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Canon 6D Video Recording

The Canon 6D is an interesting camera in Canon's lineup in that its video features are very similar to those of its more expensive brother, the 5D Mark III. The 6D is Canon's lightest and smallest full-frame DSLR with the ergonomics feeling like a mixture of the 7D and 60D. Nevertheless, the 6D packs a punch when it comes to video recording, including Full HD 1080p and 720p HD recording with the choice two video compression formats (ALL-I and IPB) as well as manual audio recording controls and visible audio levels while recording.

Canon 6D screen shot

The 6D features both automatic and full manual exposure controls in video recording mode giving both beginner DSLR video shooters and the seasoned advanced amateurs or pros ease of use and customization, respectively. Unlike the Canon T4i and the new T5i and SL1 consumer DSLRs (which all feature on-sensor phase-detect AF capability), the 6D does not offer full-time autofocus during video mode, which might dissuade users looking for a camcorder-like experience.

Regarding audio recording on the 6D, this camera again shares a lot of features with the 5D Mark III. Aside from the internal monaural microphone, you have the ability to attach an external third-party microphone with the 3.5mm stereo mic jack. In terms of control, the 6D features automatic and manual audio level adjustments. Users are given 64-step level adjustment increments for fine-tuned control. There is also an optional wind noise filter and an attenuator, which helps reduce over-blown sound (aka clipping) in very noisy environments.

Sure, there are a few features missing from the Canon 6D that advanced and professional users will find very important and might make them pick the 5D Mark III over the 6D. The Canon 6D lacks a headphone jack for monitoring audio, dual memory card slots and the touch controls for near-silent exposure and audio adjustments during recording. The 6D also isn't as good at avoiding moiré, and doesn't offer uncompressed HDMI output. However, for most users who are looking for a full-frame DSLR with very good video quality while not making as severe a dent in their wallet, the 6D will fit the bill quite nicely.

Canon 6D Basic Video Specs

Canon 6D Video Speeds & Feeds: Image size, frame rate, and file format

The Canon EOS 6D, like the 5D Mark III, offers three different video resolutions and five frame rates, although only two or three rates are available at any given resolution.

Canon 6D Video Options
MPEG-4 AVC Format (H.264, .MOV files)
Resolution
Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate
Average Bit Rate

1,920 x 1,080

16:9

30p (29.97 fps)

ALL-I: 91 Mbps
IPB: 31 Mbps

25p (PAL)

24p (23.976 fps)

1,280 x 720

16:9

60p (59.94 fps)

ALL-I: 81 Mbps
IPB: 27 Mbps

50p (PAL)

640 x 480

4:3

30p (29.97 fps)
IPB: 10 Mbps

25p (PAL)


The Canon 6D, like all of Canon's video-capable DSLRs, shoot in progressive scan high definition formats. Although television broadcast video works well with interlaced formats, progressive video is more suited for computer playback, as well as the "Full HD" standard nowadays being a progressive scan format (hence the "p" in 1080p).

Canon 6D movie resolution options

As we saw with the 5D Mark III, Canon's new DIGIC 5+ image processor gives the 6D capability for both 1080p and 720p video recording. The previous-generation processor in the earlier 5D Mark II meant its users were stuck with only 1080p HD video at frame rates at 30p/25p/24p for high definition video. With the 6D, users now have the benefits of a full frame sensor and the ability to shoot 720p HD video at 60 frames per second, which is great for videos with lots of action and fast movement. Nevertheless, the 6D, along with all Canon video-capable DSLRs (with the exception of the $12,000 EOS 1D-C cinema DSLR) still do not provide the option of full 1080p video at 60 frames per second, which could be a drawback for more professional shooters who need that video format.

Many advanced shooters welcome the inclusion of the 24p mode, which has pretty much become a standard feature for video-capable interchangeable lens cameras. This frame rate comes from the days of motion picture film cameras, as the de facto standard frame rate for cinema. This is the frame rate movies have been shot in for many decades. Nowadays with video, the 24p frame rate gives videos the "film look and feel" that many filmmakers and video shooters want. It can, however, be difficult to use in fast action scenarios, with the lower shutter speed and frame rate making subjects susceptible to motion blur or, conversely, choppy if used with a faster shutter speed.

The 6D limits the minimum shutter speed depending on the frame rate. For 30p/25p/24p, users are limited to 1/30th of a second. For 60p and 50p video, you are limited to 1/60th and 1/50th of a second, respectively.

The inclusion of 720p HD video at 50/60 frames per second is a nice feature, which allows users to more easily film fast action scenes. The faster frame rate also helps should you want to produce some slow-motion video in post-production. It might not be the best format to use in low-light scenarios due to the slowest allowable shutter speed being 1/60th of a second.

The Canon 6D records all video using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 encoding, at variable bit rates in the .MOV format. Like the 5D Mark III, the 6D gives users the option for two compression schemes in the HD resolutions, ALL-I or IPB. The difference comes from how each frame of the video is compressed. There is no uncompressed "RAW" video capability in the 6D. ALL-I format yields a higher image quality by compressing each frame individually, at the expense of memory card space, whereas IPB is an "interframe" scheme and compresses multiple frames at a time. This results in a slightly lower quality picture, but saves space on the memory card.

Most computers and editing programs made within the last few years should be able to play 6D files with little problem, but high-def files may strain older systems, especially during editing of IPB video. For users shooting video destined for video editing software, ALL-I format video is the format to pick if your memory card can handle the space and increased bit rate. File sizes for the 6D's ALL-I clips can be massive; expect around 10-11MB/second of video shot. Canon specifies approximately 685 MB/min for 1080 24p video, for example. IPB compression produces much more manageable sizes, with around 3-4MB/second of video. ALL-I video does capture noticeably more detail than does IPB, though. If you can handle the storage requirements, choose ALL-I. Canon recommends using at least 20MB/second or faster Secure Digital memory cards for ALL-I, and 6MB/second or faster for IPB. Even faster cards will be needed if you plan on shooting stills during video capture, which happen with a brief interruption to the video feed. If your card is not fast enough, a five-step buffer fill warning will appear on the LCD screen.

Canon 6D Video Quality

Here are some examples of video shot with the Canon 6D in ALL-I mode. Since YouTube does not support ALL-I video natively, please download the full-resolution video in order to assess the image quality:

Canon 6D: All-I Mode
All-I mode not supported by YouTube at this time - please download original file.
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second, ALL-I
Download Original - 168 MB
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second, ISO 3,200, f/4, ALL-I - NIGHT
Download Original - 272 MB


The 6D produces very high image quality in video, with great, crisp detail and accurate color rendition. The contrast in bright daylight, for example, looks under control and not overly "contrasty" even on the Standard Picture Style. Shadow areas were not crushed and had detail. Even in low-light scenes, the 6D did fantastically well with great detail overall and a clean, low-noise image.

We saw much-improved handling of moiré and aliasing effects in the 5D Mark III compared to its predecessor, and had hopes that we'd see similar behavior in the 6D. Alas, that wasn't the case. In our test videos, a fair number of moiré pattern artifacts could be seen in the standard problem areas like window screens, roof shingles, and fine patterned fabrics. In some cases, moiré artifacts look similar to those seen on the 5D Mark II. This isn't a deal breaker by any means, but be careful where you shoot and of the patterns of people's clothing, etc.

Below you can see our standard array of sample videos for the 6D (in IPB mode):

Canon 6D: Video Samples
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second, IPB mode
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second, IPB mode
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second, IPB mode
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second, ISO 3,200, f/4, IPB mode - NIGHT
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second, ISO 3,200, f/4, IPB mode - NIGHT
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second, ISO 3,200, f/4, IPB mode - NIGHT
Download Original

Canon 6D Video: Focusing

The full-frame Canon 6D does not provide full-time autofocus with video. Shooters can use single-point autofocus prior to recording video to set focus on their subject. The 6D does provide the option of magnifying the Live View display by factors of 1x, 5x, and 10x to get a precise look at manual focusing prior to the start of recording, but users looking for simple, camcorder-like video recording with full-time autofocus should look elsewhere.

Canon 6D Video: Exposure Control

Canon 6D screen shot

Like most previous Canon DSLRs with video recording, the 6D allows for full manual exposure settings and adjustments including full control of shutter speed, aperture and ISO before and during recording. In all modes, except for M, the 6D switches to automatic exposure adjustments while in live view movie mode. As such, the 6D is very user friendly for both kinds of shooters: those that want a simpler video shooting experience and more advanced users who want more control over how their videos look.

Canon 6D Video: Audio Recording

ports

The Canon 6D has similar audio recording features to the 5D Mark III. Like many previous Canon video DSLRs, the 6D gives users the choice of recording audio with an internal (mono) microphone or a third-party external stereo microphone via a 3.5mm mic jack. Audio levels are fully adjustable, with wind-cut filter and attenuator options.

The big downside to the 6D's audio capabilities is that, unlike the 5D Mark III, the 6D does not feature a headphone jack for monitoring audio. This was a much-lauded feature when it was finally introduced into the Canon DSLR lineup with the 5D Mark III. Many advanced video shooters will surely be a little disheartened to find this feature missing.

Canon 6D Video: Rolling Shutter Artifacts ("Jello effect")

Like all video-capable DSLRs and interchangeable lens cameras on the market today, the Canon 6D has to contend with rolling shutter artifacts. These image distortions are caused by the way the image is read from the camera's sensor. Data is read line-by-line, rather than the entire frame at once, so the top of the image is recorded at a slightly different time than the bottom. Therefore, when panning or moving the camera side-to-side quickly, vertical lines in the image can appear to bend and slant back and forth in a "Jello-like" effect.

The 6D did pretty well controlling the amount of rolling shutter distortion. At the 1080p resolution, rolling shutter distortion was noticeable but minimal, and even less so at 720p. As long as you are mindful of this effect, and avoid quick pans or back-and-forth motions, particularly around objects with vertical lines like trees and buildings, you will probably not notice the rolling shutter distortion.


Canon 6D: Rolling Shutter Artifacts
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 30 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MOV, Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MOV, Progressive, 60 frames per second
Download Original