WEDDING SEASON SALE! 30% Off Training Systems!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Gear & Apps

Canon’s 6D Mark II Dynamic Range Worse Than Its Predecessor & APS-C 80D | Who Is It For?

By Wendell Weithers on July 23rd 2017

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SLR Lounge as an entity


When the rumblings of an update to the Canon 6D began to permeate the channels of photography news, many hoped this latest release would represent the company’s reinvigorated commitment to offering competitive class-leading products in the marketplace. However, those hopes were dispelled by the reality of the delusion that taking five years to offer two years worth of updates would please the consumer.

Now that this camera is in hands of testers, we can begin to evaluate its performance and alleviate or confirm concerns regarding its value. For anyone still on the fence, perhaps you can answer that all important question. Is this camera worth your $2,000?


[REWIND: Shooting My First Fashion Editorial | Gear, Location, Lead-Up, & Lessons Learned]

6D v 6D MKII

Compared to the 6D MK I, other features such as the new processor, upped FPS, and much-improved auto focus capability with Dual Pixel AF and an increased autofocus point-count make the 6D MK II  a more capable camera overall. However, is the improved AF enough to confidently invest in a 6D MK II over the Mark I? Or how about compared to other brands? It would seem today that with a camera like this (not meant to be a sports camera) that something like improved PDR would be more important.

To that end, Bill Claff recently published his dynamic range tests of the 6D Mk II over on his site and his results, as always, are illuminating and frank. In the case of the 6D Mark II, what they painted was also unflattering.

Granted, dynamic range is but one facet of a camera’s capability, but a critical one, and an important measure of performance of digital cameras. It is of varying importance in different genres of photography, and while the 6D MK II is certainly not positioned at the pinnacle of Canon’s lineup, one would think that the tide of technological progress would pull its capability forward in this area by default; especially after half a decade. Sadly and surprisingly, this isn’t the case, as the original 6D proves to have better dynamic range than its successor. Why, and how then, will it stand against other offerings in this space? See below.

6DMKII v D610 & D750

Canon’s pricing also makes things a bit dicey. Asking $2,000 for this camera places it in quite the precarious predicament as it puts it in competition with the D750, which comes in at $200 cheaper, at $1800 new. And until Nikon refreshes its lineup, it is on the same tier as the D610, which comes in at $500 less than the 6D Mark II new.

Comparatively, these two Nikons are unquestionably superior regarding dynamic range and both offer a superior autofocusing ability to the original 6D. If you were looking for a way into the full frame DSLR world, these are arguably better performers and better priced.

6D v 80D

Perhaps most shockingly, however, is that when compared to Canon’s cropped sensor 80D the results show that Mark II falls short here as well. This is puzzling and probably disappointing for anyone with high hopes for this highly anticipated body. The 80D and the 5DMIV show that Canon is certainly capable of providing better performance in this area, and therefore one can only conclude that they just weren’t willing to give it in the 6D Mark II.

[REWIND: What Are The Best Lenses For Product & Still Life Photography?]

The forecast is not entirely bleak because, again, there’s more to a camera than just dynamic range, and there’s certainly more to appreciate and love about the Mark II, even if with DR and lack of dual card slots Canon has not done themselves any favors.

It does, however, throw into sharp focus that the 6D Mark II lags behind Nikon’s last generation cameras and therefore will most certainly fall short of the next, not to mention Sony’s trio of A7 Mk III cameras look to be on the horizon as well.

At this point Canon has made the most compelling reason to upgrade to the 6D Mark II brand loyalty and your investment in expensive Canon glass. That’s my opinion but it’s certainly shared. In this particular space, what does Canon have to offer above the rest other than its good glass?

Unless Canon has another new camera lurking in the shadows or a new philosophy including faster update cycles, it would appear that the 6D Mark II will be stranded on an island of irrelevance by next summer.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Wendell is based in Atlanta where he shoots events, portraits, and food photography. He also supports his wife Andrea as she runs their cake design business, Sweet Details.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Steve Lloyd

    When the 6d came out it had the best DR of the Canon line up as I recall. Better than the 5d of its time due to the lesser pixel count. I shoot weddings and love astrophotography. I have waited a very long time for the 6d mark 2 with great anticipation. Too long, the only consolation was that the longer I waited the better the camera would be, right?   I knew the pixel count had increased however it was still lower than the 5d mark 4, so with great hope  it would surely be outstanding. 

    What do you mean it is worse then the 6 year old original. I am so pissed. However thankful that I hadn’t pre-ordered one.   

    I was looking for another camera as a back up. I might as well just go buy a second hand 6d for half the price. 

    The cup is still half full I suppose.

    | |
  2. Eric Salas

    I hate saying this but why buy one of these at all? 

    The gave you tech from three years ago and are selling it at 2k.

    You can buy an A7R for 2k and blow this thing into the trash where it honestly belongs. 

    | |
    • adam sanford

      1) The 6D1 sensor is *5* years old, please fact-check your insults, thankyouverymuch.  :-P

      2) Your A7R statement implies the sensor IS the camera.  Let me know how that sensorcamera…

      Poorly autofocuses

      Leads you into a pentagon-level maze of rules re: the codependency of FPS, RAW compression and AF functionality

      Dubiously handles video

      Only offers focus by wire first party lenses

      Crushes your wrist’s soul when you try to carry it with an f/1.4 prime or f/2.8 zoom attached

      Makes you want to smash it with a hammer when drilling through menus rather than having an ideal control layout

      The A7R had a wonderful sensor.  Period.  Enjoy shooting landscapes or astro with it.  But if you need it do anything else, best of luck to you.

      Not that many serious photographers are choosing to use it (  I think it might be for the reasons listed above.

      | |
    • Eric Salas

      I was implying that the technology in the 6Dii is comparable to tech worth 2k, three years ago. I own a 6D and it sits in the closet where it belongs. 

      | |
  3. Brandon Longwell

    Everyone getting worked up about this is a fully fleshed out retard. The dynamic range on the new 6D mark II has a higher max than 5D mk 1,2&3; and higher than every 1D except for the mk 4 and 1DX mk 2. That’s according to the link YOU sourced from.  I really can’t remember the last time anyone thought “the 5D and 1D lines have terrible image quality and dynamic range, no professional should ever use them” because it’s never happened… This new 6d mk II beats most in the category of dynamic range (barely) and only looses out to a few other brand new models (even less barely). In other words, quit being a bunch of gear aqusition syndrome camera spec fags and go try to tell the ~.05 difference after you’ve thrown 75 clarity and a few layers of false HDR processing on your lanscapes and “art, not porn” portfolio.

    | |
  4. Jonathan Chaser

    Just sold my Canon 6D and 5DIII along with my 35mmf/1.4L II, 24-70mm f/2.8L II, and 70-200mm f/2.8L II.  Bye Canon, forever. Got myself the D750 and a couple of lenses, couldn’t be happier. 

    What’s sad is that all I needed was an increase in dynamic range and low light capability. I preordered the 6DII hoping that I would get that but ended up cancelling that order after hearing the devastating news about its DR performance. I also was able to use some of my extra money from selling all that stuff to buy a sweet bike. Thanks Canon, I owe that to you. 

    | |
    • Wendell Weithers

      Hi Jonathan, that’s a bold move you made there. but I’m interested to know why you didn’t go for the 5DM4?

      | |
    • adam sanford

      I really hope walking away from Canon quality / reliability and the EF lens portfolio is worth more malleable files at ISO 100-400 and a fraction of a stop better high ISO.  That seems a dreadful bargain to me, but perhaps you live at ISO 100 on a tripod and that extra DR is vital to what you shoot.

      +1 to Wendell.  If you’re that vested in EF glass — and those three Ls above are absolute daggers I wouldn’t give up — I’d just get a 5D4. 

      Nikon gear is solid, don’t get me wrong, but this seems a comically disproportionate course correction before a single photographer written review for this camera has been published.

      | |
  5. Michael Shea

    Well that was the straw that broke the camels back for me.  I was on the fence about getting the 6D2 as a backup but now that’s not going to happen.  I’m a hybrid shooter shooting Canon for 10yrs now so the lack of 4K is a big deal for me.  Also, no dual card slots, crippled AF point coverage and now crippled DR. Disappointment after disappointment. I fall into the camp of a very frustrated Canon user.  I see myself selling all of my Canon gear in the next 4yrs and moving over to, I hate to say it, Sony.  Sony has shown a willingness to push the envelope.  Canon has lost the plot.

    | |
  6. Jonathan Brady

    It always bugs me when people refer to a product by a name it doesn’t have. Examples… “5D Classic” (how pretentious… Just shoot me… Better yet, shoot the person uttering that garbage), 6D Mark I (I’ve owned the 6D and the word “Mark” and a number after it were noticeably absent. It’s called a “6D”.

    | |
    • adam sanford

      It always bugs me when folks aren’t clear on which product they are referring to, or when they are referring to the brand (5D, 6D, etc.) and not a specific model (5D Mark IV, 6D Mark II, etc.)

      So for me it’s 1DX2, 5D4, 6D1, etc.  It’s less to type than “Mark #” and I have never been accused of being unclear as to what I was referring to.

      | |
  7. adam sanford

    Looks like the 1DX2 / 5D4 / 80D all got their own on-chip ADC sensors.

    The 6D2 appears to have missed that boat.  *Why* is the $64,000 question, more specifically — why does the 80D warrant better tech than the 6D2?

    Still a great rig aside from base ISO DR, but I appreciate that’s a big deal for tripod and studio shooters.

    But it will still sell like hotcakes.  Canon must have data that shows how few people are really willing to go to war / abandon ship over DR.

    | |
  8. Andrew Von Haden

    DR was one of the biggest areas that had me considering upgrading from the 6D to the 6DII. Guess that is totally out the window.

    | |
    • Wendell Weithers

      I imagine the plans of many photographers will be changed by the Mark II, but for the wrong reasons.

      | |
  9. Jacob Jexmark

    To anyone looking towards the 6D Mark II, just get a used 5D Mark III.

    | |
    • Wendell Weithers

      Only, if they are married to Canon glass. There is a world of options out there.

      | |
    • Jonathan Brady

      The image quality of the 5D Mark III is noticeably worse than the 6D. But if you’re recommending the 5D Mark III for other reasons, then that’s a different story. 

      | |
    • Grant Beachy

      The problem is, the 5d mkIII couldn’t even recover as much shadow detail as the original 6d. I had 3 6d, and a pair of the mkIII’s and it was  that way with every sample.   All of these are steps backwards from a DR perspective.  I switched to Nikon last year, and the difference is literally unbelievable at first.  I still can’t get over the feeling that I might be cheating.  

      | |