Canon 6D Review
Pros And Cons Of The Canon 6D
- Fully equipped with GPS and WLAN
- Low trigger noise especially with a live image
- Excellent lowlight capabilities
- Excellent workmanship
- Image quality slightly worse than 5D Mark III
- Moderate continuous shooting speed
- Relatively slower AF especially in live image
- No built-in flash
The Canon 6D wants to be particularly compact with a similar format to the EOS 60D and very light with 770 grams. Following the current trend, it offers an integrated WLAN module to share photos wirelessly. DLNA, social networking, wireless printing and camera remote control from a smartphone are supported. A GPS is also installed and ensures the location of the recordings.
Of course, the Canon 6D is not a real entry-level camera in the DSLR area, but it is definitely in the 35mm full-format DSLR area. After all, apart from old discontinued models, it is now the cheapest full-format DSLR on the market.
Canon has developed a new CMOS sensor with a resolution of about 20 megapixels and a standard ISO working range of 100 to 25,600, but it can be extended to cover ISO 50 to ISO 102,400, as is customary with Canon. Continuously arranged microlenses are designed to improve light reception and reduce noise directly behind the photodiodes on the sensor. The data readout with 14 bit should provide fine color gradations, the maximum readout rate is 4.5 frames per second.
The sensor is supported by the current image processing processor Digic 5+, the tandem should ensure good image quality. Among other things, chromatic aberrations are calculated directly from the photos by the image processor. With autofocus, you’d rather notice the “beginner’s class”, because it only offers eleven measuring points. At least the working range reaches down to -3 LW, so that the 6D should be able to focus even in darker environments.
As a special feature, the Canon 6D offers an HDR shooting mode in which a series of exposures is automatically made, which the camera directly computes into an HDR with more detail in the shadows and highlights than a single shot could provide. On the back, the Canon offers a three inch (about 7.7 centimeters) color screen, which can also display a live image. An electronic spirit level can be shown either on the display or in the reflex viewfinder.
The integrated GPS not only stores the location information directly into the EXIF data of the photos, but can also precisely set the camera clock. In addition, the Canon 6D has a tracking function in which the GPS position is entered into a log file at regular intervals. This allows you to track the exact route you have travelled.
The universally designed integrated WLAN interface offers even more functions. It wirelessly connects to computers or printers to transfer or store and print photos.
Cloud-based storage systems as well as image communities and social networks are also directly supported by the Canon 6D, so that photos can be uploaded directly to Facebook or Flickr, for example, without any detours.
In addition, the camera can be remotely controlled via WLAN using an app from a smartphone or tablet. The photos can be found on the home TV or other playback devices via DLNA, a manufacturer-independent standard.
Despite its compact dimensions of 144.5 x 110.5 x 71.2 millimetres and a weight of only 770 grams ready for operation, the Canon 6D is protected against splash water and dust. Parts of the housing are made of a magnesium alloy.
In contrast to the price of just under EUR 2,000, the market launch date of the Canon 6D has not yet been fixed. The new BG-E13 battery handle is available as an accessory and is intended to double the recording time by accommodating two LP-E6 lithium-ion batteries. Alternatively, the handle can also be equipped with standard batteries or AA/Mignon rechargeable batteries.
Ergonomics and Workmanship
The solid but not too heavy weight of 1,460 grams (including lens 24-105 mm, the case alone weighs only 680 grams) and the case, which is small in relation to the sensor size, already fell in the first place. The workmanship also leaves nothing to be desired.
The cast iron housing is covered with a very non-slip coating which makes it stick to the hand. At first, the handle seems a bit too narrow and slightly angular for large hands, but you get used to it. After a short time, at least, nothing interferes with the handling of the full-format camera anymore and one sometimes forgets that one is working with a sensor that has twice the area compared to the APS-C format. The case of the Canon 6D can be called quite small, as it doesn’t stand out very much next to the 7D and even the 60D.
All flaps and switches also make a reliable impression. Battery and memory card compartments are each protected against external influences by a foam seal, two rubber covers reliably hide AV/USB, HDMI, remote control and microphone connections.
The operating mode selector is protected against accidental adjustment by a locking device and, in contrast to the 5D Mark III, is fully equipped with functions, including two freely configurable ones. A novelty in this class is the 8-way rocker inside the rear dial, but the joystick of the 5D Mark III has been saved. For many a Canon professional this is certainly a loss, but on the other hand it’s a matter of getting used to and therefore irrelevant. Anyway, we liked the control of the focus fields with this switch.
Of course, the Canon 6D didn’t get as many buttons as its big sister, but still the most important settings are directly accessible. The autofocus method, shutter control, ISO sensitivity and exposure metering are set with four switches on the top.
The AF-measuring fields are selected by pressing the thumb on a button just above the thumb cavity. The measured value memory and focus button are also located above the thumb cavity, but all three buttons are arranged so cleverly that they cannot be pressed accidentally.
To the left of the display there are no more buttons, only the menu and info buttons can be found as usual to the left of the eyepiece. Image display, quick menu (Q button) and magnifying glass are now located above the quick selector, which is even logical from the point of view of the Canon newcomer, as everything essential is operated with the thumb of the right hand in this way.
Surely, both the 7D-booster and the 5D-Mark III-booster will find the operation unusual at first. However, it is only a matter of time before the usual routine is restored. After all, the important switch for live image recording and video operation is the same for all three candidates.
The underside again offers a perfectly fitting metal tripod thread with a good distance to the battery compartment, so nothing stands in the way of long studio shoots. The Canon 6D is switched on as usual with a tidy switch below the mode selector. The camera is ready to shoot in no time. From the first release, you are thrilled by the perfectly dampened, very gentle mirror impact.
The shutter does its job so soft as butter that you wouldn’t expect a full format here either. In live image mode, this is even quieter, because the mirror simply stays up and the focal-plane shutter is almost suitable for theater. Using the exposure preview, histogram, and overexposure warning, you can evaluate your Live View shot before it is triggered.
The display of the Canon 6D is firmly built in, which is good for the compact robustness, but one or the other photographer will miss the possibility to swivel. However, the diagonal 7.5 centimeter display is one of the best used in cameras: brilliant, sharp and detailed with over a million pixels, it shows only minor losses even from a flat viewing angle. But also the optical viewfinder is a force, it is as big and bright as before. Anyone who has never seen the viewfinder of an analogue 35 mm SLR camera will be seriously impressed.
The image parameters important for the photo, such as time, aperture, ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation, are displayed below the image frame in the viewfinder; the AF fields used flash briefly when the focus is set.
The Canon 6D can be operated quite conventionally. The mode selector is used to set the operating mode; the front or rear wheel can be set to aperture, time and exposure correction depending on the operating mode. If deeper interventions are necessary, the AF, drive and sensitivity buttons or the quick menu help.
For the very deep interventions in the events one goes into the menu. With up to fifteen tabs depending on the selected program, it is not exactly clear. Each tab contains only one screen page with five menu items, but some of them nest very deep. The individual menu is particularly extensive and requires getting used to. But you can adjust almost everything that can be changed on a camera.
Equipment And Features
In order for the concept of the “entry-level full-frame camera” to work, the Canon technicians had to manage a balancing act. Both professionals and beginners should be addressed. The camera must offer corresponding functions for both customer groups, i.e. both the usual fully automatic functions with scene recognition and assistants as well as completely manual operation should be possible.
In addition, beginners must not overtax too many functions and switches. The professional, however, would like to have as much influence as possible with the corresponding switches. Consequently, the Canon 6D offers both the fully automatic mode called A+, a “creative automatic mode” and a scene automatic mode on the fully packed mode selector.
A+ is the automatic scene recognition system known from compact cameras without any great possibility of influencing – the all-round carefree package, so to speak.
In Creative mode, the depth of field can be adjusted using a slider or shots can be taken with different color settings, with an explanatory note displayed in each case. In scene mode, the photographer can select the usual portrait, sports and landscape programs.
An interesting function is offered by the settings “Backlight” or “Night shot without tripod”: The camera takes a mini-series of up to four pictures and thus produces photos with less shake or better light and depth drawing. Of course, all standard automatic systems with far-reaching influence possibilities as well as the manual mode are also on board.
If this is not enough, configure your own modes and set them to the two positions C1 and C2. To ensure that the overview is not lost with all the functions, there is a quick menu with which the required parameters can be configured directly on the display. This limits the number of necessary switches and gives the user a good overview of the functions. If, on the other hand, the ambitious photographer wants to intervene in the automatic timer, for example, he can do so very quickly with direct keys.
The live image mode has enormous charm. Not only the exposure and effect preview including live histogram and different grids facilitate the correct recording, but also the unbeatably quiet trigger noise is a real advantage. A spirit level for horizontal alignment can be shown on the display if required, but is not visible in the viewfinder.
However, deeply hidden in the individual menu, the spirit level can be placed on the depth-of-field switch. This is located somewhat untypically on the lower side of the bayonet and can therefore be operated more easily with the left hand.
The exposure level display then simulates a spirit level in the viewfinder. If you can do without the depth of field control, this is actually a good function. Unfortunately, the indicator goes out when the shutter-release button is touched. This is therefore not really helpful.
You won’t find a flash on the Canon 6D, but that’s not surprising with Canon’s professional models. The large sensor is of course content with little light, but sometimes one wishes for a fill-in or remote control flash. Of course, the camera is equipped with the standard accessory shoe to which all system flash units and studio flash units can be connected.
At this speed, the 6D must clearly admit defeat to the two sisters. In JPEG mode, a maximum of about 4.3 frames per second are achieved, after about 50 frames, the camera then falls into the quite decent continuous run of 2 frames per second. It gets dramatically worse if Raw and JPEG are to be shot simultaneously.
Then you run out of breath after about 7 pictures, the endurance run with one picture every two seconds is more like a stroll. One reason for this may be that only SD cards can be used in the Canon 6D, which have always proved to be a bottleneck in our tests. Anyone looking for a camera for sports shots is better off with the Canon 7D, or the 7D Mark II, which is the unbeaten winner in this discipline.
The sharpness of the Canon 6D can only be partially maintained at maximum speed, by the way, but the Individual menu offers plenty of possibilities to optimize the autofocus for movements. In video mode, there is no focus tracking, but the photographer can manually focus or use the AF button to get help from the camera. But then the chirping of the focus drive can be clearly heard in the video.
Otherwise, the video mode is quite extensive. It goes without saying that Full HD recordings are made with up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and 25 frames per second. Two compression methods can be chosen, also the single frame compression (I-frame only) which is interesting for the later cut.
The sound is only recorded in mono with the built-in microphone, but the videographer does not have to be content with that. A 3.5 mm jack socket allows the connection of a stereo microphone, which can even be controlled manually.
A novelty at Canon is the integration of GPS and WLAN. Both modules must be activated in the menu and then consume electricity, which has a noticeable effect on the otherwise quite decent endurance of the battery.
However, the WLAN module opens up great possibilities: The Canon 6D can be triggered remotely via an app, which can be downloaded free of charge for Android and Apple smartphones, with the viewfinder image displayed on the mobile phone display. Of course, this only works in live image mode with the associated disadvantage of sluggish autofocus and delayed triggering.
Nevertheless, this function can be regarded as successful, as it opens up completely new areas of application. Photos from perspectives that require an external display are possible without any problems and the software offers some potential for extensions that Canon unfortunately doesn’t use yet.
It is clear that the Canon 6D can also be remote controlled from a PC via WLAN, and DLNA-enabled TVs can also be used for wireless viewing of photos.
The GPS module finds the coordinates about 60 seconds after activation and writes them into the metadata of the image file. With the help of the supplied “Map Utility” the photographer can locate his photos on a Google map, the software must be connected to the Internet. Even those who want to edit their photos in the camera or develop raw files will find the most important options in the camera menu. But the operation is a bit complicated.
The Canon lens range is huge. In addition to the standard zoom EF 24-105 mm 1:4 L IS USM, this time we tested four other lenses: the fixed focal lengths 24 mm and 28 mm with 2.8 speed, the 35 mm F2.0 and the very fast 50 mm lens with F1.2.
With the exception of the standard lens, all wide-angle lenses and the zoom are equipped with an optical image stabiliser, which also holds the viewfinder image firmly in place in the usual Canon perfection. With all the lenses tested, the mechanical focus ring has a pleasant direct effect on the sharpness. The lenses are internally focused, so they neither change their overall length nor rotate externally. Mechanically they look very robust, but only the 50 and the Zoom have a rubber lip on the bayonet, which should prevent the penetration of dust and splash water.
The oldest lens from this set is the 50s. Many Canon fans love it and it has an excellent reputation in the forums and in our comments section. For the price of around 1,400 dollars, one should also expect that. In any case you get a lot of glass for the money, the lens weighs almost 600 grams.
From the closest focusing distance of 45 centimeters to infinity, the optical system needs just under a second. In the live image the whole thing is even slower and sometimes the sharpness is not reached at all. Apart from that, the large initial aperture and the solid workmanship are a lot of fun, the viewfinder brightness and the shallow depth of field are unique.
The contrast programme is represented by the two wide-angle angles of 24 and 28 millimetres, because with F2.8 they are not particularly bright, but very compact. The 24 looks almost lost to the Canon 6D. Also with these two the autofocus could be faster, although they are clearly faster than the 50s.
As an ideal reportage look, today one would say “street and people photography”, the 35 is particularly suitable. Not least because of the relatively high initial aperture of 1:2.0, it is quite massive, but lies perfectly in the hand together with the camera. An excellent “always on” focal length that can replace the 50’s as a wide-angle “normal lens”.
The zoom lens is much more unwieldy and two f-stops weaker. However, the focal length range from 24 to 105 millimeters provides the most frequently used image angles, so it is very popular for good reason.
The autofocus works quite fast and accurate, the zoom ring runs smoothly and with a quarter turn you have the whole area under control. In the so-called macro range of the focus scale, the subject is approached at a distance of about 25 centimetres from the front lens. This makes it possible to have an image section the size of a postcard, which cannot really be called a macro.
The AF module is not supported in a dark environment, the Canon 6D unfortunately has no auxiliary light. However, it is surprisingly accurate even in low light, especially when the central measuring field is used.
Thanks to the mechanical coupling, the sharpness can be manually adjusted at any time, and the AF is switched off with a slider on the lens barrel. However, there are no focusing aids in the optical viewfinder; a focus loupe can be switched on in the live image on the display.
The shutter release delay itself is very short, as long as you don’t have to use the autofocus. In normal operation, i.e. when the phase contrast takes over the work, half a second elapses before the shot is fired. If live image and thus the contrast autofocus are used, the Canon 6D needs up to five times as long – this is unacceptable.
Face recognition and a total of eleven measuring fields help the autofocus to find the right sharpness. Canon uses only one cross sensor in the 6D, the other ten are simple line sensors.
After all, the centrally arranged cross sensor is very sensitive and finds its target even in low light. The situation is different in the live image: the autofocus hesitantly pumps around the sharpness and sometimes does not find it under difficult lighting conditions. Other cameras can do that better now.
The focus loupe could also be a bit more comfortable and jump to the sharpening ring as soon as you grasp it. Unfortunately, the desired effect can only be achieved by pressing the magnifier button several times.
The selection of the AF-measuring fields is done by pressing the thumb on a button just above the thumb cavity. The main and speed dial can then be used to select the AF area.
Alternatively, this can also be done with the eight-way rocker of the speed dial. In relation to the viewfinder size, the eleven AF fields concentrate too much in the center of the image, so that focusing a marginal object is not possible.
Anyone who only uses the middle field, which is designed as a highly sensitive cross sensor, will not be bothered by it. However, this is not possible when using one of the three fully automatic modes, as the AF field is selected exclusively automatically. In the live image, on the other hand, the focus field can be moved freely almost to the edge of the image.
Image Quality Of The Canon 6D
With a camera like the Canon 6D, the most important criterion besides robustness and operation is of course the image quality. We have examined all five lenses on this camera in practice and with the testing software.
For the sensor size, 20 megapixels are not very much, which makes the demands on the lenses appear somewhat more moderate compared to smaller sensors of the same resolution.
With the Canon 6D, a maximum resolution of 76 line pairs per millimetre (lp/mm) would be required for the lens to be able to use the sensor to its full potential due to the number of pixels. The EOS 7D with its 18 megapixel resolution already requires lenses with a resolution of over 100 lp/mm.
In addition, however, it is important to keep this resolution constant over the entire image field up to the corners, which also places high demands on the design of the lenses for the significantly larger area of a full-format sensor.
According to our laboratory measurements, the 28 does not succeed. With an open aperture the resolution in the center and at the edge is disappointing, with aperture 11 it reaches a maximum of almost 48 lp/mm, but at the edge it remains significantly lower. The EF 24 mm 2.8 IS USM performs better, from f-stops 5.6 to 11 the image quality is fine. The EF 35 mm 2.0 IS USM and the EF 50 mm 1.2 L USM are even better.
Closed by just one aperture, the lenses are convincing and live up to the good reputation of fixed focal lengths. The lack of metrological resolution with open aperture does not harm the visual image impression of the fifties, because the narrow focus zone conceals this lack.
The 24-105 kit zoom is surprisingly the better choice compared to the short wide-angle lenses. Although the aperture is less bright, it is already convincing with an open aperture.
At least in the center of the image, it reaches about 40 line pairs per millimeter over the entire focal length range. When dipping down by only one step, the resolution increases rapidly and remains above 50 lp/mm up to F11, whereby the resolution at the edge also increases significantly. On the 5D Mark III it delivered even slightly better values.
The camera electronics intervene moderately in the events, artefacts are largely spared to the viewer, color fringes are effectively suppressed. Vignetting is no problem, the image loses a maximum of half an f-stop towards the edge, only a tick more at the short end and fully open.
On the other hand, the distortion is clear. At wide-angle, the tonne is more than 3.5 percent and is therefore visible without correction. Towards the long end, the distortion changes to a pillow, which also becomes clearly visible with a little over 1.5 percent.
With signal-to-noise ratio, the Canon 6D can play its full-frame trump card to the full. The critical value of 35 dB is only undershot at ISO 6,400. The texture sharpness, a value that indicates how details are swallowed by the noise or the noise suppression, unfortunately already gets an ISO level earlier into visibly blurred areas.
Grain size and brightness noise, on the other hand, are tolerable up to the highest sensitivities, but the extended ISO range of 51,200 and 102,400 should only be used in emergency situations.
The input dynamics remain at around 10 f-stops up to ISO 12,800 and then drop moderately and rapidly. In terms of signal transmission, the 6D can be described as balanced. The pictures can be used directly from the camera, but also offer potential for reworking. It exposes rather carefully, so that images in the mid tones can be adjusted a little brighter.
Canon’s turquoise, yellow and green tones are exemplary with no visible or measurable deviations. On the other side of the color space, orange-red and magenta are a bit too colorful, but this is usually perceived as pleasant. The manual white balance, on the other hand, is, as expected, extremely accurate.
Conclusion: Is The Canon 6D Worth It?
Apart from the price, the Canon 6D can very well be described as a beginner camera, because with it, it is possible to take pictures without any worries, apart from the weight.
Packed with automatic controls and scene programs, you could also put the Canon in the hands of a child and he will take technically correct photos. But also the professional gets his money’s worth. The very complete additional equipment with GPS and WLAN is doubly fun and represents a considerable added value. Canon has saved a bit too much on the autofocus, because of the eleven fields that are unfavorably close to the center, only the middle one is designed as a cross sensor.
After all, it works very well even under poor lighting conditions. The picture quality doesn’t need to hide behind the 5D Mark III, nor behind the competitor Nikon D600. The Canon 6D is especially great for photographers who like to work in low light without flash. For sports photographers, on the other hand, it is less suitable.
Specifications For The Canon 6D
This test of the Canon 6D with Canon EF 24-105 mm 4.0 L IS USM was done with DxO Analyzer.
- Fully equipped with GPS and WLAN
- Low trigger noise especially with live image
- Excellent lowlight capabilities
- Excellent workmanship
- Image quality slightly worse than 5D Mark III
- Moderate continuous shooting speed
- Relatively slower AF especially in live image
- No built-in flash
Canon 6D Datasheet
|CMOS sensor 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (crop factor 1.0) 20.6 megapixels (physical) and 20.2 megapixels (effective)
|42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
|Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
|Maximum recording time
|29 min 59 sec
|Phase comparison autofocus with 11 sensors, one cross sensor and 10 line sensors, autofocus working range from -3 EV to 18 EV, contrast autofocus
|Single autofocus, Continuous autofocus, Tracking autofocus, Manual, AFL function, AF Assist Light, Focus Magnifier (10x)
|Depth of field control, dimming button, Live View
Viewfinder and Monitor
|Reflex viewfinder (prism viewfinder) (97 % image coverage), 21 mm interpupillary distance with 0.71 x magnification, replaceable focusing screens, grille can be faded in
|3.0″ (7.7 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,040,000 pixels, viewing angle 170°, anti-reflective, brightness adjustable
|additional info display (top)
|Centre-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 63 fields, spot measurement (measurement over 8% or 4% of the image field)
|1/4,000 to 30 s (automatic) bulb function
|Fully automatic, Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
|Step size from 1/3 to 1/2 EV, HDR function
|-5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size from 1/3 to 1/2 EV
|Sensitivity to light
|ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (automatic) ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (manual)
|Remote release, cable release, infrared release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
|Backlight, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Close-up, Portrait, and a scene mode for Sports and Action
|HDR Effects, Monochrome, Portrait, Custom 3, Landscape, Monochrome, Natural, Neutral, Picture Styles: Standard, Portrait
|Auto, Cloudy, Sun, White balance bracketing, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent light, From 2,000 to 10,000 K, Manual
|Adobe RGB, sRGB
|Continuous shooting function max. 4.5 fps at highest resolution and max. 17 stored photos, In “Whisper” mode approx. 4.5 fps up to max. 1250 shots or 17
|Self-timer with distance of 2
|AEL function, AFL function, live histogram
Flashgun Of The Canon 6D
|no built-in flash available – Flash shoe: Canon, standard center contact
|Flash sync time 1/180 s
|Flash on second shutter curtain, manual flash output, flash exposure compensation from -3.0 EV to +3.0 EV
Equipment And Features
|no optical image stabilizer
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
|Power supply connection
|1 x Canon LP-E6 (Lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.4 V, 1,800 mAh) 1,090 Images
|Crop Images, Rotate Images, Protect Images, Playback Histogram, Playback Magnifier, Image Index, Slide Show Function, Zoom Out
|Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction
|Electronic water level, Grid can be faded in, Orientation sensor, Live View
|Data interfaces: USB USB type: USB 2.0 High-Speed WLAN: available
|AV output: HDMI output Mini (Type C) Audio input: yes (3.5 mm jack (stereo, 3-pin)) Audio output: no
|Supported direct printing methods
|Features and Miscellaneous
|DIGIC 5 Image ProcessorSensor Cleaning Function
(Can Be Disabled)
White BalanceExposure SeriesFace Detection
in LiveViewExposure Metering
in Live View Mode over 315 ZonesHigh-ISO
with ISO 51.200 and 102.40020
Individual FunctionsDNLA Support
Size and weight
|Dimensions W x H x D
|144 x 110 x 71 mm
|770 g (operational)
|Canon AVC-DC400ST Audio / Video CableCanon
LC-E6 Charger for Special BatteriesCanon
LP-E6 Special BatteryCanon
RF-3 (Housing Cover)
ChargerUSB Connection CableRiserEW-EOS 6DBildbearbeitungsoftware
Image Browser EX for Windows and for MacintoshBildbearbeitungsoftware
Digital Photo Professional für Windows und für Macintosh
|Canon ACK-E6 Power Supply UnitCanon
LP-E6 Special Battery Power Supply Unit
Firmware update 1.1.6 for the Canon 6D
Furthermore, when taking remote shots using the EOS Utility software, it was not possible to fine-tune the focus of certain lenses. The last error concerns a correction of the display of Ukrainian, Italian, and Spanish languages in the ISO setting menu. The update can be downloaded from the Canon support website, where you will also find instructions on how to install the update.