It’s not the size that matters…. it’s how you use it. Right? Well actually size does matter when it comes to sensor sizes and one of Canon’s latest offerings is the Canon 6D which packs a full frame sensor into a smaller and more affordable form factor.
Previously, if you want a full frame digital camera, the Canon 1Ds and 5D series and Nikon’s D3 and D700 had dominated the market, featuring price tags that would discourage some enthusiast and most amateurs. Now manufacturers are recognising that photographers and videographers want the awesomeness of a full frame camera but still want to keep the other kidney when it does come in handy.
To sum up the differences between the Canon 6D and 5D mark III quickly, the Canon 6D has two less megapixels, has 11 AF points compared to 61, a relatively crippled AF system, uses SD cards instead of CF, has a “right hand” only button layout, a smaller and not as vibrant screen and it’s packaged into a smaller lighter body.
In a sense, it’s a cut down 5D mark III with all the bare essentials plus a gizmo or two.
Gizmos? Why yes indeed, my mysterious reader friend. The Canon 6D introduces a built-in GPS and WiFi system. The GPS allows for geotagging which is great for keeping track of your travel photos or if you want to let people know your last whereabouts when they find your body 50 years later because you took a adventurous leap in a canyon and got your hand stuck under a rock.
The WiFi system is an interesting new feature which allows for connectivity to WiFi networks, tablets and smartphones. This opens up a new workflow for untethered setups. You can even monitor a live feed and shoot remotely using the EOS Remote app for iphone and android. There’s still a little bit of lag when shooting via a wireless feed and it’s limited to photos only but its a start to something really cool in the future.
The Canon 6D delivers virtually identical levels of image quality compared to the 5D mark III which is quite impressive. Some high ISO tests show a slight improvement in performance from the Canon 6D over the 5D III but when it comes to real world usage the difference is negligible to the human eye. Most of these high ISO shots are at insane levels such as 51200 and 102400 which normally don’t see much usage.
The autofocus system is an improvement over the 5D mark II but after using the 5D mark III, sometimes you can’t really go backwards. As a photographer, you’d prefer the 5D mark III for the extra AF cross points for improved focus lock in darker areas and for composition whereas most of the time you’ll be stuck on the 6D’s only cross sensor; the center point. It’s not to say that you can’t focus, lock and recompose but the extra AF points does improve accuracy and speed where it’s needed. Cinematographers need not stress too much since a lot of focusing is done manually. Besides you’ll probably be using some delicious Canon Cine primes on there.
The Canon 6D features a smaller form factor and a simplified build to help keep costs down. The smaller form factor makes it ideal for those who like to travel while the moulded grip still offers good ergonomics. Great for run and gun moments where you’re blasting along shooting one handed. In fact, shooting dangerously out the side of a three wheeled tuktuk was a great way to test the rolling shutter which was virtually non-existant.
The LCD is also slightly smaller at 3.0″ versus 3.2″ which isn’t too bad, especially if you’re used to the 5D mark II. The extra resolution is welcome but the colour space isn’t quite so. On one shoot, I panicked a bit when the images weren’t quite turning out on my 6D. However I noticed when switched the card into my 5D mark III the images were fine. This is probably one of the areas that Canon had skimped on a bit in order to keep costs down. This is fine as you can still review whether your shots were in focus or not so you can keep shooting first then cry later when you get home when you realise how awesome you really aren’t.
Oh and about the crying, I’m finding that cameras of this generation from both the Canon and Nikon camps are getting better and better. You really can’t go wrong and it’s getting harder and harder to blame the camera nowadays. Not that I needed to in the first place…