I wrote a few months back that 2021 might mark the end of the EOS M camera line. Canon appears to be all in on the new RF mount cameras and this is understandable as the system is proving to be world class. But I also made a case for why the M series is still viable. Check that out here. The M system is small and compact and the EF-M mount is 30% smaller allowing for much more compact lenses and bodies.

Since I believe Canon is not going to release a Mark II version of the M5, I decided to buy the M6 Mark II. So far I am very impressed. I am a bit annoyed about having to return to an EVF that is attached to the hot shoe rather than built in. But the camera makes up for that with a clearly superior build quality to the predecessor models M5 and M6, and much improved performance with a superior sensor and updated processor.

I bought an EOS R5 in 2020 and I love the camera. It has been nothing short of stupendous. But it is a full sized camera with full sized lenses that make the camera less than ideal for compact carry. This is why I intend to keep the EOS M system in some capacity indefinitely. The M6 Mark II is a very versatile camera offing fast and accurate AF with Canon’s eye tracking ability and shooting speeds of 14 fps with AF.

Another aspect to the system I like is the Metabones Speed Booster. This allows me to mount an EF lens to my EF-M camera and realize a one stop speed boost. I have written about this technology quite a bit including this post here. With the Metabones this M6 Mark II serves as a backup camera to my R5 because I use mostly EF lenses anyway on that body. The Metabones eliminates most of the crop factor which means I can use this camera as a backup to my R5!

I am mostly using this camera for travel and as a camera for “fun” when I am out shooting snapshots. My iPhone 12 Pro takes pretty good photos but the M6 Mark II is much better particularly when telephoto shots are needed. I am still a long ways away from ceding to my phone any serious photography efforts.

The 32mp sensor seems to have better dynamic range than the previous 24mp sensor and that is likely due to new technology and processing power. This camera is excellent and the fact that Canon sells it for $900 new is amazing. Of course you have to pay an extra $200 for the EVF and I would recommend that wholeheartedly.

When comparing the M6 mark II to the R5 in size, I can barely fit the R5 with one small lens in the same bag I get the M6 Mark II and 5 lenses in! There is no comparison in size between the two systems. The R5 is ten times the camera but it is not convenient for travel and other activities where a heavy bag is intrusive to the experience. It is here where my old M5 and now this M6 Mark II thrive.

For those of you that use Sony, much of what I love about the M6 Mark II can be replicated by using one of Sony’s a6000 series cameras. Notably the a6400 or a6600 models. The latter offers IBIS which is not offered in any Canon M series camera. Sony also has the advantage of sharing lens mounts between the two systems a6000 series and the full frame a7 series.

My M6 Mark II system includes the following APS-C lenses:

  • Samyang UMC Fish-Eye 8mm f/2.8 II (manual focus)
  • Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM
  • Sigma EF-S 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM (with Canon EF-EF-M adapter)
  • Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM (pancake)
  • Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM
  • KamLan EF-M 50mm f/1.1 (manual focus)
  • Metabones EF-EF-M speed booster 0.71x

The first five are part of my “travel kit” that all fits tidy in a camera bag barely big enough to hold 3 soda cans. One of the fun things to do with this small camera is portraits using an older LTM or M mount rangefinder lens. There are dozens of cool adapters allowing you to mount vintage glass on most mirrorless cameras including the EOS M series. I get great results shooting my old school Leica glass on this camera.

Below are some shots I did today with the camera just goofing around. All the images were made with the Canon EF-M 32/1.4 except the picture of my dog was done with the vintage Leica Summarit 50/1.5 in LTM mount on an adapter. This M6 Mark II is a solid camera and it works pretty well for video too, I have a couple of PhotoFair videos up on YouTube done with this camera.

Serenar Serenade

I have had a Canon 85mm f/1.9 LTM rangefinder lens for years and years. I love this lens and yet I have never given it a nod on this blog. Oh sure, I’ve mentioned it in passing. But today I want to dive in to this classic masterpiece. For the record Canon had several variants to this lens, all similar looking with similar designs. In 1948 Canon introduced the Seranar 8.5cm f/2.0 lens for the Canon and Leica rangefinder cameras in 39mm screw mount. The following year Canon adopted the mm marking and the lens became the 85mm f/2.0. In 1951 Canon added a smidgen of speed to the Serenar with the f/1.9 version. In 1958 Canon modified the barrel with a new lighter alloy and offered a black finish. Similar design and image results can be expected among all of these Serenar lenses. In 1952 Canon added a crazy fast 85mm f/1.5 to their lineup of rangefinder portrait lenses and later in 1961 replaced the Serenar 85mm f/1.9 with the Canon 85mm f/1.8. This lens was optically the best of the bunch and remains an impressive performer even by today’s standards.

I have an older 1950s Serenar and I love the way this lens renders bokeh and it is reasonably sharp as well. I love the fact that these can be found for a couple hundred dollars at camera shows like the PhotoFair or at camera shops that sell vintage gear and Ebay. The later 1.8 lens is more expensive and the 1.5 is hard to find. Not sure how the 1.5 is optically. The later model 1.8 is outstanding.

These lenses are fairly compact in size but they are rather heavy. These early lenses were rather generous in their use of brass and steel components. Couple that heavy metal with a sizable chunk of real glass and you end up with a 600 gram lens.

I have always been pleased with the results his lens delivers. These older canon rangefinder lenses had aperture diaphragm assembly with 11-14 blades and that makes near perfect circles allowing bokeh balls to remain circular even stopped down.

I never get tired of shooting with these vintage lenses. They are not clinically perfect like some of the modern lenses made by Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Zeiss but they have so much character. Frankly they are sharp enough and they have that amazing vintage look 🙂

Why not pick one of these classics up at the next show or on Ebay. These things are great and when you shoot them, if you think about it, you can just imagine all the amazing images that have been made over and over, decade upon decade. The things this lens has seen, the images captured, thousands upon thousands of captures made across the nation or even the world, stored in basements and attic all over the fruited plain, the images of posterity and a bygone era. You can be the next in line to add to line of great images forever caught in moment through a lens made when Harry Truman was President 🙂

Below are some images made with the Seranar 85/1.9

Betsy in the grass, Canon EOS R with Canon Serenar 85mm f/1.9 at f/1.9 close focusing LTM adapter
Betsy in the yard, Canon EOS R with Canon Serenar 85mm f/1.9 at f/1.9 close focusing LTM adapter
EOS R5 with Serenar 85mm f/1.9 at f/1.9 close focus adapter
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