Canon 6D: 3 weeks in Italy
After a number of years with my 500D and 15-85mm lens, I recently updated my gear to the 6D with kit 24-105mm as well as a 16-35mm. I purchased it on the first day it came out but unfortunately it had to sit in its box until Christmas. After using it in a 2.5 week holiday in Italy and 6500 photos later, I’ve picked out some things which I find interesting to share
All photos I post below are untouched jpeg straight out of camera (I shoot RAW+L on all photos). As I note below, I’m pretty impressed with the ‘Auto’ image style which the 500D did not have. Feel free to comment/critique the photos!
I use my camera most when I travel, so built-in GPS definitely sounded attractive to me. Knowing where the photo was taken is sometimes helpful and I’ve got to admit that looking at a map with little pins showing all the locations where the photos were taken is kind of neat. The location data transfers with the photos so if transferred to your iPad/iPhone the photo locations are displayed in the map.
Reception-wise – not something to rave about. I had GPS-log on everyday during the trip (turned it off when back at home/hotel) and I found that I occasionally lost GPS signal even on a clear sunny day in an area with buildings no taller than 3 storeys high. The exact location is also sometimes off by around 5 or 10 metres (which takes you off the road and into the middle of a building when you’re not). Note, a lot of times the camera was carried upside down because of the camera strap that I was using, and this may have affected GPS reception.
Battery consumption-wise – there have been plenty of reports of GPS draining 1% per hour. I haven’t tested it but as I said, I keep GPS logging on all day at 30second update intervals. I don’t recall needing to change batteries during the day other than on one occasion (300-800 photos depending on the day, around 1 out of 8 photos using external flash, RAW+L, autofocus, basically no use of Image Stabilisation) if I start with a freshly charged one in the morning.
A fun feature more than anything else – most of the time I could hold my urge and wait until I get home before viewing the photos. It might come in handy if you took some photos with friends and would like to share it to them before you all head your own way. Easy to use, immediate viewing and saving of photos to your portable electronic device then share via Whatsapp or whatnot. The photo saving process is quick and simple, and I believe the photos are resized but still in beautiful quality (as viewed on the retina display of the iPhone 5).
Live view shooting, to me anyway, is more a gimmick. It’s too much of a fuss to start up and use for one or two shots. I didn’t use it at all during the 3 weeks, though I would imagine if you have an important shot you are eager to take and unable to look through the viewfinder or camera live view for reasons such as extremely low or high angles then the Wifi live view would be helpful. There is a slight shutter lag between pressing on your phone and the release of the shutter in the camera.
I have been using centrepoint focusing on my 500D and intend to do the same with the 6D so the fact that only the centre point is cross type doesn’t bother me too much. That said, I did occasionally want to use AI Servo focus and the lack of the number of focus points to cover viewfinder meant I had to take extra care to keep the subject within the central part of the viewfinder.
Otherwise, the centre focus worked quickly and without fuss especially with the 16-35mm. I found focusing to be a bit slow for the kit 24-105 lens. In fact, for some reason I found the 24-105mm f/4 seem to focus slower than when I had my 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 on the 500D. (it generates some friction turning noise (not the standard constant whirling sound of IS I’m used to) which lasts for less than 0.5 seconds, maybe from the IS as it seems to go away when I turn IS off… my 15-85mm didn’t generate any of such noise.. does anyone know if this might be an issue with my copy of the 24-105?)
Brilliant! I was head over heels in the dimly lit churches with the 6D in hand (especially with the f/2.8 on the 16-35 lens). I had little concern for noise even shooting at ISO 2000 or thereabouts inside churches and museums. I used to fear changing the aperture too small on my 500D because I would need a higher ISO to compensate. With the 6D, I felt more confident with changing the aperture to the desired depth of field or to where the lens performs best while shooting at slightly higher ISO levels of 400 or 800. (Note, ISO400 on the 500D was passable but ISO800 already created significant noticeable noise)
If it was too dark for my eyes to see the painted ceilings, I could get a glimpse of it with the 6D by cranking up the ISO to 25600 or higher. Yes the photos at that ISO wouldn’t quite be useable but for purposes of seeing something my eyes couldn’t see, it was a helpful little advantage.
(sorry I haven't shot much above ISO3200, and couldn't find the 1 out of 6500 photos which I remember I shot at ISO25600+)
I’m quite satisfied overall but have 3 things to note.
Firstly, the 6D with 16-35mm lens attached suffered a fall from approx 1m in height from the X-ray conveyor belt upon entrance to St Mark’s Basilica in the Vatican City onto the rock floor that very thankfully had a piece of thick cloth very casually laid over it. This was the 3rdday. Also thankful to having a lenshood attached (and filter), it did not seem to suffer that much damage. The lenshood was slightly scuffed and the lens barrel near the red line had a scratch I had not noticed before. The camera body showed no signs of damage at all. I’m guessing the lenshood touched-down first. I tested the camera to operate fine in burst mode immediately after and it has continued to work without issues for the remainder of the trip so I’ll count it as having survived the fall without issue.
Secondly, the small metal functions dial fell off from the camera on the 10thday (see photo). Thankfully I usually only shot with AV so the lack of indication didn’t affect my daily use (I also believe you could change the camera setting so the LCD screen shows which function you are using when you turn the dial). Also thankfully, I realised not long after it fell off that it actually fell off, so I traced my footsteps and was able to find the small metal dial on the ground. I couldn’t seem to clip it back on so I’ll have to ask Canon later. I suspect this isn't a general Canon issue, but rather a result of my camera strap suspending the camera near my legs creating extra bumping around as I walk.
Thirdly, a comment on the general wear and tear of the camera body… I used a Carryspeed FS-Pro sling strap (for reference: http://www.carryspeed.com/products/fs-pro-camera-sling-strap-with-f-1-foldable-mounting-plate). This meant the lens-release button on the camera was rubbing against my jeans, and my hands were rested on the side of the camera where the battery compartment is. At the end of the trip, the edge of the lens-release button is shining metal, while the plastic on the edges near the battery compartment became a bit shiny.
Coming from a 500D user, buttons were easy to catch on to and use. The only function which I missed from the 500D was to zoom in and out of photos I am reviewing with dedicated +/- buttons accessible by the thumb at the top right buttons cluster. On the 6D it appears I have to click the magnifying/zoom button next to the LCD and then scroll in and out, which isn’t as convenient.
Dedicated video function button makes it readily accessible. Live view button that is incorporated into the cluster is very intuitive to use.
I recall some people saying there is a lack of a WB button. Perhaps coming from a completely amateur background, I have found no need to change the style, WB etc when shooting. Those dealt with the colour interpretation from the camera and are things which would make no difference if changed on DPP after I get home. Only functions I care about when shooting would be aperture, exposure, ISO, exposure compensation to a lesser extent as I could adjust the RAW exposure on computer, drive, AF (being the basics to capture the moment) and mirror lockup, timer, AE lock etc for other occasions.
Other interesting things to note:
Soft shutter function comes in very handy when you want to feel a bit more discreet. I used it with delight in churches and museums. Shutter sound is significantly oppressed. There is very slight shutter delay when using this function but which is barely noticeable when I am shooting an inanimate object or a cooperative person.
And as someone coming from an 500D, I have noticed there is now an ‘Auto’ image style on DPP when shooting with the 6D. This ‘Auto’ style is generally very good and it means I don’t need to change image styles as often. (Clearly I’m not a big photo editing person – Canon’s DPP is the only photo editing program I use to remove distortion, sometimes vignetting and noise, sharpness, occasionally add a bit of shadows/contrast and adjust exposure, WB and image style; though this is not to say I am not eager to learn more about touching up photos! I just don’t have the requisite programs)
Other photo samples:
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