Fashions change, trends change! The new trend seems to be going in the direction of full-frame sensors.
Canon announced the EOS 6D during Photokina 2012 at Germany, and now, about four months later, we have our hands on Canon’s newest, lightweight D-SLR that offers built-in GPS and Wi-Fi. We expect other manufacturers to follow suit. (A variant model – 6D N – is available without the GPS and Wi-Fi functions). We feel the 6D, with its built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, will become a favourite with travel photographers. The 6D seems to be a direct competitor to Nikon’s D600 (which of course, does not have an in-built GPS or Wi-Fi).
Design & Build Quality
The EOS 6D is a digital SLR. Its housing is made from lightweight but strong magnesium alloy, (the top cover is made from polycarbonate), making it the lightest full-frame D-SLR (as on 13th September 2012). The body is dust and moisture-proof and weighs a mere 680g (against Nikon D600’s 850g and Canon 5D Mark III’s 860g). Canon 5D Mark III users will find the 6D’s design and layout quite similar, which could make the 6D a ‘back-up’ body.
The camera came to us for review without a user manual!
The Canon EOS 6D is a 20.2 megapixel D-SLR using a full-frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm) CMOS imaging sensor with a 3:2 aspect ratio, complemented by a DIGIC 5+ processing engine that performs three times faster than Canon’s own DIGIC 5. As you must have noticed, the sensor is a shade smaller than 36 x 24 mm, the standard 35 mm format. But let’s not quibble over it! The sensor assembly is designed using a new photosite design and gap-less micro- lens array that offers higher signal-to- noise ratio and wide dynamic range. The body is compatible with EF lenses only (EF-S and EF-M lenses cannot be used). The sensor assembly is provided with the usual dust delete feature (Auto, Manual and Dust Delete Data appending). The viewfinder includes a dioptric adjustment to suit individual eyesight and the focussing screen is interchangeable (the supplied screen is Eg-A II).
The Mode Dial is divided into easy-to- use configurations to suit each level of user: ‘Scene Intelligent Auto’ for rank beginners, ‘Creative Auto’ and ‘Special Scene’ modes for those who are a bit adventurous, and the usual P, Av, Tv, M and Bulb modes for advanced users.
The camera uses phase detection autofocus with 11 AF points. The central AF point performs cross-type focussing with f/5.6 lenses and vertical-line-sensitive- focussing with f/2.8 lenses. If needed, AF can be micro-adjusted by the user. Focus modes are One-Shot AF, AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF and Manual. According to Canon, the 6D can focus in light as low as -3 EV, which is 1-stop darker than the normal AF metering range found in other EOS D-SLRs. Metering modes use 63-zone TTL full aperture metering for Evaluative (linked to all AF points), Partial (approximately 8% of viewfinder at center), Spot ( approximately 3.5% of viewfinder at center) and Center- weighted average metering. Exposure modes are Program AE (includes Scene Intelligent Auto, Creative Auto, Special Scene (Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Night Portrait, Handheld Night Scene, HDR Backlight Control), Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual and Bulb.
ISO sensitivity ranges from 100-25,600, expandable to L (ISO 50), and H1 and H2 (ISO 51,200 and 102,400 respectively). In Basic Zone modes, ISO range is between 100-12,800 (set automatically), but for Landscape and Night Scene, it automatically sets ISO between 100-1600 and 100-25,600 respectively.
‘Picture Style’ has now become a constant in Canon D-SLRs and the 6D is no different. These allow users to fine-tune the images to their liking. Picture Style available on the 6D are Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, and User Defined 1-3. White Balance can be set to Auto or 6 Presets (Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White fluorescent and Flash). Further, you can set the WB using Colour Temperature settings (approx. 2,500-10,000K). WB bracketing and WB correction is possible.
The shutter is focal plane, electronically controlled. Shutter speeds available are 30 seconds -1/4000 sec, plus Bulb. X-sync speed for flash is up to 1/180 second. The shutter assembly is designed for 100,000 cycles. The 6D can shoot a Single frame, Continuous frames (maximum approximately 4.5 shots per second), Silent single frame, Continuous silent frames (max. approx. 3 shots per second), 10-second self- timer/remote control, and 2-second self-timer/remote control. The number of frames it can shoot (before the Buffer fills up) under different file formats are as follows:
JPEG Large/Fine: Approx. 73 frames Raw: Approx. 14 frames Raw + JPEG Large/Fine: Approx.7 frames.
The following table shows the number of recorded pixels at various resolution settings:
|Raw||5472 x 3648 (approx. 20 MP)|
|M-Raw||4104 x 2736 (approx.11 MP)|
|S-Raw||2736 x 1824 (approx. 5 MP)|
|JPEG Large||5472 x 3648 (approx. 20 MP)|
|JPEG Medium||3648 x 2432 (approx.8.9 MP)|
|JPEG Small 1||2736 x 1824 (approx. 5 MP)|
|JPEG Small 2||1920 x 1280 (approx. 2.5 MP)|
|JPEG Small 3||720 x 480 (approx. 350,000
Now, the trump card of the 6D – its in- built GPS and Wi-Fi. Location data, such as the latitude, longitude, elevation, and time and date is appended to the image files. This allows a recall of the shooting locations as well as the entire route followed by the photographer, using the Map Utility software. Additionally, the 6D’s clock is synchronised with the GPS satellite’s atomic clock and every time the camera is switched ‘on’ and the signal received, the time is automatically updated. The built-in Wi-Fi quickly allows data to be transferred to personal computers and smartphones and also permits printing with PictBridge enabled printers. The camera can be controlled using smartphones (you have to download a smartphone app – iOS/Android – called EOS Remote) which allows you to browse and download images, change shooting modes, adjust focus and shoot pictures. Note that if you enable the in-built GPS, your battery drain will be much faster – the drain continues even when the camera is switched off.
Here are few more interesting features found on the 6D (also available on some other models): HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging is in vogue and the 6D obliges. Pictures shot under very high contrast lighting often lack detail in shadows as well as highlights. When enabled, the 6D’s HDR function brackets 3-frames at different exposure levels and then merges them to create an image with adequate detail in shadows as well as highlights (It does this using JPEGs files only, unlike
Canon’s 5D Mark III which features HDR with Raw files too). Another neat feature is Multiple Exposures. When enabled, the camera shoots 2-9 exposures on the same frame to create artistic or surreal images ( JPEG only). Auto Lighting Optimizer automatically adjusts brightness and contrast levels in difficult lighting conditions; Highlight Tone Priority, when enabled, ensures that highlights are not washed out and thus improves colour rendition, especially in highlights. Handheld Night Scene is another nice feature on the 6D. Instead of using slow shutter speed to record detail in low light/ night scenes (which cause fuzzy pictures due to hand shake), the 6D takes 4 shots at a faster shutter speed and then automatically aligns and merges the shots to create a sharp image without using a tripod. The 6D offers full HD video at 1920 x 1080 pixels at 30/25/24 frames per second.
The EOS 6D does not have a built-in flash but compatible Speedlites of EX-series can be used. Flash metering uses E-TTL II Autoflash and flash exposures can be compensated in +/- 3 stops in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments. External Speedlites used with the 6D are compatible with radio wireless flash photography.
The 6D was very comfortable to hold and use. It has a nice, deep, ergonomically designed hand-grip and the index finger comes to rest naturally on the shutter release button. The user interface is fairly straight forward and the buttons are easy to operate. Images on the LCD were crisp, but as is the case with most cameras; difficult to see in bright light. The viewfinder eye-piece is covered with soft rubber to prevent scratching of eye-glasses.
The 6D was tested using a EF 50mm f/1.4 Ultrasonic lens. Focussing was very quick, even in poor lighting conditions. This could possibly have been helped by the fast f/1.4 aperture. Images were very crisp, colours were just perfect – neither too bright or too dull (most of the testing was done using the Standard Picture Style). Canon’s metering with all its 4 metering systems was very good but occasionally we found highlight burnouts with light-toned subjects. Images on the LCD were bright and crisp. Automatic lens correction feature was enabled and we found no darkening of corners except at f/2 and f/1.4. There was some amount of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in spite of enabling the automatic CA correction. Video quality was very good but the autofocus during Live View mode was not of the same order as it was when viewing through the viewfinder.
Auto White Balance worked well in most lighting situations but provided slightly ‘cooler’ images in shade (which is never too big a problem to correct in post-processing). White Balance can be bracketed if one so desires. Digital noise was very well controlled. The native image size that the 6D produces at its highest resolution is 12.16 x 18.24 inches at 300 ppi. At 16.7% and 25% screen size, noise could not be detected at any ISO sensitivity. At 50% screen size, some noise could be seen at ISO 6400 but I would have no hesitation to use this sensitivity at this enlargement. At 100% screen size, some noise could be seen even at ISO 800 but again, I would not hesitate to use up to ISO 1600 for this size of enlargement. ISO 6400 and 12,800 were noisy at 100% screen size and may be best avoided. Overall, one of the best D-SLRs in noise control!
Value For Money
The Canon EOS 6D body is available at an MRP of Rs.1,24,995. At this price and performance, we say that the 6D is good value for money.
+ Excellent image quality
+ Excellent control over digital noise
+ 3-shot HDR
+ Handheld Night Scene mode
– No built-in flash
– No swivelling LCD
– Built-in HDR and Multiple exposures only with JPEG files
– JPEG in-camera sharpening a bit too aggressive
– Only 11 AF points
|Design and Build Quality||17/20|
|Value for Money||7.5/10|
The Canon EOS 6D, with its Wi-Fi and GPS is good value for money. Its main drawback is its lack of built-in flash and a swivelling LCD. Image quality-wise and for ease-of-use, the Canon EOS 6D is excellent. If you are a sports photographer, the 6D with its maximum burst rate of 4.5 fps, may not be the best but if your genre of photography demands photographing in low light, you will not be disappointed with the 6D. It cannot match the noise performance of more expensive models, but at this price point, its output is commendable. Best Buy indeed!