June 29, 2017

No, the Canon 6D Mark II Doesn't Shoot 4K and Here's Why

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.

Canon 6D

The Canon 6D Mark II is now available from B&H for $1999 (body only).

Tech Specs

  • 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 

Your Comment

30 Comments

So, a "$1999 (body only)" "step up from a smartphone camera"? Then what's the GH5 at the same price point? I've been reading this site for years and this is my first comment. I don't really contribute my input anywhere because I don't really see the point most of the time. I'm too busy and I'm not likely to have my opinion swayed or sway anyone else's opinion anyway, so who cares? Also, I've never really understood the flack this site gets in the comments. But this article and Canon have me heated. I'm a professional photographer based in DTLA and a burgeoning filmmaker who hasn't made use of his filmmaking and animation degrees yet. I use the Canon 5D in my pro work and I'm heavily invested in EF lenses and I prefer full-frame. I want to go 4K soon because it IS the standard in my market. Even prospective clients who don't know any better looking for a wedding videographer on Craigslist demand 4K here at this point. It's a buzz word with no real meaning to clients but for better or worse it's here to stay and I need it to stay competitive. And you're telling me c'est la vie because Canon is willfully overcharging on underpowered products that's little more than a souped up smartphone camera with a $2000 price tag? That's the article you're offering?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my next camera. I need 4K RAW latitude for a some of what I'll be doing. I was considering the C200. Again, I'm not one to go on publicly about how a company won't get my business any longer because who cares? But as of this camera and this article, I'm done with Canon. They're not the company that's going to take me where I need to go. In fact, it seems they have very little interest.

June 29, 2017 at 10:39PM

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Vladimir Cassel
Photographer
80

In terms of DSLR form factor cameras, I pretty much agree with your statement as far as video is concerned. But Since the C300 mark 2 and more recently the c200, It seems to me that Canon is killing it in the high end prosumer camcorder/cine camera market. The C200 in particular is a big deal IMO. That internal raw codec is a step forward and a 'bar raiser' in my opinion. Of course you are paying a massive 'canon tax' for these innovations, but if it's worth it to you or anyone interested in those cameras, then the price is justifiable

July 2, 2017 at 3:28AM

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Logan Fish
Video Journalist
320

AMEN. Canon is so far out in the weeds, and has been FOR YEARS, it's pathetic. Their product line is a mess.

They need a major management housecleaning, and to hire people who know something about motion pictures. Only with the C200 does it even look like they're trying to compete, and it remains to be seen if that camera is made viable by the promised firmware update that may give it a decent non-raw codec (since it'll ship with low-bitrate, 8-bit, 4:2:0, GOP-based junk as its only non-raw option).

Fortunately lots of manufacturers are adopting the EF mount, so our investment in Canon lenses isn't lost.

As far is this site is concerned, it's telling everyone to GO AWAY, by blasting readers with NOISE-MAKING, AUTO-PLAYING SHIT. There is no excuse for disturbing our coworkers, waking our companions, or otherwise disrupting our space with UNAUTHORIZED NOISE.

Up yours, No Film School.

July 3, 2017 at 9:06PM, Edited July 3, 9:08PM

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David Gurney
DP
2222

I hear you Vladimir. Truth is Canon isn't even listening because year after year, release after release very little is done to "upgrade " these models.
They're simply protecting the higher end model line up of their products and even those too have squat to offer. The C200 for me I tought would be the camera which would offer native 10bit 422 without the need for external recorders at it's price point, but nope. It didn't.

The article above mentioned the 5D Mk4 as a 4K camera but worthy to note is that camera has HDMI output limited to 1080p and as such, useless to those who would intend to squeeze more out of it using pre-owned external recorders like the Atomos Shogun et al.

Canon's interest is clearly communicated in these dslr offerings and it ain't it's video-user customer base.
The GH4 does it and more for me. Will be picking up the GH5 anytime soon which actually offers better stabilisation for the type of work I do and the added advantage to travel lighter. At least they're listening.

July 20, 2017 at 4:49AM, Edited July 20, 4:52AM

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Emeka Akwuobi
Filmaker/Editor and other stuff
187

Maybe this will be the point where the outrage ends, when video folks realize that they are not the intended market for Canon's DSLRs. It is absurd that people are still surprised that Canon releases DSLR cameras that don't have the features that they want for making films. In fact, the vast majority of features on a DSLR are useless for shooting video. Why would anybody even want to use a DSLR expressly for the purpose of shooting video?

June 29, 2017 at 11:58PM

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Casey Preston
Videographer
327

It feels like this site's contributors, whether they be writers or posters, forgot this site's humble origins. There's a constant reminder at the bottom of this and every article. It's called The DSLR Cinematography Guide. It was inspired by a "revolution" Canon accidentally started and has seemed to resist ever since. The attitude of this site seems so out of touch with that lately.

June 30, 2017 at 12:08AM

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Vladimir Cassel
Photographer
80

The "revolution" was the realization that filmmakers and videographers wanted to use large sensor cameras for digital video. The first, cheap large sensor digital cameras were DSLR's and some people decided to put up with the limitations of the DSLR form in order to use those sensors to create video. As soon as the camera companies realized there was a market and a price point that worked, they started making actual camcorders that had large sensors and could use their lenses. I firmly believe that if you want to continue to use a photo camera to shoot video, you should switch to Sony or Panasonic. At least those cameras aren't stuck with useless mirrors.

June 30, 2017 at 12:18AM

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Casey Preston
Videographer
327

"but like it or not, 4K is pretty much the standard these days both for capture and delivery."

I really really don't want to be "that guy", but I'm not sure where 4K delivery is standard.

Any professional, commercial work I've been a part of for the last 10 years (btw, almost as long as I've been shooting any format capable of 4K), has been a 1080 deliverable.

Even outside of the areas that I work in, I think you'd have a tough time defending that statement amongst professionals.

June 30, 2017 at 12:08AM

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In Los Angeles, as far as I've seen, you need to market yourself as 4K capable to stay competitive. Even clients looking for freelancers ask for 4K as standard. Maybe some other Los Angeles or major market people can chime in on this.

I'm not assuming or insinuating you're working in a small market, but generally I think that videographers in small markets have a bit more latitude in what they can offer or not offer because those markets aren't as saturated with competition. But I don't know, so...

June 30, 2017 at 12:13AM

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Vladimir Cassel
Photographer
80

I work in Los Angeles. I have some notable brands on my reel.

I promise not to make this a pissing match, but what clients are you speaking of? I'm really serious. Without directly speaking of you personally, because I have no idea what you shoot or who you work for, but I think *some* people THINK they have to have 4k. And I think inexperienced clients and producers always ask about 4k. Because that's what the camera press is always talking about. But at the end of the day, hardly anybody is hitting the 4K button on Youtube and hardly anybody is paying for 4K on their set top boxes, and savvy content providers know that nobody (relatively) is asking for it.

I've found that as I climb the ladder, the only thing I need to be marketing myself as is "good" and "pleasant to work with". If somebody who calls me is saying "do you know how to shoot 4K?", that's a red flag.

I think a lot of aspiring shooters think that 4K capability is a competitive advantage. I'd say for the vast majority, it's a red herring.

June 30, 2017 at 12:39AM, Edited June 30, 1:00AM

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I shoot a fair bit for broadcast and web here in LA; and do a fair bit of post production. While many clients want a 4K capture, I'd say 95%+ of deliveries are still in HD, at least for the people I work for and there are some noteable brands as well. Probably the main reason is because TV and cable (not Netflix or streaming service), HD is the highest resolution they can broadcast and will be for sometime. Most of my cable channels are still in SD because I don't want to pay the additional amount.

Clients seem to love the ability to push around 4K footage in an HD timeline. The strange part is that more lower end projects and newbies want a 4K finish. Maybe because it feels higher end / upping the ante. Broadcast and bigger client jobs, they often are under a tight time constraint and just want to bang it out so it's almost always HD delivery, at least for the people I work for,

As for 6D, did anyone really expect anything from Canon? I mean... the C200 RAW is the only progressive / unexpected thing they've done since forever.

June 30, 2017 at 1:13AM

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Gene Sung
DP / Director
753

But you are talking about work in which a DSLR would never be considered, anyway. I mean, if your client trusted you and you insisted on using a DSLR then they might work with it, but I doubt a DSLR would be your first choice.

June 30, 2017 at 1:37AM, Edited June 30, 1:37AM

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Casey Preston
Videographer
327

Great comments and perspective! You know, finally we get some REAL pros to say the truth of the matter: Buzz-words don't make one competitive or successful. But that takes some real experience and maturity to understand so...

June 30, 2017 at 5:49PM

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Douglas Bowker
Animation, Video, Motion-Graphics
168

One thing, Vladimir, that I will agree with you on. The pressure to stay on top of the latest greatest camera in LA is there. And since all the latest greatest cameras can do 4K, I can see where it might become a way to weed out old gear for some buyers of services.

Also, yes, I agree with Gene, shooting in 4K is common amongst a certain set of clients that do a lot of 2d post work. And since I know Gene, I also know he’s knee deep in those clients. :-)

Here’s another way to put it...I own an Alexa. Only in very certain situations will a client insist on Red, and usually they have a very good reason for needing those extra pixels, because they’re doing post work that requires the res. And in those cases we shoot Red. But nobody turns down the Alexa otherwise even though it lacks “real” 4K. What does that say about 4K delivery being standard?

July 1, 2017 at 1:03PM

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No one said 4K delivery is standard - it's 4K shooting that's standard. I deliver in 1080p but shooting in 4K still affords me quite a lot in editing.

June 30, 2017 at 3:38PM

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Daniel King
Videographer, Editor
344

It's like having a higher quality smartphone camera... for $2000.
Sounds like a great deal!
What majority of us are outraged about towards Canon isn't even strictly about the 4K thing... If you're gonna keep the same freakin specs from 2012 but call it a MKII, MKIII or whatever the hell Mark it is, at least adjust the price in the whole line up. Like WTF are y'all doing Canon. Look at Sony and Panasonic. At least they pay attention to what people are saying. In 2017, 6D MKII is NOT worth $2000. That's the point. There's no justification behind it...

June 30, 2017 at 9:49AM

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John D. Kim
Director & Editor
162

I like the idea of shooting 4k and having the option to use the footage on an HD timeline with loads of space for cropping and other options. It's not that the project is delivered in 4k, it's that size of the 4k file gives us more options in post - especially for interviews. Just for that, I don't think we would look at a camera that does not at least offer 4k as an option.

June 30, 2017 at 9:58AM, Edited June 30, 9:58AM

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Alistair Cotton
Photographer - Videographer & Web Specialist
95

The smartphone remark is false: you can't call your friends with a 6DmkII :-p

June 30, 2017 at 10:57AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8963

Yadda yadda yadda, just a bunch of Canon kool-aid.

The 6D2's lack of dual SD card slots and flagship autofocus is a solid indication that Canon is still firmly entrenched in their business tactic of "reserving" flagship features, in order to encourage the sales of 1-series and 5-series cameras. (Just like they originally did on the first two 5-series cameras, in order to sell more of their $8K 1DS's.)

It's really a shame that Canon shooters have continued making excuses for this marketing tactic, instead of demanding the features that CAN be put into a camera in this budget.

I know this comment will get numerous replies of classic fanboy brainwashing, "if they put THOSE features in a 6-series, they'll lose money on 1DX2's!" ...Meanwhile, Nikon has been putting flagship autofocus and/or dual card slots in various sub-$2K bodies for, oh, almost ten years now. (To date, Canon's only camera with those bragging rights is the APS-C 7D2.) For Nikon, it's getting cheaper and cheaper too, with dual SD slots in the 7000 series, the 300/500 series, the 600 series, and the D750.

The lack of 4K video is also sad, as clearly Nikon and Sony have no qualms about putting half-decent (though arguably not fully professional) 4K into cheaper and cheaper cameras.

Canon could have at least easily done a "budget friendly" 4K output, and reserved whatever high-quality compressions / file formats they want to for their C-series or at least their 5-series, ...but instead they're taking the "all or nothing" approach.

Canon shooters, stop making excuses for this nonsense. Canon needs to start acting as if they are about to lose their #1 position in the market, and get highly competitive. Even if they are NOT actually at risk of losing that #1 position, they need to start taking the competition more seriously.

June 30, 2017 at 3:26PM

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Astro-Landscapes
Photographer
81

First I noticed in the video:
The female panelist is beyond dumb. She was part of the Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest. They had go remove her for politically correct BS.
Canon seems yo have seriously lost the plot. They don't realise why they became huge for Indie Filmmakers on a budget way back.

I am glad in a way that Panasonic and Sony see eating into Canon's Market. Hopefully Canon would be history for DSLR videographers, soon.

June 30, 2017 at 3:48PM

0
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sandy sandy
Filmmaker
93

Complaining that the 6D doesn't shoot 4k is like complaining that the C200 doesn't shoot stills.

June 30, 2017 at 3:54PM, Edited June 30, 3:56PM

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BD
689

Umm... this site is specifically for DSLR cinematography. Emphasis on "DSLR". So that complaint is very much on-topic.
Thanks.

July 20, 2017 at 5:16AM, Edited July 20, 5:16AM

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Emeka Akwuobi
Filmaker/Editor and other stuff
187

Just a thought. You can edit your 1080p footage on a 4k timeline and deliver the final product in 4k. Your client probably won't be able to tell the difference, they'll be happy their video is in "4k" YouTube. Placebo effect at its finest.

June 30, 2017 at 7:48PM, Edited June 30, 7:48PM

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Frogy
Director / Shooter / Cutter
290

This is almost exactly how it's done on 4K content today.

July 2, 2017 at 12:28PM

16
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Since when do we need 4K to shoot documentaries and indies?
Most displays aren't even IN 4K, the content available isn't mastered in 4K and is merely 2K upscaled and to even see the benefit you've to be 4-5 feet away.

So while it's great for acquisition of content that legitimately NEEDS 4K (such as landscape work), what's the big deal? I'm more concerned with the poor color and codec than the resolution. We can't even get proper 1080p from these as of yet, so 4K is irrelevant at this point.

People getting bent outta shape to keep up w/ the Jones' when the basics are barely there still.

July 2, 2017 at 12:27PM

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This is off-base for a couple of reasons.

You're right that Canon is still troweling out junk codecs and overpriced/underpowered cameras.

But your assertions about 4K are not true. 4K gives you the ability to recompose in post without suffering noticeable resolution loss when you're delivering in HD. That can save your ass if you're on a single-camera/single-take shoot and need to mix up your shots or even add fake camera moves in post to keep the viewer interested.

Not to mention that you could theoretically mitigate the effects of Canon's crap-ass color sampling and codec by downscaling from 4K to HD.

July 3, 2017 at 8:59PM

8
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David Gurney
DP
2222

For $2k this camera is so remarkably average that I would recommend people getting the Rebel series ($500) over this and spending the extra in good lenses and flash.

If you need a good camera for Photography, like saving up for $4k is going to get you so much of a better value it is not even funny.

July 2, 2017 at 5:54PM

2
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Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
548

WTF, who decided it was OK to put NOISE-MAKING, AUTO-PLAYING SHIT on this site?

And WHY?

July 3, 2017 at 8:54PM

0
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David Gurney
DP
2222

If Canon really wanted this to be a "Photographer's camera", they would've at least added a 100% accurate viewfinder. I'd hate having to crop all my photos because they weren't framed the same way as I shot them through the viewfinder. Nikon doesn't even make a full frame body with less than a 100% accurate viewfinder.

July 5, 2017 at 12:04PM

0
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"It's like having a higher quality smartphone camera"

This statement is completely absurd; many smartphones are capable of shooting 4k.

July 6, 2017 at 5:41PM

0
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kyleclements
Artist / Photographer / Scenic
1018