I don’t think of the M6 as a mirrorless camera—Canon told me they don’t, and you shouldn’t, either. Instead, consider it a compact that will take much better pictures than a cell phone, and, if you’re a fan of the Canon brand, an obvious step-up, gift or camera you’d take on a trip when you don’t want the bulk of a DSLR.
The M6 isn’t what Sony, Fuji and Olympus are marketing to customers ready to jettison their old DSLR systems. Instead, it’s more of an easy-to-use, interchangeable-lens camera with relatively advanced technologies like Dual Pixel CMOS AF with phase-detection in a sharp-looking, lightweight body.
The 24.2-megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor captures sharp and vibrant images that are easily shared with built-in wireless connectivity like Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth. Meaning, you can take a photo, import and edit on your tablet, and then share it to Facebook.
As a fan and early adopter of mirrorless, the M6 isn’t my first choice; however, I understand what Canon is doing, and think any less than positive reviews have incorrectly considered the M6 as mirrorless. When and if Canon enters the mirrorless segment, my guess is it will be a professional camera and the biggest selling point will be compatibility with Canon’s massive lens line.
The applicable use for the M6 is as a graduation present for a student with an eye for photography or traveling on a leap year with only a backpack to carry, or for an inspiring YouTuber, too, as well as an addition to a Canon shooter’s kit.
Earlier this year when I was at NAB, the trade show for broadcast media, I heard about Boffo Video, wedding videographers who use an M5 in their production. With similar specs, the main difference between the M5 and M6 is the EVF. The M6 is more compact and lighter without one.
Here’s a wedding Boffo Video filmed with the M5 and EOS 5D Mark III on a gimbal in tandem.
Their edit looks great, and those close-up intimate moments were captured with the less intrusive M5 rather than the 5D. Considering the results Boffo Video is getting with the M5 and that its guts are in the even more compact body of the M6, which includes electronic video stabilization, maybe I should start shooting weddings, too, since I have it to demo!
Okay, that’s a stretch, but it does continue the “find a system you love” theme of my blog posts. Where the M6 makes the most sense is as an addition to a Canon shooter’s kit or a standalone, very simple-to-use touch-screen compact.
For the vlogging niche, the M6 has a selfie-friendly flip-up LCD screen. While the AF isn’t going to track fast-moving subjects, it will lock on to a YouTuber’s face while they talk to the camera about whatever they’re super into.
The NAB and walking-around-the-backyard stills I shot had that pleasing Canon color with little work required in Capture One before I’d shared them on a social network. Shooting continuously to get these bees working, I did have to wait a surprisingly long time for the camera to write to the card; again, this isn’t a top-tier mirrorless, but a nice compact from Canon.
Here’s another use case: I tossed the M6 into the back of my CamelBak for an early-afternoon ride at Tiger Mountain. I stopped along the route a few times, zoomed here and there with the EF-M 18-150mm F/3.5-6.3 IS STM ($499) and got a couple good of frames.
The weight penalty was a barely noticeable 820 grams (1.8 pounds) or less than a pound with the kit lens. There are lots of steep climbs at Tiger Mountain, and I’d notice if the system weighed more. If you wanted to nerd out on the image quality-to-weight ratio, it’s pretty good, but the Sony a6500 edges it out for a few hundred dollars more.
Canon sells the M6 for $779, or $899 with a kit lens. The EVF option costs $249. If you add that option, the total price point puts the M6 in line with many capable cameras marketed as mirrorless; however, considering this is the smallest body to include Canon’s 24-megapixel APS-C sensor with Dual Pixel AF and the DIGIC 7 processor, it makes sense as a choice for those who already own Canon lenses.
If you’re shopping mirrorless, there are more up-to-date and capable cameras in the market, like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II I reviewed earlier. Mirrorless as a designated category of camera is not what the M6 is about though—it’s for a Canon owner to vacation with, go for a mountain bike ride with and enjoy carrying around.
While camera customers and media like me ask Canon where their mirrorless tech is, they do have a perfectly capable M line now that works with millions of lenses already sold.
You can follow DL Byron on Twitter @bikehugger