Full frame cameras (those with a sensor that is equivalent to 35mm film in size) are the gold standard for professional photographers and serious hobbyists due to their large file sizes, improved low light performance, and beautiful depth of field capabilities. There are many good options on the market. Two of the most popular models from Canon are the 5D Mark IV and the 6D Mark II. If you’re having a hard time deciding which of these to get, read on.
The 6D Mark II is positioned as “affordable” compared to any other full frame Canon model. The 5D series is designed and marketed also as an “affordable” option but only compared to pro-body cameras, like the 1D series – and that is true. The 5D Mark IV comes in at around $2,500 (at the time of this writing), compared to around $4,999 for the 1D X Mark II.
Pros and Cons of the 6D Mark II Compared to the 5D Mark IV
The 6D Mark II lacks a few of the features found in Canon’s high-end DSLRs. But it’s still great for most shooters, especially for its price point of around $1400 (at the time of this writing). While the 6D Mark II has a slightly newer image processor, the 5D Mark IV has a better sensor overall with 30 megapixels. The 5D Mark IV’s sensor has been shown to produce sharper images with more dynamic range and less noise than the 6D Mark II. The 5D Mark IV also has the added benefit of Dual Pixel Raw, allowing for more fine-tuning of bokeh and sharpness in post production.
The Canon 6D Mark II writes files to a single SD card, while the 5D Mark IV has dual slots – one for SD and one for CF. The 6D Mark II edges out the 5D Mark IV on ISO range but real-world tests show better practical low-light results from the 5D Mark IV (the 5D being less noisy at 12,800+). The AF system on the 5D Mark IV is also more expansive – with 16 additional AF points over the 6D Mark II. Both are equipped with Dual Pixel AF for use when recording video. Both have a useful variety of ports, WiFi and GPS built-in, and touchscreen LCDs (though the 6D Mark II’s LCD screen fully articulates). For video shooters, a huge difference between the two is that the 5D Mark IV shoots 4K while the 6D Mark II does not.
What Each Camera is For: Vlogging vs Wedding vs Serious Video
Both are great options. If you’re shooting mostly smaller-screen style content (like videos for YouTube), the portability and articulating screen of the 6D Mark II might be the better choice for vloggers and bloggers while the 5D Mark IV might be the better choice for narrative filmmakers or fine art photographers. If you’re relatively new to shooting content – whether it’s video or stills – and want to upgrade to something full frame without spending too much money, the Canon 6D Mark II is recommended. The screen is super handy and it’s very portable while still feeling solid and not cheap and plasticky. The fixed screen on the 5D Mark IV is a bummer but the joystick to control your AF points on the back is a delight. Frames per second speeds are also a consideration – neither are extremely fast, with the Canon 5D Mark IV edging out the 6D Mark II with 7 FPS vs 6.5. It’s enough for a skilled action shooter but not quite the spray-and-pray ease you get from pro-body cameras. If you have a little bit more budget, spring for the 5D Mark IV for its better AF performance, dual card slots, 4K capabilities, and larger overall file sizes.
Among our Canon renters, folks who want to take a full frame system on the road while maintaining a strict budget often turn to the 6D Mark II. It’s also popular among people trying out vlogging for the first time. The majority of our wedding and portrait photographers turn to the Canon 5D Mark IV. More serious Canon-shooting video folks who want to stay within the DSLR form factor will opt for the Canon 5D Mark IV with the Canon Log add-on, which offers expanded dynamic range and wider exposure latitudes designed specifically for easy color matching with other Canon cinema systems.
Note that Canon is rumored to be offering a 6D Mark III in 2020 or 2021. If you’re not sure what the major benefits are of full frame – or you weren’t even aware there was a difference in sensor sizes among cameras – do check out the following posts:
Build and Feel: Picture Gallery
The best way to tell which camera is really for you is to get them both in your hands. But short of that, a bunch of photos can help:
To recap, these are both great cameras. The Canon 6D Mark II is absolutely cake to use, with a nice, big, and easy-to-read menu system that is controlled by a screen that feels like having a little smartphone attached to your DSLR. And it’s a great price for what you get. The 5D Mark IV is the more pro system out of the two. The dual card slots are extremely important for security and the screen is big, beautiful, accurate, and also has touch capabilities. The menu system is more complex for sure. But both have really similar controls. If you’re already a Canon user, there won’t be much of a learning curve for either of these.
This post has been updated to reflect recent DSLR recommendations.