Canon EOS Canon 6D User Review

Canon 6D with 50 mm lens

Compact, lightweight, brilliant low-light performance, and loaded with easy to use features, the EOS 6D is truly the Full-Frame DSLR camera for everyone.

Key Specs:

  • 20.2MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 5+ image processor
  • ISO 100-25600 standard, 50-102800 expanded
  • 4.5 fps continuous shooting
  • 'Silent' shutter mode
  • 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
  • 11 point AF system, center point cross-type and sensitive to -3 EV
  • 63 zone iFCL metering system
  • 97% viewfinder coverage; interchangeable screens (including Eg-D grid and Eg-S fine-focus)
  • 1040k dot 3:2 3" ClearView LCD (fixed)
  • Single SD card slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
  • Single-axis electronic level

Real World Use

I'm going to give you my impressions of the Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and EF24-105mm IS Lens Kit full frame camera from the perspective of real world user. First a little background. I've been around cameras casually for 20 years going through film (slide, black and white and even 4x5 with an old vintage press camera), on to digital via point and shoots.

Four years ago I jumped back into photography seriously with a Panasonic Lumix mirror-less micro four-thirds G2 and G3 system with a variety of lens. I loved the compactness of the micro four-thirds systems and had no problem bringing these cameras every where. I started shooting for microstock and eventually developed up to shooting for the book cover market. So I'd say at this point I am a semi-professional photographer who shoots nearly daily.

The micro four-thirds camera are well suited for the microstock market because they have great depth of field and are compact. But the smaller sensors max out at 16 or so megapixels and the RAW files nearly always require some noise reduction. Shooting for the book cover market required moving up in megapixel size so I started looking at more traditional DSLRs.

The Canon 6D caught my attention by its features, its 21 megapixel full frame sensor and the smaller footprint. I'll tell you it was a big size difference going from the too-small-to-be comfortable micro four-thirds cameras to the hefty Canon 6d especially with the 24-105 L lens. In a camera bag where I could fit the Panasonic Lumix G3 plus five lens, I'd be lucky to wedge in the Canon 6D and 24-105.

Here are some impressions after shooting with the Canon 6D for six months.

  • Autofocus - The autofocus system on the Canon 6D has some room for improvement. There are only a small number of focus points clustered around the middle. Handheld you can use the center focus and then move the camera but often on a tripod I find myself having to move the camera position around a bit. On the Panasonic Lumix you could just use the touch screen to pick an autofocus spot ANYWHERE. Plus on the micro four-thirds systems you are always in live mode. There is no mirror to move out of the way. It took a while to figure out this live view business on the DSLRs.
  • Video - View on the Canon 6D is great. I've shoot a number of stock video clips with this camera.Keeping in mind the quality standards of microstock agencies, the quality is there.
  • Kit Lens - I purchased my camera with the kit lens, an impressive standard zoom in the 24-105 range. This is an "L" rated lens meaning its pro quality. It also means that it is heavy and huge. If you want to go incognito this is not the lens to have. I always get comments when I'm out with this lens. People seem to assume that its a huge zoom lens because of the size even though it only goes to 105. "nice lens", "whoa that's a big lens" etc. As a walk around lens its great. 24 to 105 handles most of what you are going to want to shoot. Overall I've taken some great shots with this lens in bright sun but sometimes when shooting fur or feathers this lens has produced some very soft shots. Especially at the extreme long end. There is also a bit of vignetting in the corners that can be fixed in Adobe Lightroom.
  • Other lens - I also have the amazingly sharp Canon EF 50 mm f/2.5 Compact Macro. I purchased this lens mainly for food photography. It's an older design and the autofocus motor is noisy and takes forever to find focus. But this lens is a sharp as a tack and its cheap! I think I paid $270 or so. Currently I also have the Canon EF 40 mm f/2.8 STM or pancake lens. I got this lens for stealth mode. Its barely bigger than a lens cap so when you are tire of getting stares for having a big camera you can slip this little guy on for secret street shots. This was another cheap lens. It sells for around $150.
  • GPS - The GPS feature in the Canon 6D is great although it uses up the battery faster. It embeds GPS information into the data files so you can search by location in Adobe Lightroom. I also submit to Dreamstime and they accept GPS data. Its handy and you can turn it off if you don't want to use up your battery.
  • WiFi - I was excited about the WiFi features of this camera but in reality its kind of a pain to set up and it seems to lose connection too often. Basically it sounds like a fun feature but in practice its not all that exciting. You can connect a iPad or cell phone to live view and control the camera remotely. I tried setting it up in front of a bird feeder and snapping a picture from the kitchen. It worked, for a while and then it would lose connection. In the scheme of things I'd say WiFi is a gimmick.
  • In Camera HDR - You can set up the camera to take a series of images at different exposures and combine them later in software or use the in camera HDR. The only drawback is that the HDR in camera mode only works in JPG with RAW turned off. I tried this feature once when I first got it, didn't like the results and then didn't try it again until recently. My more recent efforts have resulted in some really great landscape shots. I think the trick is to shoot in bright light and enhance the tonal effects in Adobe Lightroom and or OnOne Perfect effects to really bring out the clarity in the images. And of course use a tripod! HDR mode is great for scenes like a covered bridge where the side of the covered bridge is dark but there is sun all around on the landscape.
  • Electronic Level - this is a great feature for keeping the horizon level for landscapes.

Canon 6D Front and Back

Tires - Photography by Edward M. Fielding

Taken with the Canon 6D by Edward M. Fielding
Taken with the Canon 6D by Edward M. Fielding | Source

Specifications

  • Canon EOS 6D Kit Specifications:

    • 20.2 MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor DSLR and EF24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
    • 11 Point AF points, 63-zone Dual-Level Metering Sensor
    • Canon iMAGE GATEWAY to Share and Upload Photos Anyhwere on iOS or Android Devices with Free EOS Remote Application
    • Built-in GPS Receiver and Wi-Fi Transmitter
    • Memory Cards: SD/SDHS/SDXC, and Ultra High-Speed (UHS-I) cards

Will I be happy with this camera?

For my photography journey, this full frame camera represented a jump from the small micro-fourth sensor to full frame. I wanted a big jump in image quality and the nice big, noise free sensor in the Canon 6D was my ticket. And I'd say I've been very impressed with the images this sensor produces. I barely ever touch the noise reduction slider in Adobe Lightroom and I've been weaning myself off of 100 ISO. With the Lumix I didn't dare leave 100-200 ISO if I wanted something good enough to sell in the demanding microstock world. With the Canon 6D's excellent low light ability I can safely go up to 800 or even 1600 and still get sell-able images. I have also seen some amazing shots at ISO 25,600 from other people with this camera! I just haven't been that brave yet!

I think the only issues I've had fall in the range of the auto-focus. Now keep in mind that Canon positions this camera as an entry level full frame camera. In order not to cannibalize sales of their flag ship full frame models, they had to cripple the features in some sense and I think auto-focus is one area where its just lacking enough that if you have the cash for the more pricey models in the line up you might consider the next step up.

Every camera is a compromise of features. The Canon 6D represents a great step into full frame sensor cameras with a lot of fun features like HD Video, GPS, WiFi and in camera HDR. Perhaps its not the best choice for a wedding photographers but for the photo enthusiast or semi-professional it brings a lot of great image quality and low light abilities to the table.


Photograph taken with the Canon 6D by Edward M. Fielding
Photograph taken with the Canon 6D by Edward M. Fielding | Source

Video walkthrough of Canon 6D features

Overview of the features on the Canon EOS 6D full frame DSLR camera.

Canon 6D Professional vs Canon T4i Consumer Budget

  • The 6D is a full frame 36.0 x 24.00 mm while the T4i is a APS-C 22.3 x 14.9mm. The Canon 6D has about a 2.5 times larger sensor than the T4i.
  • Price: Canon T4i goes for about $650 while the 6D is around $1,700.
  • T4i has a flip out screen. 6D does not.
  • The image quality of the 6D is 82.0 compared to the 62.0 of the T4i. This score is calculated through various factors of color depth, dynamic rang, and low light performance. 6D’s resolution is 20.9MP compared to the T4i’s 17.9MP.

Why is the 6D so hot?

Basically the Canon EOS 6D gives one a lot of the features of a professional camera at a nice price point. It's the affordable full frame. With the Canon 5D Mark III, the mainstay of wedding photographers and professionals at $3,500 for just the body, the Canon 6D is very attractive at its price point.

I think Canon is not only attracting lower end photographers to move up to full frame but also attracting some pro photographers looking for a second and cheaper camera that can get the job done.

Taken with the Canon 6D by Edward M. Fielding
Taken with the Canon 6D by Edward M. Fielding | Source

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