Does a bigger image sensor necessarily mean better image quality? The simple answer is no, as there are many other factors involved other than sensor size. These are the reasons the APS-C sensor format – so named for the dimensions of its imaging area – remains hugely popular in both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Not only is it capable of delivering exceptional image quality, its smaller size allows for more compact camera bodies and lenses, an important consideration for many photographers these days.
Canon has always been a strong supporter of the APS-C sensor size; something it’s re-iterating with the recent launch of the EOS 90D and EOS M6 Mark II. Yes, the EOS 90D is a brand new DSLR, something that’s becoming rarer as mirrorless cameras gain in popularity, but Canon has built a huge reputation in DSLRs and continues to cater for photographers who, in particular, like using an optical viewfinder.
However, if you are thinking about a mirrorless camera, then the good news is that the EOS M6 Mark II shares the same APS-C sensor, image processor and basic feature set as the EOS 90D, so Canon is providing a real choice here. Better still, the EOS M6 Mark II now comes bundled with an add-on electronic viewfinder (it was an optional accessory with the previous model) so you can use it when you want to, or rely on the monitor screen and have an even more compact camera. More choice to suit your specific shooting needs.
The resolution sweet spot
Common to both cameras is a 34.4 megapixels CMOS sensor (32.5 MP effective), mated to Canon’s latest DiG!C 8 processor. With this pixel count, Canon has gone for a balance of high resolution and pixel size which maintains a good signal-to-noise ratio. It is, essentially, the resolution sweet spot for an APS-C format sensor, which Canon further enhances with its advanced noise reduction processing algorithm. Where this becomes particularly important is when shooting in low-light situations using a higher ISO settings, but there are benefits across the sensor’s sensitivity range in terms of image sharpness, contrast and colour saturation. It translates into crisply defined detailing, so textures and patterns are reproduced with exceptional clarity. It also ensures extremely smooth tonal gradations.
With the EOS 90D, the DiG!C 8 processor enables continuous shooting at up to 10 frames per second with full autofocus adjustment between frames, and also uncropped 4K UHD video recording. Using live view (i.e. with the reflex mirror locked up), the shooting speed increases to 11fps, again with continuous AF adjustment. Consequently, the EOS 90D is not only fast for a mid-range DSLR, it actually also offers some of the benefits of a mirrorless camera. Chief among these is Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which is available in live view for both stills and video, and maintains super-fast phase-detection autofocusing. There’s actually a total of 5,481 measuring pixels, giving 143 selectable AF points with extensive frame coverage plus eye-detection tracking. Eye-detection AF is touted as a big deal in many of the latest mirrorless cameras – and it is – but here it’s available on a DSLR. It’s a big help too, particularly when shooting people or children, especially when they’re moving around. Autofocusing via the optical viewfinder uses 45 measuring points (usefully all cross-type arrays) with a wide selection of area modes and low-light sensitivity down to EV -3.0 (at ISO 100). Metering is via a new ‘RGB+IR’ sensor, which employs 220,000 pixels to give 216 measuring zones, but more significantly, also delivers face-detection AF when using the optical viewfinder.
If you like shooting with a DSLR, the EOS 90D delivers the reflex camera experience, enhanced by some of the performance features that are now making mirrorless cameras popular.
Of course, if you are looking for a mirrorless camera, the EOS M6 Mark II makes the most of the APS-C sensor size by being exceptionally compact and lightweight. Due to its mirrorless configuration, there are some differences in specs compared to the EOS 90D, including a maximum continuous shooting speed of 14fps when using its focal plane (FP) shutter, but again with full AF tracking. This increases to a super-fast 30fps when using the sensor-based shutter, while the Dual Pixel CMOS AF again has the 5,481 measuring pixels and 143 selectable points, along with eye-detection.
Its small size makes the EOS M6 Mark II suitable for a range of different applications. For example, the monitor screen tilts up all the way through 180º which is handy for selfies or vlogging. And, as a video camera, it’s extremely capable, with 4K UHD shooting using the full sensor width (which enhances image quality), Full HD at faster speeds for slow-mo effects, and an intervalometer for time-lapse movies.
Importantly for vloggers in particular, remote camera control – as well as immediate file sharing – is possible via Canon’s Camera Connect App, using the camera’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
The bottom line with both the EOS 90D and EOS M6 Mark II is, in fact, the bottom line. For the price, both cameras punch well above their weight in terms of image quality (still and video) and comprehensive feature sets. And it’s the high-resolution APS-C sensor at their heart that enables such a workable combination of performance and portability.