6D Mark II vs 5D Mark IV Canon DSLR Comparison

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:

Transitioning from Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Understanding Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors

What You Must Know About Full vs Crop Frame Sensors Before Choosing a Lens

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:

Closeup of LCD top panel on Canon 5D Mark IV next to Canon 6D Mark II

The LCD info panels are very similar, with the 5D Mark IV’s (left) being wider. The arrangement of info on the 6D Mark II is easy to read, however, and the use of space there is good.

Navigating menu system with Canon 5D Mark IV up top vs Canon 6D Mark II on bottom

When you’re not using the touchscreen, you’ll be navigating the menu and moving your AF points using either the 5D Mark IV’s joystick (top) or the 6D Mark II’s D-pad (bottom). People nearly universally prefer the joystick but I did not find the D-pad cumbersome. As you can see, the menu system on the 5D Mark IV is more expansive than on the 6D Mark II.

6D Mark II camera next to 5D Mark IV camera, back side showing LCD touchscreens

Note that these blog images are web-optimized so you can only glean so much from them. But you can see at a glance that the 6D Mark II’s fully-articulating screen is super handy – but it isn’t as high of quality as the 5D Mark IV’s.

Viewfinders of 5D Mark IV and 6D Mark II back to back

The eyecup area for the viewfinder of the Canon 5D Mark IV (right) is roomier and more comfortable, though the 6D’s is certainly not uncomfortable. They both have the same eyepoint, meaning how far away you can place your eye from the viewfinder while still being able to comfortably see your whole scene. This is important for folks in glasses. They both also have the same magnification. The 5D Mark IV offers 100% coverage. The 6D Mark II offers 98%. The diopter adjustment range is the same for both and I find the diopter ring on the 6D Mark II just a tad easier to access and turn.

Layflat comparison on wood table of Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 6D Mark II

Again, note the cushier eyepiece of the Canon 5D Mark IV (right). The 5D Mark IV sits up higher than the 6D Mark II. It’s also a bit wider. But the 6D Mark II offers just as much grip depth – though the grip area itself is narrower. Folks with smaller hands will like the form factor of the 6D Mark II for sure. But overall it’s not a huge savings on size.

Canon 5D Mark IV next to Canon 6D Mark II both displaying image review of a painting

You get a little more screen real estate on the 5D Mark IV (left). It also feels more true to life. I really liked having the full articulation of the 6D Mark II’s screen, though.

Canon 5D Mark IV next to Canon 6D Mark II both displaying image review of a painting

Demonstration of magnification in image review. Here you can really see just how much higher the 5D Mark IV (left) sits over the 6D Mark II.

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.

Mark has been passionate about photography for over ten years and has photographed subjects ranging from fine art landscapes and portraits to commercial and product photography. Mark studied photography at Parsons: The New School For Design and earned his Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute studying under photographic legends like Jack Fulton, Henry Wessel Jr, and Darcy Padilla.


  • Brian Brooks

    Hi, I am a tall guy, and when I shoot landscape I work at waist level. This makes the vari-angled screen a godsend. I could not use as viewfinder at all, and a fixed screen is not much better.

  • Eugene Johnson, Jr.

    I shoot mostly sports and want to know which one was the better camera for sports and can u recommend me the best Len for football, basketball & volleyball; thanking u in advance

  • jkriz

    I don’t see any advantage of the 5d Mark II at this point, other than saving a couple hundred on ebay. But spending a few hundred more seems like its well worth it. The real choice is between a used 5d mark iii and the 6d IMO, and the question is whether you really need the extra capabilities.

    Most people upgrading to FF are coming from newer featured crop bodies, so I think many could get annoyed at the old tech and AF in the 5d mark ii. Same goes in Nikon land for the D700… I’d take the 610 over it all day long.

  • Digital Camera Central

    From your review, it kind of seems like a no-brainer to go with the 6D if you’re willing to spend the extra money.

Comments are closed.

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