Canon 6D Review | Field Test: Canon’s highest quality DSLR yet!

Gear & Apps January 10th 2013 5:35 PM 43 Comments

Canon 6D Review Intro

Canon shooters, photography enthusiasts, aspiring pros, …are you on a quest for the ultimate DSLR? You’ve probably already upgraded once or twice. You traded in your Rebel for a 40D, or a 7D. You traded that in for a 5D, or a 5D mk2… And yet you still wonder if there is a better camera for you. Should you spend $3,300 on a 5D mk3, or even $6,000 on the  Canon 1DX?  You’re not photographing the Winter Olympics or celebrity weddings in Tahiti just yet, but you still want the best image quality possible. Of course you’d rather not sacrifice any performance either!

The Canon EOS 6D has recently taken the DSLR world by storm.  At an MSRP of only $2099, it joins the Nikon D600 with the title of “most affordable new full-frame DSLR ever!”   It has a brand-new 20 megapixel full-frame sensor, with high expectations from Canon fans to meet.  It boasts a couple DSLR-firsts, including built-in wifi and built-in GPS!

At first glance, it sounds like the ultimate camera for many different types of photographers.  Under the hood, however, a few of the less exciting features might be cause for concern.  So, is the Canon 6D a winner?  Or is it just another update?  Let’s find out!

 Canon 6D, Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L mk2,
Radio wireless flash

Review Disclaimer:

This review is NOT done in a laboratory. It is a field test, a personal experience. There are plenty of “labs” out there for you, if you simply want to read numbers on a chart and draw your own “on-paper” conclusions. However if you want to read the personal, professional opinion of a full-time photographer then you have come to the right place.

This review is based on field testing in various types of shooting conditions, from professional wedding photography to landscapes and star time lapses.

Purchase the Canon 6D from B&H for $2099 (currently with a 2% reward and $59 in accessories!)

Purchase the Canon 6D from B&H for $2699 (currently with a $200 rebate and a 2% reward!)

Overall Canon 6D Decision: The 6D is my new #1 favorite “Adventure Photography” DSLR!

The bottom line is that the 6D is incredible, but it pushes in a very new direction so it is hard to judge.  It is one of the best values on the market today, and it is a smart choice for many different types of photographers from enthusiasts to full-time pros.  If you’re looking for a DSLR with the absolute best image quality, and almost no compromises with respect to general performance and features, then you should strongly consider the 6D.

However to be honest, many of the reasons why I love the 6D aren’t the most mainstream items.  Some photographers may not value these things, and may be fine if they stick with their current camera, or may be better off buying a different camera.  So with that said, here are my tmost favorite points, in no particular order:

  • Quick-Zoom playback button on an affordable DSLR
    Yay!  This was one huge disappointment for me on the Nikon D600:  the lack of a one-click zooming feature during playback, like all my other Nikon cameras have, and like the new Cano 5D mk3 has.  On the Canon 6D, there is now a dedicated magnifying glass button right within perfect reach of your thumb. Unlike all previous Canon DSLRs throughout history, you can now zoom in right away, without having to first press the playback button!  That always annoyed me to death, to have Canon cameras that would do instant playback and show me the image, but would still require me to hit the “playback” button with my left hand before I could zoom in and check focus.  It sounds like a very minor issue, but it makes a huge difference if you’re on the clock.  One tip I can give:  Set your 6D zoom to “Actual Size”, so that with a single tap of the button you can go straight to 100% zoom.  Even if you used an off-center focus point, the camera still goes to that point!
  • The Canon 6D high ISO performance
    I know that many traditional landscape photographers spend 99% of their time at ISO 100 and couldn’t possibly care about how “usable” ISO 12800 is, but I’m not a traditional landscape photographer.  In addition to the regular types of landscapes and architecture, I also really love shooting “nightscapes” of stars and things. I’m really into both star trails and time lapse videos, both of which can greatly benefit from clean high ISO performance.   Plus of course I also shoot weddings and other low-light events, where ISO performance is frequently the #1 concern. Either way, this camera delivers on an unprecedented level.
  • The Canon 6D Built-in GPS for adventure photography
    Instead of an expensive name-brand accessory, or a potentially buggy or cheap-o 3rd party accessory, the 6D’s built-in GPS is very helpful when it comes to travels and adventures.  You don’t have to worry about accidentally bumping your camera while a GPS adapter is attached, which could totally break the adapter and/or damage the camera connections.  With GPS built-in, I can simply turn it on or off and track wherever I go, even if it is a remote location.
  • The Canon 6D Lightweight, compact, simple controls
    I’m glad that Canon did what they could to minimize weight and overall control clutter, without sacrificing functionality.  The 6D feels like the perfect combination of these things.  Unlike on a Nikon, I can change my ISO with my right hand alone. And unlike on the Nikon D600, I can zoom in instantly with just my right hand as well.  These types of things just make the 6D a pleasure to handle.  Even as a working professional, I would definitely want to own a 6D as a lightweight compliment to a 5D mk3, a 7D, or even a 1-series.  I’ll grab those big hefty flagship / pro cameras when I really need their extra performance, but while I was testing the 6D I found myself using it as often as I possibly could simply because it was easier on my hands / shoulders / neck / back etc.   As both a casual camera and a professional tool, I’d love to reach for a 6D and a 35mm f/2.0 IS, or 85mm f/1.8, instead of a 5D mk3 and a 24-70…
  • The Canon 6D Autofocus is Impressive
    No, it’s not a flagship level of AF performance.  However unlike Canon’s previous 9-point AF systems, I had a much harder time getting the 6D’s amazing center AF point to “choke”, and the off-center AF points were quite useful as well even sometimes in very poor conditions.  In other words: Canon has clearly NOT just added two AF points to the  5D mk2, there is more under the hood than meets the eye.  Canon actually claims that the 6D can autofocus in light as dim as -3 EV, which is a first for any DSLR as far as I know; even the 1DX and D4 are only rated to -2 EV.
  • The Canon 6D Great mRAW performance
    This may not sound like much, so allow me to explain:  For wedding and event photojournalism, or just for casual photography, I usually just use Canon’s mRAW or sRAW1 modes and am extremely happy with the ~10 megapixel resolution.  It saves me not only memory card space and hard drive space, but also editing time.  In the past however, both the Canon 5D Mk2 and the 5D mk3 have had slight issues with their down-scaled RAW image quality.  Mainly, the 5D mk3 has serious problems with green banding and noise in shadows, almost to the point that images are un-usable if you need to push the dynamic range past a minimal amount.  Well, in all my testing so far the 6D’s mRAW mode looks exactly the same as full RAW size!  I’m very happy about this; again for both casual and high-volume shooting, this is very useful.
ISO 100, f/11, 1/180 sec

Canon 6D, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L mk2, mRAW mode
100% crop, un-edited 

Canon 6D, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L mk2, mRAW mode
100% crop, edited (Minimal signs of the classic Canon vertical shadow banding)

Canon 6D, Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8
F/16, ISO 100, 1/125 sec.

 

Canon 6D, Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8
F/16, ISO 100, 1/125 sec.  (100% crop)

What didn’t I like about the 6D?

  • I did slightly miss the usual “joystick” button found on the likes of the 5-series and 1-series cameras, but I could tell that it wouldn’t be too hard to grow accustomed to using the larger “joypad” that is built into the rear scroll wheel.  If you have smaller hands you’ll probably actually LOVE this change, and if you have larger hands it may simply take some getting used to.
  • I found the menus to be a little tougher to navigate compared to other Canons, because they have shrunken the “tabs” down to just little dots.  Again, something simply to get used to, not a deal-breaker.
  • Of course as a wedding photographer I did miss having a PC sync port, however that’s mostly because I simply didn’t plan ahead and bring the right equipment to work around this issue.  More on that in a minute!
  • I was slightly bummed by the lack of dual card slots. I actually don’t mind SD cards themselves, I just wish that the 6D was like the D600 and had dual SD card slots.
  • White balance is no longer on the right-hand top panel. :-(  Some Canon shooters will really hurt from this, however, since I’m a Kelvin shooter I’ve already just gotten used to going into the menu on Canon DSLRs since that’s the only way to dial Kelvin on most Canons.  Still, it’s one important change to be aware of.
  • Like all full-frame cameras, (excluding the 5D mk3 and 1DX) the AF points are clumped in the center.  A 7D by comparison will have focus points almost everywhere in the viewfinder, and they’re cross-type too.  Not a deal breaker for casual photography or any type of landscape / architecture, however for action and photojournalism it can be a noticeable drawback.

So, there you have it.  A mixed bag of factors indeed, and thankfully I fall into one of the groups for which the 6D is perfectly designed.  With significant improvements in image quality and functionality over pretty much every other Canon DSLR on the market, I bet all photographers could find a place for this camera in their bag…

The question is still, should you buy it?  Cameras these days are already pretty awesome!  In other words: Even if the 6D is stunning, what if you already have a Canon 7D, or a Canon 5D Mk2, etc? Do you NEED to upgrade to the 6D?  Or, should you upgrade to something else?  Let’s approach this camera-by-camera, and then from the standpoint of shooting subjects.

Compared to the Canon 7D:

As far as original MSRP price goes, the Canon 7D is the closest neighbor to the 6D.  Even though you can get it for less today, in 2009 the 7D first sold for $1700.  That’s just $400 less than the MSRP of the 6D.  Actually, the 6D price already dropped once to $1999 back around Christmas, thanks to a rebate!  (BEWARE! I looked around online and there are a few sites currently offering the 6D for less than $2099, however they are most likely scams!  Click HERE to read my article on careful online camera purchasing.)

Anyways, versus the Canon 7D, the 6D is a bit of a conundrum.  The 6D is NOT just a full-frame version of the 7D.  For starters, the 7D has a noticeably higher frame rate, (shooting speed) with 8 FPS compared to 4.5 FPS, and a slightly more powerful autofocus system overall, with 19 cross-type AF points instead of 11 points and a single cross-type.  Additionally, the rest of the camera is a little more powerful overall. (Bottom line:  The 6D is more like a 60D on full-frame steroids.)

However, many of the 7D’s advantages are really only mandatory if you are a serious sports action shooter.  If you’re a general photographer who just happened to buy a 7D because it was the best camera at the time, and you simply want a “prosumer” body with the best possible image quality, you can safely upgrade to the 6D and be blown away.  Unfortunately, if you did in fact  buy a 7D specifically for it’s speed and accuracy, you may want to keep it around, or consider a 5D mk3 instead as a full-frame upgrade if you’re in the market.

Compared to the Canon 5D Mk2:

For many photographers who have been dying to upgrade to full-frame as affordably as possible, the 5D mk2 is a great option.   So, why would you by a 6D instead of a 5D mk2?  For things like general landscape or portrait photography, the 5D mk2 might be all you need.  However as I mentioned earlier-  if you really push the envelope, either with respect to dynamic range or high ISO, you’ll find that the 6D fairly trounces the 5D mk2. Also, personally, the few new features such as 1-click zooming, lighter weight, better autofocus, and built in GPS definitely help me prefer the 6D over the 5D mk2.  However, when it comes to the core specs such as resolution, FPS and autofocus points, for some the 5D mk2 could remain a better option.

Compared to the Canon 5D Mk3:

The Canon 5D mk3 is the one Canon full-frame DSLR that comes “close” in price, and has a significant overall performance boost.  All the other cameras (as we just discussed) have plenty of trade-offs.

The bottom line is this:  If you only care about image quality, then the 6D is a serious contender. The 6D’s dynamic range might be slightly better than the 5D mk3 in certain lab tests, however in real-world testing it’s not noticeable until you push way past the “envelope”. The ISO performance is another story altogether- The 6D definitely comes out on top, and has more usable ISO 6400 and 12800 for things like star time lapses and general low-light shooting.

The main reason to buy the 5D mk3 instead is if you’re getting heavily into any type of action shooting, from gymnastics to wedding photojournalism.  From the superior autofocus system, frame rate, flash capabilities, and overall robust pro-grade quality, the 5D mk3 is a better long-term choice for a working pro.

However like I said, if I were a full-time wedding photographer who shot Canon, I’d still invest in a 6D as a backup / secondary camera, and I would probably use it as often as possible for general shooting because I just love how small and compact and lightweight it is.

Compared to the Nikon D600:

The Nikon D600 is currently the most direct competitor to the Canon 6D.  Of course its an entirely different system, however many photographers who aren’t significantly invested in a system yet (and a few who already are) are probably considering “the switch”.  Is the D600 any better or worse than the 6D?  Having also recently shot with and reviewed the D600, (click HERE) …my opinion is that the cameras are very equal. We are going to have to dig deep to find reasons why one camera is better than the other, let alone a reason to switch!

One thing is, I feel like the D600 let me down just a little more often when it comes to autofocus.  My gold standard for focus reliability is the Nikon D700, which is not the best but certainly no slouch.  With the D600 I felt like I couldn’t rely on it in certain professional situations, but with the 6D I felt like it came closer to that standard of trust. Mind you, both cameras are no slouch, and focus just fine in most conditions.

The D600 does indeed have better dynamic range, which you may prefer if you are mainly a landscape photographer whose top priorities are memgapixels and DR.  However the 6D does have better ISO performance, and the difference here is much larger than the difference in DR in my opinion.  To me this gives it a noticeable advantage over the D600 (and EVERY other camera on the market) when it comes to more specialized aspects of landscape photography, such as star trails and time lapses.  The only reasons why I’d go for a D600 instead might be it’s AIS manual focus lens compatibility, it’s built-in intervalometer, and the built-in time lapse feature.  I understand that these are pretty obscure features, so for all intents and purposes the 6D is a better camera.  I bet that many people will find more value in things like the GPS and the quick-zoom.

Canon 6D, Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye, Tripod
ISO  12800, 30 sec. @ f/2.8

Canon 6D, Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye, Tripod
ISO 12800, 30 sec. @ f/2.8, 100% crop

Canon 6D, Cano 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye, Tripod
ISO 400,  10 minute exposure @ f/4

What type of photographer should buy a 6D?

Hobbyists, advanced amateurs and aspiring pros
According to DXOMark, the only Canon DSLR that beats the 6D is the $6,000 Canon 1DX.  Of course DXOMark isn’t the bible, but it’s a good general hint that the 6D is doing something right.  No matter which camera you currently own, you can count on seeing a pretty noticeable difference in your overall image quality.  The 6D has all the features that most advanced amateurs and experienced hobbyists will need, and new features that you may have been waiting for very eagerly.

Adventure, landscape, architectural photographers (amateur and pro alike)
If you’re looking to push the envelope with adventures and landscapes, the 6D is quite possibly the ultimate DSLR.  I know I just said this about the Nikon D600, and if you value dynamic range far more than high ISO performance, the D600 is still the adventure photography champion.  However for those who are already happy with dynamic range and are looking for more ISO improvements, the 6D definitely takes the cake.  I’m very glad that both Canon and Nikon have finally decided to come out with a camera that has incredible image quality in a smaller, lighter full-frame body.

Studio / fashion photographers (amateur and pro alike)
Again, if image quality is everything, the 6D makes a great main camera or backup camera.  The limitations of shutter speeds and PC syncing are notable, but may not be deal breakers depending on how you shoot.

Hardcore pros (who are looking for a smaller system for both casual and on-the-job use)
If you are already used to lugging a 1Ds mk3 or a 1DX around for your day to day job, then you might not think twice about a 6D.  However, sometimes you want to travel, hang out with friends, or visit family etc. and you want to take pictures without sacrificing any image quality.  Pair the Canon 6D with a couple small f/1.8 or f/2 primes for your next event, and your shoulders / neck / back will really thank you!

 Canon 6D, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, ISO 12800 time lapse test

 Canon 6D, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, ISO 12800 time lapse test
100% crop of 1080p resolution frame

 

About The Nay-Sayers

The 6D received a very polarized initial response. (on the internet, at least)  Many folks fell instantly in love and started saving to afford it.  Others called it an utter failure by Canon, a lame “prosumer” camera that wasn’t going to do anything very well because of various limitations.  Others, myself included, simply had a “huh?” type response.  Who is this camera designed for? Is it good enough to be the perfect prosumer camera?  Is it good enough for professional use?  Only hands-on experience can truly answer these questions.  So before you listen to any fanboys or nay-sayers who have never held the camera that they are praising or crucifying, let’s sit down and be realistic about these things.  Again in no particular order:

  • Autofocus
    With only 11 AF points and a single cross-type center point, it seemed to be almost no improvement over the much-complained-about Canon 5D Mk2… As I already mentioned however, there is more to this camera than meets the eye.
    Even though it isn’t very impressive on paper, how does it perform in the real world? Is the camera crippled, as some say? Absolutely not. In my experience the 6D focuses amazingly well overall. Sure, the non-cross-type off-center focus points aren’t going to be as reliable as the clusters of cross-type AF points on the Canon 5D Mk3 and 1DX. However the center AF point does not disappoint, even in terrible light that the likes of the 5D mk2 would frequently choke. I found myself trusting the 6D to nail focus far more consistently. Even the off-center points can be trusted in moderately poor light, especially if you memorize which direction each AF point is sensitive to detail in.
    Overall, I am happy to say that only the most demanding of sports / wildlife etc. photographers will truly need the autofocus advantages that the 5D mk3 provides. Everything else from general photography to moderate action will be no problem on the 6D.
  • Image Quality
    We already covered this pretty much-  The 6D is  “only” 20 megapixels, which is below both the 5D mk2 and mk3, however the overall quality is incredible.  Recently, one of Canon’s main issues has been dynamic range; especially when comparing the 5D mk3 against the “king of the hill”, the Nikon D800.  Suffice it to say, the Canon 6D approaches the other champions and I feel like it is exactly what I wanted to see from Canon, plus more!
  • Limited Shutter Speed & Flash capabilities
    The final main concern that was immediately voiced when the 6D was announced was it’s subtle differences from Canon pro / flagship standards, in three respects: The maximum shutter speed is 1/4000 sec instead of 1/8000 sec, the maximum native flash sync speed is 1/180 sec instead of 1/200 or 1/250 sec, …and there is no PC sync port for studio / wireless flash connectivity.
    Essentially, this is one of the cut-and-dry differences that separates the 6D from “the big boys”. The 6D isn’t a flagship pro camera, it is built for general photography and hobbyists who will never concern themselves with these minor limitations. If you need as much flash control versatility as possible, consider a 5D mk3 or 5D mk2 even.  However, I personally think these issues are easily worked around.  A polarizer filter can cut down your light by 1-2 stops and help you cope with the shutter speed limitations.  And a “piggyback” radio wireless trigger system, or the Canon wireless triggering systems, can help you easily shoot with both on-camera and off-camera wireless flash at the same time.  So, while some of the Strobist type photographers may be disappointed by the 6D, it’s actually one of the best compromises Canon could choose to make, as opposed to cutting back in any other respect.  I don’t think it would have killed their profits to  include these features, though, and I’m disappointed that Canon left them out.  I’m just willing to make do.

Canon 6D, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L mk2
Radio wireless off-camera flash

 Canon 6D, Canon 100mm f/2.8 L Macro, mRAW

Canon 6D, Canon 100mm f/2.8 L Macro, mRAW
ISO 100, 1/500 sec. @ f/2.8, 100% crop

…But what about the Wi-Fi, GPS, and Video?

The GPS is awesome, it just works.  It doesn’t seem to gobble up the battery, either.

The video performance is, like the overall image quality, downright incredible.  I was able to take 1080p video at ISO 25600, which is another first for any DSLR as far as I know. When severely under-exposed the video is not very usable at ISO 12800 and 25600, however if the overall image is bright enough then it looks good!  Video shot at ISO 3200 and 6400 is downright beautiful, by even professional standards it is totally usable when exposed and processed correctly.

The Wi-Fi feature, unfortunately, is kind of a dud.  We literally could not figure out the convoluted procedures and proprietary software necessary for making things work.  After hours of downloading various apps, drivers, and pouring over PDF user manuals, we gave up.  From what we could gather however, there are a handful of different things you can do if you take the time to set it up.  You can print directly to a wifi enabled printer, you can share screen-resolution images with compatible mobile devices and televisions, and you can use a proprietary Canon program to view images on a computer.  Overall, if this is a feature you are interested in, prepare yourself for a little bit of frustration and trouble-shooting before things can be figured out.  ;-)

Conclusion

Like the Nikon D600, at first the Canon 6D seems like just another new camera.  But again, the excitement lies under the hood.  An amazing sensor is what caries this camera above and beyond it’s competition.  Canon has taken multiple leaps in improving image quality overall.  If your number one priority is a camera with incredible speed and versatile pro-level functions, this is not the right camera for you, or it may be a stepping stone and an eventual backup / spare time type camera.  However for every type of photography under the sun, and for that matter “under the stars”, …the 6D is definitely ready to deliver incredible images to the casual shooter, the advanced amateur, part-time pro, or even full-time pro.  Make your purchasing decision based on your balance of priorities – image quality and portability, versus specialized functionality.

For me, the Canon 6D is so impressive that I would consider buying one and adding the Can0n system to my bag, even if only for certain kinds of work.  For the hiking, backpacking, and traveling that I like to do, this is one of the best cameras I’ve ever used.

=Matt=

 

 

 

 

Purchase the Canon 6D from B&H for $2099 (currently with a 2% reward and $59 in accessories!)

Purchase the Canon 6D from B&H for $2699 (currently with a $200 rebate and a 2% reward!)

Specifications:

  • 20.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (5472×3648)
  • Digic 5+ image processor
  • ISO 100-25600 native, ISO 50, 51200, and 102400 in LO/HI
  • 11-point autofocus, diamond pattern, 1 cross-type AF point
  • -3 EV autofocus capability for center AF point, extra sensitivity with f/2.8 or faster lenses. (Standard cross type for lenses f/5.6 and faster)
  • 4.5 frames per second shooting speed
  • No pop-up flash, no built-in AF-assist
  • 3″ 1.04 megapixel LCD display, non-articulating
  • 97% viewfinder coverage, 71% magnification (0.71x)
  • 1/4000 maximum shutter speed, 1/180 maximum native flash sync
  • +/- 3-stop bracketing
  • 1080p video at 30, 25 & 24 FPS, 720p video at 60 & 50 FPS, H.264 format
  • Built-in GPS
  • Built in Wi-Fi

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About

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge. Connect with him on Google Plus

43 Comments

  1. Dennis Larsen

    i just love mine, going for a photo session to really test it out :)

    1
  2. Joel

    This has to be the best review I’ve read on the Canon 6D, and quite possibly the best review I’ve read of any camera. Informative, clear and a real pleasure to read. (p.s. I’ve read a LOT of camera reviews – way too many ;-)

    Looking forward to buying a 6D in the future. I currently have a 7D and very happy, I would keep it, but you convinced me on the 6D:

    “image quality and portability, versus specialized functionality.”

    Thanks Matt, great read!

    7
  3. James Jones

    I’ve had my 6D for a couple of weeks now and so far so good, I’m still getting used to the way certain features are set-up (menus, etc…) but overall I’m very happy. I have a 1D Mkii that has seen me good for around 8 years that still comes in useful for certain applications but the 6D is now my primary body.

    2
  4. Joram Janssen

    Thanks for the down to earth review! Coming from my beloved 40D, i think i gonna love this one even more.

    2
  5. Christophe Lambin

    First rate article. I was really disappointed when I first saw the specs for 6D. I most likely still won’t buy it, but this article made me reconsider my initial feeling about it.

    3
  6. Göker Işık

    I have night life web site, that our photographers take portrait, stage and general look of the venues/bar/clubs photographs under low light;
    We are using Canon 600D + Tamron 17-50 2.8 + Canon SpeedLite 430EX II

    I want to upgrade them for a long time. Infact I want to buy 6D body for cheaper and lighter however I dont want to make a mistake.

    Should we upgrade to;
    Canon 5D Mark III + Canon  16 -35 2.8 Usm II or
    Canon 6D + Canon  16 -35 2.8 Usm II

    Any help is appreciated.

    1
    • Doug Newton

      Definitely 6D as it, as Matt said, trounces even the 5D MKIII in low light – both for af and image quality. It is the af in particular that will be important to you.

      1
  7. Nick Roberts

    In your comparison with the 5D II, you suggest that camera might be better for FPS – but the 5D II’s max speed is 3.9 FPS, whereas the 6 manages 4.5. And I’ve had no problems at all with the WiFi, linking to my phone and several different PCs – took me just a few minutes to set up, so much easier than with the 5D II’s WiFi grip.

    Aside from that, what a great review. This camera is so much more than just a specsheet, I love using it.

    1
  8. Michael Leonard

    Thank you Matt for such a down to Earth, well balanced review.  I just bought a 6D and have been struggling with all the swarm of negativity by some people. I bought this camera to improve my night and low light photography, as the 7D’s High ISO performance just doesn’t cut it for me. This camera feels nice and is a definite improvement over the 5D mkII.

    The Wifi took me awhile to figure out, but a YouTube tutorial helped me get it set up and it is very nice! Definitely a way for a portrait photographer to get more use out of moving around and interacting with his/her clients instead of having his/her face glued to a viewfinder. With the EOS remote app I wouldn’t be surprised if they add intervalometer features into it as well. Now that would be sweet.

    Overall, yeah if you aren’t a sports photographer, this might not be the rig for you. But for landscape/nature/fine art/portrait/real estate photographers? Definitely.

    2
    • Derek

       Michael, I have been considering the 6D for the same reason you mention: I have a 7D, which I adore, but the High ISO performance isn’t quite where I’d like it.  Thanks for your candid, open response to Matt’s well-written review.

      2
    • Fessiambre

      How would you recommend to improve the ISO performance better than where it is

      0
    • Doug Newton

      Hi ISO is definitely the weak point on Canons APS-C senors. They seriously need an update.

      0
  9. Tony DalBello

    Matt, this was the review I was waiting for since I shoot a 7D, I like to shoot landscapes and wildlife, the wildlife was my concern. I have three lenses, the 17-40mm L, the 24-105mm L and the 200mm L.
    I would gladly give up the crop factor on my 200 to get the full use of the 17-40. I am an not a pro and when I get a chance to shoot birds they are normally in the center of the view finder. I really do want to go full frame and do not see a 5D Mark III in  my future any time soon, I think a trade in of my 7D will almost get me a 6D for a $1000. Thanks,

    1
    • Doug Newton

      Tony, Do it! You will love full frame and you have the right lenses. You will see they make much more sense on FF. 

      1
  10. Lee King

    Matt, I’ve read your articles on both the Canon 6D and the Nikon D600. As a serious amateur looking to upgrade to the FX format, and primarily interested in nature, landscape and travel photography, I (and many others, I’m sure) would really be interested in your comments directly comparing the strong and weak points of both cameras. And if you were to choose one for your own personal use, which one would you prefer as the best all-around camera? 

    Thanks, 
    Lee

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  11. Doug Newton

    You obviously love this camera and it would seem a logical upgrade from my 5Dc but I hated the back wheel and pad arrangement on the 60D as it was awkward and felt cheap. Is this exactly the same because that would put me off?

    1
  12. Doug Newton

    Built in GPS is useful but even more useful would be voice annotation. So at the end of shooting at a location you can add a voice note to remind you what and where you were shooting. This would be handy for my calendar work. My Fuji S2 pro had this feature in 2003.

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  13. Oscar Zozaya Delano

    Guys: I really need some help here:

    I need an advice from someone who actually use the 6d (in real life, no labs). I was starting as a wedding photographer ( only 3 weddings so far) but someone stole all my gear a month ago, they leave me almost in bankruptcy because I invested all my money in that equipment and also in some publicity in a couple of web sites. Now I’m going to use my credit to get in the game again but I want to make a good decision. I could buy the 5d mark III but also the savings from the 6d could be very useful for other stuff, I can’t afford 2 bodies in this moment so any help here would be more than welcome. Thanks a lot.

    English is not my first language so I’m sorry if I wrote something wrong.

    1
  14. Shanelives

    Matt, totally agree with some of the other posters here. Have read so many reviews of the 6d plus comparisons with the d600, 7d and mark ii and iii but until I read your review, I was none the wiser as to whether it’s worth the upgrade from my current 7d. And whether the d600 might be a better option. Excellent review! I’m primarily concerned with image quality and shooting in low light and the autofocus specs on the 6d were discouraging me but you’ve convinced me. The best thing I can say about any review! Thanks!

    1
  15. Reviews: Canon EOS 6D

    [...] Canon EOS 6D DSLR Review and Field Test: Canon’s highest quality DSLR yet! The Canon EOS 6D has recently taken the DSLR world by storm. At an MSRP of only $2099, it joins the Nikon D600 with the title of “most affordable new full-frame DSLR ever!” It has a brand-new 20 megapixel full-frame sensor, with high expectations from Canon fans to meet. It boasts a couple DSLR-firsts, including built-in wifi and built-in GPS! January 10, 2013 [...]

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  16. Nalamanos

    Excellent review,

    Currently shooting with a 5D mark iii and mark ii. I love the 5D mark iii, but I find it strugles to focus when the lights get really low. For wedding and event work, that really crippples it, recteptions halls can be quite dark. It sounds like the 6D might solve this issue.

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  17. raj pras

    I’m an aspiring bird / wildlife photographer. Would the 6D be a better choice than the 7D?

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    • M. Saville

      To be honest, I’d rather have the 7D for wildlife photography unless you shoot a LOT of wildlife at extremely high ISOs, and don’t mind the slower frame rate. Then the 6D will be an incredible camera for wildlife. But at ISO 100-400 in normal conditions, the 7D is much more powerful.

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  18. Mikey

    Got my 6D last week, stepping up from the 600D, wow what a difference! Haven’t shot the milky way with the 6D yet but definitely looking forward to it :) The wifi is just fantastic on the iPad, I’m used to the articulating screen on the 600D so the wifi feature made it easier to transition to full frame, kudos to Canon :)

    1
  19. BRich

    I did a lot of research before upgrading from the XSI to the 6D. Obviously any upgrade from the XSI is a huge upgrade. I was debating between the 5D, 6D, and 7D. I’ve never read anything negative about the 5D, but it is difficult to justify 4K for some occasional photos. My kids are into sports (basketball, football, gymnastics) and practice in areas that are dark. I realize the 7D is the quickest camera of the three, but the quality of lighting eliminated this camera. A lot of the negative reviews about sports photos for the 6D also indicate the poor lens choice for low light situations, but the reviewer put the full blame on the camera and not the photographers poor choice of lenses.

    After reading this post, I decided to give the 6D a chance. I also purchased a 135 f2 L lens to help with the low situations. I have 30 days to give it a chance. If it does not work out for me, then I can justify the 5D.

    1
  20. Ray

    Hi -fab review and I completely agree with your analysis of everything about the 6d apart from one thing – which I’ll get to. It is an incredible device and I don’t for one moment regret buying it over the 5dmk3 – which I was originally gong to go for. the high iso performance is astonishing! My one point about your review is about the WiFi….an app from Android app store has transformed is usability. it is called dslr controller. it is a lot more advanced then eos remote and was very easy to get working. it was originally written for use with a wire but the 6d has no worries on that score…wireless works great. the power of this combo – 6d and this app is amazing – if you can give it a go I recommend it!

    1
  21. gerardo

    very good review about canon 6 D.
    My question is: some people say that this camera does not support the weight well as the 70-200 lens and the 300 2.8. Is it true or do not know the quality of its construction?. And a photo taken with the 7D and the same image with the 6 d gives better definition to be full frame?
    Thanks in advance

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    • M. Saville

      Gerardo, in my opinion the 6D handles larger lenses very well, the construction feels very solid. Yes, it is designed to be lighter and smaller than the 5D mk3 and 5D mk2, but to me that is an advantage and not a drawback. Lighter is always better, as long as ruggednes is not compromised, and I think the 6D has hit the nail on the head here.

      And yes, the 7D has great image quality, and at ISO 100 the images might look almost identical, however at higher ISOs the 6D will be worlds better.

      =Matt=

      1
    • BRich

      I used the 70-200 f2.8 II on the 6D for a couple of weeks and never had any problems. This camera takes some great photos that require very little editing. I live in Hawaii and the scenery photos were amazing. When it came time to photo sports, indoor and outdoor, I did not like the camera performance. Like many people have said about action photos, there was a lot of unusable shots. Was it my poor handling of the camera? Probably, but I returned the 6D for the 5D III and love the performance.

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    I used to be recommended this website by my cousin.
    I’m no longer positive whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such precise about my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thanks!

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  23. Making The Jump: Upgrading to the Canon 6D

    […] on the Canon 6D, if you are looking for a Canon 6D review fellow SLR Lounge writer Matthew Saville already has that covered here, I just wanted to share some quick initial […]

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  24. Harsharn

    As many have already said. The best review on the web for the 6D. I have watched many videos and read many reviews, but this one pretty much nails what the 6D is all about, who it’s aimed at and compares its strengths and weaknesses against Canon’s other models. and puts this all into context at the same time.

    Having read this, i’ve gone for the 6D over the 5D MKIII, weight and dynamic range being the deciding factors, DX0 rates the 6D at 0.4 stops better EVs of dynamic range.

    Mainly using it for hiking and landscape work, so it fits in nicely with that.

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  25. Charles

    Hey All, this was a great review! I currently own a 5d mark II, a 7d and a 6d. I use the 5d for portrait shooting and I got the 6d for travel photography. It was to take the place of the 7d primarily because of the crop frame sensor issue. When shooting travel photography with a crop sensor you just can’t seem to move back far enough.

    Anyway, the 6d is a great performer, especially in low light! Take a look at my gallery, (www.cbrunophotography.com) although not perfect, if you look at the Paris gallery, London gallery & Amalfi gallery all were shot with the 6d. Most of the night shots were HAND HELD.

    You be the judge.

    Contact me at the site if you have questions, I’m happy to help.

    3
  26. Jeff Allen

    Funny I found the wi-fi set up using Canon app. on the iPhone really easy to set-up and great for triggering the camera in landscape on a tripod. The image quality compared to my Canon 7d is frankly beautiful, sharp full of detail & low noise.
    The only gripe is the joy pad instead of the joystick as on the 7d but you get used to it. AF Ive had no issues with yet and build quality is first class. My camera came with free Adobe Lighroom 5 and Premiere Elements 11 plus a BG-E13 grip, I also got £ 150.00 Canon rebate and a dealer £ 150.00 rebate whats not to like!

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  27. Robby

    I love this camera! I’ve had all types of cameras and different brands. This one just blows them all away. I put it on intelligent auto and it takes the picture just like my eyes see it. No need for hdr or adjusting color it does it right with no noise. I can even shoot night photography with out a tripod with it’s super high iso performance. When I do star trails it doesn’t have the hot pixels like my Canon 5d or Nikon D7200 had. Just a clean nice image. I also love how long the battery last. It can run long enough to shoot 2-3 hour star trail stack without having to swap batteries. It’s amazing go buy this camera now!

    1
  28. Quinton

    Thanks , I have just been searching for info about this subject for ages and yours is the best I’ve discovered till now.
    But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you certain about the supply?

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  30. Jeff

    Great review. I was considering upgrading to a used 5dmII since their price points were outrageously low after everyone started upgrading to the mIII. But I was really intrigued with the wifi functionality of the 6d and the comparable price brand new to a used mII. I’m glad I went with the 6d.

    I love the wifi connected to my iPhone. Double checking lighting ratios in the studio is super simple. While the model is in makeup, I can throw together a new lighting set up, put myself in her pose, control the camera and check the ratios. My AD or stylist can check the images coming from the shoot on the fly (and on the cheap). Only one downside about this: when the phone is pulling an image to look at, the camera will momentarily kick you out of a function, like changing AF points. I ended up increasing the shutter speed above sync once. Luckily, the AD saw the black bar on the photos and we fixed it after 2 shots instead of after a whole session. Now, I just tell the AD that I need the camera back for a second before making the adjustment.

    I also love saving down an image from the camera and sending it to the model or the MUA for their social media use. It’s immediate and it’s always greatly appreciated.

    1
  31. Sara

    Hello,
    I’m really tempted to get the 6D to upgrade to full frame from my 450D but it’s a lot if money esp as I’m more enthusiastic than expert!
    Two questions:
    Is the video great? I’m a video journalist and would like to make short news features, for YouTube etc probably.
    And is it worth spending the extra for the lens (24-105 L IS USM F4) or would my existing EF lens be almost as good? (28-80 3.5-5.6; 50 1.8; 80-200 4.5-5.6II)
    See I can justify body only price wise but then getting the lens at same time makes it half the price it would be alone… But maybe I don’t really need it??
    Thanks!
    Sara

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  32. Aus

    I’m very excited to get this camera, but i need help finding the best two prime lens. I shoot portraits, architecture , and food. What two prime lens would you recommend getting?

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  33. Jeff Lopez

    I’m saving up to make the plunge into full frame and am seriously considering this camera, thanks for the in-depth review, it should help a lot in low light churches for wedding photography. Out of curiosity, is there a non full frame camera with this type of quality? More specifically a non full frame that is this good in low light and high ISO?

    Thanks!

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  34. Deirdre Ryanphotography

    Thanks for the review! Looking to trade in my 7D. I have the Mark III and need a FF backup.

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