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CANON EOS 6D

HANDS-ON REVIEW

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About the Author


Like you, Im a photographer and inspired by beautiful photographs. Not too long ago I nished a journey from Alaska to Argentina by land, pursuing the art of photography. I quit my job recently (tech startup IT stuff) so I could do what I love most - writing, shooting and helping others in pursuit of beautiful people, places and ideas through photography. This review wasnt easy and it took a great deal of work. But its a gift for you, the photographer, and I hope that you nd it useful and valuable.

The latest version of this review can be found at 6dreview.com


Downloadable Content 5.6GB of hi-res TIFF16BIT images and low-compression 1080p video (all watermark-free) captured on L lenses has been uploaded for you to download and review on your computer. download here Canon 6D Video Review After 1+ Year of Hands-on I thought it was a good time to do a video review. Check it out.

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THE CAMERA
The Canon EOS 6D is the worlds smallest, lightest full-frame SLR on the market. As a travel and landscape photographer, I was quite intrigued by the ultralight factor and immediately bought one of the rst copies to ship. This review is not based on marketing gures or datasheets. Instead this review will focus on!real-world usage!and results from the perspective of a working landscape photographer.!I have no preference for Canon over Nikon, I own both and consider them equal. Price can be of major concern for many when considering the purchase of a camera, however this factor did not inuence my impressions or decisions and is therefore absent from this review.
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The rst iteration of this review was published on March, 2013. At the time of writing I had approximately four months of hands on experience with the 6D primarily in San Francisco, California. Fast forward to nearly a year of consistent shooting and my experience with the 6D has yielded more accurate and balanced results. Not only have I learned quite a bit more about the intricacies of the camera, but I have taken the 6D to a fair number of wide ranging exotic and harsh environments in National Parks such as: Pinnacles, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Big Sur (pacic ocean/coastline), Great Basin, Banff, and Jasper, Grand Teton, Glacier, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree and beyond.

KEY FEATURES
LIGHTEST FULL-FRAME BODY ON THE MARKET INTEGRATED GPS 3.0" HIGH-RESOLUTION LCD 5472x3648 PIXELS/20.2MP FULL HD 1080P VIDEO ISO 50-102,400 INTEGRATED WIFI DIGIC 5+ IMAGE PROCESSOR

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IMAGE QUALITY
Canon implemented into the 6D a brand new Canon CMOS sensor with state-of-the-art technology. Pixel-level detail of this CMOS fullframe sensor is capable of producing incredibly detailed images with beautiful color rendition. I have printed large format prints from the 6D - up to 40x60 - and the level of detail is excellent. Compared to my 5D, 5DMkII, and 5DMkIII the print quality at these sizes is indistinguishable. Just as important as image quality, however, is previsualization and getting the right information on the sensor. Image quality is only as good as visual quality! The 6D has Canons most powerful image processor, the DIGIC 5+. The 6Ds DIGIC 5+ processor is 17x faster than a DIGIC 4 and 30% faster than a DIGIC 5. The image processor of a camera is responsible for reducing noise at higher ISOs, and the DIGIC 5+ represents the best to date.!The introduction of DIGIC 5+ also introduced chromatic aberration correction, based on lens proles which are stored in-camera and therefore limited to Canons own lenses.!In addition, the extra processing power allows the 6D to apply chromatic aberration correction to JPEG images as well. These corrections are based on about 29 Canon-created lens proles, which are stored in the cameras onboard memory and can be updated in the future in the via rmware updates. In theory these proles allow correction not only of lateral CA but also of the harder-to-x axial CA.
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In real-world results I still get the same slight amount of chromatic aberration as I did previous to this feature implementation even with the best glass. Theoretically it may be less than it was, but perceptibly its an insignicant advantage. Its possible for Canon to modify these proles through rmware updates, so perhaps well see better CA processing in the future. To summarize all of that: The Canon 6D has excellent image quality and performs as well as all of my 5D family bodies, from the original up through the 5D Mark III The DIGIC 5+ delivers better high-ISO performance, the rest is marketing I nd the dynamic range and color rendition to likewise be excellent

Maximum simplicity is always desirable. Three basic requirements should be considered: quality, function and durability. There is a great illusion among photographers that creative work depends upon equipment - when in fact the equipment is something to be selected for a specic purpose.!

Ansel Adams

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HARDWARE & DESIGN

DESIGN
When rst holding the Canon 6D the smaller form factor and lightness are both very noticeable when compared to a body in the 5D-series. It has a great balance to it and the ergonomics are excellent. Without a built-in ash it has a very durable and rugged construction without any play or ex. The internal frame is of course metal, and the 6Ds front and rear body covers are Magnesium Alloy. I had my doubts as to wether or not this different material would stand the test of landscape photography, which often puts equipment against harsh conditions. After a year of consistent use it actually performs very well, just as good as the magnesium alloy
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Canon EOS 6D Gallery

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Why limit yourself to your eyes see when you have an opportunity to increase your vision?

Edward Weston

that Ive become accustomed to over the years. The depth of eld preview button is now accessible with your shooting hand and the streamlined redesign of the button layout has nearly all controls justied to the right, also accessible from the shooting hand. All other controls and settings are where you would expect them to be. The shutter is hypersensitive, even more so than the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Theres no lag in the shutter and the threshold from autofocus half-depression to full click is just right. The play and trash buttons are justied on the right for easy selecting with your shooting hand, and in the dark theyre

easily found with a bit of practice. I do wish however that camera manufacturers would include more braille-like dots for the most accessed buttons for easier locating. One of these is already included on the ISO button on the top-case, why not include them on other buttons? The Canon EOS 6D has a very nice sounding normal shutter click, with normal mode being slightly quieter than the 5D Mark III. The 6D also features!Silent drive!mode, which is a feature that came downstream from the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. This is signicantly quieter than the standard normal shutter sound. I consider this feature to be a huge step forward for wedding photographers,

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documentary photographers, travel photographers, wildlife photographers or any other type of photography where shooting unnoticed is best. On a chicken bus in Guatemala for example, one shot out of the window with a normal shutter may draw attention from passengers, whereas with Silent mode its likely to go unheard. Its so quiet that when Im out shooting, especially longer exposure shots, I typically leave Silent Drive disabled as its easier to hear when the exposure has completed. Its that quiet! The mode dial is where you would expect it to be and like the 5D Mark III it has a lock button to depress so the mode doesnt acciden-

tally change when shooting. I didnt mind the 5D Original and 5D Mark IIs mode dial, but this is quite nice and physically its a bit smaller. Like the 5DMkII and 5DMkIII, the LCD backlight button is logically located on the edge of the body for easy nding at night. The other buttons on the top are as you would expect.

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Durability Landscape photography is a very unforgiving avenue when it comes to the conditions that equipment have to endure. Salt water, sand, high elevations, extreme cold and heat are just some of the environmental conditions my 6D has experienced during the last six months of shooting. The top-case construction of the 6D is berglass-reinforced polycarbonate, which was selected to permit WiFi and GPS signals. I had my doubts on the durability of this material, especially under pressure compared to that of a metal alloy, however its proven very durable indeed. I rarely keep my 6D in a protective case when it goes inside my climbing backpack, and its often freely moving about with other equipment. The nish of the berglass-reinforced polycarbonate material is nice and smooth, however I have found the top-case near the hotshoe to be slightly more prone to wear than a metal alloy, and a bit faster too. Pictured below are the small areas of wear that Ive experienced so far, and I think that for photographers who properly protect the body this would delay any wear by a couple years or so. Although the wear thus far is only aesthetic in nature and barely perceptible unless you were looking for it, I would imagine that during a couple years of consistent use the material may become smooth, much like the 5D magnesium alloy top-case. After years of use they lose their tactile nish to become nice and smooth; the marks of a well used camera. The SD card door has spongy weathersealing material which prevents any play or ex when handling the camera, giving it a nice
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solid feel. Weatherproong Canon advertises the EOS 6D as being completely sealed from external contaminants. I had a surprise experience with gallons of seawater coming down on top of me when shooting a Golden Gate Bridge sunrise. I thought the camera was done for, however after drying it off completely all was perfectly operational. It would appear that the weatherproong is fairly strong. As for completely sealed from external contaminants? Not so much. In fact, after a few days shooting in Death Valley National Park I had to clean the sensor due to extreme dust buildup on the sensor. Although the 6D has the same vibrational sensor technology found in other cameras, any serious photographer will need a proper sensor cleaning kit to ensure the capture of clean, sensor dust-free images. Weight The Canon EOS 6D ts into a special class of ultralight SLRs, and a full-frame one at that. Take a look at how it compares to other fullframe SLRs in the weight arena:
Canon 6D Canon 1DX Canon 5D Mark III Canon 5D Mark II Canon 5D Canon 1D IV Nikon D700 Nikon D800e Nikon D600

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INTERACTIVE 2.1 Canon EOS 6D Backside Features

Info / Auto Level

Full-frame viewnder

Polycarbonate Reinforced Fiberglass

Justied to the Right

3.0 LCD

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INTERACTIVE 2.2 Canon EOS 6D Frontside Features

Magnesium Alloy

Internal Mic

DOF Preview Weather Sealing Ports

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HARDWARE
Weight & Size The 6D ts into the ultralight category, which is perhaps one of the biggest advantages that drew me to it. How does it stack up to other full-frame contenders in the weight arena? Quite well as illustrated in the graph below! In terms of physical size its very similar to the 1.6x camera bodies. Tap the chart above to see how the Canon 6D compares to other camera bodies with regards to weight. Much of my genuine excitement every time Im out in the natural world with a camera is due to careful moderation of gear for each situation, even if it sometimes cost me an image I dearly want. Im always trying to maintain a minimalistic camera setup and the 6D has denitely helped to that end. For photographers looking for full-frame quality and durability but the size and weight of a 1.6x body, the 6D is an excellent choice. Integrated GPS The Canon EOS 6D is the rst Canon SLR to have integrated GPS. For everyday shooters, wedding or sports photographers, the value of GPS may be minimal, however the value for travel and landscape photographers is sure to be huge. In addition to having accurate location-based data for every shot, the integrated GPS in the 6D also automatically sets the timezone. Remember when you had to adjust timezones manually on import? Those days are over! The 6Ds GPS unit triangulates and obtains a good location lock in about 30-60 seconds, and maintains it well. There hasnt been a location yet - aside from caves - that Ive shot where I didnt have GPS signal. One downside to the GPS is that there is no way to set an idle threshold for automatically turning it off. So what will happen if you put the 6D on the shelf for a week and come back to it? Its likely the battery will die or itll be close to dead. Not very smart on Canons part for sure. To best work around around this you can add GPS to the fast menu and turn it on and off every single time to ensure best power efciency. Also, for time-lapse photography, star trail photography and other extended shooting periods where the camera may be somewhat stationary, its best to disable GPS as it does put an additional draw on power consumption. An option in the Canon menu system also allows for the logging of location data even when not shooting. This can be useful when wanting to log a trip, a hike or a vehicle route. Non-Canon EOS 6D photographers can purchase the!GP-E2 GPS Receiver ($242.95)!to achieve the same result, however with the added bulk on the top of the camera.!Another interesting development with GPS data is the inherent SEO value attached to GPS coordinates in the EXIF data.!Its been predicted by some SEO professionals!that Google will place emphasis on GPS data in the near future as a way to conrm authenticity. All things considered, this is one of the two most signicant features one down from weight for me personally.

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Canon EOS 6D Gallery

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AUTOFOCUS - THE BEST AND WORST FEATURE OF THE 6D

ALL ABOUT AUTOFOCUS


Probably the biggest feature difference between the Canon EOS 6D and the 5D or 1D-family bodies is autofocus.!One of the main friction points of the 5D Mark II was its older 9-point AF system.!The 5D Mark III has a 61-point AF system, and the 6D has an 11-point AF system (pictured below) with a center cross-type of f/5.6 with additional sensitivity when an f/2.8 or wider max aperture lens is used.!For sports, action or wedding photographers who rely on autofocus, the 11-point may not cut it as it doesnt have entire frame coverage. For landscape photography I prefer the simpler AF system of the 6D. Check out the 6Ds AF grid by tapping the AF overlay above! The 6Ds 11-point AF system also offers the strongest low light performance of any Canon AF system to date. With focusing down to EV-3, the equivalent of moonlight, subjects remain in-focus in even the most challenging lighting conditions offering the freedom to shoot landscapes or portraits at night and capture the true atmosphere of the scene with minimal noise.!This is a clear win for me as I often use ND lters (up to 10-stops of light) to push exposure times and occasionally rely on autofocus bracketing to obtain critical sharpness. It accurately and predictably locks on subjects !even if the viewnder is black. For example, when shooting star trails at Grand Canyon National Park, I selected a focus point on a star and the 6D locked to it very quickly. This is a huge advantage for obtaining critically sharp night images. So to summarize, for those shooting fast action sports where more AF points may be better, the 6D clearly lacks those. For landscape photographers who rely on fast and accurate AF locks in low light, the 6D is currently unparalleled.
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5D Mark III vs. 6D


Many people reading this article are likely looking for a comparison between the Canon EOS 6D and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III in addition to a review of the Canon EOS 6D. I wont be providing a comprehensive technical review of the two, as thats been done elsewhere, however lets take a look at a real-world feature comparison in order of importance for travel and landscape photographers, with!GREEN!having an advantage and!RED!having a disadvantage.

Image Quality
CANON EOS 5D MARK III CANON EOS 6D

Size!&!Weight
CANON EOS 6D CANON EOS 5D MARK III

Durability!&!Weathersealing
CANON EOS 5D MARK III CANON EOS 6D

Lowlight!Autofocus Sensitivity
CANON EOS 6D CANON EOS 5D MARK III

Integrated!GPS
CANON EOS 6D CANON EOS 5D MARK III

LCD Quality
CANON EOS 5D MARK III CANON EOS 6D

Battery Life
CANON EOS 5D MARK III CANON EOS 6D

Integrated WiFi
CANON EOS 6D CANON EOS 5D MARK III

Number of Autofocus Points


CANON EOS 5D MARK III CANON EOS 6D

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CONCLUSION

IS THE 6D WORTH IT?

In my opinion, the Canon 6D is one of the best ultralight fullframe cameras on the market, regardless of brand. Durable construction, excellent low-light AF and GPS are some of the key differentiators of the 6D that are likely to be included as features in future cameras, but for the present the 6D wins on those terms. For professional landscape photographers who are looking to retain extremely high image quality in the smallest form factor available, Id highly recommend this camera. Thanks for reading this review! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing, designing and shooting for it. If you have any questions or comments please let me know by commenting below. Some people just say that but I MEAN it! Email me directly: graham@breakthroughphotography.org

SAY HELLO!
Did you nd this review to be useful, interesting or did it help you save some valuable time? If so, AWESOME! That was the purpose of this review. For more reviews, news and articles just click on the link below to visit our website where Im constantly coming out with new reviews, articles and videos. Be sure to say hello.

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If you found this review useful or if it has helped in your buying decision, consider buying your equipment from one of the stores below. We donate 100% of our afliate commissions to World Wildlife Fund. You dont pay an extra dime, it comes out of the stores cut! Buy anything from the links below and start helping make the world a better place today.

GIVE BACK TO THE WORLD

Buy the Canon EOS 6D on B&H Buy the Canon EOS 6D on Amazon