Although the Canon 6D has now been out for almost two years, I never had a chance to review it. Since the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art series lens was initially available only for the Canon mount, I requested the Canon 6D with the lens from our trusted partner B&H Photo Video. My aim was to review both, as I had been planning to review the 6D for a long time now. Ever since I reviewed the Canon 5D Mark III, our readers have been asking us to test out other Canon DSLRs, including the 6D. So this was a good opportunity to catch up, although quite late. Well, better late than never, I guess! Instead of covering everything in much detail though, I will be mostly summing things up based on my three month experience with the camera and feedback from others – I don’t think there is a need to spend a lot of time on this, especially after the camera has been in the market for so long and reviewed by so many people.
As you may already know, the Canon 6D came out at the same time Nikon released its budget full-frame Nikon D600 DSLR. So in many ways, both cameras were introduced to compete with one another. Because of this, I will be often referring to the D600 / D610 for comparisons, including image quality results. Keep in mind that a lot of what I say about the Canon 6D is obviously from the standpoint of a long time Nikon shooter.
1) Canon 6D Specifications
Main Features and Specifications:
- Sensor: 20.2 MP full frame CMOS sensor, 6.55µ pixel size
- Sensor Size: 35.8 x 23.9mm
- Resolution: 5472 x 3648
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-25,600
- Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 50
- Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 51,200-102,400
- Sensor Cleaning System: Yes
- Image Processor: DIGIC 5+
- Autofocus System: 11-point AF with 1 cross-type sensor
- Lens mount: Canon EF
- Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
- Body Build: Polycarbonate
- Shutter: Up to 1/4000 and 30 sec exposure
- Storage: 1x SD (SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible)
- Viewfinder Type: Pentaprism with 97% coverage
- Speed: 4.5 FPS
- Exposure Meter: 63-zone dual-layer iFCL metering sensor
- Built-in Flash: No
- LCD Screen: 3.2 inch diagonal with 1,040,000 dots
- Movie Modes: 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps), 1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps), 640 x 480 (25, 30 fps)
- Movie Output: AVI, H.264/MPEG-4 in MOV Format
- Built-in Microphone: Mono
- In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
- GPS: Built-in
- Battery Type: LP-E6
- Battery Life: 980 (CIPA)
- USB Standard: 2.0
- Weight: 680g (excluding battery)
- Price: $2,099 MSRP on introduction, $1,899 MSRP current (as of 07/10/2014)
A detailed list of camera specifications is available at Canon.com.
Let’s take a closer look at how the above set of features compares to those of the Nikon D600.
2) Canon 6D vs Nikon D600
|Camera Feature||Nikon D600||Canon 6D|
|Sensor Resolution||24.3 Million||20.2 Million|
|Sensor Pixel Size||5.96µ||6.55µ|
|Image Size||6,016 x 4,016||5,472 x 3,648|
|Viewfinder Type and Coverage||Pentaprism, 100%||Pentaprism, 97%|
|Built-in Flash||Yes, with flash commander mode||No|
|Storage Media||2x SD||1x SD|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||5.5 FPS||4.5 FPS|
|Shutter Durability||150,000 cycles||100,000 cycles|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 100-6,400||ISO 100-25,600|
|Boosted ISO Sensitivity||ISO 50, ISO 12,800-25,600||ISO 50, ISO 51,200-102,400|
|Autofocus System||39-point AF with 9 cross-type sensors||11-point AF with 1 cross-type sensor|
|AF Detection||Up to f/8 (center 7 AF points only)||Up to f/5.6|
|Video Maximum Resolution||1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 25p, 30p||1920×1080 (1080p) @ 29.97p, 25p, 23.976p|
|LCD Size and Resolution||3.2″, 921,000 dots||3.2″, 1,040,000 dots|
|Wi-Fi Functionality||Eye-Fi Compatible, WU-1B, UT-1||Built-in Wi-Fi|
|Battery Life||900 shots (CIPA)||980 shots (CIPA)|
|Weight (Body Only)||26.8 oz. (760g)||24.0 oz. (680g)|
|Dimensions||141 x 113 x 82mm||145 x 111 x 71mm|
The above comparison table is a stripped out version that only shows the main differences between the Nikon D600 and Canon 6D. If you would like to see the full details, please see Roman’s detailed comparison article here.
Looking at the above table, it is pretty obvious that the Canon 6D is inferior to the Nikon D600 in many aspects. Whether you are looking at resolution, viewfinder coverage, flash options, storage media, shutter durability or autofocus system, the Canon 6D is clearly at a loss here. If you are looking for a more versatile option, the Nikon D600 / D610 is clearly the winner.
However, the Canon 6D has a few strengths worth pointing out that do matter to me personally, which I wish the Nikon D600 / D610 had. First, the Canon 6D has a built-in GPS. For a portrait photographer, this might be a useless feature, but for a landscape photographer, being able to get GPS information from each location where I shoot is very valuable. Unfortunately, GPS is Nikon’s weakness and I do not like the idea of mounting a GPS unit on the hot shoe, which has to be connected to the side of the camera! I have tried it once and will never do it again, hoping that we will someday see an integrated GPS module… Nikon finally introduced GPS in the Nikon D5300, but they again missed it out on the newly announced Nikon D810, so I am still waiting!
Another feature that can be quite useful when traveling is WiFi. Although it is cool to be able to control the camera remotely via WiFi, my primary interest is in being able to wirelessly transmit images from my camera to my phone to instantly share photos with my friends and family. The Nikon D600 / D610 do not have this feature and also require an external unit.
Lastly, the Canon 6D is pretty solid in terms of build and quality, while the Nikon D600 was a disaster, thanks to its sensor dust issue. After many months of failing to acknowledge the problem, Nikon silently released the Nikon D610 as an update, stating that the camera was introduced “in response to demand from a great number of users for a faster continuous shooting rate and the addition of a quiet continuous shutter-release mode” (see this article), which was a total lie. After many complaints and a number of lawsuits, Nikon was finally pressured to admit the fault and issued a D600 service advisory to take care of the problem. From this point, Canon 6D only had a single issue related to uploading of videos to YouTube, which Canon later fixed with a firmware update. This situation proved that we should look beyond pure specifications when evaluating our needs. What’s better, a camera with some limitations that works well, or a better featured camera that has ongoing dust problems? I pick the former and I am sure you would too, if you were one of those affected D600 users…
Anyway, enough of venting – let’s move on to construction and handling of the Canon 6D.