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Canon EOS 6D Preview

by Bob Atkins and Josh Root, September 2012

Bob Atkins says:

Canon announced their new “entry level” full frame DSLR today. It’s the Canon EOS 6D and it goes head to head with Nikon’s new D600. The EOS 6D has a 20.2 MP full frame CMOS sensor, 1080p HD video at 30fps, ISO to 25600 (and expansion to ISO 102400), 4.5fps continuous shooting and a new 11 point AF system. Also, in what I think may be a first for DSLRs, the EOS 6D has built in Wi-Fi and GPS. With Canon’s other full frame DSLRs you need the Wi-Fi and GPS accessories, which currently will cost you $945 or so on top of the price of the camera. For an introductory price of $2099, the EOS 6D has them built in! The Wi-Fi will enable a smart phone or tablet to connect to and operate the 6D via a free app which Canon will provide.

The EOS 6D breaks new ground in being based on SD memory rather than CF memory. This is the first Canon full frame DSLR which doesn’t use CF cards. SD cards are significantly less expensive and are now fast enough that only the very fastest DSLRs need the extra speed which CF cards can provide.

In keeping with Canon’s prior practice, the full frame EOS 6D does not have a built in flash. None of Canon’s full frame DSLRs have had a built in flash, though all of the current APS-C DSLRs do. While a built in flash has limited performance, it can be better than nothing and, more importantly, it can be used to wirelessly control external speedlites. It’s a shame the 6D doesn’t have one.

All in all though, the EOS 6D looks like a winner. It certainly appears to significantly outperform the EOS 5D MkII , which I assume Canon will drop from their lineup.

Josh Root says:

Over the past decade, most people would probably consider Canon to be, if not at the head of the pack, then surely one of the DSLR leaders. But 2012 has been something of a tough year for a company that previously had a long string of hits. Production delays for the 1Dx, LCD light leeks in the 5D MkIII, well received cameras from Nikon, mirrorless system cameras taking market share and if not lukewarm then somewhat underwhelming reception for Canon’s own belated entry into that segment.

But that is all set to change. With the introduction of the new EOS 6D full frame DSLR, Canon is about to clear the bases. As Dave Niehaus used to call for the Seattle Mariners, break out the rye bread and mustard Grandma, it’s grand salami time!

Seriously, I’m actually pretty stoked for this camera. I predict that Canon is going to sell a pile of 6D bodies. The specs are good, the compact size is a plus for many, the price is right. Yeah, in some ways it is a 5D MkII in a new body. But be honest here, how many people do you know who have become limited by their 5D MkII? Very few. And of those, haw many do you know of who have issues that won’t be solved with the D6’s improved AF, improved ISO, and faster processor? Almost none I’ll bet. And that doesn’t even get to the 6D’s other improvements, be they mundane (LCD) or groundbreaking (built in wifi and smartphone control apps).

I’ll admit, I’ve been lured over pretty completely by the mirrorless system forces for my everyday shooting. But a camera like the 6D might be just the thing to free my “L” glass from its ‘camera closet’ prison on a regular basis. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this camera, and I say that as a photographer, not just as a guy that runs a photography website. Which isn’t something that I get to claim very often. Good job Canon.

You can read the full press release here.

You can see a gallery of EOS 6D images here

Text and photos © 2012 Bob Atkins.

Article created September 2012

Readers' Comments

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Dennis Zaebst , September 17, 2012; 03:45 P.M.

My initial question would be: How does the AF perform relative to, for example, the 7D or the 5D Mark III?  I realize this is a very early overview of the 6D, and no one yet has their hands on one (at least a production version), but when the time comes, that would be a very important question for a nature shooter like me.

It would seem that based only on the specs, the 11-point AF with only 1 cross type, would not be in the same league as the 7D, and certainly not the 5D III.  (Not that this factor is the only factor deciding it's ultimate overall utility, of course.)

Tomek Gooseberry , September 17, 2012; 04:29 P.M.

My #1? would be dynamic range and noise in shadows (I like 'em deep and smooth, with some detail still clear.)

Kent Barry , September 17, 2012; 10:41 P.M.

I'd sure like to learn more about the high dynamic range features.  

Ed Avis , September 19, 2012; 09:34 A.M.

This is positioned as a consumer camera but it sounds like it could be nice for studio work, where fast autofocus is not critical but wireless connectivity (without an expensive extra doodad) is very convenient.  What do others think?


In principle, there is scope for an even more stripped-down camera if you can use the main sensor for autofocus and metering (as cameraphones do I believe), and dispense with the rear LCD altogether, since photos will be beamed straight to your PC or tablet.  The digital camera becomes just a box with a sensor.  It's not likely to happen any time soon, sadly.

Jerry Mann , September 20, 2012; 02:58 P.M.

My 5DMII (2) is terrible with auto focus compared to my 40D. The difference is the number of crosshair-type AF sensors: 9 on the 40D and 1 on the 5DMII. The 6D also has only one crosshair sensor and I would expect it to have the same lame AF performance. Why on earth would Canon change what looks like better AF sensor design in the 5DMIII?

Ian Brown , September 20, 2012; 06:54 P.M.

Dear Photo.net,

The Canon 6D seems like a very good camera however after spending Aus$6K+ on a Canon 5D (1) & special lens in January 2008 and happily 'shooting tethered' using XP Pro (SP2) in the field, then following upgrading to Vista (yes I know - what a mistake) and then upgrading to Win7 - neither of which is compatible with the 5D (1) software so the laptop doesn't see the camera what so ever, and surprise surprise Microsoft said it was a Canon problem and Canon Australia said it was a MS problem - and round and round we went for over 12 months, and then Canon effectively washed its hands of this problem TOTALLY and responded no further to my please for 'help'!

So I was faced with going back to reinstalling XP Pro on my laptop - which I strongly contemplated but resisted since Win 7 offers so much more for all my other laptop based work. Then I checked my desktop and surprise surprise XP Pro (SP3) which upgraded in the meantime, is no longers compatible with Canon 5D (1), either!

The only option now open for me is to use CF cards in the field, which severely hampers what I want to do and is nowhere as good as shooting tethered! Additionally, I have not included a 'blow by blow' summary of the entire fiasco with Canon Australia for brevity.

So potential Canon purchasers beware of Canon's (Australia, that is) deplorable disregard for (who was in the past) a loyal Canon user.

I sincerely hope that Photo.net is openminded enough to show my comments on your site because Canon could repeat this fiasco a few years into the future with their latest 6D?

Ian Brown, 21 Sept. 2012

Charles Wood , September 20, 2012; 10:29 P.M.

My #1? would be dynamic range and noise in shadows (I like 'em deep and smooth, with some detail still clear.)


Ditto that.  That was why I gave up on my 5d2, which is easily outperformed in those areas by my Pentax K-5 and 645D.  I have hopes the 20 meg sensor will be better but if it's the same existing Canon technology, nothing will have been gained.

The new range of SONY sensors being used by Pentax, Nikon and SONY, are going to trounce Canon if they don't respond quickly with state of the art sensors.

Dave Perkes , September 22, 2012; 09:45 A.M.

My reaction to this new camera is that Canon have added wifi and GPS which would be useful but still refuse to put swivel screen or  a pop up flash for fill in or Commander flash control o any of their FF Cameras. both the latter would have been far more useful I'll stick with my 5D2 and grovel around in the dust trying to get low angle shots!

Pierre Timmermans , September 24, 2012; 08:45 P.M.

Bob, you clearly are a great Canon fan. I hoped to see a more neutral preview than the one above.

To me, I totally don't understand that Canon stripped there camera's and put in a GPS, a FF-sensor and a WiFi and then asks about € 2000,=. A couple of days ago Nikon showed to my opinion how that can be done better. For only € 120 more you get the best prosumer body, a very good sensor and AF-system and many more good things adopted from D4 en D800.

A totally different philosophy, but to my opinion a better one.

I would advice people who has a EF-S collection of lenses, to sell them and buy a D600 with other new lenses, lenses they have to buy too when they come from the (Canon) cropped segment and merge to the 6D.

Really, at first I was happily surprised with two FF  camera's for about € 2000,=. More competition gives better products. But with this camera, I don't think that Nikon will try very hard to make a better camera, they are right now light years in front of Canon.

Steve Wagner , September 26, 2012; 04:15 A.M.

2k is a bargain for this Pierre, and GPS is a fantastic addition

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