PROSCompact. Inexpensive for its class. Full-frame sensor. 4.5fps shooting. Superb image quality at high ISOs. Interchangeable focus screens. Integrated GPS and Wi-Fi. 1080p30 video capture. Battery grip available. Supported USB tethered and Wi-Fi remote control.
CONSNot the fastest camera on the block. Viewfinder only offers 97 percent coverage. Not compatible with EF-S lenses. GPS saps battery life. No flash. Slow focus during video recording. No PC Sync socket.
Prior to the announcement of the Canon EOS 6D in China Price ($611 direct, body only) and the Nikon D600, Buy Now
DESIGN AND FEATURES
While it’s bigger than entry-level cameras with smaller APS-C image sensors, the 6D is compact for a full-frame D-SLR. It measures 4.4 by 5.7 by 2.8 inches (HWD) and weighs just under 1.7 pounds without a lens. Compare this with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, a more traditional full-frame camera that measures 4.6 by 6 by 3 inches and weighs about 2.1 pounds. If you currently shoot with an APS-C Canon camera like the EOS Rebel T4i or EOS 7D and are considering an upgrade to full-frame be aware that while you can mount any EF lens to any Canon D-SLR, Canon’s line of EF-S lenses are designed only for use with APS-C cameras and can’t be used with the 6D, 5D Mark III, or EOS-1D X cameras. This is in contrast to Nikon’s approach, which allows its APS-C DX lens lineup to be used on the D600, the D800, and D4 in a special crop mode. Like Canon’s other full-frame offerings there is no flash built into the 6D—you’ll need to use an external one. This isn’t atypical for a full-frame camera—Nikon does include a pop-up flash on the D600 and D800, but omits it on the D4, and Sony does not include a flash in its full-frame bodies.
The control layout is familiar to anyone who has handled a Canon SLR before. There’s a standard mode dial on top left side with an integrated On/Off lever. To the right of the viewfinder you’ll find a control wheel, the shutter release, and buttons to adjust the AF Mode, Drive Mode, ISO, Metering Mode, and to activate the backlight on the monochrome information LCD, also located on the top of the camera. The rear controls are compressed when compared with the 5D Mark III, but you’ll still have access to a rear control wheel with an integrated four-way controller, an Info button that controls what is displayed on the rear LCD, the Menu button, a control switch to activate Live View and movie recording, image playback controls, and buttons to engage the autofocus system, activate Exposure Lock, and select the active autofocus point. There’s also a physical lock switch that prevents the rear control from adjusting settings when turned—that wheel controls exposure compensation in most shooting modes.
First seen on the Rebel series of APS-C cameras, the Q button allows you to change settings via the rear LCD. Hit it and you’ll be able to adjust lens aperture, ISO, Exposure Compensation, Flash Compensation, JPG output, White Balance, and other common shooting settings—the rear control pad is used to navigate from item to item and the control wheel scrolls through the available settings.
The camera’s large optical viewfinder trumps even the best APS-C models in terms of size and brightness—but it doesn’t offer a full 100 percent field of view. Instead Canon opted to include a 97 percent viewfinder—the camera will capture a little bit of extra information around the edges of the frame, and the slightly smaller viewfinder makes it possible to change the focus screen—a feature that was omitted from the higher-end 5D Mark III. This is a boon to Canon shooters who use the rare manual focus Canon lens like the TS-E 90mm f/2.8, or any of the manual focus Carl Zeiss lenses available for Canon cameras like the Makro-Planar T* 2/100, as Canon’s EG-S focus screen is ideally suited for accurate manual focus with faster lenses.
The resolution of the 3-inch rear LCD tops one million dots. It’s extremely sharp, allowing you to confirm critical focus when reviewing shots or shooting in Live View mode. It’s fixed—the Sony Alpha 99 is the only full-frame D-SLR with an articulating display—and isn’t quite as large as the 3.2-inch screen on Nikon’s D600, but it is sharper.
The 6D is the first SLR with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity, and overall, it’s a good implementation. There are a number of ways to use the wireless features, and some are more useful than others. Canon gives you the ability to share photos directly with another Canon Wi-Fi camera and to print directly to a Wi-Fi-enabled printer. So you’ll have to be out shooting with a partner who also has a Wi-Fi-equipped Canon camera to take advantage of the former, and the latter assumes that you’ll be printing your photos without cropping, retouching, or other post-production work. You also have the option of viewing your photos on a DLNA device, like a Wi-Fi HDTV or set-top box.
The more useful functions involve sharing your photos online, and taking control of the 6D via your smartphone. You can send photos and videos directly to Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube via the Canon Image Gateway service. To set this up you’ll need to install the EOS Utility application on your PC or Mac and create an account on the Canon Image Gateway service. From there you can link your social networking accounts. Connecting the 6D to your computer pairs it with your Canon account, and will let you send JPG images and videos directly to the service of your choice. You’ll need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network, and the EOS 6D can store the SSID and login information for up to three networks at a time.
Photos and videos can also be directly sent to your iOS or Android device. You can connect to a phone when it, and the 6D, are on the same Wi-Fi network. Or the 6D can act as a hotspot for direct connection—and you can save presets for either configuration in one of the five slots dedicated to this mode. Once connected, you can transfer images and videos directly to your phone via the EOS Remote app; it’s available for free in both the Apple and Android app stores. Raw transfer is supported—because photos are sized down to 2-megapixel JPG images in order to speed up transfers. You can also use your phone to control the camera wirelessly. A live feed of the camera’s Live View mode shows up on your phone’s screen, and you can select a focus point via touch, change shooting settings, and fire the shutter. There’s noticeable lag in the video feed—it’s not as speedy as the USB tethered computer connection that is possible via the included EOS Utility software for Mac or Windows—but it’s useable in the field, whereas traditional tethered shooting is more useful in a studio setting.
You also get integrated GPS. It’s a powerful receiver—it only took about 40 seconds to lock on to my location on initial setup—and you can adjust how often it polls for a new location. By default it checks for your location every 15 seconds, but you can go as fast as once a second or as slow as every five minutes. Using the GPS definitely puts a strain on the camera’s battery. I was out shooting on a cold morning and went from a full charge to two battery bars in only a few hours. And the GPS will continue to check for your location even when the camera is turned off. The photos I took were, without exception, accurately geotagged, appearing on Lightroom’s map at the exact locations from which I shot them. If you want to add location data to your photos, you’ll likely want to set the camera to check with the GPS satellites less often to extend the battery life, and disable the GPS before you turn the camera off. If that’s an unacceptable compromise, tote an extra battery. There is an optional battery grip available—it plugs into the bottom of the camera and holds two cells, doubling the operation time.