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Hands on: Canon EOS M6 Mark II review

Canon's APS-C mirrorless range has a new king

What is a hands on review?

Early Verdict

With a new 32.5MP sensor and the Digic 8 processor under the hood, Canon’s new EOS M6 Mark II is all set to shove the EOS M5 to the side and become the brand’s new APS-C mirrorless flagship. Its 14fps continuous shooting speed makes it particularly relevant to action photographers, while its compact size should appeal to travellers, meaning this little snapper could soon become one of the best all-rounders in Canon’s stable.

For

  • 32.5MP resolution
  • 14fps continuous shooting
  • 4K uncropped video
  • Dual function dial
  • MF/AF switch

Against

  • Lacks in-body image stabilization
  • No articulating LCD
  • Limited native EF-M lenses

Canon has been spending a lot of energy in developing its full-frame mirrorless range – with two camera bodies already on shelves and the RF lens line-up slowly expanding, it came as a pleasant surprise when rumors about a new EOS M series camera began to surface earlier this year.

There was a lot to like about Canon’s early compact APS-C mirrorless devices (especially the EOS M50), but they were frankly a bit hard to fall in love with. To make its mirrorless line more relevant again, Canon would pretty much have to overhaul the tech in the M series cameras – and that’s exactly what the brand has done with the new EOS M6 Mark II.

Debuting alongside the EOS 90D, the new crop-sensor mirrorless camera shares the same 32.5MP sensor and packs the latest Digic imaging engine, giving it a higher resolution and a massive speed boost over the EOS M5 and the EOS M6, both of which it’s intended to replace. And, to make up for the disparity between the M5 and M6, the new M6 Mark II ships with a detachable OLED EVF in the box.

While this new shooter faces competition from the likes of the Sony Alpha A6400 and Fujifilm X-T30, it was pleasantly surprising to see the M6 Mark II hold its own in the short time we were able to spend with it.

(Image credit: Future)

EOS M6 Mark II: everything that’s new

  • New 32.5MP CMOS sensor
  • 14fps burst shooting
  • Uncropped 4K video capture
  • Improved design

While there have been some tweaks to the physical design of the new camera, most of the changes are under the hood, starting with the new 32.5MP sensor. 

Paired with the latest Digic 8 imaging processor, the Mark II now has the ability to capture 4K footage using the entire width of the sensor. It also gives the little camera a speed boost – where the M6 had a max burst speed of 7fps, the second iteration doubles that to 14fps. That’s better than what the EOS 90D offers with the same engine, making the M6 Mark II a technically better option for shooting action. 

Canon EOS M6 Mark II: key specs

Sensor: 32.5MP APS-C CMOS sensor
Image processor: Digic 8
AF points: 143 phase detect points
ISO range: 100 to 25,600 (expandable to 51,200)
Video: 4K UHD up to 30fps / 1080p Full HD up to 120fps
Max burst: 14fps
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C
Weight: 398g (body only with battery and card)

There’s also a Raw Burst option, which records at RAW at 30fps with the option of pre-buffering 15 frames. This saves a set of images before you fully press the shutter, and the images can be processed in-camera for quick sharing. However, this mode results in 18MP images with a 1.33x crop.

Canon has brought over the EOS R and EOS RP’s eye detect autofocus (AF) to the M6 II, although Canon has made it clear the Eye AF in the M6 II hasn’t been designed to identify multiple subjects, meaning it could get confused if you’re big on street photography.

On the outside, the M6 II has been given an improved grip and two new controls, but otherwise resembles its predecessor is most every way. However, the dedicated exposure compensation dial has disappeared. Instead, the camera has gained a new Dial Func button in the center of the top plate dial – this can be used to cycle through a list of user-selected functions. The rear of the camera has gained an MF/AF switch for auto or manual focus adjustments, along with an unmarked button which is, by default, the AF-On control but can be customized to represent another function if desired.

(Image credit: Future)

EOS M6 Mark II: design and performance

  • Dual Pixel AF for stills and video
  • 5,481 manual AF
  • Tilting LCD display

Thanks to the new grip, the M6 Mark II feels a lot more sturdy than its predecessor, but they both weigh in at 390g. The new snapper uses the existing detachable EVF-DC2 viewfinder that’s available as part of the kit. It’s not the biggest viewfinder we’ve seen, but the glass is good and the response time wasn’t too bad during our hands-on time with the camera.

Without the viewfinder, the pocketable design means it would easily catch the eye of a travel photographer, but its superb burst speed should appeal to sports photographers as well. 

(Image credit: Future)

The same 1.04 million dot tilting LCD found on its predecessor has made its way to the second iteration of the camera – it lifts up 180 degrees for selfies and back down to 45 degrees for shooting from high angles.

And while there’s a USB Type-C port for file transfers (alongside an micro-HDMI output), it only supports USB 2.0 speeds. The latter can, however, be used to charge the camera’s LP-E17 battery. That’s the same battery from the original M6 which, Canon says, should last for over 300 shots when using the rear display (or about 250 shots when using the EVF); not too shabby, but not exactly class-leading either.

While its video capabilities have been improved, the M6 Mark II can’t shoot at 24fps in either 4K or 1080p resolutions. It will record video at either 30fps or 25fps, meaning if you’re a fan of the cinematic look in your videos, you’d best look elsewhere.

And although Eye AF is an important addition, our initial testing reveals it isn’t the fastest we’ve tried – while following a subject while they moved around, the camera took a split second to play catch up. However, this was tested using a pre-production unit and performance may well be better on a final retail unit.

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

The changes Canon has made to the EOS M line with the M6 Mark II are significant. We weren’t expecting a camera from this family to perform as well as the M6 II did, even though we only tested a pre-production unit for this hands-on. While we don’t expect much to change when we receive a final review kit, it’s safe to say the M6 II is ready to heat up the competition in the APS-C mirrorless arena. It’s a versatile, solid performer that we can’t wait to spend some more time with.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.