Wi-Fi connectivity

One feature of the Canon EOS 6D that can be easily overlooked on the spec sheet, but pays practical dividends in real-world use is its Wi-Fi capability. The EOS 6D is the first DSLR to provide this connectivity as a built-in feature, without the need for additional external accessories. The camera's internal Wi-Fi transmitter supports 802.11b/g/n standards and, according to Canon, has a transmission range of up to 30m/98.4 ft. Be aware that movie mode is disabled when Wi-Fi is active on the camera.

With Wi-Fi enabled on the EOS 6D, you can transfer images to a compatible Canon camera, send them to a Wi-Fi enabled printer or media player or upload them to the Canon iMage Gateway web service (free registration required) which provides 10GB of online media storage and sharing options for social media. You can also send 1920 x 1280px images to a smartphone or tablet.

EOS Remote (Android/iOS)

The feature of interest to most owners is undoubtedly the ability to connect wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet. The EOS 6D can be configured as either the access point, to which your mobile device connects, or to join an existing wireless network. You can create up to three 'networks' (you can name them whatever you want), allowing you to connect to one device in three different ways (for example directly, and over two different Wi-Fi networks) or connect the 6D directly to three different devices (but only one at a time) or any combination thereof - i.e., two devices and one network, two networks and one device... etc.

If you're just pairing the 6D with one device, by setting up different networks you can switch pretty seamlessly between using the camera-generated network out in the field, to a connection based on the wireless router inside your studio just by selecting a different camera profile when Wi-Fi is enabled. When you do this, your mobile device can make the Wi-Fi connection to the now-known network. And when connected to your mobile device, the Wi-Fi connection is maintained even when the camera goes into energy saver mode.

Canon provides EOS Remote, a free app on both iOS (shown here) and Android platforms that lets you control the camera remotely, view live view previews, review images you've taken and transfer still images from the camera.

Apple iPhone 5 owners should note that the app does not currently support the 16:9 screen ratio. This means that the app does not fill the screen when used with the latest iPhone, leaving top and bottom black borders. We've indicated those borders here in white, for visibility.

Geek factor aside, the great benefit of controlling your camera from your smartphone or tablet is, of course that you don't have to be directly behind the camera to take a picture, allowing you to set up the camera in positions from which it would otherwise be difficult to shoot. This can be invaluable for landscape and nature photographers who can now trigger their camera remotely with the added benefit of a live view preview and exposure control, with no wires or laptop necessary. All at no additional cost.

Live view

You can adjust Av/Tv, ISO and exposure compensation directly from the app. Tapping on the exposure compensation button, for example, brings up a slider that you drag to your desired value.

While in live view mode, Canon's EOS Remote app allows you to adjust three shooting parameters, all by touch. In aperture mode, you can adjust exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity and, of course, aperture. In shutter priority mode the shutter speed replaces aperture as an adjustable setting. And in manual exposure mode, you can adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity. The app's 'shutter button' defaults to the drive mode set on the camera, which means you can remotely trigger the camera in single, continuous (by pressing and holding) and self-timer modes. There's no 'Q' button though so you don't get the full control that would be possible with the camera in your hands.

Unfortunately, the live view image displayed on your mobile device is the same size as the one used on the 6D's rear LCD, so you don't gain an image viewing advantage with your phone or tablet's larger screen area and higher resolution.

One standout feature is tucked away in the app's preferences where you can enable a virtual AF button to acquire focus directly from your mobile device.

Once enabled in preferences, an AF button (highlighted in red) appears along with a focus confirmation rectangle inside the image area. Tap on the screen to position the focus point and then press and hold the AF button to acquire focus.

While you can zoom the live view preview on the camera's LCD to a 10x view, the smartphone app is limited to a 5x magnification, which you enable with a double-tap. Scrolling around the image in magnified view involves noticeable lag time, but helpfully, the focus box always re-orients itself to the center of the magnified view.

Image review and transfer

All images and video on the SD card can be reviewed using the EOS Remote app. It supports familiar smartphone gestures such as pinching, swiping and double-tapping to browse through images.

When reviewing images you can display an overlay with filename, capture date and exposure settings. You can also rate images with 1-5 stars (as you can through the camera's menu) that can be read by Canon's Digital Photo Professional software.

From the image review section of the app you can rate images stored on the SD card and email or save 1920 x 1280 S2 JPEG versions to your device's image gallery. These are handy, but not useful for critical image analysis since you can't get an accurate idea of focus accuracy from such small files.

Transferring full resolution JPEG images to the web is possible, but only from the camera itself. To do that you must first use Canon's EOS Utility software (supplied with the 6D) to configure a compatible web service like Canon's iMage Gateway, Facebook or Twitter with the 6D connected to a computer via USB. Once configured, you can then upload single or multiple images via Wi-Fi at either full size, S2 or S3 resolution settings.

Overall impressions, and battery life

Overall, the 6D's Wi-Fi functionality is excellent, and a genuine selling-point when it comes to differentiating this camera from Nikon's growing range of Wi-Fi compatible DSLRs which all require an external adapter. The EOS Remote App is effective (the connectivity is sensibly-implemented and reliable), but the interface and feature set seem a bit 'rough and ready' and we hope (expect) that it will be improved over time, via updates.

Inevitably though, the 6D's connectivity functionality does have an impact on battery life. When Wi-Fi is turned on (likewise GPS) the 6D's battery will drain noticeably over time. This doesn't only apply when you're actively using the camera - it also has an impact on battery life when the 6D enters sleep mode. If you're in the habit of leaving your DSLR to go into sleep mode rather than turning it off (as many photographers are) and Wi-Fi and GPS are turned off, the 6D's power management is the same as every other EOS DSLR. You can grab your camera days after putting it into sleep mode and your battery level will be effectively unchanged from the last time you used it.

If, however, you let the camera go to sleep with Wi-Fi/GPS enabled, the 6D will drain its battery during sleep, to the extent that if you leave the camera for a couple of days, you may well find the battery significantly drained, if not exhausted.