Canon EOS 6D Review

6dThis is a practitioner’s review of the Canon EOS 6D. I’ve been using the 6D for around a year now, and I tend not to really form a complete opinion until something has truly been through the wars, and served as a long-standing work horse.


What do I use it for?

I have a lot of cameras. I use some for fun, some for work, and some, in the case of the 6D, for both.

For work, I use it for Weddings and Music and Nightlife events. For fun, I use it for street photography, especially night-street photography.

Here’s some of my favourite shots taken with it across a wide range of styles and types of photography:

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What do I like the best about it?

Its size and weight to start with. For a full-frame DSLR camera, it’s remarkably small. It weighs just 755 grams! that’s  almost 200 grams less than the 5D Mark III and pretty much bang on half the weight of a 1D X. This is one of the biggest reasons I use it for event and wedding photography. I can spend over 15 hours in a day with more than one camera either in my hands or strapped to me. Gone are now the days of chronic wrist and shoulder aches. Don’t get me wrong, I still get some shooting pains and small aches, but I’d get that holding anything for that length of time.

5Up next is its low-light performance. Put it this way, it performs just as well as the 5D Mark III at super-high ISO. But it has a little trick up its sleeve… its center focusing point is even more sensitive in low-light than the 5D Mark III. This means, for my nightlife photography, and night-street photography, the 6D is actually the best performer in this area than anything else Canon offers at the moment. It really is impressive… in an almost pitch black night club, the center focussing point seems to always find what I’m looking for, even if I’m not using an assist beam from a flash gun, it’s always there, finding my subject for me. Even after a year of this, I’m still often impressed.

qbuttonThe controls have been moved about, partly because of its reduced size, and partly because, well, it’s just better this way. If I’d reviewed the camera within the first couple of months, I would have probably listed this in the “don’t like” section, but as time progressed, I came to appreciate the change, and now, when I use my other cameras, I feel lost without the same controls! Basically now, on the 6D you can change pretty much anything with one hand. You tap the Q button (I assume it stands for Quick) with your thumb and then then use the dial and direction pad to change anything from ISO to Image format, from white balance to flash compensation. It’s all in there! Of course, with a big L Glass lens attached, you probably wont be wanting to do this one handed, but that’s not where the power of this usability change comes in. If you have something in your other hand, you can still take the weight of the camera with your arm or back of hand… you don’t need to free up your fingers anymore. Also, in the dark, which I often am, you’re no longer trying to find buttons, you’re just using your thumb for everything near to it.

Lastly, the Price. The relatively low cost of the 6D is a massive incentive to get one or more of these great cameras. You’re essentially paying 50% of the cost of a 5D Mark II, for 95% of the same features. Even if it wasn’t that much cheaper, I’d still be recommending it, and considering buying another one.


What don’t I like about it?

damageBuild quality is something that worries me about this camera. Will it stand the test of time? Its still working after a year, but it has lost a very large amount of paint from the bottom already. I’m used to the build quality of the 1 series, so it can be hard to judge. I’ve had the directional pad fail on me too, it wouldn’t let me “go up” for about 2 weeks, then it just started working again before I could get it repaired. The switches and dials seem to have gotten stiffer over time too, I’m expecting that’s dirt getting in there. Ultimately, while it is a full frame Canon, it’s built like a cropped, with some of the body parts being plastic, etc.

The shutter rate is quite slow. Again, being used to higher-end models, I’m a bit spoilt in this area, but it does feel incredibly slow to be only able to capture 4.5 images per second (or 3 if in silent mode). This really affects me at weddings with the bouquet throwing, or at events when I’m trying to capture pyrotechnics and crowd shots. But for general photography, it’s fine.


What else is worth a mention?

driveThe silent mode feature is interesting. I do use it from time to time. For example if I’m shooting a wedding ceremony and it’s a particularly quiet venue, turning off the focus beep and switching to silent mode sometimes helps to reduce the distraction I might be creating each time I take a snap. By the sounds of it, I think it’s moving the mirror slower, and therefore reducing the noise it generates, but it does have the adverse affect of slowing down the frames per second you can get, and it might just be me, but it sometimes feels like there’s a tiny delay between pressing the shutter and getting the shot.

gpsHaving WiFi and GPS built in seems amazing. Those features alone should have bumped the price back up to the 5D Mark III price but no, they just chucked them in there anyway. The GPS is cool, but it eats batteries like nobody’s busniess, so you have to remember to turn it off… and as is with anything that you turn off, you’ve got no chance of remembering to turn it on when you need it. I can’t remember the last time it was turned on… but I’m still bloody geotagging everything on Flickr and 500px manually!

wifiThe WiFi is less of a gimmick, and if you’re not using it, doesn’t use up as much battery (but it still does use up more than just having it turned off). Add the EOS app to your phone or tablet, and you open up a whole new world of viewing and downloading images in real-time and controlling the camera remotely, with a live view on your device! So why isn’t WiFi in my “what do I like best” list then? Well, quite simply, the implementation is terrible. The EOS app itself isn’t too bad (with some small usability issues I can overlook) but from the camera perspective, pairing devices is terrible, as is just getting connected once you’ve re-enabled WiFi if you had it turned off. Then there’s the reliability; if you’re not standing within 3 or 4 metres of the camera, you can expect to start getting all kinds of issues. My favourite one is the release of the shutter not getting through to the camera; away the camera goes, taking a constant stream of photos, blissfully unaware that you only wanted 1. I’ve tried this out on a multitude of different devices, and environments, but the results are always the same…. great for shutter release and camera control if you’re right near the camera, useless for something like getting involved yourself in a large group photo.

Oh one other thing, when downloading photos using WiFi, you only get a JPG image, not a RAW… fine for a quick “I’ll grab that now and upload to instagram” moment, useless if you’re actually trying to send someone a raw image on the move.


More Information

I’m sure if you’ve got to this stage, you’ve already had a look at the tech specs of the camera, and are more interested in some of the stuff I’ve just detailed above, but just in case, you can find out more about the camera here.