The Sony a7 II (with a 28-70mm lens) and Canon 6D (with a 24-105mm lens) are economically priced entry-level full-frame cameras considered by people looking to make an upgrade from APS-C sensor class of cameras.
In a DP Review side-by-side feature comparison, the features of the cameras can be seen as very similar. Both cameras earned a Silver Award and are given a score of 82% and 83%. Using the DP Review studio comparison tool, evaluating the a7 II and 6D, along with the A7 III and 6D Mark II (the newer versions of these cameras), most people would have a difficult time noticing any significant difference between the cameras.
Reviews of both cameras range from 1-star to 5-stars which could make it difficult for shoppers to decide on which camera is right for them. So, this article attempts to address the observations people have about these cameras.
Pros and Cons
An Amazon review by Rami from 2 May 2016 offers the following pros and cons for the a7IIK when compared to the 6D.
I bought this camera [Sony a7II] after reading all the rave reviews and accounts of “pros” switching over to the Sony system. We have a small (but growing) photography business mainly focused on family photos (newborn, kids, maternity, etc) and we use a Canon 6D with some L and Sigma lenses.
In our personal experience, the Sony A7 II did not meet our expectations as a 6D replacement/upgrade. The image quality is not bad but IQ is only part of what makes a camera great. Below are the pros and cons, when compared to the 6D:
-24 MP sensor
-Tilt LCD screen
-Beautiful EVF allows for exposure previewing.
-About 2 Stops better dynamic range than my 6D. Excellent to pull details from shadows or fix blown highlights.
-Ergonomics. The 6D doesn’t feel much heavier than the A7II, all while having a better grip and overall feel in the hands.
-Autofocus is slow in challenging light conditions
-Battery life is pretty bad. I can go trough 3 batteries while the 6D is still on the first one.
-Auto white balance not as precise for rendering skin tones.
-RAW files will fill your buffer quickly, rendering the camera unusable until it finishes writing to memory card. (90 MB/s Sandisk)
-The EVF lags when taking multiple shots. The camera will continue shooting but the EVF is black until it catch up. (not good when photographing kids)
-The process of zooming on a image to review takes 2-3 seconds every time. Unaceptable when working in fast paced environments and need to check for focus accuracy.
-Noisy images beyond ISO 800, even with good light. Based on my tests, ISO 800 on the A7 II is comparable to ISO 2000 on the 6D.
-Good native glass is limited and expensive.
-The menu systems needs to be redesign from scratch .
To summarize, this camera is good if you are a photo enthusiast that focuses on still subjects. For professional work, the 6D is miles ahead. I feel like Sony has all the tech to make a great camera, they just don’t know how to put it together yet.
Responding to Criticism of the Sony a7II
Here are some responses to the criticisms of the a7IIK that are listed above.
- Ergonomics. The 6D doesn’t feel much heavier than the A7II, all while having a better grip and overall feel in the hands.”
- For some people, the larger overall size and grip of the 6D will be considered a benefit. For other people, the 6D will feel heavy and bulky. Those looking for a lightly smaller and lighter camera may want the A7II. There’s no universal answer to the question of size and weight. Each person will have different preferences.
- Autofocus. Autofocus is slow in challenging light conditions
- Problems with autofocus in low light can be a problem for a variety of cameras. In general, it’s better not to take photos in the dark. For most situations, the Sony autofocus should work fine.
- Battery. Battery life is pretty bad. I can go trough 3 batteries while the 6D is still on the first one.
- Many Sony cameras are designed to be smaller than other cameras with similar features and price. The smaller size results in smaller batteries. Also, for people using automatic mode, or those leaving the flash unit in auto mode will unknowingly be draining the battery even if they aren’t using the flash unit. Turning the flash off entirely will result in better photos for most situations and will help extend the battery use time. Having 2 or 3 extra batteries already charged up can be helpful on vacations or longer photo shoots. This is true for just about any camera.
- White Balance. Auto white balance not as precise for rendering skin tones.
- Anecdotal observations about rendering skin tones can be subjective. People who make corrections and adjustments to photos using photo editing software will often make different decisions about how to render skin tones.
- Photo Speed. RAW files will fill your buffer quickly, rendering the camera unusable until it finishes writing to memory card. (90 MB/s Sandisk)
- For people needing to take many photos over a short period, a faster camera may be helpful. For those who take some time to compose each shot, a slight delay in processing time won’t be a problem. Overall speed can be improved by using higher quality fast memory cards.
- Viewing Speed. The EVF (electronic view finder) lags when taking multiple shots. The camera will continue shooting but the EVF is black until it catch up. (not good when photographing kids)
- As mentioned above, people needing to take many photos over a short period, a faster camera may be helpful. For those who take some time to compose each shot, a slight delay in processing time won’t be a problem. Overall speed can be improved by using higher quality fast memory cards.
- Zoom Viewing. The process of zooming on a image to review takes 2-3 seconds every time. Unaceptable when working in fast paced environments and need to check for focus accuracy.
- This could be a problem for people who need to review every photo on the camera in realtime. The delay could be a result of having the camera in RAW and JPG mode. Overall speed can be improved by using higher quality fast memory cards.
- High ISO Quality. Noisy images beyond ISO 800, even with good light. Based on my tests, ISO 800 on the A7 II is comparable to ISO 2000 on the 6D.
- For those taking photos in bright light of still objects (such as flowers on a bright day), using a lower ISO of 100 would be best – regardless of what camera is being used. Observations about ‘noise’ visible at high ISO settings can be a little bit subjective. It’s best not to take action photos in poorly lit conditions where ISO 800 or higher would be needed.
- Lens Availability. Good native glass is limited and expensive.
- It’s true that Canon cameras have a wide variety of lenses available. However, most people are well served by a single versatile lens and don’t want to carry around a bunch of lenses on vacation. So the Sony a7 II (with a 28-70mm lens) and Canon 6D (with a 24-105mm lens) should handle just about every situation. If you think you’ll need and use many different lenses, then a Canon DSL may be a better choice.
- Menu. The menu systems needs to be redesign from scratch.
- Complaints about menu systems are subjective. Camera menus in general are confusing. Icons are not always identifiable. Numbered sub menus are difficult to remember by number. Screens are small. Some people may prefer a Canon menu layout. Others may prefer a Sony layout. Most people will learn and become proficient with what they have.
You’ll notice from the image at the top of this page that the Sony a7 series cameras and the Canon 6D series of cameras (as well as other full-frame cameras) will have a thicker, larger, heavier lens. This is to accommodate the larger full-frame sensor. These larger lenses can let more light in, which is a good thing. The drawback is that any camera with a zoom lens will be bigger and heavier. Slight differences in camera body size will be irrelevant once you attach a large heavy lens. In other words, DSL or mirrorless, a full-frame camera is potentially a bulky item to carry around unless you use a fixed lens like a 55mm (for example).
Surprisingly overlooked in most reviews is the presence or absence of built-in GPS for geotagging of photos in realtime. Most people consider GPS location mapping for their photos as an absolute requirement and expected feature. It’s common for people to have photo collections of 20,000 or more pictures, so quickly finding them on a map is really helpful. Yet, increasingly internal GPS is not provided in many newer cameras.
The a7 series, like most other Sony cameras, does not offer internal GPS. Instead, it’s recommended that people use the location services provided by your smart phone through the Sony PlayMemories app. A smartphone may provide more accurate location information because indoors the location is determined from cellular towers if GPS isn’t available. Outside GPS and cellular towers are used to make location information more accurate. So, the Sony app using the smartphone location information may be more accurate than a camera with GPS only. However, it’s one more thing to manage when taking photos.
Generic smartphone apps like Goetag Photos Pro can help tag photos from just about any camera.
The Canon D6 has GPS built-in which is convenient. Note that there are different update intervals. The default in 15-seconds, but this can be reduced to 1 second to ensure greater accuracy. Also, the GPS can be set to stay on even when the camera is off which will generally make your GPS location available immediately when you turn on the camera. This may use up a little bit more battery.
Being aware of strengths and weaknesses can help a person purchase a camera that is best suited for their own photography needs. Those wanting longer battery life, a wide variety of lens choices, and possibly better quality photos at higher ISO settings may want the 6D. Those wanting a camera with possibly more intelligent automated features, more focal points, no shutter noise, and other benefits may want the Sony a7 II.