Child and Family Photography with the Canon EOS 6D Mark II

October 10, 2017

Keeping up with the coolest new camera gear is almost as challenging as keeping up with kids. As a mom who loves to take pictures of her children I am always excited about new camera gear and eager to see how it can make photographing children easier, or help me take better pictures. If you’re a child photographer looking to take your photography to the next level, the new EOS 6D Mark II is definitely a camera you’ll want to consider.  

I’ve had my fair share of cameras and I could see this one becoming a new favorite for a variety of reasons. In this article I’ll break down six reasons why the EOS 6D Mark II is great for family and childhood photography.

1. Full Frame

Years ago I started out with a Rebel XS, and after a couple years I upgraded to a full-frame body. The first major difference I noticed was having more space to shoot my photographs. I didn’t have to back up as much when using my EF 50mm lens, for example.

The next benefit, which is a huge one, is added low-light sensitivity. Larger sensors usually mean each pixel on the image sensor is larger, so the camera is more sensitive to light. It’s a big help when you’re shooting inside in low-light conditions.

My daughter’s room hardly gets any light, so when she’s playing in there I need all the light that I can get. With the EOS 6D Mark II, I can bump my ISO up to 10,000 or more if I need to, and get less noticeable noise.

When taking lifestyle photos of children, we are usually trying to capture moments as they are, without the help of artificial lights or a studio setup. So the added light-gathering we get from the larger sensor helps to take better photographs indoors.

2. Size

Another big difference I found when I first upgraded from my EOS Canon Rebel XS to the full-frame EOS 5D Mark II was the sizable difference in weight — the 5D was noticeably heavier. Added size and weight have usually been the price of admission into a full-frame digital SLR camera.

But the EOS 6D Mark II is Canon’s lightest and smallest full-frame DSLR.  As a mom who likes to keep her camera in her purse this is a huge benefit for me. I already have a lot of things that I keep on me, and I do like to bring my camera along in case I want to have an impromptu photo shoot or there’s a fun moment I want to capture.

I like to keep a small and light “pancake” lens on my camera body, which really emphasizes the compact size of the 6D Mark II. I love the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 lens. That paired with the 6D Mark II is a great combination to get beautiful photos without weighing myself down. And with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, it’s got the same available-light capabilities as Canon’s fastest, pro-level zoom lenses, in a far more compact package. If you go on shoots with several lenses on hand you’ll find the lighter body of this full-frame camera to be a nice perk.

3. Vari-angle LCD Monitor

One thing I have missed on the full-frame Canon bodies is the Vari-angle screen. I love that it’s a feature on the EOS 6D Mark II. Here’s an example of how it came in handy when I was trying to photograph my kids.

On rare occasions my kids decide to pair up and share a bed at night. It’s totally adorable, but I’m usually unable to capture the sweet moment because it’s too dark in the room. This time they left one lamp on, and though it was still dark in the room, I was able to bump up my ISO, and use my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens wide-open at f/2.8 to snap this picture in the subdued light. Also, normally I’d have to guess the angle, or try to stand above to take it but in this case I just flipped the screen out, stretched my arms out above them and used Live View mode to take the shot.

The Vari-angle screen also comes in handy when I’m wanting to get creative with my angles, whether up high or down low out at a playground or during a fun activity.

4. Autofocus

With how much kids move, they can be difficult enough to get in focus before you’re even trying to get specific with AF points.

When it comes to composing and focusing my shot, I like to pinpoint where I want my focus point to be, then set a single point and stick with it. I use this when I’m photographing my kids when they’re sitting relatively still. The EOS 6D Mark II has a 45-point AF system, so there are a lot of different AF points to choose from. One downside to this is that when I hand over my camera to someone else who isn’t used to using a DSLR, they may not understand the concept of a focus point. My husband for example usually misses getting sharp focus, because he’s not getting the single AF point on a primary subject. Now, I use the Zone AF mode to set a larger focus area—usually a little off to the right or left so that we aren’t dead center in the picture. Then tell him to make sure he frames us where the squares are and he can compose and take a shot in focus.

It is also useful when you’re working with kids on the move. There are several AF Area choices, to expand the size of your active focus area, and these can be great for getting sharp focus with fast-moving kids.

Another handy tool is Live View focusing. I like using this when I want to be in front of the camera, or when I can’t keep my eye in the the viewfinder because of the angle I’m taking the photograph.

While in Live View mode, simply touch the LCD screen where you want it to focus. This works great with both still and moving subjects.

5. Video

If you haven’t started incorporating video into your routine you may want to consider it. Photos are beautiful and for many, that’s the goal. But it’s a great bonus to add in some motion elements to a slideshow or photo package. Watching the children come to life, hearing their voices, facial expressions, and movement on video years later is just as priceless as photos.

Though the main reason I first upgraded to a full-frame DSLR was for photos, being able to take beautiful video on the same camera has been a huge benefit.

When out with my kids I’m able to take great photographs using the EF lenses I love, then switch to video mode if I want to capture some of the moment on video.

The same touchscreen focusing mechanism I just mentioned comes in handy when I’m wanting to create a smooth cinematic-looking focus from one child to the other on different ends of the playground.  And I can even flip the screen around so it faces forward, set my camera down, then go get in some of the video myself. I’m able to check and make sure I’m still in the shot without having to stop recording, and play it back from behind the camera each time.

If you’ve avoided shooting video because video editing on a computer seems daunting, you’ll find another cool built-in feature on this camera: Video Snapshot. This can blend different short video “clips” into one finished file. It lets you decide whether each video will be 2, 4 or 8 seconds long, and then puts them together into one finished video called an “album.” You can even change the order of each video snapshot in an album, or delete any you don’t want.

6. Built-in Wi-Fi®

As artists we enjoy sharing our work, right? I love being able to do that quicker using the built-in Wi-Fi technology. It allows me to connect the camera to my smartphone so I can download and share the photo I just took immediately, rather than waiting until I get home and upload it to my computer. For clients, you can save the images to your phone or tablet so they can see larger previews instantly. The EOS 6D Mark II also has Bluetooth connectivity, so you can stay connected even when you’re not actively using the mobile device. The free Canon Camera Connect app can be downloaded and installed on compatible Android and iOS tablets or smartphones.

Another handy way I like to use the Wi-Fi is to remotely control the camera so I can get in the photo too. I set up the camera on a tripod, or prop it up on some nearby furniture. We take out my mobile device and I can remotely shoot with a two-second delay, then I position myself in the frame with my kids without needing to ask for help or rely on a timer. I can also adjust my settings from the Canon Camera Connect mobile app, so if a cloud comes or the lighting changes or looks different when I’m sitting down, I can adjust it all from my phone then snap the picture.

If you’re considering stepping up your photography game to capture photos of families, or even your own family, the 6D Mark II is a great option. You’ll get stellar images, even in low-light conditions, and have opportunities to get creative shots and even video all in one camera.

The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.

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