It’s here. Canon’s anwser to the Nikon D600 “affordable full frame DSLR”; the EOS 6D. But how does it compare? Looking at the specifications between the two, you might consider the Nikon to be superior in almost every way. But how will both cameras hold their ground in the field? As long you haven’t actually worked with these cameras, it is very hard to make predictions. In this post, I will zoom into the world of this new full frame member of the vast array of Canon cameras to choose from.
How it looks
As the 6D is now officially announced, the first images have shown up as well. This is the front view of the 6D:
There is not too much technicality to see here except for the obvious things. One thing that does stand out though, is the size of the camera: It is a relatively compact camera, the smallest full frame Canon has yet produced. The rear view sheds a bit more light on the technical side of things:
The rear view shows that the 6D is nice bakeoff between the rebels (600D, 650D) and the 5D/7D series. It features a dial just like the 5Dmk3 and 7D, but it lacks the buttons left of the screen just like the 600D and 650D. If this camera featured a touch screen that could make up for the missing buttons I think, but there is no touch screen on the 6D. To complete the view of the camera, here is the top view:
From the top view you can clearly see the modest size of the camera. An interesting mix of prosumer and professional features can be seen looking at the dial: It would appear that one C-mode has been replaced by a scenery setting. I am VERY happy there are at least two C-mode settings on the camera; others might love the fact there are scenery modes (which I personally NEVER use). And is that a dial-lock button on top (which you could have retrofitted to your 7D)? You bet!
Canon EOS 6D official specifications
These are some of the specifications that were part of the Canon announcement for the new 6D:
|Image ratio w:h||3:2|
|Effective pixels||20.2 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (36 x 24 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, 100 – 25600 in 1/3 stops, plus 50, 51200, 102400 as option|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (Sensor), Phase Detect, Multi-area, Selective single-point, Single, Continuous, Face Detection, Live View|
|Number of focus points||11 (1 cross-type); focus up to EV-3|
|Lens mount||Canon EF mount|
|Screen||Fixed LCD, 3,2″, 102,400 dots, touchscreen|
|Viewfinder||Optical (pentaprism), 97% coverage, 0.71x|
|Shutter speed||30sec – 1/8000th sec|
|Subject / scene modes||Yes|
|C-modes on dial||2 presets|
|Flash||Hot shoe, no popup|
|Continuous drive||Yes, 4.5 fps|
|Video||yes, 1080P, 720P, VGA|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0, HDMI|
|Other features||Wireless, GPS, orientation sensor|
Looking at the 6D’s specs for the first time shows a weird combination of features. It is weather-sealed (pro) but uses a single SD card (consumer). It is full frame (pro) but has only 11 AF points (most people call this consumer although I’m not that sure here). It features two C-modes, the third setting appears to be dedicated for SCN (sceneries). The addition of GPS and wireless inside the body make it a weird mix of different worlds.
Looking at the specs for a second time, the 6D more and more appears to be a cool hybrid between consumer and professional; this delicate balance should enable Canon to market this camera for a decent price while appealing to all people somewhere in between consumer and pros.
Compared to the Nikon D600
However nice to see DPreview doing a comparison of features to the Canon 5D3 and the Nikon D600, in the end it will be the image quality and useability that really counts; If the 6D focuses really well with his 11 AF points, and the sensor produces images better than the 5DmkII (and the Nikon D600), there is much to be liked in this camera imho.
An important question remains: How will it handle in the field? Comparing to a Canon 5D3 is not quite fair I think looking at the much higher price tag of the 5D3. Compared to the Nikon D600, the 6D appears to fall short in most categories. But does this really matter? The AF on the 6D is actually in line with most other features: a mixed bag. On the downside the AF sensor has 11 points, but ONLY the centerpoint is of the cross type. On the upside, the EOS 6D should be able to focus up to EV-3 (“moonlight level”), which would actually make it the strongest AF low-light performer in the entire Canon lineup! Since I use my 7D almost solely using the center focus point, which is fast and accurate, I’m very eager to know if the 6D performs like the 7D in this respect.
Another “downside” is the slower fps (4,5 on the 6D versus 5,5 on the Nikon D600). I do not require high speeds, I have my 7D for this and will keep using it for this job. If you need high speeds and full frame, you’d be looking at the 5D3 or the 1Dx anyway. For this segment, 4.5fps is more than enough, as long as the camera has a “snappy” feel to it and is responsive.
Your EF-S lenses will not fit the 6D
As this is Canon’s first attempt in creating a prosumer DSLR, the lenses immediately come to mind: Your dear EF-S lenses will not fit on this camera. I think a lot of people buying in this segment will have a 10-22 or a 15-85 lens. These will not fit, and you need to buy additional lenses. Luckily Canon (and 3rd party brands) have a vast array of EF-compatible lenses that are good value for their price.
A great example are the Samyang primes: These lenses have superb optical qualities (often surpassing Canons own L-series!) but they cost around 1/3rd of an L-series. The downside? They are mechanical beings, no electronics inside whatsoever. Yet all of these primes will fit a full frame camera, and will deliver great optical quality on full frame as well as on cropped. With their lineup of primes in the fast 8mm, 14mm, 24mm, 35mm and 85mm range they can deliver an affordable alternative to Canon EF lenses. Not to mention their new baby, the 10mm f/2.8. But Canon also has some great value EF lenses in their lineup. Lenses like the 100mm f/2.8 macro, the 50mm f/1.4 and the 85mm f/1.8 or even the new 40mm f/2.8 pancake are great examples to get affordable yet very good glass in front of your 6D.
Finally, do not forget the second hand market: If you today own a gem like the EF-S 15-85, it will sell at a very good price second hand. Not much money lost, and an upgrade to for example the 24-105L (which is kind of comparable on a full frame) should not be too far away from that point.
The first High-res images
Canon has posted a number of high resolution images that came from the 6D. You can view them HERE. As expected, the images posted here are of a pretty good quality.
Too bad all of the high-ISO images are “Coming soon”; that would shed some light on the noise the camera produces at higher ISO settings. The high-ISO images are now also available for download! Looking at the ISO6400 starry night shot, I must say: Wow. I think the 6D actually does even better than the 5D markII in high-ISO shots!
I cannot wait to see some real life reports from people using this camera in the field or shooting this camera myself. How it performs when focusing (something in which the 5DmkII falls a little short) and how it performs in low light (AF and noise). The fact that Canon specs this camera at ISO 100 – 25.600 makes me think it will produce VERY usable images at ISO 6400, which would make it a solid performer in low light, as where I expect the Nikon D600 to be pretty much “done” at ISO1600 (by just looking at their respective ISO ranges).
At a street price estimated under 2000USD it might still be a very capable full frame camera to be reckoned with. Interesting times lie ahead.