeable lens alternative for travel and other situations.
Ships with accessory electronic viewfinder
USA customers who buy the EOS M6 Mark II in kit form, with either the EF-M 15–45mm or EF-M 18–150mm lens factory-packed in the box, will get Canon’s accessory EVF-DC2 finder also packed in the box, at no extra charge. This compact electronic viewfinder attaches directly to the camera’s hot shoe, and brings eye-level operation at no additional cost to the M6 Mark II photographer.
Touch-and-drag AF is possible when the EVF is attached and operating, allowing users to freely move an active AF point or area by using the touch-screen capability of the LCD monitor — while looking through the viewfinder.
For clarity, here is how the EOS M6 Mark II will be sold in the US market:
Body only (no lens) — EVF not included (available as a separate, optional accessory)
Lens kit (camera with EF-M 15-45mm, factory-packed together) — EVF-DC2 included
Lens kit (camera with EF-M 18-150mm, factory-packed together) — EVF-DC2 included
Please check with your dealer for information on EVF availability in other sales regions.
32.5 million pixel resolution
The EOS M6 Mark II’s APS-C size image sensor sees a jump from 24.2 million pixels (on the previous EOS M6 model) to 32.5 million effective pixels on the M6 Mark II. More than ever, this is a compact camera that can handle large printed output, and other applications that require high levels of image detail.
The 32.5 MP files also allow a substantial amount of cropping, while maintaining sufficient detail and resolution for many applications.
Equipped with Canon’s DIGIC 8 processor and a completely new CMOS imaging sensor, another benefit is improved control of noise in still images — compare the noise in the background areas of these two highly cropped images, taken at ISO 3200, with the EOS M6 Mark II and the previous-generation EOS M6 cameras.
Shooting speed for still images is also dramatically increased. Even though its 32.5 million pixel files are substantially larger than on the previous M6 camera, the EOS M6 Mark II can now shoot continuous images at up to 14 fps — at full resolution, including RAW images — with continuous Servo AF active, using the camera’s mechanical shutter. 14 fps is possible at the camera’s “Continuous H+” Drive setting, accessible in the 1st red Shooting Menu screen.
Even more impressive to some users will be its RAW Burst mode, a first for Canon mirrorless cameras. RAW Burst uses the camera’s electronic shutter to shoot still images at up to 30 frames per second, and can record as many as 80 total frames in a row. Incredibly, this can work with Servo AF active, to follow-focus on moving subjects.
A few specifics about RAW Burst mode on the EOS M6 Mark II:
It’s activated in the 1st red shooting menu screen, as a separate menu item (in other words, it’s not part of the normal “Drive” mode menu settings)
RAW Burst mode can only be activated in Creative Zone shooting modes: P, Tv, Av, Fv or M; shutter speeds slower than 1/30th second are not possible
RAW images only. Images are captured in C-RAW file type, at approximately 18 million pixel resolution, and are taken from a cropped area of the image sensor — roughly 75% x 75% of the total sensor area.
RAW Burst Mode records files at 12-bit analog to digital conversion (conventional full RAW images are at 14-bit per channel A/D conversion); Color space is fixed at sRGB
Pre-recording is possible (a separate menu choice). With the shutter button pressed half-way down, the last 0.5 seconds prior to the actual start of a RAW burst (which begins when the shutter button is fully depressed) are also recorded, and written to the camera’s memory card. This makes it possible to capture split-second action that you might otherwise have missed, at the start of a RAW Burst sequence.
For best results, including maximum number of recorded images during RAW Burst shooting, a fast, UHS-II compliant SD memory card is recommended. With UHS-I SD cards, expect a maximum of about 57 shots in a burst. Minimum card speed for RAW Burst shooting should be SD Speed Class 10 or higher.
Image files taken in RAW Burst mode will begin with “CSI_...” to distinguish them from conventional RAW image files
Choice of mechanical or electronic shutter operation
During still-image shooting, M6 Mark II users have the choice of conventional, “mechanical” shutter operation, or switching to completely electronic shutter operation with a Menu command.
Mechanical shutter operation is the camera’s default setting, and will allow continuous shooting in any exposure mode, up to 14 fps in the camera’s Continuous High+ Drive mode setting.
Electronic shutter operation changes how images are recorded, and instead of shutter blades controlling exposure time, the CMOS image sensor itself acts as its own shutter, scanning the entire height of the image sensor to expose it at shutter speeds set by the camera or the photographer.
Except for the specialized RAW Burst Mode — which also utilizes the EOS M6 Mark II’s electronic shutter — the camera will always fire one frame at a time (single-frame Drive operation) when the electronic shutter is activated in the camera’s red Shooting Menu. A few other important points about electronic shutter on the M6 Mark II:
Silent shutter operation
Electronic shutter is essentially silent, although audible noise from lens aperture movement, focus driving sounds or other operations may be present in some situations. Electronic shutter operation is a great choice in situations where quiet still-image shooting is desirable.
Speeds up to 1/16,000th second
Fast shutter speeds expand from the camera’s normal 1/4000th maximum, up to 1/16,000th second. This of course opens up new possibilities for both freezing action, and for using wide apertures in bright sunlight — such as with the EF-M 32mm f/1.4 and similar lenses. All speeds above 1/4000th, in 1/3-step increments, can be manually set during electronic shutter operation, up to the 1/16,000th sec. maximum.
Easy access focus control
Unlike many previous EOS M-series cameras, the EOS M6 Mark II now has an AF/MF lever prominently positioned at the user’s right thumb, allowing near-instant changes to or from manual focus operation. Manual focus is aided by user-selectable Focus Peaking, allowing users to see the relative state of sharpness across the entire frame.
Another cool focus feature — any of several buttons on the camera can be customized, so that when pressed, a 5x or 10x magnified view of the area surrounding the active AF point appears. This makes it a lot easier to quickly ascertain precise sharpness, during both manual and autofocus.
Finally, there’s a central AF-ON button at the AF/MF switch. Using the Custom Controls menu on the camera, it’s a simple matter to remove AF activation from the shutter button, and then via the AF-ON button, you have classic “back-button AF” activation. And, this AF-ON button can be quickly customized for any of 39 possible functions, aside from AF activation.
Advanced AF possibilities
For both video and still-image recording, the Canon EOS M6 Mark II adds important new autofocus capabilities. It continues to use Canon’s proven Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, which has provided extremely smooth AF changes during video recording, along with responsive and accurate AF when shooting still images.
New AF features and performance levels are now possible with the M6 Mark II camera. These include…
Eye Detect AF is now available, for both still and video shooting, when the AF Method has been set to Face Detect + Tracking. Eye Detect AF will automatically select a human eye that’s closer to the camera. Users can change the selected eye by touching the LCD monitor, or using the 4-way cross-keys controller on the back of the camera.
Expanded AF coverage, with compatible lenses
The sensor area available for Dual Pixel CMOS AF coverage extends to 100% of the sensor’s vertical dimension, and 88% of its horizontal width, when the EOS M6 Mark II is used with compatible lenses. Some examples of compatible lenses for expanded AF area coverage include:EF-M 18–150mm f/3.5–6.3 IS STM
EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM
EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM
EF-M 55–200mm f/4.5–6.3 IS STM
EF-S 10–18mm f/4–5.6 IS STM
EF-S 10–22mm f/3.5–4.5 USM
EF-S 18–135mm f/3.5–5.6 IS USM
EF-S 55–250mm f/4–5.6 IS STM
EF 16–35mm f/4L IS USM
EF 24–70mm f/4L IS USM
EF 70–200mm f/4L IS II USM
EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6 IS II USM
The Canon EOS M6 Mark II is a robust yet very compact interchangeable-lens alternative to DSLRs and even full-frame mirrorless cameras. Its video features are outstanding — we’ve outlined them in a separate on-line article. And as a still camera, we repeat that this is simultaneously a great way for the first-time interchangeable lens camera buyer to invest, as well as a great second, very compact camera system for the committed photographer who may normally work with larger DSLRs. Either way, the M6 Mark II forms a great travel camera, and its performance (up to 14 fps, at its full 32.5 million pixel resolution) suddenly opens it to more demanding still-image applications.
Image quality from its APS-C size sensor is excellent, and 32.5 million pixels makes it (along with the EOS 90D DSLR camera) the highest pixel resolution to date for Canon EOS cameras with APS-C size sensors, as of August, 2019. This translates into excellent fine detail, and a camera that’s well-suited for large prints.
AF capabilities, including its Eye Detect AF, combine with its brisk performance to make the M6 Mark II an excellent answer for challenging still-image situations. On top of that, an especially enticing factor for the current DLSR shooter is that the camera is compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses, via an optional Canon lens mount adapter, as well as Canon EX- and EL-series speedlites.
Whether it’s considered a very compact multi-media option for stills and video, or a high-performance and compact option for stills, EOS M6 Mark II is a great new mirrorless camera for many different types of photographers. Factor in the inclusion of an electronic eye-level viewfinder if the camera is purchased in kit form with either of Canon’s standard EF-M zoom lenses (in the USA market), and you have a flexible and compelling choice for different types of photographers.
All Canon contributors are compensated and actual users of Canon products promoted.