Canon 6D Conclusion

Pro: Cons:
  • Offers the glories of a full-frame sensor in a more affordable, smaller and lighter digital SLR body
  • Excellent image quality (similar to 5D Mark III) and resolution from 20.2-megapixel, 35.8 x 23.9mm CMOS image sensor
  • Portable but fairly robust camera build with a comfy handgrip and responsive shutter
  • Generally good performance all around, with virtually no shutter lag when you pre-focus
  • Fast start-up and shot-to-shot speeds
  • Generous camera buffer lets you keep shooting JPEGs until card fills up
  • Excellent available light/low light camera, with clean images up to ISO 3,200 and very usable images at ISO 6,400 and even 12,800 in some cases
  • Infrared and wired remote support
  • Level gauge (but only single axis)
  • Brightly, punchy color that's not too oversaturated
  • Excellent hue accuracy with natural and appealing skintones for portraits
  • Optional chromatic aberration and shading correction
  • Logical and clear menus and button layout for quick navigation
  • Live View/Movie Record switch and button cluster helps you quickly record HD movies
  • In-camera HDR
  • Multi-shot noise reduction mode
  • Support for MRAW (11MP) and SRAW (5.5MP) files
  • Separate wide and tele AF microadjustments
  • Can autofocus in very low light, albeit sometimes not very quickly
  • Fantastic full 1080p HD video quality with great depth-of-field effects thanks to full-frame sensor
  • Built-in Wi-Fi features include image sharing and remote control shooting with a smart device, bolstered by a new Wi-Fi interface that's one of the best we've seen on a camera
  • Built-in GPS with geotagging
  • Excellent battery life with OVF (at least when GPS and Wi-Fi aren't used)
  • While it's more affordable than previous Canon full-frame cameras, some users might find the $2,000 price tag still to be too high
  • No pop-up flash
  • No built-in AF illuminator (though AF system is more sensitive than most)
  • Not as rugged or weatherized as Canon 5D Mark III
  • No easy-to-use, multi-direction joystick control on back
  • No dedicated White Balance button
  • 11-point AF system with one cross-point sensor is more basic than others
  • AF a bit slower than other prosumer cameras, especially in some low light/low contrast shooting conditions
  • Slower than average (continuous shooting) burst speeds
  • Auto and Incandescent White Balance very warm in incandescent light
  • Images from our lab testing proved to be underexposed by about 1/2 EV compared to the 5D Mark III
  • No headphone jack for monitoring sound levels during video recording
  • Video more susceptible to moir√© than 5D Mark III
  • No uncompressed HDMI video output
  • Single card slot

Despite a few quibbles, the 20.2-megapixel Canon EOS 6D lives up to its promise of housing a glorious, full-frame CMOS sensor inside a smaller, lighter, and more affordable digital SLR camera body designed for prosumers, enthusiasts, and even novice photographers. Are we in love with everything about this camera? No, but Canon's done a great job of not dumbing down, or cheapening the 6D to fit its $2,000 "sweet spot" pricing.

First, the good stuff. The 6D's 35.8 x 23.9mm CMOS image sensor might be a bit smaller than the imaging chip in the Canon 5D Mark III, but its individual photosites are bigger since it has slightly less resolution. The result is exceptional image quality, in both good and poor available light, that puts it on par to the 5D III, which was one of our favorite cameras of 2012. We got bright, punchy color in good lighting from the 6D, which wasn't too oversaturated as with some DSLR models. Skintones also looked healthy and life-like, unlike some cameras which tend to pump up the pinks and reds to produce an artificial, "doll-like" look.

Our portraits, particularly those shot with fast lenses with wide apertures, produced stunning results, with the 6D's big imaging chip producing an eye-catching shallow depth of field, which made our subject pop. But the 6D really shined in low light at high ISOs, producing clean and visually appealing images at up to ISO 3,200, and very usable results at up to ISO 12,800. The camera did have some issues when shooting in dodgy, indoor incandescent light, particularly when we used the Auto or Incandescent White Balance settings. Things got much better when we manually adjusted the White Balance, but some novice photographers who might be drawn to the 6D may not want or know how to do that.

Photographers of all backgrounds, however, will likely be drawn to how fast the 6D is to use and how logical its menu system and controls are. While the 6D is $1,500 less expensive than the 5D Mark III, it still has a solid, rubberized camera body with a comfortable hand grip and a well-placed shutter that just begs to be pressed. We also found the 6D's excellent HD video quality to be on par to the 5D III, with the ability to produce creamy clips with very little rolling shutter when we panned.

On the downside, Canon has had to nip and tuck a few things to meet the 6D's more affordable pricing and smaller and lighter build. There's no pop-up flash on the camera. And there's no handy, multi-direction joystick control on back or headphone jack. It also particularly bothered me that Canon omitted a button control for White Balance on the camera. Additionally, the 6D's 11-point autofocus system is not as advanced as the Canon 5D Mark III's system -- nor that of the directly competitive Nikon D600 full-frame DSLR. And last but not least, the 6D's burst speed is a little on the slow side. But the Canon 6D adds a few tricks that the competition doesn't have, including a full-featured, built-in Wi-Fi system that allows for sharing and remote control, as well as built-in GPS with geotagging.

Overall, Canon squeezes so much good stuff into the trim and affordable full-frame 6D, it's an easy Dave's Pick.

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