I love new gear just as much as the next person. If I could afford it I would buy a new camera or lens every month and never stop. Not only is that not fiscally realistic it is not conducive to being creatively productive. Getting caught up in gear lust or spec envy of newer gear has stopped me or slowed me down way too many times. From time to time I need to remind myself that the gear is only one aspect of producing cool projects.
The tools we use to create is one of the subjects I am excited to chat about on this blog. Sometimes it will be new gear. For example, I plan on getting a mirrorless camera in the near future. That will be fun to talk about here. In the meantime, I will share with you information about the tools I have and use now. As far as cameras go, I’ll start with my full-frame DSLR, the Canon EOS 6D.
I doubt this is the first you have heard about the Canon EOS 6D. Since being released in 2012 the Canon 6D has been the choice of many budget minded photographers who wanted to step up to a camera with a full frame sensor.
I was a late adopter to this camera, buying it a few years after its initial release. Like much of the gear I purchase I bought this from an online retailer that specializes in used gear.
I won’t dive into the granular details about the specs of the camera but will give an overview of the features I like about it and what I don’t like.
Now I know the 6D offered very little features, if any, that were unique when it was released. 6 years later, any possible advantage it had on a spec sheet has been surpassed and then some, not only by competitor cameras but from other budget Canon cameras as well. This includes the second version of this model – the Canon EOS-6D Mark II.
The features I like are within context of getting those features at a great price. Currently the first generation 6D sells for under $1000 used and as I’m writing this even a refurbished one direct from Canon sells for $999.
5 Things I like –
The Full Frame Sensor.
The quality of crop sensor cameras has reached a point that the debate between crop sensor and full frame sensors means a lot less today than a few years ago. My other DSLR is a Canon EOS-70D which produces amazing images as well. One of the main reasons I enjoy the full frame sensor on my 6D is because of the field of view. Lenses are labeled and designed (generally speaking) for a standard 35mm frame size. When I put a 28mm lens on my 6D it’s as wide as the lens is meant to be. If I put that same lens on my 70D the field of view is cropped to what would be about a 45mm. It’s nice to have a digital camera that can utilize the full wide range of a lens.
ISO Range (and subsequent low noise)
The standard ISO range is 100-25600 but is expandable on the low end to ISO 50 and up to 102400 on the high end. I don’t think I have ever expanded it past 25600 and rarely do I go past ISO 3200. For the purpose of this blog I did shoot a couple of shots at 25600 and was pleasantly surprised at the results. The images at this ISO have noise, for sure but the noise is not annoying and doesn’t scream “digital” noise. It has a bit of a film grain quality to it and converted to black and white it would look even a little more like grain. (I know digital noise and grain are not at all related but they are both emphasized more in different shooting conditions and they both add texture to an image) Since I shoot a lot of 35mm film my mind tends to stop thinking about anything past ISO 3200 as a viable option for shooting. I’ve created many cool images in the ISO ranges of 50-3200 which is what I also tend to keep my 6D set at. ISO 50 is the expanded low end of the ISO setting. It is labeled as “L” for “Low” ISO on the camera because it is not a native ISO. It is created by stopping down the light hitting the sensor by a stop, essentially adding an ND filter of sorts. It is a nice tool to have, an extra stop of latitude on the low end.
Built in WiFi is one feature about the camera that is a complete luxury that I take full advantage of. We all carry point and shoot cameras inside of our smartphones now so camera accessibility is no longer an obstacle for nearly anyone. That being said I do like taking my 6D anywhere I can even if I’m not quite sure I’ll find anything of interest to shoot. Sometimes I get a shot that isn’t special or a shot that doesn’t need much editing that I want to share on social media right away. Being able to connect my iPhone to the 6D, download the good images, edit them quickly in Snapseed and upload to Instagram is awesome. It has spoiled me. Will I survive without WiFi on my next camera? Of course I will. Will I miss it? Definitely.
Great HD Video Quality
No it does not shoot 4k (UHD or DCI) but it does shoot a beautiful HD image in both intra-frame and inter-frame compression settings. The quality of the video from this camera is great. A well lit, thought out video image in 1920 x 1080 still looks amazing. It is crazy how fast we are forgetting that fact. Trust me, I WANT 4k. I’m saving and planning for that move to 4k as we speak. In the meantime, I love the HD imagery I get from the 6D. The color is great and the compression settings are strong enough to produce a solid image yet light enough to enable me to use modestly priced SD cards. I remember around 2001 or 2002 having a conversation, with a coworker at an Apple store (where I worked long before iPhones were a thing), about HD. I clearly remember saying I know that after HD there will be higher resolutions to come but all I ever want is a progressive HD quality image and computer system in my house powerful enough to edit it with. That was seriously my dream setup. Not only do I have that now but I have 2 cameras that deliver that and a laptop and even an iPad that can rip through HD footage like butter. Remembering where we have been has given me great appreciation for where we are. The 6D shoots great HD video and that is one of the things I dig about it.
The button layout
All of the top buttons are independent of each other and don’t need an extra button to toggle between shared functions. The ISO button is by itself, and it has a bump on it so it is easy to find when I have my eye up to the view finder. The buttons on the back are mainly on the right side of the camera which makes it easy to reach most of the core functions of the camera with one hand.
4 Things I don’t like
The Depth Of Field Preview Button
The location and size of the depth of field preview button is about the only thing I wish they would change about the camera. The location of it, on the base of the lens mount, is consistent with almost many other Canon film and digital cameras. My complaint isn’t necessarily about the position of the button but the direction the button operates. Since you push the button in toward the lens itself, it’s difficult to operate with your right hand. I usually have to use my left hand to reach the button and preview my DoF. Like I said, this isn’t new. My Canon EOS-1n has a DoF button in the exact same spot. The difference being the button on the EOS-1n is much larger and very easy to find. The 6D Dof button is small and almost flush with the lens mount and not always easy to find. My hand searches for a bit before realizing where it is. This wouldn’t be worth bringing up in this blog, since this is part of Canon’s design language for a long time, if not for difference in the Dof button on the 5D and 7D. The 5D line of cameras have a larger Dof button that is not only easy to find but it pushes into the body, much like Nikon’s cameras always have. This it makes it feasible to reach and utilize that button with the right hand. The 6D Mark II has the same Dof button design as the Mark I. That’s the only thing that I don’t care for about design of the camera. The other items on my “don’t like” list are more about features or specs I wish were different.
Max 1/4000 Shutter Speed
The Canon EOS-6D has a max shutter speed of 1/4000. The 70D, 80D, 7D and 5D are among some of the other Canon DSLRs that have a max shutter speed of 1/8000. The reality is I rarely shoot at 1/8000 because I need to stop fast action with minimal motion blur. On the rare occasion I do shoot at that shutter speed it is because it affords me more leeway with aperture selection. Yes, it is only 1 extra stop but it is another. This is another benefit of me having a 70D as my second camera. If I want to shoot some wildlife where 1/8000 comes in handy I can grab my 70D. If wildlife or sports are your photo subjects of choice, this may a very important point to remember. In that case consider one of the other cameras I mentioned that have 1/8000.
The last 2 features on my “don’t like” list are features that have made their way into the latest revision of the 6D, so in a way this is moot. My 6D doesn’t have them so it’s at least worth talking about. If you get Mark II then you’ll appreciate the benefits of these features.
No Dual Pixel AF
This was feature introduced a few years ago on Canon cameras that allows for not only fast autofocus for stills but for smooth autofocus follow for video. I reap the benefits of this all the time on my 70D, which has Dual Pixel AF, and it is awesome. It turns my DSLR into what almost feels like a video camera, in a good way. I don’t have to worry as much about focus, especially when vlogging or shooting video of other people talking. This feature is on this list mainly for video purposes. If you rarely shoot video and don’t vlog then this feature will mean very little to you. You most likely won’t miss it.
No Touch Screen
There is no touch screen on the 6D. This isn’t a shocker. The number of cameras without touch screens still outnumber cameras with touch screens by a large margin. This is changing though and soon it will be a feature we come to expect. It’s a convenience that does help once you start using it. My favorite use for the touch screen is to swipe through image previews and zoom in and out much like you do on a smartphone or tablet. Being able to rate photos a little faster by clicking the number of stars is nice too. When going through 100 or more photos any little time saver adds up to a significant amount of time saved.
Money being no object I would have a 5D Mark IV (Or at least a Mark III) and someday I will. When I purchased the 6D it fit perfectly with my budget and wants. I was excited to finally enter the realm of full frame DSLRs. It has not disappointed. I love my 6D. Paired with some great Canon lenses it produces some amazing images. I’m constantly learning and improving my photography skills so I rarely have the time or energy to really compare specs and think about what features I don’t have. That’s the way it should be, right? Utilize the tools you have to the best of your ability. Right now the 6D is one of my favorite tools in my arsenal.