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Specific Image Quality Tests

Shadow noise

The ability to successfully manage shadow noise on a per pixel level can be of interest when choosing among full frame DSLR offerings of similar resolution. In the example below we're comparing the EOS 6D against its chief rival, the Nikon D600, its higher spec'd sibling, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and Sony's full frame SLT-A99.

We've taken base ISO Raw shots of our studio test scene and processed them in Adobe Camera Raw 7.3 with a +3.0EV exposure adjustment. We've then taken crops in the darkest areas of our scene to compare the amount of shadow noise between the two cameras. This allows us to easily make a comparison of the amount of noise levels occurring in significantly brightened shadow areas at base ISO, which tells us something about sensor performance as it relates to read noise.

Canon 6D ISO 100: ACR +3EV, NR off 100% crop
Nikon D600 ISO 100: ACR +3EV, NR off 100% crop
Canon 5D Mark III ISO 100: ACR +3EV, NR off 100% crop
Sony SLT-A99 ISO 100: ACR +3EV, NR off 100% crop

Looking at the 100% crops above, it is clear that the 6D displays noticeably more chroma noise than both the Nikon D600 and Sony SLT-A99. Let's be clear, the 6D's performance is by no means poor, its actually very good, yet these results continue a trend in which the very impressive noise performance from Nikon and Sony place their DSLRs just that bit past what Canon has been able to accomplish in its EOS lineup. We saw this Canon EOS 5D Mark III review so it's perhaps no great surprise to see the 6D produce results very similar to its more expensive sibling.

Real world sample

While the results of our studio scene reveal interesting information about the sensor's maximum capabilities, it's important to place those results in the context of real-world photography. Below is an image shot outdoors under typical daylight conditions at ISO 100. We've taken the same raw file and converted it twice in ACR 7.3 - once at default exposure settings and again with three Basic Panel adjustments, detailed below.

ACR 7.3: Default settings with NR off ACR 7.3: Exposure +65, Shadows +30, Blacks +40 with NR off
100% crop 100% crop

As you can see it is certainly possible to gain significant detail by opening up the shadows in ACR. And while this comes at the price of more prominent chroma noise, the results are certainly usable. It's also important to keep in mind that we're looking at 100% crops and that these noise levels will be even less objectionable in print output.

Low contrast fine detail

As we saw in our Canon EOS 5D Mark III review, the 6D's JPEG engine leaves something to be desired with fine low-contrast detail at low ISO settings. When viewed at 100%, organic textures like distant foliage and branches appear mushy. We suspect this is mainly due to the application of luminance noise reduction (even with noise reduction switched to 'Off') at base ISO. The results you can achieve from the same image files in raw conversion, as you'll see in a moment, would support this suspicion.

The images below were taken with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at F8. The first sample is at default JPEG settings (NR Standard, Sharpness 3). We then re-processed the raw file in-camera with noise reduction switched off and the sharpness increased to level 5. Despite Canon saying in the manual that noise reduction is applied at all sensitivity levels the former has, at base ISO, no visible impact on the rendition of low-contrast detail or other aspects of image quality.

JPEG - default (NR Standard / Sharpness 3) 100% crop
JPEG - NR Off / Sharpness 5 100% crop
ACR 7.3, Sharpening: Amount 65, Radius .8 100% crop

Increasing the sharpness delivers marginally more 'crispness' in the image but no additional detail is revealed. You also get a quite unpleasant 'digital' look with visible sharpening halos in some image areas like the cluster of branches shown in the crop above. We haven't evidence that adjusting the JPEG settings gets you significantly closer to the sensor's true potential.

To do that, you'll need shoot in raw mode and process your images in a raw converter. The final image in the comparison was processed in Adobe Camera Raw with custom sharpness settings (noted above). The difference between it and the out-of-camera JPEGs is staggering. We were able to squeeze a significant amount of additional low-contrast detail out of the camera's raw files while avoiding halos and other artifacts.

As always, we remind you that evaluating 100% crops is akin to looking at a very large print from a very close distance. But if you shoot nature and landscapes and want to get the most out of your 6D's sensor, that still means working with the raw file, even at base ISO.

Lens correction settings

The 6D offers two built-in lens corrections, based on camera-stored lens profile data, which can be enabled via the shooting menu. You can use Canon's included EOS Utility to download current lens data to the camera. Note that neither of these corrections are baked into accompanying raw files. If you use Canon's own DPP raw conversion software, the corrections travel with the raw file as metadata, allowing you to adjust them to taste. Third party converters, like ACR and DxO, however, will not make use of this data, although both have their own tools for these types of corrections.

Vignetting

Peripheral illumination control is meant to counter corner vignetting effects. It is enabled by default. Below we've shot an evenly lit neutral area with Canon's EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at its widest aperture. As you can see, enabling the lens correction results in more even illumination, providing just over 1 stop EV of increased luminance in the farthest corners compared to the sample without the correction applied.

Peripheral Illumination On 24mm @ F4 Peripheral Illumination Off 24mm @ F4

Chromatic aberration/fringing

The chromatic aberration (CA) setting seeks to minimize color fringing that is typically found along very high contrast edges. The scene below, with dark leaves and branches against a bright sky is a typical scenario in which you'd encounter color fringing. It was shot with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 24mm. And as you can see, the in-camera software correction does an admirable job of reducing, if not completely eliminating CA.

Chromatic aberration disabled Chromatic aberration enabled
100% crops

Overall Image Quality

While the EOS 6D may be easily thought of as Canon's 'affordable' full frame DSLR, we're happy to say it gives up nothing in image quality to the powerhouse EOS 5D Mark III. In fact, we actually see better image quality at medium to high ISOs, and noticeably less noise at the highest settings.

Marginal lighting conditions aside, the EOS 6D produces pleasing color, saturation and contrast in a wide variety of situations. White balance and exposure are typically well-judged and detail is quite impressive straight out of the camera, although you can easily improve on these by shooting Raw images and processing them yourself.

The 6D's JPEG dynamic range performance is on par with the other full frame cameras on the market, with roughly four stops of highlight information above middle gray. Previous EOS owners may be used to instinctively reaching for HTP to gain additional highlight detail. Yet the 6D's HDR mode, borrowed from the 5D Mark III, provides in-camera multi shot processing that provides very real and impressive benefits when photographing in high contrast scenes.

If we have one complaint about image quality it centers around Canon's JPEG rendering of fine low-contrast detail at low ISO sensitivities. As we demonstrated above, shots of distant foliage and other organic textures lack not just crispness, but actual detail. Of course, it's no surprise that getting the most out of your sensor requires raw processing and we suspect the vast majority of buyers looking to spend $2000 plus on a camera body will have already established a raw file workflow. Also, these minor issues disappear if you're not intending to make large prints.

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Comments

Total comments: 49
Chrissy4605

Very comprehensive review. The most thorough review that I have ever seen. I commend you for such great documentation. I look forward to other reviews when I have the time.

0 upvotes
Chrissy4605

I am very happy with the Canon EOS 6D camera. I purchased the kit with the 24-105 mm f4L IS USM lens. The quality and fit is exemplary of the 6D. It is more than a Pro-sumer camera. I will keep using this camera until I can replace it with the Canon 5D MkIV.

0 upvotes
Cezar Tabac

I have a 5Dmk2 and i want to change my camera for a Canon 6d. I want to ask you, if it worth for wedding photography. It is just for photos, movies are occasionally. I know it is better on ISO and focus on the center AF point on low light, and it is what i want.

It worh to make the exchange ?

Thank you!

0 upvotes
Chrissy4605

I am going to tell you that I have shot weddings with a Canon 50D successfully. Is the 6D up to the task. I certainly think so. I recently upgraded to the Canon 6D and I can say it is quite worth the moderate expense to move forward with the Canon 6D. The only limitation would be the 11 point AF system. But hey, you need to ensure that everything you want is in focus in the first place. Good shooting!

1 upvote
Jeffa4444

jzami69
Ive been taking photographs for 45 years and work in cinematography. Personally I think digital has surpassed film for color photography but NOT for black & white photography where film grain adds to the medium.
I bought a Canon 6d because Im invested in Canon and have been since 1972 (although I also have Olympus Pen cameras) I didnt want to pay the cost of the 5d MKIII for amateur use but wanted full-frame the 6d was it.
The pictures consistantly impress me from this camera far outstrip my 7d in IQ and the only weakness is limited focus points otherwise as a travel & landscape camera it hits the mark perfectly.

3 upvotes
deltaskyking

Just rented the 5d MkIII, 6d and Sony A7r. The 6d had better low light performance, slightly sharper than the 5d MkIII and better controls and autofocusing than the A7r. I've also owned the Nikon D600. I'm so impressed with the 6D that I'm going to get one this week, it's bang-for-the-buck rating hits the mark for me. Well, at least until the 5d MkIV.... ;)

3 upvotes
Mangoman232

I'm just believing there'll still be that $200.00 rebate by the time I have enough saved to get one.

Comment edited 14 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
CityHunter

Any info about Canon might announce 6D Mk II during Photokina 2014?

1 upvote
jzami69

Okay, someone explain. Don't compare the 6D to its peers, compare it to a camera 2, 5, 10, 50 years ago when people were creating beautiful images. The ratings annoy me because they're based on current technology and not historical technology. They're not even based on picture quality. You're nitpicking, pixel counting. Except for a lab analyst, your reviews are totally useless.

4 upvotes
fuzzywazzy

I actually agree with you and would like more reviews comparing current digital technology to the old SLR cameras of the years past. Great suggestion, I hope they listen!

2 upvotes
Mangoman232

Since they're totally different mediums, wouldn't that be comparable to the apples/oranges thing? I think in some ways it would be, and in others, no. Again, the beauty of a photo is always subjective; I probably lost a contest because of the judges, who knows? Some contests I didn't bother to enter back then, 'cuz you had to use Kodak film, and I saved a lot of money by buying Fujifilm at Sam's Club; A LOT of money! But, I'm getting off the subject here - this is a truly remarkable camera for the price. I've used one for a weekend, and can't wait to own one!

2 upvotes
jgg1013

welll.. a camera is a box that captures light. Comparing the cameras is all well and good, but the thing that captures the light is the film.. or sensor.. or glass negative.. or whatever the "film" medium is. The glass-which lets the light in is comparable today to anything you used in the past- superior even.. so the question is.. are the final prints from your digital sensor as good as the final prints from your film days? Answer to that.. well yes i agree that there are BW mediums that result in fantastic images. Whether you can duplicate that printing process -- and what about that- Traditional enlarger and papers? Inkjet? Laser? == even in the days of film: Ansel Adams classic books.. the first serious books I ever read about photography: The Camera - The Negative - The Print. .. if you are only talking about one of these- the camera, you are leaving a whole lot out of the discussion.

Comment edited 23 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Mohsensh

I want to buy 6D for filming. I don't know what's the problem. it says that 6D have morie or something like that. What is it? someone plz answer me

0 upvotes
Esrold

Moiré patterns are visual interference patterns that can occur in high resolution digital cameras. Anti-alias filters are designed to reduce or eliminate moiré patterns, but have been left out of some recent cameras in order to attain the highest possible resolution. I'm not sure whether or not the 6D has such a filter. Dpreview explains moiré patterns at this address...
http://www.dpreview.com/glossary/digital-imaging/moire

2 upvotes
futuretro

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

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.

6 upvotes
Zolton

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 ;)

5 upvotes
Zolton

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.

2 upvotes
BGTY

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.

3 upvotes
taurinh

As someone who has shot numerous videos with DSLR's (5D mk2, Mk3) and a canon c100 i personally dont think the headphone jack is that big of a loss. Most of the time anyone really serious about audio for a production will use external recorders and HD processing for audio as the DSLR compresses audio a bit. There have been a handful of times I use the internal audio for the final edit, even with external wireless or boom mics. I prefer separate source, slate it and combine in post. But that's my personal preference after 12 years in the biz.

So, all that to say for the price different between it and the Mk3, I am getting the 6D for my stills and 2nd video camera on set.

4 upvotes
PRohmer

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.

3 upvotes
hdr

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.

1 upvote
Chrissy4605

Yes the 6D does support Pictbridge printing.

0 upvotes
Ahgre

Only 22 comments on this popular review???

0 upvotes
Sad Joe

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).

1 upvote
Oceans Media

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!

2 upvotes
l_d_allan

> 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
1 upvote
siggo

Does the 6D lack an anti-aliassing filter?

0 upvotes
l_d_allan

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 ?

1 upvote
Machinemad

hahahaha! well said! @l_d_allan.

0 upvotes
tallguy600

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
5 upvotes
Just Ed

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

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.

1 upvote
cadby

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?

5 upvotes
Sten298

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.

6 upvotes
robogobo

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
5 upvotes
LongerVogue

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

0 upvotes
l_d_allan

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

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

0 upvotes
Ruud Wilschut

@ 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

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

4 upvotes
l_d_allan

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
Segaman

Great camera the 6D, so far I get great pics at high iso, so for a live show its a must, sure the Nikon as great qualities, but at high iso....Canon wins hands down, by 2 stops......
If you are a Canon user stick to Canon, if you are a Nikon user stick to Nikon, they are both great cameras, depending on what you intend to shoot

0 upvotes
Buck_Lovell

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

0 upvotes
l_d_allan

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

"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

> 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

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

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

0 upvotes
Maddrew

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: 49