Canon 6D Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon EOS 6D
Resolution: 20.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
Kit Lens: 4.38x zoom
24-105mm
(24-105mm eq.)
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
ISO: 50-102400
Shutter: 30-1/4000
Max Aperture: 4.0
Dimensions: 5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8 in.
(145 x 111 x 71 mm)
Weight: 51.1 oz (1,448 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
MSRP: $2,399
Availability: 12/2012
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon 6D specifications
20.20
Megapixels
Canon EF 35mm
size sensor
image of Canon EOS 6D
Front side of Canon EOS 6D digital camera Back side of Canon EOS 6D digital camera Top side of Canon EOS 6D digital camera Left side of Canon EOS 6D digital camera Right side of Canon EOS 6D digital camera

6D Summary

With the 20.2-megapixel EOS 6D, Canon has created a smaller, lighter and less expensive full-frame digital SLR for prosumer photographers. In many ways, the well-designed 6D is a mini 5D Mark III for the rest of us. While it doesn't feature as robust a camera build as that step-up model, and its autofocus system is decidedly basic, the Canon 6D is otherwise a fantastic, responsive DSLR that offers the glories of full-frame in a trim but comfy camera body. Plus, you get full-featured, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS to boot.

Pros

Excellent image quality on par to more expensive full-frame DSLRs (including the 5D Mark III); Responsive all-around performer; Superior HD video-shooting chops; Built-in Wi-Fi with remote control and sharing features, Built-in GPS and geotagging.

Cons

Lacks a built-in, pop-up flash; No external headphone jack; Rather basic 11-point autofocus system; Mediocre burst speed.

Price and availability

The Canon EOS 6D was originally shipped in December 2012 for US$2,100, body only. As of April 2013, this price has dropped to $2,000. It's also currently available with the Canon EF 24-105mm IS lens for US$2,400.

Imaging Resource rating

4.5 out of 5.0

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Canon 6D Review

Overview and Tech Info by Shawn Barnett and
Posted 09/17/2012

Shooter's Report by Dan Havlik
Posted

This winter the Canon EOS 6D finally emerged from behind the curtain of rumor and conjecture. The new Canon 6D is another camera -- like the Nikon D600 -- designed to appeal to the photographer who wants to step up to full-frame but has found the $3,000-$3,500 price tag prohibitively expensive. Instead, the Canon 6D body retails for US$2,000, sports a 20.2-megapixel 35mm CMOS sensor that's powered by a DIGIC 5+ processor, has a 3-inch 1.04-million dot LCD, a UHS-1 SD card slot, and includes both Wi-Fi and GPS built-in.

To lower the cost, Canon naturally had to change a few of the specs. First, its sensor isn't quite as large as the 36 x 24mm sensors of the 5D Mark II and Mark III. Instead it's 35.8 x 23.9mm. Not a big deal, but not quite full-frame. It's worth noting that this smaller sensor size is nearly identical in size to the sensor in the original 5D. The Canon 6D's sensor also has 2.1 million pixels fewer than the 5D Mark III. With a pixel pitch of 6.55 microns, that could be a boon in the sensitivity department, as the 5D II's pixel pitch was 6.4 microns and the 5D III was 6.25 microns. The Canon 6D also doesn't have that wonderful array of 61 autofocus points like the 5D Mark III; instead there are 11 points, arrayed in a familiar diamond pattern.

The 6D weighs about 6.9 ounces (195g) less, so that's a good reduction. And in this case, the cost is about $1,500 less than the 5D Mark III, so if you're looking for why it seems less feature-rich, there are 1,500 good reasons. As has often happened with EOS introductions for more than 20 years, the Canon 6D leapfrogs all others in the line with two advanced features no other EOS has, regardless of price -- built in Wi-Fi and GPS radios, two features we expect to see proliferate in all manner of cameras through 2013 and beyond.

ISO sensitivity in the Canon 6D is a little higher than the Nikon D600, with regular settings ranging from 100 to 25,600, and extended settings up to 102,400. Autofocus sensitivity in the Canon 6D goes lower than the 5D Mark III, down to -3 EV (the 5D Mark III was -2 EV, and the Mark II was -0.5). So autofocusing in darker conditions should be better than ever thanks to a greater number of light-sensitive elements in the center of the AF sensor.

Design and controls. From the front, the Canon 6D has a very simple look, but a very high forehead thanks to the large pentaprism behind that logo. Note the lack of a pop-up flash, unusual for a high-end consumer camera, but consistent with Canon full-frame models. The infrared remote receiver is embedded into the contoured grip, and a self-timer lamp (not an AF-assist lamp) sits between the grip and the lens mount. Just barely noticeable to the lower left of the mount is the Depth-of-field preview button. A large lens release button sits in the usual position, and three microphone holes peek out from beneath the EOS 6D logo.

With fewer click stops than most Canon Mode dials, the 6D uses more of the dial's surface area, and has a lock button in the middle, while past dials use only part of the ring area. The Power switch sticks out from beneath the Mode dial. Like the 60D, the 6D confines the Status LCD's buttons to only one function per rather than two, which will be less confusing for consumer users.

Despite its lack of an articulating screen, the control cluster of the Canon 6D has more in common with the T4i than other cameras in the line. Gone are the five buttons left of the LCD, effectively deleting only the Picture Styles and RAW/JPEG (from the 7D) buttons from the back of the camera, as the rest have just found new locations above and right of the LCD. One reason there's more room for that kind of change is that Canon deleted the eight-way joystick, instead integrating it into the Quick Control dial as an eight-way navigation disk. We do wish Canon would decide on a control interface and stick with it, but that won't be too much of an issue to the person who owns and uses just this camera. Canon is likely leaning more on the Quick Menu to serve most of the users' needs anyway.

One control they seem to have decided was good enough is the Live View/Movie Record switch and button arrangement. Press the button to enter Live View mode, or flip the switch to Movie mode and press the button to start and stop recording. This is better than having Movie relegated to a position on the Mode dial, as we see on the Rebels, because it's faster.

Summary. With the near simultaneous announcements of the Canon 6D and the Nikon D600, owning a full-frame camera just got a little more affordable. Since many on the Internet have been wondering why they're not more affordable, we think it's worth mentioning that it costs more to make a larger sensor like this, because they get fewer sensors per wafer just due to the size. And small imperfections on larger sensors will mean fewer sensors will pass muster. You can get at least twice as many APS-C sensors from a single silicon wafer. Then you need a bigger mirror and a more robust mechanism to move that mirror, as well as a larger pentaprism and the optics to support that. And naturally all of that larger size requires a little more internal support and external coverage from your inner frame and outer magnesium-alloy shell.

For some, the 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 might be seen as somewhat overkill for their photographic needs, paying for a ton of special features that they'd likely never use. They may like the idea of a camera with fewer bells and whistles at a lower cost, yet straightforward access to basic photographic controls. Here's a comparison of the key features of the Canon 6D and the 5D Mark III to help you determine if the 6D is enough camera for you at about US$1,500 less:

Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark III
11 AF points, 1 Cross-type
61 AF points, 41 Cross-type
Continuous shooting 4.4 fps
Continuous shooting 6 fps
Single SD card slot
CF plus SD card slots
~97% viewfinder coverage
~100% viewfinder coverage
HDR and Multi-exposure modes
HDR and Multi-exposure modes have more options, source images can be saved
Single-axis electronic level
Dual-axis electronic level
No headphone jack for monitoring audio
Headphone jack built-in
100,000-cycle shutter life expectancy
150,000-cycle shutter life expectancy
3.0-inch LCD
3.2-inch LCD
Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
Optional accessories, with more capabilities

 

Shooting with the Canon 6D

by Dan Havlik

The Canon captures images with good dynamic range and lots of subtle detail thanks to its impressive 20.2-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor. (Photo by Jordan Matter)

I was pretty excited when I first got a chance to play with a prototype Canon EOS 6D at the Photokina imaging show in Germany last year. Along with the Nikon D600, which shares more than a few traits with the 6D (don't tell that to Canon or Nikon!), Canon's latest prosumer DSLR seems to solve a problem that has confounded camera manufacturers for years. How do you create an affordable full-frame sensor DSLR? Both the 20.2-megapixel Canon 6D and 24.3-megapixel Nikon D600 seem to answer that question by offering pretty sophisticated full-framers at virtually the same price tag.

You might say, "Well, $2,000 isn't exactly affordable, now is it?" And you'd have a point. But considering the costs of manufacturing a full-frame chip versus an APS-C size sensor, or even the pinkie-nail sized chips in compact cameras, Canon and Nikon have priced the 6D and D600 surprisingly competitively for the category. The $2,000 range of the 6D and D600 may just hit a sweet spot for prosumers and advanced amateurs.

At least that's what the companies hope, and after shooting with both of these cameras, I can say you do get a lot of bang for your buck with these "affordable" full-framers. We've already reviewed the Nikon D600, so let's take a look at Canon's offering, the EOS 6D, which adds two features its Nikon rival doesn't have: built-in Wi-Fi and GPS.

In the hand. My initial impression of the Canon 6D -- which still holds true now -- is that it looks and feels like a mini 5D Mark III. And, for me, that's a good thing. The step-up 5D III model is a solidly built HD-DSLR, combining the serious and durable aesthetics of Canon's professional 1D line with the portability and accessibility of 5D models before it. In terms of looks and camera build, the Canon 6D sits just below the 5D III and the APS-C-sensor-driven 7D, which both have full magnesium alloy bodies. The 6D features an aluminum alloy and polycarbonate chassis, while the shell is part-magnesium alloy. The top panel is polycarbonate, likely a necessity because of the integrated GPS and Wi-Fi radios.

With dimensions of 5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8-inches (145 x 111 x 71 mm) and a measured weight of 27.4 ounces (778 g) with SD card and its proprietary, rechargeable battery loaded, the 6D is certainly on the small side for a full-frame DSLR but it does not feel slight. (Incidentally, the 6D's size puts it closely in line with the Nikon D600, though the Nikon camera's body is a bit deeper and about 3 ounces heavier.)

The Canon 6D is about 20% lighter than the 5D Mark III and if you've held that model before, the 6D won't feel quite as robust with a slightly less solid build overall. But if you're moving up from an entry-level DSLR, such as a Rebel, the 6D will feel impressive and almost luxurious. The body has extensive textured rubber on the exterior, both on the handgrip and the opposing side. There's also faux-leather rubber on the back of the camera, including the thumbrest. Overall, the 6D feels refreshingly lightweight, comfy and well protected.

To help keep the weight, size and cost down, Canon decided to forgo the pop-up flash with the 6D, a feature that's standard on most prosumers DSLRs. Some novice photographers stepping up in class to the 6D might miss the built-in flash but there is, of course, a hot shoe on top if you want to add an external flash. The 6D is not quite as fully weatherized as the 5D Mark III but it's on par with the 7D, and can withstand a few raindrops and splashes.

It should be said that while both the Canon 6D and Nikon D600 are noticeably smaller and lighter than other current full-frame DSLRs on the market, don't expect to be able to fit either of these cameras in your pocket (possibly in a large coat pocket if you have a short prime lens attached, but even that would be a tight fit).

When I attached a few zoom lenses, including a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 and a 24-70mm f/2.8, the 6D didn't feel that different than a 5D Mark III. Sure, there are less expensive, lighter zoom lenses out there that would make the 6D a more portable package, but the reason one buys a full-frame camera is to get the most out of your glass. So, therein lies one of the paradoxes of the 6D: the full-frame camera body might be relatively lightweight and reasonably priced but the top-notch lenses you'll want to use with it definitely won't be.

Overall, the Canon 6D is an extremely comfortable and surprisingly sturdy DSLR to use. While pros might scoff at the 6D's build, they're not who this camera is designed for. Anyone moving up in class from compact cameras and consumer or APS-C-based DSLRs will find the design of the fully-framed 6D to be just right.

Controls. In terms of controls, as you might suspect, the Canon EOS 6D mimics the 5D Mark III but with some distinct differences. For one, the layout on back of the 6D is more Spartan than the 5D Mark III, with the buttons moved from the left panel next to the LCD monitor over toward the center-right side of the 6D's rear. This is not a big deal, especially since most people interested in this camera will not have shot with a 5D Mark III previously. Some of the buttons, including those for playback, magnify, and trash are small and slightly scrunched though, and I don't like the smaller Quick Control Dial. Along with being diminutive, the wheel is stiff and not very responsive. The multi-direction pad in the center of the wheel is also tough to press when you're in a hurry.

Another victim of cost (and size) cutting with the budget-friendly 6D is the useful, multi-direction joystick from the 5D Mark III. That's a bummer, especially for beginners moving up to the 6D, but you've got to get rid of something. Canon Rebel users will likely already be familiar with the rear Quick Menu button (identified by the Q icon), and it has become my preferred method for making fast changes to important functions such as ISO, exposure compensation and white balance. While the 6D has an ISO button on top, there's no physical white balance button, which is disappointing. One thing that I did like was that Canon included the Live View/Movie Record switch and button cluster on the back of the 6D. It's a really simple and fast set-up, which appears on the 5D Mark III but not on the lower-tier Rebels.

Like the 5D Mark III, the Canon 6D's knurled mode dial on top of the camera has a central locking button and most of the familiar settings. But while the 5D Mark III's dial looked strangely half filled, the 6D piles on the options including a Scene (SCN) mode setting, which lets you pick from a variety of pre-sets including familiar ones such as Sports, Close-up, Landscape and Portrait, as well as less common ones including Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene and HDR Backlight Control.

The Canon EOS 6D's mode dial also offers a Creative Auto (CA) mode option, which I actually found to be a little more confusing than it should be. When CA mode is selected you can choose from one of nine "Ambiance-based shots," including Standard, Vivid, Soft, Warm, Intense, Cool, Brighter, Darker or Monochrome. Scroll down though and you can also select whether to blur or sharpen the background. The CA mode also lets you choose the Drive mode, including Single, Continuous (approximately 4.5 shots per second), Silent single shooting, Silent continuous shooting, Self-timer (10 sec./Remote control), or Self-timer (2 seconds/Remote control). That's a lot of combinations to choose from and, hopefully, more adventurous novices will take advantage of them. I'm not sure how much I would on a regular basis, though they were fun to experiment with.

In terms of controls, the most important of them all (at least in my book), is placed front and center in slight indent on top of the Canon 6D's handgrip: the responsive and well-positioned shutter button. The 6D loves to take pictures, which is a trait any photographer should appreciate.

LCD Screen. The LCD monitor on the 6D is quite nice, as is true on all of Canon's latest DSLRs. It's a 3-inch, Clear View LCD panel with 1.04-million dots of resolution, and images looked sharp in playback and the video feed was crisp with a good refresh rate. Again, no real surprises here since most of Canon's DSLRs have sweet LCDs. The 6D's screen is not a flip-out, articulating display, which is harder to weatherproof. It's also a slight downgrade in size from the 5D Mark III, which has a 3.2-inch LCD.

The Canon 6D's screen has a good 170-degree viewing angle if you want to let others see what you've shot, while Live View mode offers 100% coverage. Speaking of Live View, the 6D has a decent digital, single-axis level gauge function that you can use during live view. It'll help you keep your horizons level -- I'm admittedly poor at eye-balling without the gauge -- but it's a step down from the dual-axis level on the pricier 5D Mark III, which also shows front and back pitch.

The 6D display's Clear View designation is a notch below the Clear View II screen that's on the 5D Mark III, and the main difference is the higher-end screen fares better in outdoor lighting, with higher contrast and less glare. Truth be told, I haven't used any camera LCD that doesn't wash out somewhat in bright light and the 6D is no exception. But, of course, that's what the 6D's optical viewfinder is for. Like the LCD screen, it's a good one, offering about 98% coverage in our testing, which is actually a tick higher than Canon's 97% advertised spec. The 6D's optical viewfinder offers 0.71x magnification, 21mm eyepoint, and a -3 to +1 diopter.

Autofocus. Along with being smaller and less expensive than the 5D Mark III, the Canon 6D has a different, somewhat less sophisticated autofocus system. Where the 5D Mark III boasts a pro-level 61-point High Density Reticular Autofocus System (with up to 41 cross-type points and five dual cross-type points), the 6D's employs a rather basic 11-point system with one cross-type point in the center. However, the 6D's center AF point has a working range rated at -3 to 18 EV, while the 5D Mark III's AF system is rated at - 2 to 18 EV and Nikon D600's -1 to 19 EV. This means the Canon 6D should be able to focus in lower light when using the center AF point.

While on paper that might sound significant, it's less noticeable in real-world use. I think most prosumer photographers will probably find the 6D's 11-point AF to be more than enough to handle most shooting situations, though.

However, there's some bad news. In certain circumstances, such as when shooting in very low light and in extremely low contrast situations, the Canon 6D struggled, a bit, to find focus. Such as when some sample shots taken in a bar and around the pool table (see above and below) captured by my co-tester, pro-photographer Jordan Matter. I say "a bit" because it still achieved focus lock but was just not as quick in these situations as both the 5D Mark III and Nikon D600 were. (It's worth noting that the Nikon D600 has a 39-point AF system, with 9 cross type points.) Consequently, if you're an aspiring wedding or sports photographer who might have to deal with tricky lighting on a regular basis -- such as during a wedding reception or in a poorly lit stadium -- the Canon 6D might not be for you.

Otherwise though, I was actually quite impressed with my results from the Canon 6D's 11-point AF system. I expected it to feel slower and less responsive than Canon's other higher-end EOS DSLRs, but it was surprisingly spritely. In good, outdoor lighting, you'll have no complaints about the 6D's AF. I also deliberately shot with the 6D in low-contrast settings and swung the camera quickly from subject to subject to see how fast it would take to refocus, and the 6D hung in like a champ. Those shots, which were captured using a rather high-end 24-70mm f/2.8 Canon lens, had very good sharpness when reviewed later on my computer.

The Canon EOS 6D's 11-point autofocus system is both responsive and accurate when shooting in a variety of conditions, from full sunlight at base ISO to indoor settings at much higher ISOs.

Performance. The Canon 6D is a decent performer for a prosumer, full-frame DSLR. (Ok, at the time of this writing there are only two cameras that qualify in this category, but the 6D was still reasonably fast all around.)

Start up and shut down times for the 6D were fast enough -- 0.5 and 0.3 second, respectively -- that they were difficult to measure. The 6D also did well in clearing its buffer, taking just two seconds to get ready to take a photo after we fired off 20 consecutive large/fine JPEGs. It took about 9 seconds to clear the buffer after shooting 17 RAW images and 7 seconds after 7 RAW+L/F JPEG photos. Of course, it helps to have a fast card (which we highly recommend), and we tested the 6D with the blazing fast SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SDHC card, which is UHS-I compliant.

Our lab timed the Canon 6D's autofocus shutter lag, using single center-point AF, at 0.290 second, which is actually slower than average for a prosumer DSLR. It's hardly noticeable in real world-usage, however, and I found the 6D to be generally quick to lock in on a subject and snap a photo when I pressed the shutter.

When using the full 11-point Auto Section AF mode, the 6D was faster, according to our lab tests, averaging 0.206 second (though it varied widely, between 0.1 and 0.3 in our tests.)

Just how fast is the Canon EOS 6D? Find out by clicking here to see our full battery of rigorous, objective speed and operation tests conducted in the IR Lab.

As with most cameras, prefocusing by half pressing the shutter is the way to go with the Canon 6D. This produced a lag time of just 0.059 second, which is quite fast for a DSLR. On the other hand, AF lag in Live View mode was longer, which is no surprise. We clocked it at about 1.7 seconds using the phase-detection based AF "Quick Mode." Strangely, using Live Mode, (contrast-detection AF), it was a lot faster at 0.7 second.

Bottom line: If you're moving up in class from an entry-level DSLR or even a compact or point-and-shoot camera, the Canon 6D is going to feel hella fast.

The Canon 6D does a nice job capturing action, but just don't expect the same results you'd get with, say, a Canon 1DX.

In terms of shooting speed, the 6D is capable of firing off up to 4.5 frames per second in burst mode (the lab measured 4.4), a fair tick slower than the 5D III's 6 frames per second, and about a frame per second slower than the Nikon D600. But it's just enough for shooting basic action, such as capturing modeling poses, candid photographs and low intensity sports. For faster action such as basketball, soccer or anything at the Olympic level, however, you'll want to step up to Canon or Nikon's pro DSLRs. The 6D's generous camera buffer also lets you keep shooting JPEGs until the SD card fills. When shooting RAW, you get a decent 17-frame buffer until the camera needs to pause to catch up.

Image quality. The Canon EOS 6D's CMOS sensor is a smidge smaller than the 5D Mark III's - 35.8 x 23.9mm vs. 36 x 24mm -- so it's not technically full frame. That's not that big of a deal, however. It didn't seem to compromise image quality during our testing. I actually found that image quality from the 6D was about equal to the results I got from the 5D Mark III and that's saying something: the 5D Mark III was one of the best cameras I shot with last year.

Photographers moving up in class from compact cameras or entry-level DSLRs will really appreciate how well the Canon 6D does in low light at high ISOs. This image was shot at ISO 5,000 and noise is relatively minimal. (Photo by Jordan Matter)

While the Canon 6D's chip might be a fraction smaller, the individual pixel size is larger because the 6D has slightly less resolution. The 20.2-megapixel 6D's photosites are 6.5 microns a piece vs. 6.2 microns in the 5D III's 22.3-megapixel sensor. But how do these numbers translate into the real world? Quite well, it turns out.

As I noted before, I had a professional photographer friend, Jordan Matter, co-test the 6D with me to get another perspective on the camera. In short, we were both impressed with the 6D's skills as an available-light camera.

Jordan is the photographer behind the "Dancers Among Us" project, where he photographs professional dancers performing in everyday settings, typically without artificial light. Last year, "Dancers Among Us" was published in book form by Workman Publishing but Jordan continues to work on the series. He used his 5D Mark III for some of the shots, and was curious to see how the 6D stacked up against it.

The Canon 6D does a good job capturing movement even in tricky lighting.
(Photo by Jordan Matter)

With the Canon 6D paired with a Tamron SP 70-200mm, f/2.8 Di VC USD lens, he captured images of a dancer performing on a Manhattan street at night (above) and hanging out inside a dimly lit bar that were virtually noise-free up to ISO 3,200. Shots at ISO 6,400 were also quite nice: crisp and clear with only a bit of color noise in the shadows. Realistically, you can easily get away with pushing the 6D to ISO 12,800 if you need it, which gives you a lot of versatility. (Maximum ISO, in the 6D's expanded mode, is 102,400, while the minimum is ISO 50. In contrast, the D600's expanded range is ISO 50 to 25,600.)

Part of the credit should be given to the DIGIC 5+ image processor, which, on the 5D Mark III and elsewhere, has proven to be fairly good at tamping down noise when images are output from the camera's sensor. The Canon 6D uses 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion on its sensor to produce images that have great color and dynamic range while keeping noise in check. In daylight and with strobes, results were even better.

I also tested the Canon 6D while shooting publicity portraits of a children's book author/illustrator, which she could use on her book jackets or to promote herself in print or online. In this case, I paired the 6D with a Sigma 35mm F/1.4 DG HSM and shot in bright natural light outdoors and dim hallway lighting indoors. My results were quite good, with the 6D's full-frame chip and the Sigma lens' wide maximum aperture combining to produce images with tack-sharp center focus and attractive, background blur (aka bokeh) to make my subject really stand out.

In decent outdoor light, the Canon EOS 6D produced colors that popped but weren't too oversaturated. Skintones also looked natural, and the nice bokeh is clearly on display here.

While some DSLRs produce images with colors that are too oversaturated -- nearly all cameras oversaturate to some degree, simply because people tend to prefer brighter images -- the Canon 6D struck a good balance, by capturing the robust colors of my subject's scarf, without making it look garish or fake. More importantly for portraits, the author's Caucasian skintones were natural and healthy looking in my 6D shots. (Some consumer DSLRs can make skintones look excessively pink and almost doll-like.) I also shot some indoor hallway portraits, but found the 6D had some problems handling the incandescent lighting using the camera's Auto White Balance, a problem we also came across in our lab testing. In our testing, both the Auto and Incandescent White Balance produced strong reddish and orange casts, respectively. Adjusting White Balance using the Manual setting was much more accurate, but photographers who are moving up in class from a point-and-shoot, compact or consumer DSLR might not want to fiddle too much with that setting.

On the plus side, though, the Canon EOS 6D's excellent high-ISO performance helped me capture relatively clean images at up to ISO 6,400. In low-light test in our lab, the 6D performed very well, capturing bright shots at the lowest light level (1/16 foot-candle), down to the camera's base ISO of 100. Overall, despite a few issues with indoor lighting (which is not uncommon but disappointing nonetheless), the Canon 6D and its full-frame sensor produced excellent images in a range of lighting conditions, with superior detail and sharpness.

1/30s / f/2.8 / ISO 640 / 16mm

You can view the IR Lab's in-depth Canon 6D image quality test results by clicking here, and be sure to read further on in the review for side-by-side comparisons against the 6D's top competitors.

Video. The Canon 6D's HD video quality was stellar, about on par to my results with the 5D Mark III. Photographers who are moving up in class from another entry-level or compact camera should love the video results they get along with how easy the 6D is to use for quickly shooting video on the fly. As mentioned earlier, I really appreciate Canon's Live View/Movie Record switch and button cluster on the back of the 6D. Just flip the switch to the red movie camera icon, press the center button and you're off and recording a movie.

Full HD movie. 1920 x 1080 video at 30p. Click to download or play (73MB MOV).

More experienced videographers, however, might miss a few features from the 5D III that have been left off the 6D. In particular, there's no headphone jack for checking audio levels as you shoot. (The 5D III has a built-in headphone jack.) Otherwise, the 6D can shoot full 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) HD with manual exposure control at a range of frame rates including 30, 25, or 24fps. You can also shoot 720p at 60 or 50fps. And you can shoot with the 6D in the high-quality ALL-I intraframe video format but you'll need a UHS-I compliant SD card to do that. (It's also worth noting that you have to disable the 6D's Wi-Fi when shooting video, so there's no way to monitor a live video feed on an iPad or iPhone while you shoot.)

The Canon 6D's big image sensor produced luscious video results for me, with eye-catching shallow depth of field and creamy color. I also saw very little of the rolling shutter effects that produce a wobbly, jell-o distortion when you aggressively pan while shooting video with some DSLRs. In some early reports on the Canon 6D, some reviewers complained that the camera had issues with producing moiré -- which are strange, multi-colored stripes that can occur in subjects with intersecting grid-like patterns -- in the video. During my testing, I deliberately shot with the 6D in situations where moiré might occur, such as the intricate brickwork on a building, intersecting power lines and the suspension cables on a bridge. I was able to produce instances of moiré, though not as easily as I had expected. One place it turned up severely was in the vents of window air conditioners, however it's highly subject-dependent, and needs just the right repeating detail to trigger it.

Click here for our detailed Canon 6D video analysis page with insight on how the camera handles a variety of recording situations, ranging from night-time shooting to rolling shutter tests.


Wi-Fi and GPS.
The Canon 6D offers two unique features not available on its main rival, the Nikon D600, or on the step-up Canon 5D Mark III model: built-in Wi-Fi and GPS tagging.

In-camera wireless connectivity -- especially on a DSLR -- is something I see big potential for. Camera manufacturers have been trying to implement it for years but, so far, with no great success. Most of the set-ups I've tried have been glitchy, and the built-in Wi-Fi in many of Canon's own compact PowerShot cameras is not very user-friendly.

Luckily, Canon has updated the Wi-Fi interface on the 6D, making it a lot easier to use, especially when connecting the DSLR to an iPhone or Android smartphone or tablet with the help of Canon's free EOS Remote app. I was able to easily share images with my iPhone -- at a reduced size, of course -- get a live view from the camera on the phone, and control several functions on the camera via the app, including firing the shutter, focusing by touching the iPhone's screen, and adjusting ISO, aperture and shutter speed. (Note: You can also transfer photos from the 6D to your computer by pairing it over a wireless network, but you have to use the Canon EOS Utility software that comes packaged with the camera. The software also allows you to remote control the camera much like you can with a smart mobile device.)

Here's a video demonstration of the EOS 6D's remote control capabilities, with Canon's Chuck Westfall walking us through many of the 6D's exciting Wi-Fi capabilities, which you'll see seriously up the ante of what a camera can offer in terms of built-in wireless functionality and convenience.

Canon's Chuck Westfall connects the Canon 6D to a smartphone
via Wi-Fi for both shooting and viewing images.

Additionally, the 6D's built-in Wi-Fi is IEEE 802.11 b/g/n capable with a reported range of 100 feet, which I found to be fairly accurate. Many pro photographers -- as well as enthusiasts who take nature photographs or a lot of self-portraits -- should love this sizable range when paired with the 6D's considerable remote control features. You can also send your shots to a wireless printer from the 6D, but I don't know of many photographers who would do that often, that is, without editing the images first.

Despite the 6D's leg up on many of its competitors, there's still room for improvement with the camera's Wi-Fi capabilities. To post your images on social networking sites, you either need to send it to your smart device first and upload from there or transfer them through the Canon Image Gateway online photo service -- an additional step that some new point-and-shoots can now skip.

While some photographers will like having a GPS receiver built into their DSLR, it's not a must-have feature for me. I (usually) know where my images were captured and have no strong desire to put them on one of those digital maps in the included Map Utility software or Apple Aperture, and see where I've been. For those who do like this feature though, the 6D's GPS is solid, recording longitude, latitude, elevation and universal time code in your shots while also sporting a GPS logging function.

Canon EOS 6D gallery images shot with the Canon EF 24-105mm IS kit lens
The above gallery was shot by our lens specialist Rob Murray to demonstrate how the Canon 6D performs when paired with the EF 24-105mm IS kit lens. Read our IR Lab Optics test results for much greater detail about the lens including macro performance, geometric distortion, chromatic aberration and more.

 

Canon 6D Technical Info

by Mike Tomkins

Sensor. Canon has developed a brand-new full-frame CMOS image sensor for the EOS 6D. With an area of 35.8 x 23.9mm, it's microscopically smaller than the sensors found in the 5D Mark II and Mark III. The effective resolution is 20.2 megapixels. While that lags Nikon's 24.3 megapixel D600 just slightly, the Canon has a bit of an edge in photosite pitch. The Canon 6D's sensor spaces photosites at 6.55 microns, versus a 5.9 micron pitch for the D600.

Processor. Output from the new sensor is handled by a DIGIC 5+ image processor. That's the same type seen in the more expensive EOS-5D Mark III. Canon says that the EOS 6D uses 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion.

Performance. The Canon EOS 6D falls behind Nikon's entry in terms of burst shooting performance. Where the D600 was capable of 5.4 frames-per-second burst shooting in our tests, the Canon 6D provided a slightly less swift 4.4 frames per second, a difference of around 18%.

Canon rates shutter lag as around 60 milliseconds (we measured 59), which is near-identical to that of the EOS 5D Mark III.

Sensitivity. Although it's not the same sensor used in the EOS 5D Mark III, the Canon EOS 6D offers the same sensitivity range. By default, everything from ISO 100 to 25,600 equivalents is available. An ISO expansion function unlocks a wider range of 50 to 102,400 equivalents. By contrast, the Nikon D600 has an expanded range of ISO 50 to 25,600, of which the standard range is just ISO 100 to 6,400 equivalents. The Canon 6D's Auto ISO feature lets you specify the minimum and maximum ISO as well as minimum shutter speed, or you can let the camera select.

Autofocus. One area in which there's a very clear differentiation between the EOS 6D and Canon's more expensive full-frame models is autofocus--but interestingly, it's not a clear sweep for the 5D Mark III. Sure, that camera has a 61-point autofocus array with 41 cross-type points, where the Canon 6D has just eleven points in a diamond-shaped array, with the center point being the sole cross-type. (In that respect, it's closer to the 5D Mark II, which had a 15-point array with single cross-type, but relegated six of these as merely assist points.)

Where the Canon EOS 6D wins is in terms of low-light performance: it matches Pentax's recently-announced K-5 II and K-5 IIs with the center point being able to lock focus down to -3 EV. That's a full 2 EV further than Nikon's D600, although that camera offers a much more generous 39 autofocus points, of which nine are cross-types. The Canon 6D's increased center point sensitivity comes thanks to an increase in the number of light-sensitive elements making up that focus point.

Viewfinder. According to Canon, the 6D's optical viewfinder has approximately 97% coverage, which is just slightly behind the 98% of the EOS 5D Mark II. The 5D III and Nikon D600 both have about 100% coverage.

Displays. There are two main displays on the Canon EOS 6D, as you'd expect of a camera at this price point. The top panel is a monochrome LCD status display, handy for saving battery life and time as you check or change camera settings.

Canon EOS 6D with 430EX II flash

The rear panel, meanwhile, is a 3.0-inch Clear View LCD panel with a resolution of 1,040,000 dots. The Clear View designation means it still has an air gap, unlike the Clear View II screen on the EOS 5D III, so in like conditions, contrast will likely be lower and glare higher than that camera. It's also slightly smaller than the displays in the 5D III and Nikon D600, and has a wider aspect than the screen on the 5D II. Compared to that in the D600, though, the 6D's screen has a slightly higher dot count. Like that screen, the EOS 6D's panel has wide 170-degree viewing angles. There's also a high-transparency multicoating.

When framing in live view mode, Canon says the display has 100% coverage.

Flash. As you might expect, there's no built-in flash strobe in the EOS 6D. The Nikon D600 does have one, so if you're the type who likes to travel light, that's a potential advantage--but if you always carry an external strobe then it's merely an added expense and potential point of failure. Both cameras, not surprisingly, have standard hot shoes.

Exposure modes. The selection of exposure modes on offer in the Canon EOS 6D almost exactly mirror those in Nikon's competitor. There's a choice of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, and Manual exposure modes that most enthusiasts and pros will seldom leave, plus consumer-friendly Auto+ and Scene modes. There are also two Custom modes. The Canon adds a dedicated Bulb mode, and its Creative Auto mode, which aims to provide a little control without using terminology confusing to amateurs.

Metering. The Canon EOS 6D meters exposures with a 63-zone, dual-layer iFCL metering sensor. First seen in the EOS 7D, it's the same chip used in the 5D Mark III. The top layer is sensitive to red and green, while the bottom layer detects blue and green. This full-color metering allows better subject detection, information which is also fed back to the autofocus system to further aid subject tracking. Nikon, by contrast, has a much finer-grained 2,016 pixel RGB metering system, branded as 3D color matrix metering II.

Shutter. Another point of differentiation between the Canon EOS 6D and 5D III can be found in their shutter mechanisms. Where that in the 5D III is rated as good for a lifetime of some 150,000 cycles, just like that in Nikon's D600, the Canon 6D's shutter is rated for a much shorter life of 100,000 cycles. That's not to say it's a certainty not to outlive 100,000 shots--these values aren't set in stone--it's just less likely to do so than the shutter in the other cameras.

Creative. There are a couple of handy creative options on the Canon EOS 6D that mirror--but don't quite match--those found on the 5D III.

The first of these is the high dynamic range mode, which captures three separate images with varied exposure, then combines them into a single image with greater dynamic range than is possible in a single shot. The HDR mode is similar to that in the EOS 5D III, but doesn't allow the source images to be saved. Instead, the merging is done solely in-camera, and if you're not happy with the result, you'll need to reshoot the scene. (With the 5D III, if you change your mind and decide to create the HDR manually on your computer, you have the option to save the source images that were used to create the in-camera composite.) There's also a smaller variety of HDR effects in the 6D than can be found in its pricier sibling.

The other creative option that's particularly interesting is the Multiple Exposure mode, which overlays multiple images upon each other. It's a technique that's useful to simulate a longer exposure, to reduce noise, or simply for the effects that can be achieved. You can overlay up to nine images, and you can use an existing raw image file as a starting point for the series. There are two compositing methods: Additive and Average, yielding a different look. Cleverly, you can preview the compositing result on the LCD panel, and can choose to undo the most recent addition to the multiple exposure if you didn't get the result you were after. There are more compositing modes in the EOS 5D III (it also has Bright and Dark), but this still seems a great tool for EOS 6D shooters.

Level gauge. Another point of differentiation between the Canon EOS 6D and the 5D III can be found in their respective level gauge functions. The Canon 6D offers a single-axis level gauge, indicating only side-to-side roll. That's plenty if all you want to do is ensure horizons are level, of course. The 5D III has a dual-axis level gauge, though, which can also show the degree of front/back pitch. That's great for architectural photography, panorama shooting, and other areas where you want to ensure your verticals don't converge.

Dust reduction. The EOS 6D includes Canon's EOS Integrated Cleaning System, which uses a piezoelectric element to shake dust particles off of the low-pass filter in front of the sensor. The dust is then trapped by an adhesive strip along the base, preventing it from causing further nuisance. The camera can also map the locations of stubborn dust spots that remain on the sensor after cleaning, then store their locations as Dust Delete Data that can subsequently be used to subtract the spots during post-processing.

Movie. Canon has included much of the video capture feature set that made its 5D-series models so popular with videographers in the new EOS 6D. That includes Full HD (1080p; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) recording at 30, 25, or 24 fps; 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) capture at 60 or 50 fps, and VGA (640 x 480 pixel) at 30 or 25 fps. Movies are limited to 29 minutes, 59 seconds of capture, and automatically partitioned at 4GB intervals. ALL-I intraframe video requires a UHS-I compliant flash card, while IPB interframe-compressed video can be recorded on regular SD cards. Exposure and audio levels can be controlled manually, and there's both an internal, monaural microphone and an external stereo microphone jack. So what's missing from the 5D III? The most significant thing is the lack of a headphone jack, meaning you can't monitor audio at capture time.

Wireless networking. There are quite a few places where the Canon 6D bests even its more-expensive sibling, however, and one of these is its inclusion of built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. To be fair, the 5D Mark III still wins on range: the IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi radio in the 6D isn't terribly powerful, with a rated range of just 30 meters. That's barely 20% of the range possible with the 5D III and the optional WFT-E7A Wireless File Transmitter, which is said to work with a 150 meter range in ideal conditions. However, the 6D doesn't need to rely on a clumsy, external device to provide Wi-Fi networking. If you're shooting with the intent of transferring images to the internet via a smartphone in your pocket, 150 meter range is overkill. If you're more than 30 meters from your phone, chances are you've lost it. ;-)

It's not only smartphones with which you can communicate. Canon says the 6D's Wi-Fi connectivity supports WPS security, and that the camera can connect to certain PowerShot-series cameras and Android or iOS tablets as well as smartphones and PCs. You can also share images on social networking sites. They're transferred to your chosen destination via Canon's iMAGE GATEWAY cloud service, which requires registration.

Better still, it's not just sharing of images that's possible. You can also remotely control your EOS 6D from the attached device, using a free Canon EOS Remote application (you'll need an iOS 5 or Android 2.3+ / 4.0+ device for this), or from a PC running Canon's EOS Utility.

Geolocation. Another area where the Canon 6D offers something its pricier sibling doesn't is its built-in GPS receiver. This allows the camera to determine its location, then record the latitude, longitude, elevation, and UTC time stamp in the EXIF data of each image. The 5D III requires a separate device to achieve this. Once tagged, you can view the capture locations of your images on a map using the supplied Map Utility software. There's also a logging function to track movement at set intervals, and you can even set the camera's internal clock to local time via GPS.

Connectivity. In addition to the aforementioned built-in Wi-Fi and GPS radios, the Canon EOS 6D includes several connectivity choices. There's a combined USB 2.0 High Speed data / standard-definition composite A/V output, a high-definition Mini HDMI (Type C) video port with CEC support, a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack, and a wired remote terminal. The 6D also supports Canon wireless infrared RC-6 remote controller. As mentioned before, what's missing compared to the 5D Mark III is a headphone jack for monitoring recorded audio. And, unlike the 5D Mark III, the Canon 6D's HDMI port does not output uncompressed HD video. Also note that the WFT-E7A Wireless File Transmitter is not compatible with the 6D, for obvious reasons.

Storage. The Canon EOS 6D is compatible with Secure Digital cards including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types, however there's only one card slot (competing models offer two). It also supports -- and indeed requires -- the higher-speed UHS-I cards, if you intend to shoot ALL-I Intraframe-compressed video. Unlike the EOS 5D II and III, there is no longer any support for CompactFlash cards.

Canon EOS 6D with battery grip

Battery. If you're shooting with the EOS 60D, 7D, 5D Mark II, or 5D Mark III already, you're in luck. The EOS 6D uses the exact same proprietary LP-E6 lithium-ion battery packs, so you can share batteries between your cameras. Canon rates battery life to CIPA testing standards as some 1,090 shots at 23°C/73°F, and 980 shots at 0°C/32°F when using the optical viewfinder. Battery life when using GPS and Wi-Fi isn't stated. A dedicated LC-E6 battery charger is included in the bundle.

If the battery life isn't sufficient, or you just want duplicated controls for portrait shooting, an accessory BG-E13 battery grip is available. The grip supports up to two LP-E6 battery packs or six AA-size/LR6 batteries. As you'd expect, an optional AC adapter kit is also available (ACK-E6).

Availability. The Canon 6D became available in December 2012. Two choices were offered -- a body-only version that originally listed at US$2,100, or a kit including the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens that originally listed at US$2,900. The body can now be readily purchased at US$2,000, and the kit at US$2,400.

 

Canon 6D Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops comparing the Canon 6D with the Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mark III, Nikon D600, Nikon D800 and Sony A99.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction. All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses.

Canon 6D versus Canon 7D at ISO 100

Canon 6D at ISO 100
Canon 7D at ISO 100

We put the 7D into the comparison to show the relative advantage of stepping up to a full-frame sensor over an APS-C sensor. The results are obvious in all 3 images, as the depth and detail of the 6D crops are head and shoulders over the 7D.


Canon 6D versus Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 100

Canon 6D at ISO 100
Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 100

The 5D Mark III has 2.1 more megapixels than the 6D, but also costs a lot more. For the money the 6D actually stands up fairly well here to its highly touted older brother, including looking perhaps slightly sharper on the lower pink swatch, though the 5D III's representation of the mosaic is incredible.


Canon 6D versus Nikon D600 at ISO 100

Canon 6D at ISO 100
Nikon D600 at ISO 100

The D600 renders our red fabric swatch about as well as any camera in its class, but notice how the 6D outperforms on the pink swatch. Interesting.


Canon 6D versus Nikon D800 at ISO 100

Canon 6D at ISO 100
Nikon D800 at ISO 100

The 36-megapixel D800 is a monster for good image quality and makes the comparison difficult due to the size difference. Across the board, the D800 demonstrates phenomenal detail though the 6D is no slouch.


Canon 6D versus Sony A99 at ISO 100

Canon 6D at ISO 100
Sony A99 at ISO 100

The A99 has almost 4 more megapixels than the 6D, but the 6D not only holds its own but is sharper and clearer in some areas, especially the Mas Portel bottle.


Most digital SLRs and CSCs will produce an excellent ISO 100 shot, so we like to push them and see what they can do compared to other cameras at ISO 1,600, 3,200, and 6,400. Recent advances in sensor technology have made ISO 1,600 look a lot more like ISO 100, but there are still cameras whose quality starts to fall apart at this setting. We also choose 1,600 because we like to be able to shoot at least at this level when indoors and at night.

Canon 6D versus Canon 7D at ISO 1,600

Canon 6D at ISO 1,600
Canon 7D at ISO 1,600

Again, the 7D's APS-C sensor has less than half the surface area of the full-framed 6D, and the disparity is clearly on display here. 7D owners interested in stepping up should find these images intriguing.


Canon 6D versus Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 1,600

Canon 6D at ISO 1,600
Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 1,600

The 6D stands up admirably here against its big brother the 5D Mark III (which is just a bit better), both of which handle ISO 1600 with good image quality across all target areas with no obvious weaknesses.


Canon 6D versus Nikon D600 at ISO 1,600

Canon 6D at ISO 1,600
Nikon D600 at ISO 1,600

The 6D outperforms the D600 here with less noise in the shadows behind the bottle and a clearer mosaic imager. The D600 wins the battle on the tricky red swatch, and yet loses most of the detail from the pink swatch.


Canon 6D versus Nikon D800 at ISO 1,600

Canon 6D at ISO 1,600
Nikon D800 at ISO 1,600

The D800 also shows more shadow noise, although the image size difference due to the disparity in resolution makes an accurate comparison more difficult. The red swatch is certainly clearer and much more detailed.


Canon 6D versus Sony A99 at ISO 1,600

Canon 6D at ISO 1,600
Sony A99 at ISO 1,600

The 6D wins every battle here against the A99, with a cleaner representation of the Mas Portel bottle and the shadows, a crisper mosaic pattern and a more detailed representation of our red swatch.


Today's ISO 3,200 is yesterday's ISO 1,600, so below are the same crops at ISO 3,200.

Canon 6D versus Canon 7D at ISO 3,200

Canon 6D at ISO 3,200
Canon 7D at ISO 3,200

Yet again, the older 7D with its APS-C sensor clearly can't stand up against the 6D at higher ISOs.


Canon 6D versus Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 3,200

Canon 6D at ISO 3,200
Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 3,200

Another very tight race between these two relatives, but the 6D costs much less in comparison, so if low light performance on a relative budget is your goal, the 6D should certainly make your short list of full-frame cameras to consider.


Canon 6D versus Nikon D600 at ISO 3,200

Canon 6D at ISO 3,200
Nikon D600 at ISO 3,200

Similar to the comparison results at ISO 1600, the 6D handles most of the elements with more clarity and less noise than the D600, with the red swatch being the one notable exception.


Canon 6D versus Nikon D800 at ISO 3,200

Canon 6D at ISO 3,200
Nikon D800 at ISO 3,200

The 6D shows a remarkably low amount of noise in the shadows behind the bottle in the first image, and is clearer in the mosaic image. It does however start to loses detail in the red swatch at this ISO.


Canon 6D versus Sony A99 at ISO 3,200

Canon 6D at ISO 3,200
Sony A99 at ISO 3,200

As with ISO 1600, the 6D clearly wins the battle for ISO supremacy against the Sony A99 in virtually all respects.


Detail: Canon 6D versus Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mark III, Nikon D600, Nikon D800 and Sony A99.

Canon
6D

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Canon
7D

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Canon
5D Mk III

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Nikon
D600

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Nikon
D800

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Sony
A99

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too. Overall the Canon 6D performs admirably here, and tends to be a bit sharper across the ISO range than most of its competitors, with the 5D Mark III being the only exception and clearly better in the details.

 

Canon 6D Print Quality

The Canon 6D prints superb images. Stunning 30 x 40s at ISO 50/100/200; an excellent 16 x 20 at ISO 1600; and a good 5 x 7 all the way to ISO 25,600.

ISO 50/100/200 images look terrific at 30 x 40, with sharp detail and rich colors. Makes a nice wall display print up to 40 x 60.

ISO 400 prints look great at 24 x 36 inches, crisp and vibrant, and are fine for wall display up to 36 x 48.

ISO 800 prints remain sharp up to 20 x 30, introducing some minor luminance noise in shadows and softness in our red swatch at 24 x 36 inches but still quite usable for less critical applications.

ISO 1600 makes an excellent 16 x 20 inch print, while 20 x 30s here show some noticeable loss of contrast in our target red swatch.

ISO 3200 prints a very nice 13 x 19, with 16 x 20s losing some contrast in our mosaic bottle but still fine for wall display prints.

ISO 6400 yields a good 11 x 14 inch print, with good color renditioning for such a high ISO.

ISO 12,800 prints a good 8 x 10, though is starting to introduce some loss in color fidelity and a bit more noise in some shadowy areas.

ISO 25,600 makes a nice 5 x 7 inch print.

ISO 51,200 prints a good 4 x 6, if just a bit on the grainy size.

ISO 102,400 does not print a usable 4 x 6 and is best avoided.

With a full-frame sensor and 20 megapixels, it should come as no surprise that the Canon 6D prints look excellent in comparison to all but the best cameras out there today. But with its relatively low price tag for a full-frame camera, this model will surely draw attention to anyone wanting to step up to this level of quality without breaking the bank to do so.

 

In the Box

The Canon EOS 6D retail kit w/24-105mm lens package (as reviewed) contains the following items:

  • Canon EOS 6D body
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS USM lens
  • Eyecup
  • Battery pack LP-E6
  • Battery charger LC-E6
  • Stereo AV cable AVC-DC400ST
  • Wide neck strap EW-EOS 6D
  • USB interface cable IFC-200U
  • EOS Digital Solution disk and software instructional manual CD
  • Camera instruction manual

 

Recommended Accessories

 

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 moiré 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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Canon 6D



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