The Canon 6D and the Canon 7D Mark II aren’t just two different camera bodies. They are in many ways two different levels of the DSLR market, with the Canon 6D representing the professional full frame market, and the Canon 7D Mark II representing the more enthusiast cropped frame body.
Of course, that isn’t to say that just because the Canon 6D represents the market that Canon call ‘professional’ that it is better than the Canon 7D Mark II. In fact, the newer released Canon 7D Mark II has a list of features that are sure to impress photographers at all levels.
Precisely for this reason, we’re going to look more in-depth at the Canon 7D Mark II and the Canon 6D and see how their weaknesses and strengths might reveal which is the better camera for you as a photographer.
The Canon 6D really grabbed the attention of the photography world when it was released in 2012 as Canon’s step into the world of budget-minded full frame DSLRs. Now, don’t think this means the Canon 6D is cheap, it will still set you back as much as $1,900, but this still makes it more financially accessible than many full frame models at the time.
In many ways the Canon 6D is a full frame version of the popular Canon 60D. It features similar controls and layout, as well as size. That’s right, the Canon 6D happens to be one of the smaller full frame models on the market, weighing even less than the cropped frame Canon 7D Mark II.
In terms of features the Canon 6D has a lot to offer any photographer, including a 20-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor, DIGIC 5+ image processor, an ISO range of 100-25600 standard with 50-102800 expanded, 11-point autofocus system with one point cross-type, 4.5 fps continuous shooting capabilities, a silent shutter mode, 1080p30 video recording, a 3-inch 1.04m-dot LCD screen and built in GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities.
Canon 7D Mark II
When the Canon 7D Mark II was released in September of 2014, it attracted as much attention as its predecessor the Canon 7D, if not more. For Canon fans, the release was long awaited and represented what they hoped to be a modern reincarnation of the perfection of the Canon 7D, a camera praised for its many innovative features.
Now, whether the Canon 7D Mark II lives up to the reputation of its predecessor remains unclear, but it certainly does offer a full range of features for a variety of photographic needs.
These features include a 20-megapixel ‘Dual Pixel’ cropped frame sensor, dual DIGIC 6 processors, an ISO range of 100 – 16000 standard with up to 51200 expanded, a 65-point autofocus system with all points cross-type, 10fps continuous shooting, 1080p60 video recording with headphone and microphone ports, a 2-inch 1.04m-dot LCD screen and built in GPS.
Both the Canon 7D Mark II and the Canon 6D are feature rich models for their respective release dates, but it would be wrong to assume that the newer Canon 7D Mark II beats the Canon 6D every time. Let’s look at those features in-depth, and figure our where each body holds the advantage.
Sensor: The thing to remember when you’re talking about cropped frame and full frame sensors is that one is not necessarily better than the other. The Canon 6D is a full frame camera, while the Canon 7D Mark II. To some photographers, this would be enough to decide between them, but not for all.
What you should be aware of is that full frame photography is a little more professional than cropped frame, and many professional photographers, especially those specialising in portraiture and weddings, choose full frame bodies for their ability in low light conditions. However, cropped frame cameras are the norm in the world of enthusiasts, and grow more advanced with every release, as the Canon 7D Mark II shows. They’re also favorites of wildlife and sports photographers due to the extended lens reach that the cropped frame sensor can provide.
Processor: The older Canon 6D was never going to be able to compete with the newer Canon 7D Mark II. Although the Canon 6D’s DIGIC 5+ image processor was impressive for its time, it is no match for the dual DIGIC 6 processors present in the Canon 7D Mark II. These processors work seamlessly together to bring Canon 7D Mark II users the best in image processing and the latest in perfect image capture.
Speed: One thing that the processors have an enormous impact on is the respective speed of both cameras. Again, the Canon 7D Mark II, fitted with those dual DIGIC 6 processors, is able to speed ahead of the Canon 6D. It offers an unparalleled 10fps compared to the Canon 6D’s 4.5fps. The Canon 7D Mark II also boosts the Canon 6D’s maximum shutter by another stop, offering 1/8000s to 1/4000s.
Autofocus: The Canon 7D Mark II’s autofocus system would be impressive enough as a standalone feature, but in comparison with the system on the Canon 6D it seems even more praiseworthy. Although the Canon 6D’s 11-point autofocus system, with a central cross-type point might have been the most advanced at its release, it is eclipsed by the Canon 7D Mark II’s 65-point, all cross-type system on the ‘Dual Pixel’ sensor.
The autofocus system in the Canon 7D Mark II allows users to focus faster and with ease, as well as track moving subjects with more accuracy thanks to the ‘Dual Focus’ sensor. The sheer number of focus points and cross-type points mean that no matter the angle or orientation of the camera, photographers will be able to capture stunning focused images.
ISO: If you’re looking for low light performance, there really isn’t any competition between the full frame Canon 6D and the cropped frame Canon 7D Mark II. Although the Canon 7D Mark II does outpace the Canon 6D in a number of areas, full frame cameras have always been much better performers in low light, and the same is true here. The Canon 6D both offers a better ISO range (50 – 102400 v 100 – 51200) and better ISO performance in low light. Of course, full testing of the ISO capabilities of the Canon 7D Mark II may not be known until several months after its release, but certainly it seems unlikely they will outdo the Canon 6D.
Video: Again it is the Canon 7D Mark II that shines when it comes to video, due in part to that amazing autofocus system and ‘Dual Pixel’ CMOS sensor. The system, which makes autofocus for stills accurate beyond measure, also positively impacts the focusing ability of the Canon 7D Mark II in video performance when it comes to focus tracking. In addition to this, the Canon 7D Mark II also offers 1080p video at 60fps, while the Canon 6D tops out at 30fps for the same video.
Built-In Technology: The Canon 7D Mark II has consistently shown itself to be the better camera, but this is not true when it comes to its included features. While the Canon 6D offers both GPS and wifi built in, the Canon 7D Mark II features only GPS functionality. This is a bit of a disappointment to many Canon users, and for those who have grown used to wifi capabilities on their DSLR bodies, it is a negative mark on an otherwise feature rich camera body. Although GPS is a great inclusion from Canon, the wifi really improves the Canon 6D and would likely do the same for the Canon 7D Mark II.
It is almost impossible to compare the kit lenses that come with the Canon 7D Mark II and the Canon 6D. The sensor differences mean that while the Canon 7D Mark II is marketed to beginners, enthusiasts and passionate cropped frame photographers, the Canon 6D is very much a professional camera. As such, it is made to go with professional lenses, with price tags that match their superior performance. Still, this doesn’t mean we can’t look at both the kit lens options for these cameras.
The Canon 7D Mark II looks like it will be marketed in a kit with a Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. This is a very nice all-rounder lens, perfect for a beginner looking for something for almost every shooting situation, as well as an established photographer wanting a versatile new perspective. The lens comes equipped with Canon’s Image Stabilizer (IS) technology as well as the STM Stepping Motor, which allows for almost silent motor focusing. The 18-135mm is an ideal starter lens, but it also performs very well in a varied lens line up. It’s small enough, and varied enough, to be an everyday lens, or even a great travel shooter, the choice is up to you.
The thing to remember with the Canon 7D Mark II is that as it is a cropped frame sensor, the lens will not be true to its focal length on the camera. This is not unusual, and should not be cause for any concern, but is worth noting.
The Canon 6D comes in a bundle with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens. This lens, like many in Canon’s celebrated L series, is notable for its high quality mechanical build and optical construction, and is known as being one of the best, and most popular, general purpose lenses Canon has ever made. The Canon 24-105mm’s focal length is enough to provide photographers with some variation, but it’s really ideal as a general-purpose lens for everyday use.
For photographers looking for the ideal lens to begin their full frame camera experience, the Canon 24-105mm certainly delivers. It is a solidly built lens with stunning optical quality, smooth handling and even weather sealing for all kinds of shooting opportunities.
A Final Comparison of the Canon 6D and the Canon 7D Mark II
There are so many differences between the Canon 6D and the Canon 7D Mark II that it can be hard to decide where to begin in choosing between them. But, there is one area where they don’t differ, and that is price. While the Canon 6D body retails for around $1,899 the new Canon 7D Mark II sells for $1,799. One camera was marketed as the affordable full frame DSLR of the modern age, the other is already being praised as a feature rich upgrade to the Canon 7D. Obviously, there are benefits and trade-offs with each body.
The Canon 6D is by all means the perfect starter camera for the photographer wanting to get into full frame photography. Its affordability, along with its significantly smaller and lighter body (compared to most full frame models as well as the Canon 7D Mark II) means that its easy to carry around, and easy to learn how to use. Its superior battery performance (950 shots v 670 shots) as well as its impressive low light abilities mean that for the semi-pro, or the photographer shifting into the pro marketplace, there’s nothing better.
The Canon 7D Mark II is a shiny upgrade to a camera that has been loved by Canon users for five years. Although it has missed the boat on including some modern technologies like wifi, it more than makes up for this with its many other features. The Canon 7D Mark II’s flawless autofocus system, impressive processing and shooting speeds and outstanding video performance makes this a great camera for a range of photographers. Obviously, it is at the top of the Canon cropped frame line, and the price does reflect this. It is likely the perfect camera body for a photographer not willing to sacrifice price for quality images, or for the passionate wildlife, sports or action photographer.
Ultimately, the choice between the Canon 6D and the Canon 7D Mark II comes down to more than just cost. The features of these two cameras, as we’ve outlined above, are key in making the choice, and consideration of them in line with your own personal photographic needs will likely assist in your decision.