Canon EOS 6D preview

Canon office in Croatia organized a press event yesterday, covering all the latest news and digital cameras from recent Photokina fair. Besides new G15 and S110, we had a chance to try the new Canon EOS 6D digital SLR camera. 6D uses new 20 megapixel sensor and will compete with Nikon D600 camera as a budget full frame camera.

I am happy to report that EOS 6D left quite a good impression on me. The camera is rather compact and lightweight and in hands feels much like 60D. The grip is pronounced enough to allow my fingers to get a good relaxed grip which I find very important.  It is built very well, all the buttons have a pleasant feel when used, and body fells sturdy.

Probably the most pleasant surprise was shutter sound; it is amongst the quieter I ever heard. It is quiet in regular single shot mode, but just like 5D Mark III, it has “silent” mode which is even quieter; for a full frame camera with large mirror this is a big achievement. As a street photographer I find shutter noise very important; to loud and it will announce your presence to everyone around and probably ruin a spontaneous moment. Also, anyone shooting in quiet environments such as churches, libraries or at classical music concerts will strongly appreciate silent shutter.

Sorry to disappoint you, but the 6D we were shown didn’t have final firmware, so I couldn’t put my memory card inside to try it.

The 6D was introduced at the same time as it’s main and only rival – Nikon D600 full frame DSLR. I didn’t have an opportunity to try Nikon, but I can at least compare them on paper.

At the first glance, Nikon D600 looks like a better rounded camera. 100% viewfinder coverage, more AF points and more of them cross type, higher expected shutter life, double SDHC slots, AF assist lamp and built-in flash look like a better deal. But in reality some of these features are not important to everyone. For example, more AF points are pointless when they all are cramped in the middle of the frame; this is good only for subject tracking, but if you’re not into sports or wildlife photography, what’s the use of them? Canon 6D has only one cross type AF point, but this one has sensitivity of -3EV, so in real life Canon’s auto focus could quite possibly be faster and more reliable than that of Nikon D600 in low light conditions. Canon has Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity built in, which will appeal to all users who like to travel or control their camera via mobile phone. Nikon uses twin SD card slot, but again – how often do you need to use both of them at the same time?

And best for last – canon 6D has small/medium RAW file recording option. I find this option very useful when I know in advance that large image dimensions will not be necessary, for example photo sessions with final image application exclusively for web use or time-lapse photography. Why bother with 20+ megapixel images when HD video requires only 1920 x 1080 resolution? I am currently reviewing Nikon D800E which also doesn’t have smaller raw file option, so I am always stuck with 36 megapixel files, each around 40MB. It eats up my memory card space, my hard disc drive, and slows down PC. All the other specifications are pretty much the same on both of the cameras.

All together, Canon EOS 6D is a camera I am very looking forward to try when production versions becomes available.

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