As a wedding photographer in New Jersey and New York City, having shot hundreds and hundreds of weddings throughout my 18-year photography career, I've tried out quite a few camera systems in my time. Don't get me wrong; I've always been a Canon baby. Even to the point of learning on and owning my own Canon A1 film camera that my mom passed down to me. I worked my way up from the EOS 10D, and then the EOS 40D, the EOS 5D, and then going to the EOS-1D Mark IV, EOS-1D X, and now EOS-1D X Mark II that I currently shoot with. There are some needs as a wedding and event photographer that are mandatory in a camera body, and other wants that are crucial, but really make your life a whole lot easier.
I recently had the chance to review the EOS 6D Mark II on a real wedding at Mallard Island in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The location is a beautiful Jersey Shore wedding venue, and the wedding day went just as you would expect a typical wedding day to go. It really allowed me the opportunity to see how the 6D Mark II handled different parts of the wedding day. After getting a feel for the camera, I evaluated it into the top six categories that I consider when choosing a camera to shoot with on a wedding day.
Number 1: Speed
Weddings happen quickly. Wedding photographers need their camera to be fast. Not just fast when it comes to the read or write speed to the cards or even how quickly you gain focus or take pictures in rapid fire (though that’s important too). How fast you can easily get yourself accustomed to all of the buttons and features that you want to use without thinking throughout the wedding day is paramount. Event photographers show their experience by working well under pressure and in almost impossible time constraints. The last thing you want to do is fumble around with your camera and miss the shot you need, so the feel of the camera in-hand and ease of use is of utmost importance. Thankfully, the 6D Mark II has a similar form factor to the 5D, 6D and 7D, which a lot of event photographers are already familiar with. It’s a perfectly intuitive and user-friendly camera, especially with the touchscreen LCD.
As far as other speed variables, yes, I love the 6.5 shots that it takes per second because things happen so fast on a wedding day and sometimes you absolutely do have to shoot as quickly as possible in order to get just the right picture with the right expression.
The fact that this camera is also quite light (15% lighter than the 7D Mark II) is helpful for speed as well. I can move it around with ease whether I have it on a camera strap, like I typically do, or I'm just hand-holding it. Having a light camera body also helps offset the weight of the prime lenses I use. If you are a wedding or event photographer, you know that holding a camera for 10-12+ hours per day can really affect you and how your body feel during and after the shoot.
Number 2: Rotating LCD Screen
The Vari-angle LCD monitor is one of my absolute favorite features on the 6D Mark II and one that's definitely useful for a wedding day. While at first, it might seem like something only a videographer would utilize, it actually is quite practical for a photographer too. I used it multiple times throughout the day, flipping it to take a picture while I held the camera overhead, like when I arranged the details of the wedding invitation and shoes on the floor here. Normally, I would have had to stand on a chair or put a wider lens on in order to get a similar shot. With the 6D Mark II, I'm able to use a longer focal lens, which is something that I prefer to do anyway, and get the shot that I want without so much effort and extra balancing acrobatics.
It was also perfect for the wedding reception. Typically, I’m fighting with guests’ elbows in my face to get into the dancing action. It's advantageous to shoot at a higher angle and a little farther away, helping me to be less obtrusive as well as minimize the bruises I’ve come home with in the past. You can't always frame your shot quite as nicely as you want by just eyeballing it while holding over your head. With the 6D Mark II and the rotating LCD screen, I can easily raise my camera up while still looking at how the shot is framed and where my focus is falling. It was definitely helpful for this super energetic group at this wedding! I was able to get some great dancing shots at overhead angles without getting too beat up in the process.
Number 3: White Balance
This is a fun feature on the 6D Mark II. On wedding days, you are going from shooting indoors to outdoors, to tungsten light to fluorescent light, and everything in between. I love to dial in my kelvins manually, but often I have to throw my camera into AWB (Auto White Balance) because of the variety of lighting situations where I'm shooting. The 6D Mark II has an advanced type of auto white balancing.
The traditional white balance, which is now called Ambient Priority White Balance, will give you those warm tones that you're used to having when you dial in AWB in a warmly lit situation. Now, it also has White Priority White Balance. White Priority White Balance is like an Auto White Balance setting, but it recognizes warmer tones and deliberately cools them down for you. This means when you're using White Priority White Balance in warm lighting situations, you're not going to have that overly warm photo. Having these two options allows you as the photographer have one less thing to worry about during a hectic gig.
Number 4: Focus
If you're also an event photographer, you know that focusing can be quite difficult because you're not shooting in a controlled environment. One of the biggest step-ups from the 6D to the 6D Mark II is the 45-point autofocus system. Instead of just the 11 points that the previous model of the 6D had, you now have a plethora to choose from.
Personally, I enjoy having my focus setting on an individual focus point and moving it depending on how and what I'm photographing. I don't normally focus and recompose much any more, so being able to have a variety of focus points to choose from really helps ensure that your pictures are tack sharp every time and you get the composition you want in the image.
In addition, the autofocus system has been improved to really help you focus in low light as well as in non-contrasting scenarios. One of the best ways to achieve focus is to find a contrasting point to place your focus on, but often you have to photograph women in all white and men in all black, and indoors when it's raining outside and there's hardly any light at all. The new improved focusing system has faster read and react times for focusing, which just makes sure that you can capture the action as it's happening no matter where you are or what you're photographing.
Number 5: Grid Display
This might seem like a very trivial feature to talk about, but as somebody who can't seem to take a straight picture to save her life, I absolutely love this feature. The Canon 6D Mark II allows you to turn on the grid in the viewfinder, which will help you take a straight picture every time. Again, I know this sounds a little bit simplistic, but think of the amount of post-production time that you or your editors will save not having to straighten photos. It's the compound effect of little things like this that make a big difference for wedding photographers, especially ones who are shooting at a high volume. An average wedding photographer shoots 2,000 or 3,000 images per wedding and hands over roughly 800 to 1,000 images to each of their clients. Getting rid of the few seconds per photo is takes to crop and straighten is a huge time-saver in the long run. Hours saved means money made and happier clients.
Number 6: Built-in GPS
Along the same lines of saving time on post-production is the built-in GPS feature. This is so helpful if you're shooting with multiple cameras or multiple photographers on an event. No more having to worry about wasting more time in post-processing time-syncing the images. With the built-in GPS, you can make sure that all of your cameras are synced to each other based on satellite positioning. Everyone's GPS-enabled camera images will fall perfectly into order.
In summary, this camera is lightweight, affordable, and versatile. Particularly for it being a full-frame camera, making it a step up from the 7D, but with a prettier price than the 5D Mark IV. It is absolutely a camera well-suited for event and wedding photographers. I'm sure many photographers will be picking it up off the shelves.