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Using the Canon EOS 6D

While Canon has positioned the EOS 6D to introduce a broader range of enthusiasts to the pleasures of full frame shooting, the camera's handling will be comfortingly familiar to any Canon shooter who's used a recent mid-range EOS camera. The 6D has much in common with the EOS 60D in terms of design and control layout. In fact, looking at the top of the camera you'd be hard-pressed to tell them apart, other than the 6D's slightly reshaped buttons and a less-crowded mode dial.

It's really no surprise that Canon has taken a conservative design approach with the EOS 6D. The camera is clearly aimed at DSLR users who may have been tempted by a move to full frame but were unable to justify the 5D Mark III's cost of entry. By maintaining consistency with the popular 60D, Canon has provided a clear path to full frame photography that, from an operational standpoint, is about as seamless as you could expect. One feature that we would have liked to see on the 6D is the superbly integrated touchscreen interface that Canon introduced on the lower-end EOS 650D. While this would have added to the cost, we feel it's a standout feature that hopefully will become commonplace on DSLRs.

The 6D is a straightforward camera to operate with a sensible control layout. Photographers who enjoy customizing controls to their liking, however, can reconfigure as many as five buttons on the rear of the camera, as well as the depth of field preview button. While many uses may be well-served by the default behavior, many of the alternatives are quite useful, such as the ability to set the AE lock button to trigger AF instead. In addition, you can customize several aspects of AF system's behavior, including tracking sensitivity and lens-specific microadjustment.

Overall handling

Weighing in at a considerably lighter weight than its full frame sibling, the EOS 5D Mark III, the EOS 6D is still a solid-feeling camera with a magnesium alloy body (with polycarbonate top plate) that balances very nicely with medium focal length zooms like the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. The 6D is a comfortable camera to carry around your shoulder on a full day of shooting. If you're moving up from a Rebel model like the EOS 600D, you will notice the extra bulk in your bag, particularly with the addition of full frame versus smaller, lighter EFS lenses. Among the things you gain, however, are a second camera dial for faster operation, a deep hand grip that provides a reassuring hold of the camera and a much larger, brighter viewfinder.

Frequently used controls like exposure lock and ISO are within easy reach with your hand in the shooting position, as are the Quick Control, live view/movie mode and playback buttons. A mode dial lock prevents accidental operation and beginner-oriented scene modes - which are likely to see little use among enthusiasts - are sensibly grouped under a single mode position, making for a much less cluttered mode dial than the one seen on the EOS 60D. And the 6D's mode dial rotates freely through 360 degrees, eliminating the end-stop found on previous EOS models, which if you forgot about it, would force you to stop and turn the dial in the opposite direction to reach your desired mode. A minor change, admittedly, but one that's welcome nonetheless.

Studio photographers who use flash will appreciate the ability to toggle exposure simulation on and off via the live view menu. This allows you to compose a dimly lit scene (to be illuminated at the time of exposure via flash) through the finder or rear LCD with the camera 'gaining up' to provide a bright preview image.

The EOS 6D has a good-sized grip and sits solidly in your hand; anyone who's used a recent twin-dial Canon EOS should be able to pick it up and feel right at home. The back of the camera offers a sculpted 'channel' that provides positive grip for your thumb.

Most of the key controls are well-placed for operation with the camera to your eye, but if you want to move the focus point using the multicontroller, this requires a fairly large movement of your thumb downwards. You can of course, move the AF point with the front and rear dials, but have to press the AF point selection button first.

One of the first things we noticed in the Seattle office upon the 6D's arrival was just how quiet Canon has made the camera's shutter release. Even in normal drive mode, it's noticeably quieter than the Nikon D600, even in that camera's 'Quiet' mode. In addition, the 6D inherits the 'silent shutter' option found on both the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 1-series models. With silent shutter mode enabled, the 6D becomes a very discreet camera. You will sacrifice some burst rate, with a maximum shooting speed of 3 versus 4.5 fps. You could easily argue, however, that for situations in which you'd engage this option - vows during a wedding ceremony, for example - this is a trade-off worth making.

We've long complained of the steps necessary to engage useful features like mirror lockup and Highlight Tone Priority (HTP) on EOS cameras. With the 6D, we're pleased to see both of these options now residing as top level items in the shooting menu pages, as opposed to being hidden away in obscure custom function menu pages. These may seem minor, but small touches like this go a long way towards allowing users to get the most out of the camera.

Battery Grip BG-E13

The EOS 6D gets a new battery grip, the BG-E13. It will take either two LP-E6 batteries to double the camera's endurance, or AA batteries.

It also has duplicate controls for portrait format shooting.

Users wishing for greater heft and/or stability with heavier lenses have the option of the Canon BG-E13 battery grip. The grip allows for twice the battery time with room for two lithium batteries or a set of AA batteries for emergency use.

Specific handling issues

The long history of Canon's EOS lineup combined with the company's consistent approach to camera design means there tend to be very few surprises in terms of handling in Canon DSLRs. And if you've read our earlier EOS 5D Mark III review you have a good sense of the operational and handling gestalt of higher-end EOS cameras. No camera is perfect, however, and there are small, subtle changes we'd like to see.

The 6D inherits the 60D's very small depth of field preview button which is rather awkwardly placed for use when shooting with the camera in portrait orientation. On the 5D Mark III, you can easily engage its larger preview button with your right hand still wrapped around the grip, leaving your left hand free to adjust zoom and/or focus. On the 6D, you're forced to use your left hand to press the button.

While we're happy to see Highlight Tone Priority now available as a top level menu option, we do regret that it can not be set on a per mode basis. The setting carries over between stills and video mode. As with previous Canon DSLRs, we find the requirement to shoot a reference image before setting a custom white balance is needlessly backwards. We'd much rather switch to Custom WB first and then shoot our target,which is how most other cameras behave.

These criticisms are hardly deal-breakers, and many won't come as a surprise at all to longtime Canon users. Neither do they detract significantly from the 6D's mature operation and handling.

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Total comments: 49
By Chrissy4605 (1 week ago)

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.

By Chrissy4605 (1 week ago)

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.

Cezar Tabac
By Cezar Tabac (1 month ago)

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!

By Chrissy4605 (1 week ago)

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
By Jeffa4444 (3 months ago)

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.

By deltaskyking (1 month ago)

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.... ;)

By Mangoman232 (1 month ago)

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
By CityHunter (3 months ago)

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

1 upvote
By jzami69 (4 months ago)

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.

By fuzzywazzy (4 months ago)

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!

By Mangoman232 (3 months ago)

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!

By jgg1013 (2 months ago)

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
By Mohsensh (4 months ago)

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

By Esrold (4 months ago)

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...

By futuretro (6 months ago)

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


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?!

Ben in Black
By Ben in Black (5 months 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.

By Zolton (5 months 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 ;)

By Zolton (5 months 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.

By BGTY (5 months 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.

By taurinh (5 months ago)

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.

By PRohmer (6 months 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.

By hdr (6 months 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.

1 upvote
By Chrissy4605 (1 week ago)

Yes the 6D does support Pictbridge printing.

By Ahgre (6 months ago)

Only 22 comments on this popular review???

Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (6 months 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).

1 upvote
Oceans Media
By Oceans Media (6 months 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!

By l_d_allan (8 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
1 upvote
By siggo (8 months ago)

Does the 6D lack an anti-aliassing filter?

By l_d_allan (8 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 ?

1 upvote
By Machinemad (5 months ago)

hahahaha! well said! @l_d_allan.

By tallguy600 (8 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
Just Ed
By Just Ed (8 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.

By westerner (6 months 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.

1 upvote
By cadby (9 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?

By Sten298 (8 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.

By robogobo (9 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
By LongerVogue (9 months ago)

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

By l_d_allan (8 months ago)

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

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

Ruud Wilschut
By Ruud Wilschut (9 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
By Alwynj (9 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

By l_d_allan (8 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".

By Segaman (3 months ago)

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

By Buck_Lovell (9 months ago)

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

By l_d_allan (8 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.

By MABurney (10 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
By l_d_allan (8 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.

By WillieG (6 months 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 (Sep 11, 2013)

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

By Maddrew (9 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
Total comments: 49