We need to talk about the 6D Mark II and its lack of 4K.
For all of you who were eagerly awaiting Canon's big announcement today about the 6D Mark II, you might've walked away at least somewhat disappointed by one missing feature in particular. No, Canon's new entry-level full frame DSLR does not shoot in 4K, but rather 1080p at 60fps, which is a pretty big deal-breaker for most filmmakers.
For those who were left scratching their heads as to why Canon would leave such an important component out of the newest iteration of the 6D (at least as far as filmmakers are concerned), B&H held a livestream panel with highly acclaimed photographers Mel DiGiacomo, Drew MacCallum, and Liza Gerhsman with B&H Explora Senior Writer Allan Weitz as moderator to discuss how users can take advantage of the features the 6D Mark II does have.
The panel addresses a lot of questions photographers might have about how the camera enables them to do new things with their photography, but it also inadvertently answers the main question that was on filmmakers' minds: should we use this for shooting professional films? If you read a bit in-between the lines, the answer is, "Probably not."
It's like having a higher quality smartphone camera
The 6D Mark II is an entry-level full-frame camera, meaning it may not be suitable for pros who are used to beefier DSLRs and cinema cameras with a bunch of powerful bells and whistles. This camera is certainly aimed at beginners, a message that you can hear throughout the panel discussion when it's essentially referred to as a step up from having a smartphone camera. Weitz even says it's like shooting with "a higher quality smartphone." Gershman says the flip screen helps you take great selfies.
It'd be great for documentaries and indies...if it shot 4K
The panel talks at length about the 3" Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD and its many benefits. It's good for focusing in dark places, because you can tap on the screen and boom, it focuses on that specific point. It's good for capturing candid moments and for when you need to be discreet, because, as DiGiacomo demonstrates, you can point your lens one way, and position your LCD screen the other. He says, "We photographers are thieves. We're constantly stealing moments."
These benefits would make sense for documentary work, but, alas, it doesn't shoot 4K. Does everything have to be shot in 4K? No, if you're uploading your work online to YouTube or Vimeo you don't really need it to be in 4K, but like it or not, 4K is pretty much the standard these days both for capture and delivery.
Resolution isn't everything
Weitz and MacCallum briefly address the elephant in the room, Canon's decision to release the 6D Mark II without 4K capabilities. McCallum, in a rather understanding tone, explains its absence as Canon's attempt to find a balance of "features, performance, and price." He goes on to say that Canon has many other 4K options for those who want to shoot in higher resolutions, but those cameras are much more expensive pro-level DSLRs, even at the full-frame sensor size, like the $3000 5D Mark IV and $6000 1D X Mark III.
It's a photographer's camera
In response to the 4K discussion, Weitz makes the point that you don't necessarily need high resolution to get a good image, that in fact many of the most iconic photos have lots of grain and blur. And he's right, you don't necessarily need it—if you're a photographer. 4K is the film industry standard, and the way it's moving now, 4K is going to be old news in the next several years. So, is it such a bad thing that the 6D Mark II doesn't have 4K? No, because it's a camera designed with photographers in mind, not filmmakers, and that's okay. There were a lot of us who were eager to see its video features and disappointed to see that 4K wasn't one of them, but—you know—c'est la vie, you guys.
The Canon 6D Mark II is now available from B&H for $1999 (body only).
- 26.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
- DIGIC 7 Image Processor
- 45-Point All-Cross Type AF System
- Full HD Video at 60 fps; Digital IS
- 3" 1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Movie Servo AF
- Native ISO 40000, Expanded to ISO 102400
- 6.5 fps Shooting; Time-Lapse & HDR Movie
- Built-In GPS, Bluetooth & Wi-Fi with NFC
- Dust and Water Resistant; SD Card Slot