i have been wanting a full-frame camera for years, and there was no patience left in me. in greece’s economy, there was no way i could afford the 5DMIII. i had pretty much decided on 5DMII, when my good friend andre appel suggested that i wait for the 6D. that i did, as good reviews were trickling in.
i’m the proud owner of a canon eos 6D for about 6 weeks now, and have experienced a variety of shooting conditions, so i feel i have something to offer as an informal review. i don’t have extensive experience with many cameras, so my reference will be mainly my older canon eos 40D body.
build / ease of use
the camera feels solid and well-built. i’m careful about shooting in wet weather -- but i’ve been known to risk sea spray for a shot. its weather sealing means i feel a bit braver now.
i'm middle-aged and i have small hands. i appreciate the 6D’s small size and light weight. it’s so close to the 40D that i transitioned easily. i’m used to the feel of the camera now, and both bodies feel equally comfortable.
the buttons are in different spots, with its one-hand design, so there was a bit of initial awkwardness (especially since i’m left handed!), but after a month of use, it feels familiar and my hands know what to do. i’m very pleased with the high, newfangled level of customization for the buttons. i’ve played a bit with various configurations, and i’ve settled on something that’s comfortable and useful.
the menu is extensive, and it's been fun familiarizing myself with the possibilities it offers. it’s very thrilling, as it has controls that are brilliant and newly available. it’s also a source of never-ending fascination.
memory cards / batteries
my largish collection of CF cards is now reserved for the older camera body. i purchased two 32GB 95MB/s SD cards which, i believe, is all the capacity and speed i need... and i don’t have to worry about the card pins bending!
this camera has only one card slot but, in all honesty, i don’t miss the second slot. i’ve never had a card fail on me (and i don’t treat them very well) and i’m conscientious about backing up my files as soon as possible, so the probability of losing a shoot is minimal. i also speak from the perspective of not having to shoot once-in-a-lifetime events. i don’t do weddings or christenings to be too nervous about it... still, in previous years, nobody had double slots and they shot these events just fine. if i were to shoot a wedding, i’d span the day’s events over more cards so as not to risk losing too much if a card failed.
this camera body needs to use authentic canon batteries. third-party batteries won’t communicate their status to the camera, so you never know how much juice you have. the charger that came with my unit (LC-E6E) refuses to charge them. so follow my advice -- spend a bit more for original canon batteries and save yourself some grief.
file size/ image quality / ISO performance
this was the major factor for choosing this camera. i don’t have much to say about it other than i’m utterly pleased with what this sensor delivers. the 6D’s images are delicious and smooth -- complete nirvana.
i detest noise in my older camera -- so much so, that i’d rarely shoot over ISO200 unless is absolutely had to. the 6D has completely liberated me in that department. i’ll happily shoot with higher values, in lower light, to my heart’s content. noise appears only at very high values, and it can be minimized easily in post. it eventually gets difficult to get rid of completely, but this is the first time i just don’t mind: the noise from this sensor is actually a pleasing grain, and i’ve actually elected to voluntarily leave it be in some pictures.
the RAW file size is a lot larger than what i’m used to, but i purchased a new computer last year, with 16GB of memory and an SSD, so everything’s cool... i have no delay when processing.
my only issues with this camera is the AF system. this is the only feature that would make me want the 5DMIII. the 6D has a cross-type autofocus point in the center only, whereas on my 40D, all nine points were cross-type.
the center point on this camera is brilliant for focusing -- it’s very sensitive and dependable, in all lighting conditions. if you tend to use the center point and recompose, you’ll be very happy. the problem is that i personally use the peripheral points for most of my shots, so they are important to me.
as my 40D had a cropped sensor, the AF points covered a larger area of the field of view. my shooting style was aided by this, as the four corner points were usually spot-on where i wanted to focus. on the 6D, however, the points are weighted towards the center, so i have to focus and recompose slightly.
the focusing system is fine when the subject isn’t moving a whole lot. my problems arise when i’m shooting live hip-hop performances. the light is low-to-flashing, the performers are in motion, and the peripheral points often simply refuse to focus. there’s no time to use the center point and recompose. this combination of conditions means i’m missing more (sometimes important) shots than i used to. i’m going to experiment with different approaches, and if i find a solution that works well, i’ll add it here the future.
GPS / WIFI / smartphone app
i love the GPS. it reported my images' to lightroom, google earth and flickr. i’m conscientious about geotagging on flickr, so this saved me time! i’ll definitely use it when out and about.
the wifi worked well with the android app on my nexus S, although it feels a bit slow. this is probably because the phone itself is not the zippiest. i haven’t tried to do some serious shooting with this yet, so expect more info in the future.
multiple exposures / HDR / picture styles / video
i’ve become very picky with my HDR techniques, so i’m not overly interested in the HDR processing, especially since it produces a JPG file. additionally, since always shoot RAW, i’ve never been attracted to picture styles either.
i’m very keen to try some artsy multiple-exposures, and i definitely would like to start with video. these are projects for the future, and i’m glad to have a camera that will support me in my future development.
… in conclusion...
i read elsewhere -- and i agree -- that the 6D offers 90% of the 5DMIII’s features at ⅔ the price. that’s an outstanding value in my book.
the 6D is a brilliant camera and i’m enjoying it immensely! i can’t wait to see what i can achieve with it.
if you’re interested in seeing what i’ve shot so far, then check out the images i tag with canon eos 6D on flickr.
do you have any questions i haven't covered? let me know in the comments, and i'll gladly add what i know to the text!