Canon 6D Mark II Dynamic Range is a Big Disappointment

The first dynamic range tests of the new Canon 6D Mark II DSLR are trickling onto the Web, and one thing seems to be clear: the results are very disappointing for Canon fans. In fact, Canon appears to have taken a step backwards.

Camera tester William J. Claff of Photons to Photos published its Dynamic Range vs ISO chart for the 6D Mark II. Here’s the camera compared to other Canon DSLRs:

As you can see, the 6D Mark II has a dynamic range that’s similar to the original 6D, slightly better at higher ISOs but worse at lower ISOs. More striking is the finding that the 6D Mark II performs worse than the APS-C 80D DSLR at lower ISOs.

Photographers were excited when it was reported that the 6D Mark II would feature a newly designed sensor, but now Canon shooters are balking at these latest test results.

“High-resolution metering sensors, ISO-invariant imaging sensors, and full frame imaging sensors with 30+ megapixels are not top-of-the-line parts in 2017,” writes physicist and Canon shooter KristinnK. “The Nikon D750 from 3 years ago already had two out of three.”

“[Canon] shouldn’t have developed a new sensor for this camera,” he continues. “They should have just used the 5D Mark IV sensor. Simple as that. They already do the same thing with their APS-C cameras, using the same 24MP with on-sensor ADC [analog- to-digital converter] in everything from the $550 200D to the $1,100 80D. That’s a 2x price difference, less than the ~1.7x price difference between the 5D Mark IV and the 6D Mark II.”

The $1,999 full-frame 6D Mark II (left) trails the $1,099 APS-C 80D (right) in dynamic range at low ISO, tests have found.

DPReview today confirmed that the 6D Mark II’s dynamic range trails modern APS-C cameras in hands-on tests, writing that “it seems the benefits that appeared in the sensors used in the EOS 80D and EOS 5D IV have not been applied to the latest EOS 6D II, and the new camera has less dynamic range than we’ve become used to.”

“EOS 6D II begins to look noisy much sooner than the broadly comparable Nikon D750, meaning you have less processing flexibility before noise starts to detract from your images.”

The full frame 6D Mark II should have better image quality than the APS-C 80D when photos are examined at the same size, DPReview says, but test photos show that the 80D’s photos “shot with the same exposures look cleaner, when brightened to the same degree.”

Here’s another Photons to Photos test chart comparing the Canon 6D Mark II, the comparable Nikon D750, and the Sony a9 mirrorless camera:

With a competitor like Sony dominating sensor quality tests in recent years and keeping its best sensors for its own cameras, Canon may need to up its game in a big way if it hopes to stay #1 in digital camera market share, especially among serious and professional photographers. In dynamic range, at least, this new 6D Mark II was not a step in the right direction.