M6 II for bird photography?

AlanF

Hands. Face. Space.
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
7,217
6,756
I am really taken with the 90D because of the high quality of its images, its ergonomics for handling large lenses, and its use as a mirrorless in liveview. As the M6 II has some nice features and is small and light with the same sensor as the 90D, I am now seriously considering upgrading to it from my M5 (which is still a fine camera). I have some questions for CR members who are using the M6 II for bird photography.
1. The ergonomics are not intended for using with large lenses, but how are you finding it for hand holding with the 100-400mm II?
2. What is the battery life like using it with the 100-400mm II?
3. How well does the AF work when trying to focus on a bird surrounded by foliage?
4. How well does the AF find and lock on to a bird in flight?
5. I am very interested in the burst mode where, for example, you can focus on a perched bird and it takes off and the camera records shots before you fully depress the button. But, I have read that it is difficult to extract the individual frames. Is this so?

Answers to any or all of these questions will be greatly appreciated.
 

koenkooi

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 25, 2015
1,377
1,170
I am really taken with the 90D because of the high quality of its images, its ergonomics for handling large lenses, and its use as a mirrorless in liveview. As the M6 II has some nice features and is small and light with the same sensor as the 90D, I am now seriously considering upgrading to it from my M5 (which is still a fine camera). I have some questions for CR members who are using the M6 II for bird photography.
1. The ergonomics are not intended for using with large lenses, but how are you finding it for hand holding with the 100-400mm II?
I went out for a day with an RP+EG-E1 and M6II with the 100-400II. After using the RP for a few hours I switched the 100-400 to the M6II and it felt awkward. This was mostly due to not having an EVF. After half an hour or so it felt better. But I would strongly recommend trying out the EVF-DC2.

2. What is the battery life like using it with the 100-400mm II?
Only a relative measurement: a lot worse than with the 100mm L macro. I'd like to blame the IS for that, but it could also be that the 100-400 needs more power to the AF motors.

3. How well does the AF work when trying to focus on a bird surrounded by foliage?
4. How well does the AF find and lock on to a bird in flight?
Only tried red deer, no birds sorry. Using my thumb on the touchscreen to put the small AF point on the eye of a deer in foliage worked very well.

5. I am very interested in the burst mode where, for example, you can focus on a perched bird and it takes off and the camera records shots before you fully depress the button. But, I have read that it is difficult to extract the individual frames. Is this so?
I just tried it after doing a raw burst:
  1. Enter playback mode
  2. Move to the picture/burst you want
  3. Touch the stack icon in the center or press SET twice
  4. Move of the frame you want
  5. Press SET or touch the SET icon in the top right of the screen
  6. Select 'Extract as JPEG' or 'Extract as RAW'
  7. Select 'OK'
That's it. I haven't tried to do it on the computer in DPP yet, but I don't imagine it would be difficult, beyond the usual difficulty of figuring out the DPP user interface.
 
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Cat_Interceptor

M6 II fanboy
Oct 20, 2019
81
129
alliancemotorsport.org
I am really taken with the 90D because of the high quality of its images, its ergonomics for handling large lenses, and its use as a mirrorless in liveview. As the M6 II has some nice features and is small and light with the same sensor as the 90D, I am now seriously considering upgrading to it from my M5 (which is still a fine camera). I have some questions for CR members who are using the M6 II for bird photography.
1. The ergonomics are not intended for using with large lenses, but how are you finding it for hand holding with the 100-400mm II?
2. What is the battery life like using it with the 100-400mm II?
3. How well does the AF work when trying to focus on a bird surrounded by foliage?
4. How well does the AF find and lock on to a bird in flight?
5. I am very interested in the burst mode where, for example, you can focus on a perched bird and it takes off and the camera records shots before you fully depress the button. But, I have read that it is difficult to extract the individual frames. Is this so?

Answers to any or all of these questions will be greatly appreciated.
1 - I've said it a fair few times here, but I find it perfectly fine and in fact that lens is the one that almost lives on my M6 II. I'm up to 5000+ shots using said combination. I *always* use the EVF. I've also used a 400/2.8 which was interesting.... well you are going to be using at the least a monopod with that lens.

2 - Minimum 847 shots over 5 hours with the camera on all the time, I usually get better. Last weekend was shooting triathlon for pay and I got just over 2000 with the camera up to my face much more (and thence the rear LCD off most of the time)

3,4 - I'm not a good birder and nor am I focused on it but for what it's worth I have tried the M6 II vs BIF and I found that once it gets a tracking lock, it holds well with busy backgrounds. You do have to give it a good hint what you want it to lock on esp at greater distances and how to do that I will defer to people who are more experienced with BIF. I did find that in AF+Tracking it holds resonably well. Again, my technique and knowledge how to shoot BIF isnt great so I'm sure someone who is good at it will do a lot better than I can.

I'll say that when it comes to other things in flight like aircraft....


It's brilliant.

I can dig out BIF's I have gotten but as I have pointed up I'm not good in that area so quality or value wont be good.

5 - Managed to do it with DPP once I did some googling. Otherwise in camera is pretty good as outlined above. The AF while doing burst mode is amazing.
 
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bhf3737

---
CR Pro
Sep 9, 2015
582
985
Calgary, Canada
www.flickr.com
1. The ergonomics are not intended for using with large lenses, but how are you finding it for hand holding with the 100-400mm II?
2. What is the battery life like using it with the 100-400mm II?
3. How well does the AF work when trying to focus on a bird surrounded by foliage?
4. How well does the AF find and lock on to a bird in flight?
5. I am very interested in the burst mode where, for example, you can focus on a perched bird and it takes off and the camera records shots before you fully depress the button. But, I have read that it is difficult to extract the individual frames. Is this so?
I have used M6II + EF 100-400 LII (hand held) for birding on a few occasions. The following are based on my personal observation, preferences and degree of comfort with the camera and may not generalize to every user.

Answer to Q1. Hand holding with 100-400LII was OK. I usually attach it to a Peak Design leash and wrap it around my wrist. The whole combo is lighter and it adds to the degree of comfort with the camera. I was not happy with the detachable viewfinder and found it flimsy and easy to bump it to objects when handholding the camera. I wish it had built-in EVF like M5.

Answer to Q2. I could constantly get about 500 or more shots with one battery. Never lost a shot because of a dead battery but always carried two extra batteries, just in case.

Answer to Q3-Q4. Acquiring focus for steady and slow moving birds (e.g. bird on a branch, a pelican, etc.) was excellent. Touch focus was very handy here. Setting a pre-focus point and waiting for birds to come into zone for faster moving birds (e.g. chickadees and ducks in flight) was also excellent. For smaller and fast moving birds, the AF could not keep up well with the movement and usually had some shots out of focus. Unlike 7DII, there are no AF cases to be set in the menus, so the AF system is not that customizable to your liking. In addition, the buffer was not that deep and the system slows down after about 20 RAW+Jpeg. Unlike some cameras from other manufacturers, M6II still allows you to take pictures at a reduced speed while clearing the buffer.

Answer to Q5. I have not used that feature and did not find it necessary. I usually rely on my own judgement of the bird's next move and push the shutter habitually.

Overall, compared to M5, the picture quality (resolution, noise level) and AF is much better but ergonomics is worse because of detachable viewfinder.
Do I want to use it again on a hiking trip? Perhaps no because other more capable options such as R (less reach but better ergonomy and noise handling, larger EVF) or 90D (OVF, better ergonomy) are available. Currently M6II + 100-400LII sit on a gimbal head next to the backyard window facing the frozen trees and bushes outside and waiting for the spring birds to show up in 5-6 months!!
Some typical shots with this combo are below,
20191008 214b.jpg
20191013 288b.jpg
 
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