Since I’m at Imaging Week in Seoul/Korea this week, I thought that I would spend some hands-on time with the Canon EOS 6D that was announced recently. I use a Canon 50D on a daily basis, so it’s nice to see how far Canon has gone since I bought the 50D back in the days. The Canon EOS 6D is quite different: it’s a full-frame DSLR, which makes it a much more affordable full-frame option when compared to its EOS 5D Mark III cousin. At the same time, it integrates elements from the Canon EOS 60D when it comes to the controls and overall layout, so this makes it a DSLR worthy of attention.
Just like any DSLR camera, the specs sheet for this EOS 6D is as long as my arm, but here are some features that I find particularly important:
20.2 Megapixel sensor (full-frame)
ISO 100-25600 (up to 102800 in expanded mode)
reduced shutter noise
1080p video recording (30FPS)
WiFi and GPS built-in (warning: battery killers)
1M pixels display
4.5 FPS burst mode
No touch screen / Swivel screen
No phase-detection in live view
The Canon EOS 6D design is very similar (but not identical) to other EOS cameras, so coming from a Canon 50D I was able to find my marks right away. Of course, things are a little different, but it was easy for the initiated to use, and one can feel that this camera means business. In fact, I liked just about everything on how the camera controls are laid out, with the exception of the “video recording” button, which is placed near the right thumb. I think that it makes it a bit too easy to hit by accident, although one could arguably “get used to it”.
The build quality is solid –that’s hardly “news” when it comes to the EOS line of product, but I felt like the 60D was not as well built as my 50D, so… it’s all relative and worth pointing out. In any case, the EOS 6D felt really good in my hands while I used it. I felt like everything was at the right place.
Interestingly enough, the instrumentation visible via the viewfinder looked much more crisp than it does on older EOS and current Canon Rebel DSLR cameras. It’s very appreciable since I look at those all the time, and that is something that I will miss dearly each time I set my eyes in the viewfinder of my current camera.
Another thing that may be of interest is the ability to remote-control the camera via WIFI with a smart device. I’ve often run into situations where I needed to remote-control the camera (for example when I don’t want to be seen in a reflection…), but it has always bothered me that I should buy a Canon remote just for that purpose (cal me cheap). Now, I can do this from a smartphone… problem solved.
The Canon 6D felt noticeably snappier than my 50D or any recent Canon Rebel that I had my hands on. While you may think that this is “normal”, keep in mind that cameras don’t evolve as fast as smartphones or computers. For instance, the Canon Rebel Ti5 isn’t much of an evolution when compared to its predecessors. This time around, I used the 6D with a Canon L-lens, and overall, taking photos with the 6D was very nice. It was snappy and fast, and the focus speed was very quick too. This is one of the things that truly separate consumer-level cameras like the EOS Rebel, and the enthusiast/semi-pro cameras like the Canon 6D.
Not everything is perfect however. Canon has not included the Hybrid Auto-Focus system that made auto-focus better on the Rebel T5i. That’s unfortunate because I would really have loved being able to carry a single device for both video and photos. I have to run more tests, but this is a bit disappointing. Talking about the AF system, you should keep in mind that with only 11 AF points, the EOS 6D lags behind both the 5D Mark III (61 points) and its direct competitor, the Nikon D600 (39 points). It’s not that the number of points define everything “AF”, but in some situations, a larger sampling can be very helpful.
Finally, I’m not really a fast-action shooter, but I’d like to remind you that with 4.5FPS in burst mode, you may find other cameras that can snap this type of photos a little better than the 6D would.
It’s not perfect, but the Canon EOS 6D remains one of Canon’s most potent DSLR cameras. With a full-frame sensor, a very fast focus speed (including in low-light situations) and image processing powered by the best that Canon has to offer, the Canon EOS 6D should please demanding customers who are looking for a good price/quality ratio.
Here’s how I look at it: if you have been drooling on a Canon 5D Mark III but were never able to justify spending that much, the EOS 6D should be an easier decision. That’s particularly true if you are already invested in canon lenses and accessories. If your options are broader than this, you should definitely look at the Nikon D600 since it offers slightly better specifications.