Canon EOS M6 Review | Camera Planets Review

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Canon EOS M6
Canon EOS M6 at a Look

Before the Canon EOS M6 review, you should know the previous history of it. Canon has built up an excellent reputation over the years for producing some sublime cameras, so when the manufacturer finally decided to release its first mirrorless camera in the form of the EOS M in 2012, we were excited to find out if it was worth waiting for. Unfortunately, and as is sometimes the case with a new model in a new series, the EOS M turned out to be a bit of a damp squib – it was too simplistic for enthusiasts and was hamstrung by painfully slow focusing. Three years later the much improved EOS M3 arrived, but this wasn’t faultless either and suffered from a slow burst speed, meager raw buffer and a bulky kit zoom, not to mention the lack of an integrated viewfinder. After listening to its critics, Canon then presented us with the EOS M5.

This is the current flagship model in the Canon EOS M range and has been better received by enthusiasts who want to raise the camera to their eye to compose and demand a plentiful set of manual controls.

Canon hasn’t let up on releasing new models in its mirrorless range. The addition of the Canon EOS M6 arrives as the replacement for the two-year-old EOS M3. It doesn’t feature an inbuilt electronic viewfinder, which gives it a more hunkered-down appearance, but it does come with the option to attach an EVF via its accessory shoe on the top-plate. Choosing the Canon EOS M6 over the EOS M5 will save you $354, and on a first glance, it looks like it has the potential to be a cracking little camera for anyone who’s after manual control in a small-sized body that accepts Canon’s EF-M lenses as well as EF-S and EF lenses via an adapter.

Canon EOS M6 Features

Just like the EOS M3 inherited the 24.2-million-pixel, APS-C sized CMOS sensor from Canon’s EOS 750D and EOS 760D DSLRs, the Canon EOS M6 is equipped with the same chip we’ve recently seen employed within the EOS 800D and EOS 77D.

Canon EOS M6
Canon EOS M6

Although the sensor doesn’t offer any form of an increase in terms of pixel count, it gains Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology that we’ve seen filter down to many of the company’s recent models. Its Dual Pixel design splits each of the light-sensitive pixels into two photodiodes, right and left, and this enables phase detection for autofocus, which is very similar to the systems traditionally found in DSLRs.  Coupled with Canon’s DIGIC 7 processor, which is said to be 14x more powerful than the DIGIC 6 processor used in the EOS M3, it should deliver a focus speed that’s on a par with the EOS M5.

Earlier I mentioned one of the EOS M3’s downfalls was its rather pedestrian shooting speed and poor buffer performance. The Canon EOS M6 is superior in both respects and is capable of recording continuously at up to 9 frames per second, or 7 frames per second with autofocus between frames. What’s more, it now allows you to record 17 raw files continuously – a big improvement on the 5 raw files you could shoot at 4.2fps on its predecessor. In addition to these speed benefits, the new sensor and processor pairing provides a sensitivity range that spans ISO 100-25,600. However, you can’t expand it to an equivalent of ISO 51,200 like you can on the EOS 800D/77D.

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Returning to the subject of speed, the camera offers a shutter speed range of 30-1/4000 sec. Unlike some mirrorless cameras that let you use faster shutter speeds after employing an electronic shutter, the Canon EOS M6 doesn’t provide this option. This also means the camera doesn’t feature a fully silent mode as found on many mirrorless cameras today. If you like to work inconspicuously, it might not be the best option. From the top-plate, you’re given access to the full suite of manual modes and an array of subject-based scene modes and creative filters for image-processing effects.

As well as these you get Canon’s beginner-friendly Creative Assist mode that gives a results-oriented method for users to adjust their shots. Regrettably, the camera does lack a couple of popular shooting modes and doesn’t allow you to create stitched panoramas in-camera.

One of the talking points of the Canon EOS M6 is its lack of a viewfinder. The good news is that Canon has designed a removable viewfinder to match, called the EVF-DC2. This offers a high 2.36-million-dot resolution with 0.63x magnification and is designed to lock into the camera’s accessory shoe and automatically switch the feed between the screen and EVF and vice versa. The bad news is that it’ll dent your wallet and doesn’t offer 90-degrees upward tilt like the EVF-DC1. Those who’ve previously purchased an EVF-DC1 will be glad to hear that it can be used with the Canon EOS M6.

To the left of the accessory shoe, there’s a small built-in flash that pops up out of the top-plate for situations when you need a blip of extra light and below.

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Canon EOS M6 Connectivity

Just as we’ve seen on previous EOS M cameras, Canon has incorporated Wi-Fi into the Canon EOS M6, with Dynamic NFC for pairing with compatible devices. Canon’s Wi-Fi connectivity is well-advanced and while its primary use will be to send images to smartphones or tablets, it can also be used to take remote control of the camera when it’s paired with Canon’s intuitive and easy-to-use Camera Connect app that’s free to download on iOS and Android. Aside from being able to connect to a smartphone or tablet for image sharing and remote control, the EOS M6 can also send images directly to compatible printers, or be used to show off your images on a smart TV without having to plug in a cable.

In addition, Canon has included Bluetooth connectivity to form a permanent connection to a smartphone – a feature previously seen on the EOS M5, EOS 800D and EOS 77D. Testing this on the Canon EOS M6 revealed that it works just as well as we’ve reported before. It allows your phone to be used as a remote control at any time, without having to mess with setting up a Wi-Fi connection between the two devices. The Bluetooth can also instruct the camera to fire-up its Wi-Fi for when you want to copy images across to your cell, or use full remote control with live view.

It’s surprising the Canon EOS M6 isn’t compatible with the BR-E1 Bluetooth remote control that was announced alongside the EOS 77D and EOS 800D DSLRs. All’s not lost, however, as it still works with Canon RC-6 infrared remote release, as well as the RS-60E3 wired remote.

this you get a 3-in, 1.04-million-dot screen in the 3:2 aspect ratio to match the sensor. It’s a touch-sensitive screen so you can control almost all the camera’s settings by tapping the display. It also tilts downwards by 45 degrees for overhead shooting, upwards for use as a waist-level viewfinder, and even faces completely forwards for when you shoot selfies.

The viewfinder and screen display useful information clearly when you’re shooting, including a dual-axis electronic level and the live histogram that can be easily pulled up using the info button. The quick menu displays regularly used settings down either side of the display for instant access and can be arranged to suit personal taste.

The Canon EOS M6 doesn’t support 4K video so if you like to shoot the occasional movie you’ll have to make do with conventional Full HD (1920×1080 pixel) capture at up to 60fps. It does, however, carry across the effective 5-axis in-body electronic stabilization that we’ve seen before in the EOS M5, resulting in handheld footage appearing far less jolty with a more fluid and professional look to video capture.

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Canon EOS M6 Build and Handling

When we tested the EOS M3, we criticised it for not being supported by very many EF-M lenses, as well as the 18-55m kit zoom feeling a tad too big for a body of its size. We’re now at the point where there are seven EF-M lenses to choose from, which is an improvement, however, the line-up is still missing a few key optics and has some way to go before we can say EOS-M cameras have a comprehensive lens range to back the system up. Canon’s decision to make a smaller,  retractable-style of kit lens in the shape of the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM is well received. This was supplied with the camera for our review, along with the EF-EOS M mount adapter that allowed us to try it out with some fast primes of which there are currently very few in the EF-M range. The problem with attaching EF-mount lenses to the Canon EOS M6 via the mount adapter is that it somewhat defeats the object of choosing a portable and compact body. Even with a relatively small and lightweight lens like the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, it makes the camera bulky, not to mention front heavy.

Canon EOS M6 at a Look
Canon EOS M6

With the dinky kit lens attached, the Canon EOS M6 handles very nicely and offers a well-sculpted rubber-coated grip to wrap your hand around. People with large hands may find it’s a bit cramped and too small, but generally speaking, it’s a satisfying camera to pick up and hold. Tap the top-plate with your finger and it feels a little plasticky, but in fairness, the rest of the camera, including the front and rear panels, buttons, and dials are solid and robust. The body is primarily made from polycarbonate rather than aluminum or magnesium alloy, helping it weigh in just shy of 400g (body only). The positioning of buttons and dials doesn’t differ greatly from the EOS M3. At the front is a single lens release button beside the lens mount, while on the top-plate everything is as before, including a fully rotating mode dial, a front dial that encircles the shutter button and a customizable function button that’s just offset.

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The biggest change is found in the top right-hand corner, where Canon has introduced a rear dial below the exposure compensation dial that sits proud of the top-plate. This enables independent control of aperture and shutter speed in manual mode and quick control of ISO in aperture priority and shutter priority modes. A new on/off switch is located off to the side of the new rear dial, replacing the push button on the EOS M3. Something I’m particularly fond of is the uniformed knurled texture of the dials. The way they can all be accessed by the thumb or index finger is great too, especially for times that demand you control the camera single-handedly.

At the rear, Canon has refi ned which button controls what, so anyone upgrading will need to spend a bit of time getting familiar with it. Playback has moved below the small scroll wheel and in its place to the right of the thumb rest is an AF button. This is used to reposition the AF point in the frame, resize the AF point, or zoom to inspect focus at either a 5x or 10x magnifi cation in combination with the front/rear top-plate dials and scroll wheel.

The movie-rec button has dropped down beside the info button and the AE lock button has been promoted besides the thumb rest. The Canon EOS M6 is an excellent example of how to merge touchscreen control with traditional buttons, giving users the best of both worlds when shooting and reviewing images.

Canon’s excellent color-coded menu system is a pleasure to navigate using the highly sensitive and precise touchscreen. Not only can it be used to change virtually any setting, it’s great for pinpointing the autofocus point around the frame. The only thing you can’t do is select or move the AF point using the screen when the clip on EVF is raised to your eye, and we would have liked to see a wider selection of AF point sizes to choose from in 1-point AF mode other than just two. There were times when I found it frustrating that I couldn’t tilt the EVF-DC2 by 90°, especially when I found myself shooting from low angles in bright sunlight. As clip-on EVF’s go, it’s nice and sharp, as light as a feather and locks with a reassuring click to prevent it from getting accidentally knocked off or lost.

Canon EOS M6 Performance

When we reviewed the EOS M5 late last year we discovered that autofocus acquisition has improved greatly since the introduction of Dual Pixel AF and it’s DIGIC 7 image processor. It’s a similar story with the Canon EOS M6. The focusing response and lock-on speed finally feels as fast and decisive at its competitors and is far superior to the EOS M3 when it comes to tracking moving subjects through the frame.

With the AF mode set to Servo and the AF method set to Live Tracking, it does a reasonable job of keeping up, though for the most erratic and fast-moving subjects I had better success switching across and shooting in the Smooth Zone AF mode. To remind you which AF mode the camera is set to, AF points illuminate green when the camera is set to One-Shot AF and blue when it’s set to Servo AF.

Those who use the camera in 1-point AF mode can hold the dedicated AF button to reposition the AF point back to center or alternatively use the info button. The other notable improvement is how well the Canon EOS M6 performs with EF-mount DSLR lenses that are attached via the EF-EOS M mount adapter ($143). Unlike the EOS M3 that showed signs of hesitancy and would take a second or more to acquire focus, the EOS M6 hastily focused on subjects when it was paired with the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM and EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L III USM.

Mounting large and heavy EF lenses does upset the feel and balance of the camera in the hand, but for those who already own a few EF lenses, it’s quite reassuring to know that it could be used as a backup to a DSLR. As a camera in its own right and when it was used with the kit lens, it offered a level of performance that was more than up to the job of capturing high-quality stills on a jaunt around the Scottish Highlands. As a travel camera it’s conveniently sized, exposes reliably, never feels slow or sluggish, and delivers images that you feel do scenes and subjects justice. Those who like to experiment may find the creative modes fun to explore, but for purists wanting to record images faithfully with the fi nest detail, or those looking for the best response in low light, shooting in the raw format is unquestionably the best option. The combination of its fast focusing and ability to rattle off more frames in a shorter timeframe makes it rather good for capturing speedy subjects. Loaded with a Lexar Professional 633x SDHC Class 10 card, it showed no diffi culty shooting 16 frames at 9fps in the raw format before it required a breather.

Switching the AF operation to Servo and shooting at a slower 7fps with AF between frames revealed it records the same number, however by switching from raw to JPEG it’s possible to record a higher number of images per burst. With our card we had no issues shooting 30 large JPEGs at 9fps before it slowed down.

In general use, you’ll find it powers up quickly and responds to button and touchscreen presses with no lag whatsoever. The dials on the top-plate operate positively and click as they’re rotated, while the screen flips out very smoothly and require minimal effort to angle it to where you want it. One niggle I found whilst traveling is the inability to charge the battery on the go via USB. Sadly it doesn’t support USB charging, so after shooting around 300 frames I found myself searching for a mains socket. To rule out the fear of running out of power, you may wish to purchase an additional battery for longer shooting spells.  A spare LP-E17 battery will set you back around $53.

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Canon EOS M6 Camera Specification

Model NameCanon EOS 200D Review
Resolution24.2 Megapixels
Sensor SizeAPS-C
(22.3 mm x 14.9 mm)
Kit Lens3.00x zoom
15-45mm
(24-72mm eq.)
ViewfinderLCD
Native ISO100 - 25,600
Extended ISO100 - 25,600
Shutter1/4000 - 30 Seconds
Dimensions4.4 x 2.7 x 1.8 inch.
(112 x 68 x 45 mm)
Weight18.3 oz (520 g)
includes batteries & kit lens
Availability04/2017
ManufacturerCanon

Verdict:

The Canon EOS M6 has come a long way from Canon’s first attempts at creating an appealing mirrorless camera. It improves in many of the areas that we criticised the original Canon EOS M and Canon EOS M3 for – notably the speed and response of its focusing system and performance when used with EF and EF-S lenses. It’s a satisfying, straightforward little camera to use that delivers excellent image quality, however, most users will fi nd themselves instinctively raising it to their eye and it is far more enjoyable to operate with the optional EVF attached. Add this to the price of the camera with the 15-45mm kit zoom and you only save $26 choosing it ahead of the  Canon EOS M5, which has a more aesthetically pleasing built-in EVF. This poses the question; is the EOS M5 a better buy? Factor in that it does everything the Canon EOS M6 can do and you can find deals that throw in an EF-EOS M mount adapter for free and it’s a no-brainer – I’d settle for the EOS M5 ahead of the EOS M6 in a heartbeat.

The Canon EOS M6 is rather pricey up against its competition too, and if you’re after a camera of this style with a built-in EVF the Panasonic Lumix GX80 is a considerably cheaper option. It offers 4K video too, which the Canon EOS M6 does not. In hindsight, had Canon implemented a viewfinder on the corner of the body ahead of its small flash it would have made it a more attractive proposition.

Little things like the lack of silent shutter and USB charging support are other reasons that you might be tempted to look at the alternatives. Before reviewing the Canon EOS M6 I had reservations about how well the camera would sit in Canon’s range of mirrorless cameras. Given its high price and similarities with the EOS M5, it’s unlikely to appeal as widely as its big brother. Saying that, for those who feel they can live without the need of a viewfinder, fancy saving a couple of hundred pounds and already own a selection of Canon EF-S or EF-S lenses, it might be seen as a useful second body that gets aired when a DSLR isn’t seen as a practical or convenient Option.

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Canon EOS M6 Camera Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Build quality.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • Polished user interface.
  • Tilting touch LCD.

Cons

  • Focus can struggle in dim light
  • Video limited to 1080p
  • Limited native lens selection