Review: Canon EOS 6D

Review: Canon EOS 6D

I gave up on full frame cameras not longer after I got into photography. I have the back of a 60-year-old and the budget of a 20-year-old, neither situation lending itself to owning heavy and expensive gear. I'm happy with my cheaper lighter Micro Four Thirds system, but using the Canon EOS 6D this last week makes me reconsider the perks of having a few big guns in my arsenal.

At a glance:

21 megapixels

Full frame sensor

4.5 fps 

Weather sealed

3-inch screen

Built-in wifi and GPS

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Canon EOS 6D

Canon's new entry-level full frame camera acts as a bridge between the enthusiast-level cropped sensors and the pro-level 5D and 1D range. I'm calling the 6D an entry-level device, but starting at around $2400 for the body alone it's still a significant investment.

The 6D is built tough. Mine got knocked around and bumped on the screen several times, surviving every encounter with a hard corner. The camera is also dust and water resistant, which comes in handy when caught in a downpour. Weighing 200 grams lighter than the 5D Mark III, this camera doesn't sacrifice portability for robustness.

I'm a firm believer that good gear doesn't necessarily make a good photograph (or photographer). I've had some spectacular results from $1500 cameras and $20 disposable cameras – just as I've had some shocking ones. The 6D's sensor helps a good photographer achieve great images. It produces photos with delicious blurring, great colour depth and admirable image sharpness. The photos I've taken over the last week might not be the best that can come out of the 6D, but it's as good as what I've created using a 5D Mark III.

Where the 6D greatly falls short of the 5D is its autofocus, which at times can feel snails-paced after using lightning quick Micro Four Thirds cameras.  With only 11 autofocus points, the 6D can get into trouble picking the correct spot to focus on and in low light it can spend awkward moments hunting for focus. 

The 6D's overall low light performance is fantastic. Even with nothing but street lights and a horrible yellow lamp, I can barely notice the noise and bumping the ISO up to 2000 is no real issue.

The 6D's built-in wifi and GPS is a definite step up from any other Canon DSLR. The camera can be tethered to a computer or smartphone over wifi, letting you control the device and take shots remotely. The GPS automatically tags your photos with your coordinates, helping you keep your images better organised (and show off to your friends all the places you've been). 

Canon's free EOS Remote app for iOS and Android is one of the best remote tethering tools I've used. It's simple enough to work on a smartphone while featuring enough tools to make it useful for actual photography. I found myself transferring lower-res versions of photos to my iPhone to play around with post-processing while on the go.

All this wireless gadgetry takes its toll on the battery. With wifi and GPS turned off, I could easily get through two days of shooting without recharging (around 900 shots) – the wireless functions, particularly the GPS, can easily halve this figure. 

Verdict: If I were a richer man with a stronger back the Canon EOS 6D would be my workhorse camera. It's tough, produces beautiful images, works well in low light and has Canon's pedigree of lens choices. The slow autofocus is an issue for capturing action shots in low light condition, but for most types of photography it hits all the right buttons.