Canon EOS 6D review

24 Jan 2013

Outstanding image quality and sophisticated Wi-Fi functions, but the autofocus system limits its appeal

Price when reviewed: 
1,499(£1,499 inc VAT)
5

The EOS 6D is Canon’s most affordable full-frame SLR to date. Its sensor is similar to the one in the luxurious 5D Mark III, but its controls have more in common with the cheaper 60D. It’s also the first Canon SLR to incorporate Wi-Fi and GPS, and with a price right between the 60D and 5D Mark III, it’s a tempting proposition for keen amateurs who want the low noise and big viewfinder that come with a full-frame camera. The question is: is it good enough to dislodge the similar Nikon D600 from our A-List?

Wi-Fi and GPS are optional extras for the D600, so having them built into the 6D gets it off to a good start. The GPS function keeps working when the camera is powered down – as denoted by an icon on the passive LCD screen – so it needn’t spend ages recalculating its position.

Canon EOS 6D

The Wi-Fi allows the camera to connect to an app for Android and iPhone, which has a remote shooting mode complete with live view, autofocus point and exposure control. An elegant image browser offers swift full-screen views and the ability to embed star ratings back onto the camera’s SD card. The other wireless functions are rather fiddly to set up but the list is impressive, with tethered PC and Mac shooting, uploads to social media, wireless printing and DLNA streaming.

The 6D’s controls are generally well laid out, but a dedicated white balance button is notably absent. The Q button and its associated menu is the quickest means of access, but manual white balance calibration is available only via the main menu. However, the 6D regains ground over the D600 with its AF-On button. This triggers autofocus, giving the option to use the shutter release button to take photos without having to refocus before each shot – a useful trick for rapid-fire photography. Performance is generally excellent, but continuous mode is, according to our tests only 4.2fps; the D600 managed 5.5fps.

Canon EOS 6D iPhone app

There's no integrated flash, which some will see as a drawback, but others will consider a testament to the camera's incredible low-light performance. It also lacks an autofocus assist lamp. It’s something that Canon omits from all its SLRs, but autofocus in extremely low light can suffer as a result.

The 6D’s weakest area is its autofocus sensor. As with the D600, the 6D’s AF points are bunched towards the centre of the frame more than we’d ideally like, but while the D600 has 39 points with nine cross-type for increased sensitivity, the 6D has only 11 points, with a single cross-type point in the centre. So few points means automatic subject tracking isn’t available. It also meant we often found ourselves having to focus and then recompose the shot. There was a palpable difference in the responsiveness of the centre cross-type point compared to the others, so we tended to leave this point permanently selected.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,249
Price inc VAT £1,499
Overall rating 5
Performance 4
Features & Design 4
Image quality 6
Value for Money 6

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 20.0mp
Camera screen size 3.0in
Camera optical zoom range N/A
Camera maximum resolution 5472 x 3648
Camera optical image stabilisation in kit lens

Weight and dimensions

Weight 755g
Dimensions 145 x 71 x 111mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 1,090 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? no
Aperture range fN/A - fN/A
Camera minimum focus distance N/A
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) N/A
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) N/A
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/4,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 30s
Bulb exposure mode? yes
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 5EV
ISO range 50 - 102400
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 4.5fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? yes
Memory-card type SDXC
Viewfinder coverage 95%
LCD resolution 1,040k
Secondary LCD display? yes
Video/TV output? yes
Body construction Magnesium alloy, plastic
Tripod mounting thread? yes
Data connector type Mini-USB

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual? yes
Software supplied Digital Photo Professional, EOS Utility, EOS Sample Music, Picture Style Editor, ImageBrowser EX, PhotoStitch
Accessories supplied N/A