Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)

Started May 10, 2013 | Discussions
DtEW
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Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
May 10, 2013

Hi there.  I apologize beforehand if this is repetitive or annoying in whatever which way.

I'm a NEX user who enjoys that system very much in its own right, but also with an EF-to-E Speed Booster.  The latter is what brought me to the Canon fold.

I decided that there were instances in which I didn't have the luxury of time for manual focusing (people/event photography), nor was the subject matter still enough for moderate-aperture native lenses w/optical stabilization to work.  For those situations I needed PDAF and big, fast primes.  As much as I loathed the size/weight of FF dSLRS (sorry, coming from film SLRs and now MILC), I realize its necessity for some of the stuff I'd like to do.  So I'm going to get one, and it's going to be either a 5DMKIII or a 6D.

My girlfriend has a 5DMKII (another reason why I've been brought into the Canon fold), and I can't say I like shooting it that much.  My seat-of-the-pants impressions of what I found displeasure in (please feel free to correct if there are explanations/corrections; I do not hold these to be particularly accurate):

1.  Mirror slap.  Guh.  Feels like "ka-boink", but doubtlessly this is because I've been spoiled by the particular advantage of mirrorless, and one with an electronic first shutter.  I hear that the 6D mirror is quieter than the 5D MKIII.  Thoughts?

2.  Shutter lag.  I don't know whether it's the throw of the shutter button or something, but I feel like the shutter lag of the 5DMKII (in MF mode, taking AF out of the equation) to be substantially longer than that of my mirrorless.  I realize that more things are going on for a FF dSLR, but has there been an improvement over the 5DMKII for either of the cameras in question?

3.  Autofocus.  Quite honestly, I expected better... but then again my expectations might not have been realistic.  (I'm not comparing it to mirrorless CDAF, as that's a rather low bar.)  I realize that AF speed is partly a function of the lens.  My concern is that acquisition fails more than I thought it would in low light (as tested with the EF 100mm f/2 USM, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 A forthcoming might be better here?).  Of course, low-light is relative.  The 6D supposedly has that magic cross-type -3EV in the center.  The 5DMKIII supposedly has a gazillion -2EV corss types all around.  Are these substantial improvements over the 5DMKII?  (This might be my worst-worded inquiry.)

Another concern that isn't something I'm at all familiar with is that of flash.  I do not shoot flash, being a landscape shooter and sometimes taking quite too much pride with extreme ambient light shooting.  But I realize that it might be very important for event work.  I've read that the 6D was somewhat down-spec'ed as to leave model-differentiation room for the 5DMKIII.  Does it matter?  (I am relatively clueless about flash photography.)

Not that money is no object, but I'd rather have the right tool for the job.  Thanks for any insight y'all might able to shed.

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DtEW
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Re: Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
In reply to DtEW, May 10, 2013

One more thing...  banding.

I hear this about Canon sensors (coming from Sony sensors) and it concerns me.  But I really don't have a choice (given all the other constraints/practicalities) but to go with Canon.  And I figure the Canon FF in question here actually isn't going to be my extreme environment tool and subject to heavy pushing in RAW.  (It's a long story of what I do with my cameras and I'll leave that for people *particularly interested*, which I won't assume to be you guys.)

I guess I'm asking the dual questions of:

1) Whether anybody knows of significant improvements made about this with the 5dMKIII and/or 6D, and if more progress was made for one model over the other?

2) How limiting is this, say... compared to an APS-C Sony Exmor sensor?  Hoping somebody here has experience with both.

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David Grandy
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Re: Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
In reply to DtEW, May 10, 2013

I'll make one point about the 6D and flash.  I use a 5D and a 50D for commercial and wedding jobs and I play the Flash Exposure Compensation button on those cameras like a piano. ETTL-2 flash automation is barely OK, and clicking in a bias with the FEC is absolutely necessary.

The 6D has an FEC but you have to access it through the menu on the camera (like the digital Rebels), and although the FEC can also be accessed on the flash directly. If the flash is in the hotshoe that's probably not that big a deal but my flash is almost always mounted on a bracket.  It's very awkward to change (or even see) the FEC with my flash mounted that high up.  And you certainly don't have time to cycle through the menu looking for the FEC when the bride in her white dress is starting down the aisle.

If you count on FEC and shoot like I do then the 6D is not appropriate as a camera choice.

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TTMartin
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Re: Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
In reply to DtEW, May 10, 2013

If you can afford it then get the 5D Mk III, it's worth the extra money.

The 6D is a step up from your girlfriends 5D Mk II, but, not significantly.

The 6D is smaller, which you'd like, but, still heavy, which you probably wouldn't lke.

The 6D focuses amazingly well in low light.

As for the Canon sensor tech hoopla. It's way over blown. As long as you expose your images properly, you wont notice a difference.

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Jason Rickerby
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Both great cameras - I choose the 5D3
In reply to DtEW, May 10, 2013

DtEW wrote:

1.  Mirror slap.  Guh.  Feels like "ka-boink", but doubtlessly this is because I've been spoiled by the particular advantage of mirrorless, and one with an electronic first shutter.  I hear that the 6D mirror is quieter than the 5D MKIII.  Thoughts?

The 5D3 has a "slow" shutter mode that significantly reduces the sensation of mirror slap and noise. When configured for quiet operation, the 5D3 and 6D are comparable in terms of shutter noise - they are both very quiet. Coming from mirror-less you may find them noisy, but away from the camera, most people will not find the shutter noise intrusive, or perhaps even noticeable. If there's any ambient noise, people won't hear you taking pictures with either camera.

2.  Shutter lag.  I don't know whether it's the throw of the shutter button or something, but I feel like the shutter lag of the 5DMKII (in MF mode, taking AF out of the equation) to be substantially longer than that of my mirrorless.  I realize that more things are going on for a FF dSLR, but has there been an improvement over the 5DMKII for either of the cameras in question?

Haven't owned a 5D2, but have a 40D and 5D3. Shutter-lag? Perhaps this is getting used to the shutter button, because shutter lag hasn't really been anything people have noticed on Canon bodies since the 10D (a long time ago.) I purchased a Canon 20D in September 2004, as one of the benefits was practically no noticeable shutter lag.

3.  Autofocus.  Quite honestly, I expected better... but then again my expectations might not have been realistic.  (I'm not comparing it to mirrorless CDAF, as that's a rather low bar.)  I realize that AF speed is partly a function of the lens.  My concern is that acquisition fails more than I thought it would in low light (as tested with the EF 100mm f/2 USM, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 A forthcoming might be better here?).  Of course, low-light is relative.  The 6D supposedly has that magic cross-type -3EV in the center.  The 5DMKIII supposedly has a gazillion -2EV corss types all around.  Are these substantial improvements over the 5DMKII?  (This might be my worst-worded inquiry.)

Lots of people only use the 5D2 centre focus point. The 5D3 auto-focus is very impressive by any standards. Haven't owned a 6D, but if you're concerned about auto-focus, this is a big reason that the 5D3 cost much more than the 6D.

Another concern that isn't something I'm at all familiar with is that of flash.  I do not shoot flash, being a landscape shooter and sometimes taking quite too much pride with extreme ambient light shooting.  But I realize that it might be very important for event work.  I've read that the 6D was somewhat down-spec'ed as to leave model-differentiation room for the 5DMKIII.  Does it matter?  (I am relatively clueless about flash photography.)

Canon's flash system is pretty standardized across the line. Not sure there's any difference in flash performance or operation between the 5D3 and 6D. However, the 5D3 does have a more sophisticated light metering sensor than the 6D, so this may contribute to differences in ETTL flash metering? Haven't noticed anyone talking about this.

Not that money is no object, but I'd rather have the right tool for the job.  Thanks for any insight y'all might able to shed.

Until recently my main body was a Canon 40D (APS-C), however I have some opportunities for some paid wedding and event photography. To me the high performance auto-focus system in the 5D3, and familiar ergonomics (to the 40D) convinced me to choose this body over the 6D.

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Jason Rickerby
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Banding? Has any reasonable person seen banding on their 5D3 or 6D images?
In reply to DtEW, May 10, 2013

DtEW wrote:

One more thing...  banding.

This is a rarely seen artifact of the Canon sensor design. In most real world circumstances, it's a non-issue.

I hear this about Canon sensors (coming from Sony sensors) and it concerns me.  But I really don't have a choice (given all the other constraints/practicalities) but to go with Canon.  And I figure the Canon FF in question here actually isn't going to be my extreme environment tool and subject to heavy pushing in RAW.  (It's a long story of what I do with my cameras and I'll leave that for people *particularly interested*, which I won't assume to be you guys.)

I guess I'm asking the dual questions of:

1) Whether anybody knows of significant improvements made about this with the 5dMKIII and/or 6D, and if more progress was made for one model over the other?

There's a long technical discussion here, but here's the bottom line. Shoot RAW, expose properly in the first place, then don't severely lift your shadows in post production. Unless there's an issue with the camera, these days banding is a pixel-peeper issue and not a real world problem. If you really need huge dynamic range, shoot with the built in HDR mode, or do HDR in post. (The HDR mode on the 5D3 is more capable than that of the 6D, in that the 5D3 will keep the RAW files used to create the HDR image.)

2) How limiting is this, say... compared to an APS-C Sony Exmor sensor?  Hoping somebody here has experience with both.

Don't have any experience with an Exmor sensor, but as full frame sensors generally have large photosites they generally perform better than their APS-C equivalents (resolution). The sensor architecture is quite a bit different on current Canon and Sony sensors. To remain competitive Canon will need to modernize their sensor manufacturing technology at some point, but this will be VERY expensive and perhaps unfeasible until global economics improves. If you look at the low noise performance of Canon and Nikon (Sony sensor) cameras, they are quite comparable. Currently some of the Sony equipped Nikon cameras have a bit more dynamic range, so there shadows are correspondingly a bit cleaner, but again in real world applications, the vast majority of all new DSLRs produce excellent images. Noise and banding are not the issues they used to be.

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Timbukto
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Re: Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
In reply to DtEW, May 11, 2013

The 6D addresses all of the issues you point out with the 5DMKII.  Keep in mind however that the mirror slap of the 5DMKII is mostly only an audible issue (although yes you can feel the vibration too), but in real-use it has rather good reliability of taking sharp shots at many shutter speeds...even better than MFT cameras (which have shutter shock) or some 1D series cameras that shoot at machine gun rates.  Sony avoids these issues with electronic first curtain shutter.

Canon also uses electronic first curtain shutter by default in liveview.  Proof is in the pudding that for the most part if you shoot handheld, you do not lose much over liveview + handheld as the fact that its handheld and not a tripod shot is an order of magnitude more significant (and you need to shoot telephoto + slow shutter speeds).

6D has very quick shutter lag and VF blackout time compared to 5DMKII.  The 6D is the cleanest sensor Canon makes besides perhaps the 1DX.  It's a pretty significant advantage over the 5DMKII past 3200 ISO.  It has less banding and more random noise patterns to be subjectively better in appearance.  It seems to provide better E-TTL exposures with my YN-565.  It has much better AF, but you may still need to apply MFA (in which case it also has more advanced MFA for zooms).

For pros that use multiple camera's or shoot in the studio the 5DMKII is fine and if anything mirrors the controls of the 7D and 5DMKIII much close as well as using CF cards.  If you like using mirrorless camera's and only will use a few DSLRs, you'll prefer the 6D for the SD cards and won't care about having the 5DMKII/III/7D handling.

The 5DMKIII has better FPS and AF system, however the 6D AF system I think is better than the 5DMKII, but its also still very basic and sparse in AF points as well as being a bit slower to select AF points due to directional pad vs joystick.

Sony Exmor still has better dynamic range, but whether it is useful to you is whether you believe your Sony Exmor shots at ISO 200 are significantly and noticeably worse and more limited than your ISO 100 shots in dynamic range or shadow noise.  In terms of high ISO performance, the 6D is really up there.

Dynamic range and read noise of camera's is not much different from dynamic range and noise floor of audio ADC's.  Yes technically a 120db audio ADC is better than a 112db dynamic range audio ADC, but what matters more is the microphones, the music, the venue, the mixing, etc.  Often in popular music, audio engineers will apply dynamic range compression (which essentially pushes low level sounds louder).  Red Hot Chili Peppers is know for having terribly hot and clipping audio quality.  It is not different from too much shadow pulling actually.  Similarly music that tends to not apply audio compression sounds more 'dynamic', and photos that do not apply as much shadow pulling have more contrast.  That is not to say some audio engineer genius can not do something better with better audio gear, but in real-world significance it still boils down to the music and performance.  Similarly audio playback equipment performance has only gone *down* (i.e. portable mp3 players), and photographic reproduction requirements have also gone *down* i.e. death of printed media, rise of facebook and low quality digital displays and less likelihood of needing/using large prints.

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TTMartin
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Re: Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
In reply to Timbukto, May 11, 2013

Timbukto wrote:

. . .

Sony Exmor still has better dynamic range, but whether it is useful to you is whether you believe your Sony Exmor shots at ISO 200 are significantly and noticeably worse and more limited than your ISO 100 shots in dynamic range or shadow noise.  In terms of high ISO performance, the 6D is really up there.

. . .

Excellent point, according to DxOMark the dynamic range advantage of the Sony NEX-7, compared to the Canon 6D, disappears around ISO 200, and at higher ISOs the Sony NEX-7 falls behind the 6D in dynamic range.

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cpkuntz
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Re: Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
In reply to DtEW, May 11, 2013

Mirror slap in 6D and 5D Mark III are the same as 5D Mark II unless you use quiet shutter.  The quiet shutter is roughly similar to the NEX-7.

I've shot with the NEX-7 and I honestly thing its lag is no different than the 5D Mark III. Not sure about the 5D Mark II.

The dynamic range of the Canons is definitely behind the Exmor sensor if you want a lot of latitude to work with in post.  However, out of camera results are identical, and the noise is roughly equivalent between full frame Exmor sensors in the Nikons an in the Canon sensors - again, out of camera.  If you start pushing shadows on the Canons you'll see more noise, although in the 6D and 5D Mark III the noise pattern isn't really band-like as in the 5D Mark II, but more random grain.

The noise in the 6D is slightly less pronounced than in the 5D Mark III, but I believe this is due mostly to a slightly more aggressive noise reduction, as the detail is ever so slightly softer.  So that's basically a wash.  In raw the 6D is slightly cleaner, but it's not really noticeable and is likely due to the very slightly larger pixels.  Both are better than the 5D Mark II.

If you want the best image quality you should consider the Nikon D800E.  It uses an Exmor sensor at 36 mp and 14 stops of DR.  Very impressive results.  However to get the most out of that you really need to have the best lenses and very good technique.  The 5D Mark III is a bit more versatile but you can't push the files as much in post.

Another good option is the Nikon D600.  It's like the D800's little brother and has better absolute image quality than any of the Canons.  If I were starting out without any Canon lenses this would be my choice.

However, Canon makes some really nice lenses that I enjoy quite a lot.  This is what keeps me in the Canon camp.  The 50mm 1.2 and 85 mm 1.2, for example, are excellent lenses not available in the Nikon lineup.

If you want the best autofocus, go with the 5D mark III.  If you shoot a lot of low light, however, the 6D can autofocus at -3 EV.  If a large number of points across the field is less important, I'd certainly go with the 6D.  Other than autofocus and build quality these two cameras are largely the same.  I like the large size of the 5D Mark III, but you might not.  The 6D is smaller.

We have a wealth of good choices.  They all have advantages, and very few weaknesses.  It's a good time to be in the market for a full frame camera.

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Timbukto
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Re: Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
In reply to cpkuntz, May 11, 2013

cpkuntz wrote:

Mirror slap in 6D and 5D Mark III are the same as 5D Mark II unless you use quiet shutter.  The quiet shutter is roughly similar to the NEX-7.

I've shot with the NEX-7 and I honestly thing its lag is no different than the 5D Mark III. Not sure about the 5D Mark II.

The dynamic range of the Canons is definitely behind the Exmor sensor if you want a lot of latitude to work with in post.  However, out of camera results are identical, and the noise is roughly equivalent between full frame Exmor sensors in the Nikons an in the Canon sensors - again, out of camera.  If you start pushing shadows on the Canons you'll see more noise, although in the 6D and 5D Mark III the noise pattern isn't really band-like as in the 5D Mark II, but more random grain.

The noise in the 6D is slightly less pronounced than in the 5D Mark III, but I believe this is due mostly to a slightly more aggressive noise reduction, as the detail is ever so slightly softer.  So that's basically a wash.  In raw the 6D is slightly cleaner, but it's not really noticeable and is likely due to the very slightly larger pixels.  Both are better than the 5D Mark II.

If you want the best image quality you should consider the Nikon D800E.  It uses an Exmor sensor at 36 mp and 14 stops of DR.  Very impressive results.  However to get the most out of that you really need to have the best lenses and very good technique.  The 5D Mark III is a bit more versatile but you can't push the files as much in post.

Another good option is the Nikon D600.  It's like the D800's little brother and has better absolute image quality than any of the Canons.  If I were starting out without any Canon lenses this would be my choice.

However, Canon makes some really nice lenses that I enjoy quite a lot.  This is what keeps me in the Canon camp.  The 50mm 1.2 and 85 mm 1.2, for example, are excellent lenses not available in the Nikon lineup.

If you want the best autofocus, go with the 5D mark III.  If you shoot a lot of low light, however, the 6D can autofocus at -3 EV.  If a large number of points across the field is less important, I'd certainly go with the 6D.  Other than autofocus and build quality these two cameras are largely the same.  I like the large size of the 5D Mark III, but you might not.  The 6D is smaller.

We have a wealth of good choices.  They all have advantages, and very few weaknesses.  It's a good time to be in the market for a full frame camera.

The 6D has a quieter shutter even without silent mode...in fact by default its a very quiet shutter and mirror flop actuation.  This is *easily* noticeable against the 5DMKII.  Even the 5DMKIII is probably quieter than the 5DMK2 despite firing off at 6FPS.

Just tried the AF on my 85mm 1.8 again on my second 6D and after MFA of -6 and calibrated in low-light indoor conditions, I stepped out today and fired at close range, medium, and near infinity, and again *all* shots are spot on in focus.  I would say the 6D gets you a major improvement in AF accuracy over the 5DMKII, the 5DMKIII gets you AF accuracy, good FPS, *and* top notch tracking and AF point coverage.  6D is still sparse AF and small coverage, and FPS still on the slower side.

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DtEW
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Re: Feedback: 5DMKIII or 6D? (longish)
In reply to DtEW, May 18, 2013

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone.  I should've responded earlier, but I figure people didn't want filler and decided to respond when there was either a substantial development or question.
I ended up picking up a 6D w/24-105mm kit yesterday, plus a 600EX-RT speedlite and a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 A, together for a nice chunk of dough (and negotiated discount) from my go-to B&M camera specialist.

FEC: when I was playing with the camera at the dealer, I asked about the FEC issue, and I was shown that it was accessible quickly-enough (for me, not coming from professional experience) under the "Q" button.  Being that so much of the professional/prosumer dSLR experience is about being able to quickly access functions through dedicated buttons that can be mastered to be "played like a piano," I can see why the lack of a dedicated button might be an issue for somebody whose shooting technique was trained for that.  However, 1) I am starting anew, 2) this "Q" button method hasn't bothered me yet (and is in-fact extremely easy relative to how I've had to operate my MILC under pressure; again, not really a point as that's a bit of a low bar), and 3) given the other substantial reasons I've come to prefer the 6D... I decided that this difference wasn't enough of a priority for me.

(I will explicitly make the disclaimer that all the following judgements are specific to my own biases and anticipated usage based on my history of usage... which is possibly very different from anybody else's usage.)

The reduced size and weight of the 6D was indeed quite convincing.  Having shot smaller cameras and dragged them to plenty out-of-the-way places for my recreational shooting (ex. down the length of Tenaya Canyon in a 14-hour epic, up into a 2nd-story window of an abandoned state hospital by scaling a drainpipe), and now anticipating advanced amateur adventure shooting (rock climbing photography, which I did with my old G11, but didn't with my MILC because the body build seemed like it might have problems surviving)... the 6D felt more-at-home in my hands and in a pack likely to be loaded with more than just photogaphy equipment.

The GPS functionality is a nice trick for some of the things I did (outdoors), but not so much for the others (urbex).  But the wifi and EOS remote was the feature that sealed-the-deal without a shadow of the doubt.

One of the things I've really appreciated about mirrorless is the EVF, which despite its shortcomings, finally de-coupled the viewfinder from a fixed placement.  It could tilt (my version did), and I was able to exploit this ability in the course of shooting in position-constrained environments.  The easiest one to explain would be shooting straight up (or nearly-so) from a very low angle in a dark place (multi-minute exposures making chimping impractical) where you seriously did not want to lie down on the floor.

The real-time live-view of the EOS Remote is simply a superior solution.
The marginally-better DR was part of the consideration as well, although I will certainly utilize the improved remote + bracketing functionality with much more regularity.
Granted, all of these things are about what I shoot for fun, instead of what many people use their FF for, which would be paying gigs.  But I figure this is the better approach for my first foray into FF photography.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

Addendum:

Shutter noise:  The 6D is a marked improvement over the 5DMKII in normal and "slow" modes to where neither is an annoyance for me.  Does anybody know if the "slow" mode is gentler on the whole mechanism?

Autofocus:  I'll have to get back to y'all about that one.

Flash:  Ditto about this.  But I was sold on a 600EX-RT, so at least power and sophistication potential won't be lacking, heh.

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