Canon EOS M6 review: Canon’s best mirrorless yet, but is that good enough?

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The Canon take on the mirrorless camera market has been interesting: having lackadaisically introduced the M-series system in a bid to avoid undercutting its own DSLR business, it had taken Canon years to establish a more viable M-series camera. That happened in 2016 with the EOS M5.

Move into 2017 and the Japanese maker is now concentrating its moves in mirrorless, with the step-up EOS M6 further enhancing the line-up with a more comprehensive control system, while ditching the built-in viewfinder (an accessory one can be added). It’s altogether less DSLR-styled and, finally, begins to put Canon in a position where its mirrorless product is genuinely capable.

The problem the M6 faces, however, is that it’s not particularly competitive. With the likes of the Panasonic Lumix GX80 and even viewfinder-toting Fujifilm X-T20 offering more for the same asking price, is the M6 relying on its Canon brand name beyond its capability?

Canon EOS M6 review: What’s new versus M5?

  • No viewfinder, includes hotshoe (for optional EVF-DC2)
  • Adds stacked control dial layout
  • Latest 24.2MP sensor and 45-point autofocus

The main difference between EOS M5 and M6 is their physical design – the M6 cutting out the viewfinder compared to the M5’s built-in solution. But just because it’s done away with the finder, that doesn’t mean it removes the possibility of having one: as the hotshoe up top shows.

The M6 also adds a stacked control dial, which is a feature we’ve seldom seen from Canon (think of the G7X compact and the like). It makes using the camera simple without being overcomplicated, avoiding those deep-dive menu digs that older M-series cameras demanded.

Image result for Canon EOS M6 review

Interestingly, Canon has avoided the “Guided UI” in the M6 – which is designed to assist relative newcomers to understand what each shooting mode does, represented in a visual form – unlike in the EOS 800D DSLR. We think that newcomers and established photographers will grasp the M6 without issue though.

The overall look of the M6 is rather high-end, dressed in a shiny silver-colour finish for the review sample we’ve been loaned – it’s altogether less plasticky in look and feel than the larger M5. The M6’s body is relatively small, too, but as Canon uses a larger sensor than, say, the Panasonic G-series cameras, it’s small rather than pocket-sized in scale.

Canon EOS M6 review: How does it perform?

  • 45-point Dual Pixel AF autofocus
  • 1-point, zone and tracking AF modes
  • Canon EOS M lens mount

The M6’s autofocus system is the same 45-point Dual Pixel AF setup as you’ll find in the earlier M5 (plus EOS 80D, 77D and 800D (ignoring their through-the-viewfinder setups)), which delivers on-sensor phase detection autofocus, paired with contrast-detect autofocus, for speedy results.

And it genuinely works well – just as we said of the M5. It’s quick and doesn’t need to hunt excessively to find focus, although the included 18-55mm kit lens with this model has a maximum aperture limit of f/5.6 at its full extension which isn’t particularly effective in low-light conditions. There are other more capable lenses available, however, should you want to splash out some extra cash.

But there’s a caveat to that focus system: the three focus options – 1-point, zone and tracking – lack the complexity of the competition, such as the Panasonic Lumix GX80. The Panasonic offers a Pinpoint focus mode, for example, which offers a more refined method for, as the name suggests, pinpoint focus acquisition. We feel the Panasonic is faster and the better established system of the two.

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