Sony A6600, Canon EOS M6 Mark II show there's still a little life in APS-C cameras

Four new APS-C cameras are coming our way, with trickle-down features from their full-frame flagships.

The A6600's screen has more flexible tilting angles and a deeper grip -- with a bigger battery -- than the A6500.
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Sony and Canon announced updates to their mainstream APS-C cameras -- the Sony A6100 and A6600 and the Canon EOS M6 Mark II and EOS 90D -- and as if it wasn't already obvious, they make it clearer that cameras based around the APS-C-size sensor have very much ceded place to their larger-sensored full-frame siblings when it comes to innovation. They now get the technological hand-me-downs. With prices for older full-frame models like Sony's A7 II now below $1,000, it's not surprising. But if nothing else, the newer APS-C models tend to inherit better, more recent autofocus systems and processing engines that may be worth the image quality trade-off (which you may not even notice) for shooting action.

Sony A6100, A6600

The A6000 was just too good for its time, and in the five years since it launched the price has dropped to make it a great value. Sony's been trying to lure buyers upstream to models like the A6300 and more recently, the A6400, but it takes a lot to displace a great deal. Sony's taking another stab with the A6100. 

It's slated to ship in October for $750 (body only), $850 with the 16-50mm power-zoom lens and $1,100 for a kit with the 16-50mm and 55-210mm lenses.

Though Sony touts a lot of "new" features, like an improved autofocus system with its real-time tracking and 4K video, they're only new if you compare it with the old A6000; it looks like the A6100 is more a stripped-down A6400, with the old viewfinder from the A6000 and no support for Picture Profiles, Sony's settings for shooting video that you're planning to edit for exposure and color. It costs $150 more than the A6000 and $150 less than the A6400.


The A6000's body is the gift that keeps on giving; the design of its successors hasn't changed significantly since 2014, and the A6100 is no exception.

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While it might succeed at making a slight dent in demand for the old model, I don't think the A6100 moves the needle enough for people who are looking for a cheap-but-decent camera kit under $500, especially given how much of a bargain the A6000 routinely becomes around the holiday shopping season. To me, improvements in autofocus and processing are always worth an upgrade, but at that level it's almost all about price. In fact, it's more likely to eat into sales of the A6400, as well it should. 

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On the higher end, Sony's new flagship A6600 improves on the A6500 (when did that turn 2 years old?) with one significant update to the body: support for the higher-capacity Z batteries. Even after all these years, battery life in mirrorless cameras is subpar, and Sony's the only manufacturer who actually takes that seriously. It makes the grip bigger, which isn't a bad thing if you regularly use heavy lenses on it. It also adds a headphone jack, which is critical for monitoring audio quality for more-than-casual video, and a screen that flips up and down to more obtuse angles and you can now use touch for focusing, tracking and shooting.

It also inherits a lot of capabilities from the latest version of Sony's Bionz X image-processing engine that we first saw in the A9 and more recently in the A7R IV, such as internal HDR 4K/30p video, interval shooting, real-time tracking and eye AF in movies and updated Picture Profile support.

When it ships in November it will be pricier than the A6500 was at launch: $1,400 for the body and $1,800 for a kit with an 18-135mm lens.

Canon EOS M6 Mark II

The Canon EOS M6 Mark II continues its "viewfinder optional" policy.


Canon EOS M6 Mark II, 90D

Canon on the other hand, sticks to its strategy of leaving the viewfinder optional for the update to its competing enthusiast mirrorless, the $850 EOS M6 Mark II, the successor to the EOS M6; alone, the viewfinder costs another $200. It's bundled with the kits, though, at $1,099 for the kit with the 15-45mm lens and $1,349 for the 18-150mm kit. The M6 Mark II is scheduled to ship in September.

But Canon is increasingly turning its dSLR and mirrorless models into twin sons of different mothers -- essentially, the same camera, but a little more tailored to the desires of buyers leaning toward one technology or the other. So in addition to updating the mirrorless, Canon also debuted a successor to EOS 80D DSLR, the 90D. 

That will run you $1,199 for the body, $1,349 for a kit with the 18-55mm IS STM lens and $1,599 with the 18-135mm IS USM.

Both get a bump to a higher-resolution 32.5-megapixel Dual Pixel CMOS sensor with on-chip phase-detection autofocus -- 5,481 points, in this case -- and a newer Digic 8 image processor that expands the sensitivity range a hair. It also brings UHD 4K/30p and 1080/120p video capabilities, eye and face detection AF in the viewfinder (90D) and continuous eye detection AF for video (in Live View for the 90D).

The most significant boost for both is much improved continuous-shooting performance: 10fps for the 90D with continuous AF and 14fps for the M6 Mark II, and a 30fps "raw burst" mode for the 90D.

Canon EOS 90D

The Canon EOS 90D's design is pretty much the same as the 80D.


The 90D's body remains essentially unchanged from the 80D, save for growing a tiny bit, but the M6 Mark II has received some notable physical enhancements. They include a more substantial grip, swapping the exposure-compensation dial for a context-sensitive one and a slight rejiggering of the control layout. 

The M6 Mark II also inherits the Fv exposure mode from the EOS RP, which is essentially all the priority-exposure modes rolled into one simple control; you adjust whichever setting you want, shutter speed, aperture or ISO sensitivity, and the others float to compensate. If you switch among the different modes frequently, it's a nice streamlining feature.


The 16-55mm f2.8 lens is a welcome addition to Sony's E-mount line.

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Despite the update in its EOS M line, the lack of fast lenses continues to make Canon's APS-C mirrorless models feel like an afterthought. Canon announced new lenses for its full-frame cameras in its L series lens line for professionals -- the RF24-70mm f2.8 is especially critical to filling a key hole in its professional lineup for that mount, and is coming in late September for $2,299 along with a similarly priced RF15-35mm f2.8.  Canon also announced another big hole-filler, an RF70-200mm f2.8 L, but there's no definite ETA on that -- sometime later this year -- and no price.

Sony, though, further emphasized its commitment to APS-C with two new G lenses -- its midquality line. A compact 16-55mm f2.8 is coming in October 2019 for $1,400; the high price reflects dust and moisture resistance, a Nano AR coating and fluorine on the front element for protection, among other things. The new $1,000 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 coming in November is a more general-purpose offering and includes optical stabilization; you need it for that long a focal length and it's more likely to be used on one of the lower-end cameras that still lack in-body stabilization.