Viewfinder specs and view

One of the big attractions of full frame SLRs is the viewfinder, and the EOS 6D offers the kind of large, bright view that will come as a revelation to photographers who've previously only shot with APS-C cameras. Its magnification is approximately 0.71x, which is identical to the EOS 5D Mark III. And while the EOS 6D's coverage is 'only' 97%, this tends to be more of a theoretical than practical disadvantage in real-world use, as you'll see below.

One disadvantage with a full frame sensor is that the autofocus points are rather clustered towards the centre of the frame (increasing the coverage would require a larger body to accommodate the larger relay optics needed). Disappointingly, the 11 AF point layout on the 6D doesn't offer any expanded coverage compared to the 9-point system on the EOS 5D Mark II - the additional points are shoe-horned into a similar diamond layout.

Viewfinder size

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in the usability of an SLR - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'.

The EOS 6D has a viewfinder magnification of 0.71x, the same as the 5D Mark III and Sony SLT-A99, and only fractionally smaller than its Nikon full frame competitors.

The viewfinder offers 97% coverage of the actual scene capture (shown below), which does raise the possibility of some unseen elements inadvertently ending up in the corners of your final image. For the vast majority of typical real-world use, however, a discrepancy of this size may be largely academic. And in scenarios where precise framing is absolutely critical, you can always shoot in live view mode to preview full scene coverage.

This simulated view demonstrates how much of the scene is visible with 97% viewfinder coverage. The area shaded in white appears in the final image but not in the viewfinder.

Viewfinder information

Unlike recent high-end Canons like the EOS 7D, 5D Mark III and 1D X, the 6D doesn't use an LCD overlay on the focusing screen to show grid-lines etc. Instead it offers interchangeable focusing screens, using the same type as the EOS 5D Mark II. On offer are the Eg-D grid screen, or the Eg-S screen that's designed for more-precise manual focus with fast lenses.

Shooting information is displayed along a black border below the image area. The screen itself features the camera's 11 AF points along with a central spot metering circle.

The 6D's viewfinder displays basic shooting information such as shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation and ISO, alongside AE lock status, battery and flash information. In AF mode, when the camera acquires focus, an activation indicator inside the relevant AF point(s) briefly flashes in red. A focus confirmation oval then appears at the far right of the row of icons below the image area.