Canon 6D Review
|Full model name:||Canon EOS 6D|
(35.8mm x 23.9mm)
|Viewfinder:||Optical / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||50 - 102,400|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||4.0 (kit lens)|
5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8 in.
(145 x 111 x 71 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Canon 6D specifications|
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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 originally shipped in December 2012 for US$2,100, body only. As of February 2017, this price has dropped to $1,700 list. It's also currently available with the Canon EF 24-105mm IS lens for US$2,300.Imaging Resource rating
4.5 out of 5.0
Canon 6D Review
Overview and Tech Info by Shawn Barnett and Mike Tomkins
Field Test by Dan Havlik
Last edited: 02/08/2017
Want to know how the full-frame Canon 6D compares with its similarly-priced sibling, the sub-frame Canon 7D II? You're not alone, so we've written a head-to-head of the Canon 6D vs. Canon 7D Mark II. Be sure to read it now, so you can decide whether you're better off with an entry-level full-frame DSLR, or a high-end APS-C one instead!
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-I 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 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
Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
Optional accessories, with more capabilities
Canon 6D Field Test
A great entry-level full-frame DSLR that won't break the bank
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.
Canon 6D Technical Insights
Let's take a look under the hood
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.
Canon 6D Image Quality Comparison
See how 6D image quality compares to rivals
Here we present crops comparing the Canon 6D's image quality to that of 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.
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 Print Quality
But how does it look on paper?
Print quality and image quality are similar but not identical, because what you see on a print isn't always the same as what you see on the screen. Our print quality analysis answers the important question: "Just how big can I print my photos at higher ISOs?"
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.
Read about the Canon 6D Print Quality
Canon 6D Conclusion
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.
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
- 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
- Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. 16GB Class 10 should be a minimum.
- Extra battery pack LP-E6 (~US$80)
- Battery grip BG-E13 (~US$300)
- AC adapter kit ACK-E6 (~US$120)
- Canon Speedlite flash
- Large DSLR bag
Buy the Canon 6D
$2732.48 (53% more)
22.3 MP (9% more)
Also has viewfinder
$3299.00 (61% more)
30.4 MP (34% more)
Also has viewfinder
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