The Canon 6D Mark II gets put through its paces in this festival photography field test
Normally, when we use the phrase “field test”, it’s not meant quite so literally. It just means putting the camera to work in its typical usage environment. Camera use is quite broad, though. In this video from music photographer Matt Higgs for WEX Photographic, though, the 6D Mark II is taken to task in a field at the 2000 Trees festival in the UK.
Music festivals can be great places to really test a camera’s limits. You’ve got such a wide variety of potential subjects. Fast moving, slow moving, brightly lit, low light, individual people, groups, close ups, and more. The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is the long awaited update to 2012’s EOS 6D. But how well does it handle in the real world?
On the surface it seems to hold up rather well. There are some obvious limitations for many photographers, such as the single card slot and 1/4000th max shutter speed. Overall, though, Matt speaks very favourably on the 6D Mark II.
The first thing Matt mentions is the new ISO capability. Topping out at ISO 40,000 it has its predecessor beat by about 2/3rds of a stop. But Matt suggests that it’s really not designed to go that high at all. But it does mean cleaner images at ISOs that were once considered rather high. Hovering up to ISO1600-2000, Matt’s shots do look very clean.
Matt goes on to talk about the camera’s ergonomics. While the 6D Mark II remains largely unchanged from its predecessor, there are a few noticeable differences. For one, the grip is slightly deeper, allowing for a much better hold on the camera.
It’s also receives the addition of a flippy out touchscreen LCD. Many people won’t care about this, but for me, I love having a flippy out LCD. There’s the obvious benefit of being able to see what you cameras sees when it’s too high or low to comfortably look through the viewfinder, for a start. But there’s also the fact that when you’re not using the camera, you can flip it around to offer the screen a large degree of protection. It can’t get a scratch rolling around in your bag if it’s facing the inside of your camera.
Like the original 6D, the 6D Mark II only has a single SD card slot. And while 6D users are used to having a single card slot, today having a pair seems almost mandatory in a camera of this level for most people. The Nikon D7500 faced a lot of criticism for reverting the line from dual slots down to just a single card slot. And I’m already seeing similar comments online about the 6D Mark II.
The 6D Mark II shoots 6.5fps, which isn’t blazing fast, but an upgrade over the 6D’s 4.5fps. And it’s only a hair behind the 5D Mark IV which shoots 7fps. Sure, it’s not the 16fps of the 1DX Mark II or the 20fps of the Sony A9, but Matt says that in these kinds of conditions he didn’t miss too many shots when using burst mode.
Another big criticism, or also a much hailed victory, depending on your perspective, are the 6D Mark II’s video capabilities. Many photographers have been screaming “Just give us a camera! We don’t want video!”. Others have been crying out for better video, because they want to do more with it.
The 6D Mark II is not aimed at video shooters at all. It shoots fairly respectable 1080p at up to 60fps, although it doesn’t do 4K. There’s an external microphone input, but no headphone output. And there is also an HDMI output, but no mention on whether or not this is a clean HDMI signal for use with an external recorder.
One thing has improved in a big way for photographers is autofocus. This was heavily criticised with the original 6D. The 6D Mark II sees a much more advanced system. Upgraded from 11 AF points with only a lone cross type, the 6D Mark II features 45 AF points and all of them are cross type. This means off-centre and fast moving subjects should be much easier to lock onto.
It also features the dual pixel autofocus technology first seen in the 5D Mark IV. This will also help to speed up the time it takes to find subjects, as well as make focusing more accurate.
It does seem like a decent enough camera. Of course, the 6D was a fairly decent camera, too, so one would hope so. Whether or not it’s worth the upgrade for you, though, is something only you can determine.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.