Canon EOS 6D review
Outstanding image quality and sophisticated Wi-Fi functions, but the autofocus system limits its appeal
Review Date: 24 Jan 2013
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
Price when reviewed: £1,249 (£1,499 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
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.
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