Live View displays

Accessing live view on the Canon EOS 6D is the same as on its full frame sibling, the 5D Mark III; via a live view/movie switch located next to the viewfinder. Once in live view mode you can choose from a selection of information views and AF methods. You can opt to use either the conventional phase-detection 11-point AF sensor (Quick mode) or the slower 'FlexiZone' contrast detection method that allows you to set the AF point across a significantly greater portion - roughly 80% - of the image area. 

While the 'Flexizone' and 'Face detection' live view AF modes are still significantly slower than the phase detect system in viewfinder mode, the 6D inherits the considerable improvements we saw in the EOS 5D Mark III, compared to earlier implementations of the system. Focus hunting is still common, but the system is certainly usable in situations when focus speed is not critical. Face detection performance has improved as well. It's better now at detecting faces with glasses and from an angle. In out testing it regularly detected faces from almost a 90 degree angle.

The 6D doesn't feature any of the touchscreen capability introduced by the EOS 650D, but shooting in live view still offers the undeniable benefit of on-screen magnification for fine-focusing. And the 6D does give you an exposure simulation option. When enabled, this feature provides a live view preview that represents the exposure of the final image. Disable this option, however, and the camera preview 'gains-up' in low light for easier focus. The latter is particularly useful when working with strobes in a studio, for example, where the camera's exposure settings might suggest severe underexposure, blacking out the EVF/LCD in exposure simulation mode. Canon even offers a hybrid option, in which exposure simulation can be manually engaged by holding the depth of field preview button.

Live View function settings

The Live View tab of the shooting menu offers several options governing live view behavior. The AF method can also be accessed directly from live view using the Quick Control screen.

The Live View tab of the shooting menu offers two pages of options. You can navigate and make selections using the 4-way controller.

Disappointingly, and as we saw in the EOS 650D, the options common to both live view and movie modes - AF method, Grid display and Metering timer - cannot be set independently. Selecting a rule of thirds grid in the live view menu, for instance, also sets this grid for movie mode. A much simpler solution, of course would be to make these settings work on a per shooting mode basis.

Making things more confusing is the fact that live view offers a Quick mode (phase detect) AF method that is of course unavailable while recording video, yet on the 6D remains an option in the Movie mode AF menu. With Quick mode selected while in movie mode, the camera will allow you to take a still image using phase detect AF either before or after video recording. While video recording is in progress, however, the camera switches to FlexiZone AF.

Live View display modes

Pressing the 'Info' button while in live view toggles between the available display modes, each with differing levels of overlaid information, including an electronic level and a histogram overlay which updates in real time to reflect current exposure settings. You can also enable optional grid lines and call up the Quick Control menu for faster access to commonly used settings.

In image-only mode, AF information is displayed. A shooting settings view adds exposure information, battery status and number of shots remaining.
A more detailed view adds the current image settings along with exposure simulation confirmation. You can also view a histogram overlay, with a choice of luminance (shown here) or RGB data. Its position is fixed and while the bounding box is transparent, the graph itself can obscure parts of the scene.
A single axis horizon gauge is available. The indicator bar turns green when the camera is level. Three grid overlays are available, with the option for a 3x3, 6x4 or diagonal grid pattern.
Live view offers both 5x and 10x magnification levels for critical focus. You can scroll through the magnified image via the 4-way controller. The Q menu is available in live view and allows you to cycle through AF, drive mode, metering, quality, whit balance, Picture Style and Auto Lighting Optimizer (ALO) settings.