Canon EOS 6D In-Depth Review
The Canon EOS 6D comes with the 'Canon EOS Digital Solution Disk' which includes:
- Digital Photo Professional 3.12 - Advanced image workflow and editing, specialized in Raw conversion with a range of adjustment and output options.
- ImageBrowser EX 1.0 - Easy to use image browsing and organization with a unique interface. Includes rudimentary image editing, printing and e-mail. This latest version of the software also provides some very basic video editing.
- EOS Utility 2.12 - A tool to download images as well as control the camera remotely and adjust its settings when tethered to the computer.
- PhotoStitch 3.2 - Panorama stitching utility.
- Picture Style Editor 1.2 - Utility to create custom picture styles that can be uploaded to the camera.
- EOS Sample Music - Royalty free audio files to upload to the camera and use as background music.
- CameraWindow - Tool for transferring images to a computer
Digital Photo Professional is an image workflow and RAW conversion application that provides for the browsing and management of images in a folder structure as well as tagging, rotation etc. In addition it also provides an extensive range of RAW conversion features which include digital exposure compensation, white balance, tone curve, color, picture style, sharpness and lens correction parameters.
A number of different tools can be accessed from the tools menu. The Quick Check tool allows you to browse through a selection of images and assign check marks to them. The Trimming tool can be used to apply a crop to an image (the image itself is not modified, this is simply saved in the recipe).
The Stamp tool works in a similar way to the clone stamp or healing brush in Photoshop (although it is primary designed for the removal of light or dark blotches).The Rename tool can be used to change the filename of a selection of images based on a rule set. Finally you can convert multiple RAW files at a time using the batch conversion tool.
Digital Photo Pro includes a fairly comprehensive lens correction module which allows you to correct your raw files for vignetting (peripheral illumination, purple fringing (color blur) and chromatic aberration based on lens profiles, offering greater control than the 6D's in-camera corrections. For the vignetting, CA and distortion correction you have sliders which allow you to apply a partial correction between 0 and 100%. There is also a slider to indicate the subject distance the image was taken at which helps optimizing the distortion correction.
|The Lens aberration correction dialogue opens as a separate window within DPP. It contains the full image view and a magnification area at the top right. There is also the option for a grid-overlay which is useful when correcting distortion.|
Raw file conversion
As is normal in our reviews we like to compare the camera maker's supplied raw conversion software with competing third party raw converters. Here we've picked Adobe Camera Raw and DxO Optics Pro alongside the Canon software. We'll compare these three converters to the camera's JPEG engine to see how each of them pulls detail out of the images.
- JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
- DPP - Digital Photo Professional 3.12
- ACR - Adobe Camera Raw 7.3
- DxO - DxO Optics Pro 8.1.2
Sharpness and Detail
Canon's Digital Photo Professional emulates the output of the camera's JPEG engine very closely. Color rendition and tonality are virtually identical. DPP does apply a touch more default sharpening, resulting in images that are - at a pixel-level - a little crisper.
Adobe Camera Raw's default output is less contrasty and benefits from subtle, small-radius sharpening. This results in a more appealing image with natural tonality and an increase in fine detail. DxO's output comes very close to the saturation and contrast of the in-camera JPEG, while offering a greater degree of high contrast fine edge detail than the other raw converters. Keep in mind though that we're looking at 100% crops here. Small differences like this in detail rendering really only come into play if you plan to display your images at very large sizes.
|JPEG out of camera, High quality setting (all settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
|Digital Photo Professional Raw ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
|Adobe ACR 7.3 Raw ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
|DxO Optics Pro 8.12 Raw ->JPEG (Default settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
The resolution chart confirms the observations we've made when looking at the crops above. DPP applies more aggressive sharpening than the out-of-camera JPEGs (notice the more prominent edge halos) while Adobe ACR's sharpening is more subtle with a smaller radius, resulting in the ability to resolve marginally finer detail. And DxO's sharpening again gets the nod with slightly crisper edge separation, all the while avoiding edge halos. All three raw converters do a good job of handling moiré, as its not significantly more prominent than in the camera-generated JPEG.
|JPEG from camera||Digital Photo Professional|
|Adobe Camera Raw 7||DxO Optics Pro 8|
While Canon provides generally pleasing image processing defaults at low ISO settings, one of the benefits to shooting in raw mode is the ability to fine-tune settings post-capture in order to gain maximum image quality. With custom sharpening settings you can enhance fine detail while avoiding edge halos, as you can see in the 100% crops of tree branches below.
Chromatic aberration (CA) is automatically reduced in JPEGs when a registered Canon lens is attached to the camera but it isn't always completely eliminated, and of course can still be a problem with third-party lenses. Shooting in Raw mode allows you to effectively take care of any CA you might see in your shots along high contrast edges. We shot this scene with a 35mm lens at F1.4 deliberately to induce CA (in effect overstressing the automatic JPEG CA reduction).
Canon EF 35mm F1.4 L @ F1.4, ISO 100
|Raw + ACR 7.3 Custom WB, Sharpening: Amount 65 and Radius .8, CA removal enabled with the Purple slider set to 3 (all other settings at their defaults).|
|100% crops, ISO 100|
In low light conditions, having access to the raw file allows for a more subtle approach to sharpening and noise reduction, when compared to the camera's default settings. You also have the luxury of adjusting white balance, which can be a challenge for the camera's auto capabilities under incandescent light.
|Camera JPEG||Raw + ACR 7.3 Custom WB, Exposure +30, Contrast +19, Highlights -50, Whites -20, Blacks -12, Luminance NR +20, Luminance Detail +20, Sharpening: Amount 45, Radius .6 (all other settings at their defaults)|
|100% crops, ISO 12,800|
The image above was shot handheld at ISO 12,800 under indoor lighting. As you can see, the 6D's auto white balance has an overly warm cast. In addition, Canon's somewhat aggressive default NR setting, combined with JPEG compression, leads to softer detail rendering and some false color artifacts. By making relatively simple and quick adjustments (listed above) in ACR's Basic and Detail panels we can achieve a more neutral result and a more crisp rendering of fine details.
Raw files for download
Don't just take our word for it though. Below you can download EOS 6D raw files of 'real-world' scenes for yourself, and run them through your preferred raw conversion software and settings. If you want to take a closer look at the 6D's studio scene shots, you can always download original raw files from our image quality comparison raw page.
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