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Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR (review)
4.5Overall Score

Price (RRP): $2,200-$2,300
Manufacturer: Canon

Is the Digital Single Lens Reflex camera on the way out? I’ve given up trying to predict the future. But right now, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR lays claim to a strong future for this type of camera.

DSLR vs Mirrorless

The last several interchangeable lens cameras we’ve reviewed here have been mirrorless. It is the mirror that’s the “Reflex” part of DSLR. You know, “reflex” is kind of like “reflection”. A mirror reflects light.

To recap quickly, a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera captures the image falling on its sensor and sends that to a little flat display panel. You put your eye to the eyepiece, and it focuses on that flat panel.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

A DSLR instead uses the mirror to reflect the light coming in through the lens up into the eyepiece. You’re seeing what’s actually coming in through the lens, not a captured image of it.

(More correctly, you’re seeing most of what’s coming in through the lens. In a DSLR, the image through the viewfinder is rarely the full hundred per cent of the field of view. But this camera manages an impressive 98%, so the differences are academic.)

That means that in a DLSR a mirror is in front of the sensor. When you press the shutter release, the mirror pivots up out of the way before the shutter operates, then slaps back down into place afterwards.

Because you’re seeing an optical image through the lens, it doesn’t have all those fancy assist features, like focus peaking. You can preview depth of field (adjusted by the aperture settings) thanks to a dedicated button on the camera body, but in order to do that, it narrows down the aperture which can make it too dark to see the depth of field anyway. These are the kinds of compromises left by adhering in the digital world as closely as possible to the analogue film technology of 35mm.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

If you’re coming to the Canon EOS 6D Mark II from an earlier Canon DLSR, or from a 35mm film camera, you are going to find the Canon EOS 6D Mark II a complete delight. If you are coming to it from a mirrorless interchangeable lens format, you’re going to have some adjustments to make.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

Adjustments, not compromises. You see, you can select something calls “Live View Shooting”. This flicks the mirror up out of the way, and the camera essentially becomes mirrorless. You can’t use the regular viewfinder, there no longer being a mirror to reflect the light. But you can instead use the rear touch sensitive monitor for framing. Indeed, you can use the monitor for selecting a point of focus and exposure setting.

In short, it’s also kind of like a mirrorless camera too, at the touch of a button. The rear monitor is on a universal hinge. Like the higher Panasonic models, you can swing it out and look at it from pretty much any direction, allowing very convenient framing from all manner of weird angles.

Sensor and frame

The sensor behind the shutter, and behind the occasionally present mirror, is a 26.2 megapixel CMOS unit. That works out to a maximum resolution of 6240 by 4160 pixels. It can shoot JPEG and RAW, with 14-bit encoding for RAW to allow much subtler shading than the 8 bits of JPEG.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

Nice handling of high contrast

The image sensor is “full frame”, which is to say that it pretty much matches the size of a 35mm film negative. It measures 35.9mm by 24mm. The camera uses Canon’s EF mount. It being Canon, lots of third-party lens makers also make compatible lenses. Canon included the EF 24-70mm F4L IS USM lens, which you can pick up for around a thousand dollars. The “M” in the name means that it has a macro capability.