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Canon EOS 6D In-Depth Review

February 2013 | By Amadou Diallo, Andy Westlake
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Review based on a production Canon EOS 6D with Firmware v1.1.2

Less than a week after arch-rival Nikon grabbed headlines with the D600, Canon responded with an announcement of its own price-conscious full frame DSLR, the EOS 6D. And just like that, a new market segment was born: the mid-range full frame DSLR. It was only a decade ago that full frame DSLR performance was limited to those with pockets deep enough to spend $7999 on the 11MP Canon EOS 1Ds. And while the barrier to entry has dropped considerably since then, for many potential buyers, the most-talked about feature of the EOS 6D may well be its price. It debuts at $1400 less than the company's standout EOS 5D Mark III.

As the full frame DSLR market grows ever-more crowded though - Canon, Nikon and Sony each offer at least two full frame models - the appeal of the 6D may well rest on things like handling and feature set. While Canon obviously needs to maintain clear distinctions between the 6D and the pricier 5D Mark III, the challenge is to offer enough incentive for current EOS owners who lack a substantial lens investment to resist the similarly priced and slightly higher-resolution Nikon D600.

And as is Canon's wont, they have opted for the allure of familiarity and consistency. The EOS 6D is perhaps best understood as a full frame version of the popular EOS 60D - indeed it's very similar in both control layout and dimensions. While slimmer front-to-back, and lighter than the Nikon D600, the 6D primarily seeks to distinguish itself on the spec sheet with built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, a 'silent' shutter mechanism and, according to Canon, unprecedented low-light focusing sensitivity. Whether this combination will be enough to satisfy enthusiasts who'd appreciate the D600's distinctly higher spec'ed autofocus system, dual card slots and built-in flash remains to be seen.

Canon EOS 6D key specifications

  • 20.2MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 5+ image processor
  • ISO 100-25600 standard, 50-102800 expanded
  • 4.5 fps continuous shooting
  • 'Silent' shutter mode
  • 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
  • 11 point AF system, center point cross-type and sensitive to -3 EV
  • 63 zone iFCL metering system
  • 97% viewfinder coverage; interchangeable screens (including Eg-D grid and Eg-S fine-focus)
  • 1040k dot 3:2 3" ClearView LCD (fixed)
  • Single SD card slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
  • Single-axis electronic level

The EOS 6D is built around a new Canon CMOS sensor, which offers a pixel count of 20.2MP (compared to the Nikon D600 and Sony SLT-A99's 24MP, and the 5D Mark III's 22MP). In concert with the DIGIC 5+ processor it offers a standard ISO range of 100-25600, expandable down to 50 and up to 102,400. The AF system has 11 points, but only the central one is cross-type (sensitive to both vertical and horizontal detail). However, the 6D's trump card is the ability to focus in extremely low light levels; right down to a claimed -3 EV – a full stop dimmer than the 5D Mark III. This figure might not mean much to you, but for reference, -3 EV is roughly equivalent to the light cast by a full moon.

Notable additions include integrated GPS and Wi-Fi - with the latter offering the ability to control the camera remotely via your smartphone. The 6D also benefits from some features we saw in the EOS 5D Mark III, like Canon's silent shutter mode, which offers quieter, more discreet shooting. It also inherits in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure modes, but disappointingly implements these as JPEG only options, unlike on the 5D Mark III which also records Raw files.

The 6D omits some of the more interesting goodies Canon introduced on the EOS 650D, too. There's no on-chip phase-detection to aid autofocus in live view or movie mode, nor does Canon's superb touchscreen interface make an appearance. As usual for a full frame DSLR - the Sony SLT-A99 being the sole exception - the rear screen itself is fixed, rather than articulated as it is on the EOS 60D. Canon says this is for maximum durability and to keep the camera's size down.

Key specs compared to EOS 5D Mark III and Nikon D600

In the table below we see how some of the EOS 6D's key specs measure up against its more expensive big brother, the 5D Mark III, and its main rival the Nikon D600.

 
Canon EOS 6D
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Nikon D600
 Effective Pixels  • 20.2 MP  • 22.3 MP  • 24.3 MP
 ISO Range  • 100-25600 standard
 • 50-102800 expanded
 • 100-25600 standard
 • 50-102800 expanded
 • 100-6400 standard
 • 50-25600 expanded
 No of AF points  • 11  • 61  • 39
 Screen  • 3"
 • 1,040,000 dots
 • 3.2"
 • 1,040,000 dots
 • 3.2"
 • 921,000 dots
 Viewfinder  • 97% coverage
 • 0.71x magnification
 • 100% coverage
 • 0.71x magnification
 • 100% coverage
 • 0.7x magnification
 Built-in flash  •  No  • No  •  Yes
 Continuous drive  • 4.5 fps  • 6 fps  • 5.5 fps
 Storage  • SD  • Compact flash
 • SD
 • SD
 • 2 slots
 Weight
 (inc batteries)
 • 770g (1.7 lb)  • 950g (2.1 lb)  • 850g (1.9 lb)
 Dimensions  • 145 x 111 x 71 mm
   (5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8")
 • 152 x 116 x 76 mm
   (6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0")
 • 141 x 113 x 82 mm
   (5.6 x 4.5 x 3.2")
 Wi-Fi + GPS  •  Built-in  •  Optional  •  Optional


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Canon EOS 6D

Comments

Total comments: 32
futuretro
By futuretro (3 weeks ago)

The BIGGEST WORST thing Canon did with the 6D,
is the omission of a headphone jack.

It's just UNFORGIVABLE.

Anyone who is interested in the 6D,
will end up getting a 6D,
simply because they can't afford (or justify the price of) a 5D3.

So why would you give them a handicapped tool?!

0 upvotes
Ben in Black
By Ben in Black (2 weeks ago)

Call me old-fashioned, but I use an SLR to take photographs. The ability to shoot the odd video is merely a useful extra. I can understand the advantage of a headphone socket but it is hardly a deal-breaker for a still photographer.

0 upvotes
Zolton
By Zolton (2 weeks ago)

I use my 6D primarily for video, but I record proper sound with an external recorder and only use the camera recorded sound as back up or for synching.

If that is the worst thing you don't like about the camera - you must really like what it was designed for ;)

1 upvote
Zolton
By Zolton (2 weeks ago)

Additionally, the 6D uses exactly the same digi video processor as 5D3... so no I considered the 5D3 but couldn't justify the addition $k for no functional value given how I planned to use it.

0 upvotes
BGTY
By BGTY (3 days ago)

For my needs, the 6D really fell into a nice little niche. I don't shoot video, so the headphone jack was a non issue. I don't shoot sports, so the AF system wasn't a big deal.

It saved me a lot of money by omitting features of the 5DIII that weren't of huge (or any) importance to me, personally.

0 upvotes
PRohmer
By PRohmer (3 weeks ago)

This rating of the 6D is weird to say the least. Almost every reviewer out there rated video capabilities of 6D as definitely better then Nikon d610. How on earth here it gets much lower video rating then d610?? Yet focusing is rated relatively high? What's going on? What am I missing?

Thank you.

0 upvotes
hdr
By hdr (4 weeks ago)

Does anyone know if the wi-fi on the 6D supports the Pictbridge printing interface? I'd love to get the camera if it does.
Thanks much.

0 upvotes
Ahgre
By Ahgre (1 month ago)

Only 22 comments on this popular review???

0 upvotes
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (1 month ago)

PLUS: Solid likeable camera with decent performance. CONS: That you know its the least they could get away with for the maximum money (roll on the MK2).

0 upvotes
Oceans Media
By Oceans Media (1 month ago)

I bought this camera 7 months ago and I absolutely love it for what I use it for. I live to shoot Lightning, astrophotography, long exposure etc. and the 6D shines beautifully due to its amazing low noise sensor up to ISO6400. The standard kit lens 24mm-105mm f4 L series is amazing. So sharp and accurate.

Where it lets me down is in the studio. In the field I manual focus everything, in the studio however I prefer to use autofocus at times. The autofocus on this camera sucks. Yes it can focus on the light of a full moon, but for everyday use it’s about 3 years behind the market. My guess is that the 6D came out after the 5dIII and Canon had to make sure that people still bought the 5dIII even though the 6D sensor is better in low light hands down. The 5DIII focus system is great!

With regards to the multiple exposure and HDR modes. Both are features that I think all serious SLR cameras should have moving forward. They are fantastic!

1 upvote
l_d_allan
By l_d_allan (3 months ago)

> And as is Canon's wont, they have opted for the allure of familiarity and consistency

Am I living on a different planet? I have a 5d2, T3i/600d, and now a 6d. With just the 5d2, I got familiar enough with the user interface to work in the dark.

But the three cameras turn on/off differently. The LiveView works differently. The Mode PASM works different. Many controls are relocated. Magnify is different. Re-assign buttons is different, etc. etc. etc.

I get it that the UI has to change with fewer thumb wheels on the 600d, and missing the joy-stick on the 6d However, the on/off changes, Mode, etc. seem like poor choices.

I really didn't expect to have a re-learning curve from the 5d2 to the 6d. If I forget a head-lamp, it really slows me down at night.

Seems more like "change for the sake of change" rather than compelling improvement. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Am I the only whiner that feels this way?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
siggo
By siggo (3 months ago)

Does the 6D lack an anti-aliassing filter?

0 upvotes
l_d_allan
By l_d_allan (3 months ago)

It has an anti-aliasing filter. AFAIK, I'm not aware of any Canon camera that doesn't have the AAF (aka OLPF?)

BTW: the reviews I read on the Nikon cameras is that lack of the AAF is over-rated. The 800e implementation seems like a joke ... pay more to have them put a compensating "something" over the existing AAF.

Seems kind of like a lens having a UV filter built-in, then paying to have an anti-UV filter on top of that ?

0 upvotes
Machinemad
By Machinemad (4 days ago)

hahahaha! well said! @l_d_allan.

0 upvotes
tallguy600
By tallguy600 (3 months ago)

Used to own a D600, sold it, prefer the 6D by a margin and love the Wi-Fi implementation.
No clue about that DP review of the D600, I find it misleading as the D600 was clearly a camera released too hasty without proper quality control.
Using Lightroom 5, does everything I need, never touched the Canon software CD.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Just Ed
By Just Ed (3 months ago)

I have a very similar experience. Love my 6D and the Canon L lenses. Really enjoy how the Canon cameras capture the colors of nature. I was always fiddling with the greens on my Nikon images from both the D600 and D90 it replaced.

0 upvotes
westerner
By westerner (4 weeks ago)

You can fix the green tint with one click in the white balance menu...set one click towards magenta, and the green goes away. Forever. That's ridiculous to switch brands for that. Better yet, shoot RAW, and who cares what the white balance looks like? Fix it in post.

0 upvotes
cadby
By cadby (4 months ago)

Finally ready to make the jump to full frame after 8 years with Olympus DSLR's. After considerable research and gnashing of teeth I pulled the trigger on the 6D. I really wanted to go with the Nikon D 600 based on DP Review and various other reviews, based on features, output quality and MP, but the ongoing concerns over the sensor dust and oil spots and Nikons recalcitrant PR approach to these issues pushed me to the 6D. I just could not imagine investing $3k in full kit only to experience ongoing sensor issues. I am excited to experience the full frame format and take my amatuer photography to the next level.
How is Canon's photo management & editing software? Should I look into purchasing another package, and what does the forum recommend?

2 upvotes
Sten298
By Sten298 (3 months ago)

Fully agree with your comments! I was about to go to Nikon D600 but was so much disappointed with their no-customer (snob) oriented approach that eventually decided for the 6D. I couldn't be more satisfied for such a decision. I liked Nikon so much in the past (before digital era) they made so beautiful film cameras, but this is the past...the present looks different.
As for the software: I always shoot RAW and develop with Capture One and that's excellent for other cameras, particularly for Fuji X raw files, but for 6D RAW files I found out that Canon software (Digital Photo Professional) gives better results. The only drawback of DPP is that it is very slow.

3 upvotes
robogobo
By robogobo (4 months ago)

After a long deliberation, I decided to upgrade from my 5Dii to the 6D. Some may call it a sidegrade or even a downgrade, but for me, image quality is everything, and the ablity to focus and shoot in low light is paramount. I'm very happy with my decision, and so far I don't miss any of the 5D line features. I'm getting shots I wouldn't have gotten with the 5Dii (maybe not even with the mark iii), and most importantly I can afford to upgrade every one or two years with the current price point of the 6D rather than three or four with the 5D. I'd rather have more frequent updates of sensor technology instead of being left with a better built, feature packed but obsolete camera for the same money.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
LongerVogue
By LongerVogue (4 months ago)

Anyone tried eos 6d with 12mm lens. How is it?

0 upvotes
l_d_allan
By l_d_allan (3 months ago)

Well, it is ultra wide. What info are you looking for?

Sharpness? Vignetting? Which 12mm lens? Electrical connectivity? Focus speed?

0 upvotes
Ruud Wilschut
By Ruud Wilschut (4 months ago)

@ Alwynj:
The difference is more obvious when you look at the brown fibers right on top of the color chart with the lady's face. Also the black and white squares in the corners are a lot sharper with the Canon, but perhaps the used Canon lens performs better resolving detail in the corners than the Nikkor used with the D600 what might explain the difference in detail.

1 upvote
Alwynj
By Alwynj (4 months ago)

I don't understand DP Review. Compare the Canon 6d and Nikon D600 and they'll have you believe that the D600 edges ahead in the high ISO dept, but to my eyes the 6d wins when I use the comparative tool. Images appear slightly cleaner and sharper (in RAW). Move the box to the face of the lady and see for yourself

5 upvotes
l_d_allan
By l_d_allan (3 months ago)

Some of that may be because the comparison may be on a pixel vs pixel basis. A single Canon pixel may have lower noise than a single Nikon pixel, but there are many more Nikon pixels.

And I tend to get fuzzy when comparing crop cameras to full-frames. It can be "apples and oranges".

0 upvotes
Buck_Lovell
By Buck_Lovell (4 months ago)

Please quaitfy the autofouce performance in video mode....fast, medium, slow? Continuous autofocus is what I need....fats continuous....

0 upvotes
l_d_allan
By l_d_allan (3 months ago)

I am mostly ignorant about video and the 70d, so "consider the source". My impression is that the Canon 70d is the only Canon camera with decent auto-focus.

0 upvotes
MABurney
By MABurney (5 months ago)

"The EOS 6D is Canon's attempt to entice DSLR owners who are looking for the benefits of full frame shooting - including shallower depth of field and wider-angle lens coverage, but can't afford the EOS 5D Mark III."

". . . Canon's compromises have turned what could have a been a truly great camera into merely a very good one. "

This is interesting. Do we want 6D to be like the 5D Mark III? Then why not buy the $3,500.00 camera.

1 upvote
l_d_allan
By l_d_allan (3 months ago)

> then why not buy the $3,500.00 camera

Seems like you've answered your own question ... the 5d3 is a Lot More Expensive, especially if your photography equipment isn't a write-off.

0 upvotes
WillieG
By WillieG (1 month ago)

The 6D would never be considered a great camera compared to the 5DMk3. More than likely the compromises that make the 6D "merely a very good one" are those with respect to the D600.

1 upvote
Thomas Karlmann
By Thomas Karlmann (7 months ago)

DPR: Can you please insert a photo in ALL your reviews showing the AF sensor array? Thank you.

0 upvotes
Maddrew
By Maddrew (4 months ago)

Assuming we are looking into the camera's OVF horizontally, the vertical coverage of the 6D's sensor array is about 1/3 the height of the OVF, spreading from the centre AF point. The diamond shaped array is slightly wider, almost covering 2/3 the width of the EVF, but just almost. Shooting vertical portraits with extreme DOFs (like using the 50mm F1.2 L wide open) can be tricky, because the furthest points of the diamond AF array misses the subject's eyes (under normal compositions) a little too much. But to be fair, the 5D Mark III's high density AF array is not that much spread out either, especially when compared to Canon's APS-C EOS bodies.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 32