Canon M6 vs Sony A850
The Canon EOS M6 and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2017 and August 2009. The M6 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A850 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (M6) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS M6 and the Sony Alpha A850? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon M6 and the Sony A850. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M6 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A850 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is considerably larger (140 percent) than the Canon M6. Moreover, the A850 is substantially heavier (129 percent) than the M6. It is noteworthy in this context that the A850 is splash and dust-proof, while the M6 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|2.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|3.||Canon M6 Mark II||120 mm||70 mm||49 mm||408 g||305||n||Aug 2019||849|
|4.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|5.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|7.||Canon G7 X Mark II||106 mm||61 mm||42 mm||319 g||265||n||Feb 2016||699|
|8.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|9.||Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|10.||Fujifilm X-E3||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||n||Sep 2017||899|
|11.||Fujifilm X-T20||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||n||Jan 2017||899|
|12.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|13.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|14.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|15.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|16.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|17.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The M6 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 61 percent) than the A850, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon M6 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 160 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the M6 (24MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.72μm for the M6) due to its larger sensor. However, the M6 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 5 months) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The M6 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS M6 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|3.||Canon M6 Mark II||APS-C||32.3||6960||4640||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|14.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|15.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|17.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The M6 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the M6 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A850 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the M6 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the M6 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF-DC2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon M6 and Sony A850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon M6||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon M6 Mark II||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||14.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon M50||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 77D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1||Y||n|
|7.||Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon M5||2360||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|9.||Canon M3||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n|
|10.||Fujifilm X-E3||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||n|
|11.||Fujifilm X-T20||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The M6 has one, while the A850 does not. While the built-in flash of the M6 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The M6 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the A850 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon M6 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The M6 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M6 only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS M6 and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon M6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon M6 Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon M50||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Canon 77D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon M5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon M3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Fujifilm X-E3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|11.||Fujifilm X-T20||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the M6 offers wifi support, while the A850 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the M6) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the M6 and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M6 was replaced by the Canon M6 Mark II, while the A850 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon M6 or the Sony A850 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS M6:
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (112x68mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 505g or 56 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (61 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 5 months of technical progress since the A850 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A850:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 295) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the M6 is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon M6 and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M6 and the A850 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon M6||..||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|2.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|3.||Canon M6 Mark II||..||+||4.5/5||85/100||4/5||4/5||Aug 2019||849|
|4.||Canon M50||..||+||4/5||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|5.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|6.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|7.||Canon G7 X Mark II||4.5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||699|
|8.||Canon M5||4/5||+||4/5||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|9.||Canon M3||4/5||o||..||75/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|10.||Fujifilm X-E3||4.5/5||+||4.5/5||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2017||899|
|11.||Fujifilm X-T20||5/5||+ +||5/5||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||899|
|12.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||4/5||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|13.||Sony A99 II||..||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|14.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|15.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|16.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|17.||Sony A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon M6 vs Sony A850
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon M6||Sony A850|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2017||August 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 779||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M6||Sony A850|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 7||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1415|
|Screen Specs||Canon M6||Sony A850|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M6||Sony A850|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or MS cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M6||Sony A850|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon M6||Sony A850|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||295 shots per charge||880 shots per charge|
112 x 68 x 45 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.8 in)
156 x 117 x 82 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||390 g (13.8 oz)||895 g (31.6 oz)|
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