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Sharp resolution, accurate colours

While the Canon EOS M6 is not the M5's successor, it is very much the same camera inside.
While the Canon EOS M6 is not the M5's successor, it is very much the same camera inside.PHOTO: CANON

Lack of an electronic viewfinder is the Canon M6's bugbear

The Canon EOS M6 is not a successor to the M5, which was launched last November, according to Canon. It is a separate product that co-exists with the M5.

However, comparisons with the M5 are inevitable, as both cameras do look alike from afar. Up close, the differences are quite obvious.

While the M5 looks more like a miniature DSLR camera, the M6's design seems to take its inspiration from traditional rangefinders. The top of the M6 is almost flat and does not have the middle bulge like the M5. Therefore, it does not come with a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The Mode dial is moved from the top left in the M5 to the M6's top right, just beside the hot shoe. It also loses the lock button. The built-in flash takes over the top left.

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The controls are well positioned and within easy reach of the fingers. I like the front and rear command dials that alloweasy change of shutter speed and aperture, respectively, in Manual mode.

The M6's grip might look small, but it feels great to hold. I could wrap all my fingers around it nicely.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,039 (body only); $1,639 (with EF-M 18-150 f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens, the version tested)

    IMAGE SENSOR: 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS

    SCREEN: 3.0-inch tiltable touchscreen LCD with 1,040,000 dots

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 25,600

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 9 frames per second

    CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Near Field Communications

    WEIGHT: 390g (body with battery and memory card)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

While the M6 has a smaller 3-inch tiltable touchscreen display compared with the M5's 3.2-inch one, it is 18mm thinner and 37g lighter than the M5's display.

Inside, the M6 is very much the same camera as the M5. It uses the same 24.2-megapixel APS-C image sensor and the same Digic 7 image processor. It has the same sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 25,600, as well as a top shooting speed of up to 9 frames per second.

The lack of a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) is my biggest gripe with the M6, since I prefer to compose my pictures using a viewfinder.

Canon does sell an optional external EVF to complement the M6 - the EVF-DC2 ($329), which is also compatible with Canon's EOS M3, PowerShot G1 X Mark II and PowerShot G3 X.

For this review, I tested the M6 with the EVF-DC2 and the EF-M 18-150 f/3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens.

To use the EVF-DC2, fix it on M6's hot shoe. I found the EVF to be bright and sharp, and highly recommend getting it if you are buying the M6. You cannot change the autofocusing (AF) point using the touchscreen display when looking through the EVF, though, unlike with the M5.

Operation-wise, the M6 takes around 1.5sec to start up and 2sec to shut down, marginally faster than most mirrorless cameras, which take around 2sec each to start up and shut down.

Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 90MB per second, the M6 was able to capture 18 RAW still images in 2.4sec before the buffer ran out. Pretty close to the advertised 9 frames per second.

AF is swift in bright sunlight, locating a focus almost immediately. But, in dim lighting conditions, it can take up to 2sec to secure a focus even with the aid of the AF assist light.

The image quality of the M6 is superb, though, as you might expect from a Canon APS-C image sensor found on the EOS 80D. The resolution is sharp, with great details and accurate colour reproduction.

The image-noise performance is great as well. There is no visible image noise up to ISO 3,200. Even at ISO 6,400, where the image noise starts to cause deterioration in details , it is still good enough for Web use or small prints. But anything above ISO 6,400 is not recommended, as images look very soft, with details washed out.

Battery life is average for a mirrorless camera, clocking in at around 300 still images on a full charge when used with the EVF-DC2.

Verdict: If you prefer to use a touchscreen display to compose your photos, the Canon EOS M6 is a great mirrorless camera to consider with its great handling and superb image quality.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2017, with the headline 'Sharp resolution, accurate colours'. Print Edition | Subscribe