It's the time of the year in which rankings appear all around the Internet spotlighting the best performers of the past 12 months. But what about the worst? As the French writer Beaumarchais once said, “Without Freedom to blame, there is no flatterer's praise.” Here is my take at the worst 2017 camera, the Canon 6D Mark II.
Back to the Future
It must have been one of the easiest camera designs in Canon’s history. Take a Canon 80D body, add the Canon 6D sensor with a small resolution boost and degraded dynamic range, shake it up, and stick a Mark II label on the frame. Congratulations, you just got a $2,000 Canon 6D Mark II. Actually, this new groundbreaking body is now available for $1,700, which is still way too much money for a 10-year-old camera. Indeed, expect to work with the same dynamic range from the 2008 Canon 5D Mark II. We must salute the performance here, not only did Canon cripple this camera, but they also ran backwards and defied the common high-tech logic that a new product should be at least equal (if not better) than the previous version. Unfortunately, the 6D Mark II has a worse dynamic range than the Mark I.
Sure, the new 6D has six more megapixels, a better autofocus system with the Dual Pixel technology, and a swivel screen. While the moderate resolution bump is nice, it does not place this camera in any special categories such as a low light monster or a high definition beast. The autofocus improved, but it was extremely bad on the original 6D. The autofocus points are also very concentrated in the center. I must admit that the Dual Pixel is probably one of the best autofocus systems on the market, but it’s primarily designed for video use and again, Canon decided to take a step backwards on the video department with the new 6D Mark II. The video All-I mode has been removed, leaving us with lower video bitrate compared to the original 6D.
To be fair, the 6D Mark II is not a bad camera. As with any Canon product, the 6D Mark II can deliver solid images with the usual pleasing Canon colors and skin tones. The user interface is straightforward and everything works as it should. The main problem of the 6D Mark II is not the camera by itself but its poor price-to-features ratio. Unfortunately for Canon, the competition has been extremely active over the past few years. Sony is getting better and solved some of its original flaws. Micro Four Thirds cameras are very appealing if you don’t need low light performance while Nikon signed a remarkable year with the new D850. Canon users have very little incentive to pick the 6D Mark II while new customers can simply find much better cameras for less money:
- Current Canon owners have no reason to switch to the new 6D. Why spend $1,700 when you can find the great 6D on sale for $1,000? Sure, the Mark II swivel screen is nice but I prefer to spend half of that money and get better dynamic range from the original 6D. For the price of the 6D Mark II, you could also purchase a discounted 5D Mark III.
- New photographers who are not tied by a lens collection have no reason to pick the 6D Mark II. On the Nikon side, the “old” D750 body is vastly superior than the new 6D; much better dynamic range (2.6 EV), dual card slots, better autofocus system, and 100 percent viewfinder coverage. This camera costs $300 less than the 6D Mark II. A no brainer. On top of that, Nikon may release the “D760” in 2018 and this camera will undoubtedly bury the Canon 6D Mark II. Sony offers various full-frame a7 products starting at $1,300 for the a7 II with 5-axis in-body image stabilization. The original a7 is even available now for $800. New photographers used to cell phone convenience have plenty of options available on the Micro Four Thirds market with Panasonic and Olympus: the beautiful retro Pen-F ($1,000), OM-D E-M10 III ($550), or Panasonic GX8 and G85 ($1,000). Finally, let’s not forget the Fujifilm APS-C cameras which offer incredible image quality. Based on your budget, you could select the X-T20 ($1,100) or the X-T2 ($1,500).
Hence, it is mission impossible to recommend the new 6D. Current Canon photographers will simply skip it entirely or purchase the much cheaper original 6D with superior dynamic range. Newcomers can find better alternatives for less money depending or their needs (video, low light, dynamic range, compactness).
The Thin Red Line
Canon is still the world’s leader in digital photography. But the Japanese company is walking on a thin red line. Not the red line of the L glass ring, but the L of laziness. Once again, Canon customers can witness the official “see impossible” slogan in action. See the impossible of recycling an outdated sensor technology. We are back to the worst habit of the company when they served us the same sensor over and over again from the Rebel T2i to the T5i. See the impossible when a new camera turns out to have worst image quality than the model it’s supposed to replace. See the impossible when this new camera costs $1,700 while the competition offers better and cheaper alternatives. The folks at Canon think they can get away with releasing outdated cameras at a premium price because of brand recognition. Or perhaps Canon thinks that their customers are being held hostage by their EF lens collection. Switching brands is not easy when you have invested thousands of dollars over the years to build a nice assortment of lenses. In other words, they treat their customers like idiots which is a little bit embarrassing.
How long is this going to last? How will the 6D Mark II look like when the new Nikon D760 is released next year or so? Canon still owns the market but nothing is eternal. All around me, I see more and more people switching brands to Sony, Nikon, Fuji, or Micro Four Thirds for video. 2018 will be crucial with the potential release of a new series of cameras like the 7D Mark III , the 5DS Mark II, and a possible EF full-frame mirrorless body. For now, the 6D Mark II is definitely the worst camera of 2017. A bad joke, and as a Canon photographer myself, I’m not laughing.