Canon 6D uses brand new 20MP sensor. I am still traumatized by 5D Mark III shadow banding and expected something similar on 6D, but was pleasantly surprised. There is no banding at ISO 100 or any other native setting. Canon has really made a step forward this time.
High ISO is completely usable Up to ISO 12,800 and with careful exposures images can be made to look like they were taken at several EV stops lower ISO setting. 25,600 is also very clean, but I would still think twice when using it. Extended values of 51,200 and 102,400 are a bit too much for normal use; they are here just in case of emergency.
Colors are muted and neutral (typical for Canon) at default picture style but can be tweaked to pop-out like a clown in an IRS office just by selecting another picture style. It is really easy to get the look I want in post process, so this sensor deserves highest praise.
Compared to Nikon D600, there’s not much difference at the first glance, but I found 6D has an edge at higher ISO values (Nikon’s native ISO tops out at 6,400 while Canon goes to 25,600) and significantly cleaner video recording at high ISO. On the other side, Nikon is still a bit better at shadow lifting at base ISO; 6D will show a bit more noise than D600, but those differences are marginal in my opinion; Canon has really made a step forward since 5D Mk3 sensor.
MEMORY AND BATTERY
Canon 6D has one SD memory card slot. It supports all SD card format, sizes and speeds currently available on the market, and I recommend buying fastest UHS-I memory card even if you do use continuous shooting mode; 6D will simply be more responsive at file writing and at playback.
Li-Ion battery has enough power for around 900-1000 shots. It lasted for 877 shots on my first charge. If you do not use live view or “chimp” at every single photo you took, 1000 shots on a single charge are realistic. Constant live-view usage will decrease that significantly (down to around 500 shots in my case).
GPS AND WIFI
GPS use will decrease battery life further but it depends how you use it. I set it to update location every minute (there’s no point in higher update rate when walking or cycling) and it shaved extra 2-3% of battery life for every 100 shots taken. That’s not much at all. One thing you need to keep in mind though: GPS works even the camera is turned off so you need to disable GPS when you do not use it or it might drain the battery.
As far as GPS reception goes, 6D has no problem at all. It even worked in the backpack quite well. GPS coordinates are pretty accurate, but it has some problems measuring altitude; sometimes it registered 5-10m altitude change between shots when I know there was none.
I really liked the fact it keeps logs on the internal memory. They can be transferred on SD card at command and loaded into any GPS enabled PC software, like Google maps (image below).
Wi-Fi also works as advertised; you can transfer and browse images on smartphone or tab or control the camera remotely via those devices.
SHUTTER LIFE AND SOUND
Canon 6D has an extremely quiet shutter and mirror sound, especially when using “silent mode”. 6D is a perfect camera to take shots and remain unnoticed during any quiet event/location and probably the quietest DSLR I ever had used. Shutter life is rated at 100,000 actuations.
Live view is similar to the one on other Canon models. There are several levels of displayed information, live histogram, true 1:1 pixel magnification for precise manual focus and an option to display image with or without exposure simulation. Just keep in mind that live view drains battery much faster.
The AF system looks outdated at the first glance. It has 9 focus points only one of which is cross type. The thing is – that AF point in the middle is sensitive down to -3EV. In plain words, it can focus in such low light it made me to drop my jaw. I had a very hard time actually seeing anything through the viewfinder but the 6D locked focus within a second or two.
In real use, the biggest problem might be the AF point layout. They are all way to cramped in the middle. I had to use focus and recompose technique very often even when using outer AF points. They simply do not reach far enough when shooting main subject using rule of the thirds. The problem with “focus and recompose” is that moving your camera changes focal plane and therefore is useless when using fast apertures and wider lenses.
Another omission I noticed is the lack of release priority option for single focus; it is available only for AI SERVO focus mode. Luckily, I found a way around it; AF-ON button just needs to be reassigned to AF-OFF function. In that case, each time AF fails to acquire focus, a single press on AF-ON button results in switch to manual focus and the camera fires the shot immediately.
Canon 6D has a maximum burst rate of 4.5 shots per second. When using silent shutter, it drops down to 3 frames every second. This is not world record, but this is basically not a sports camera in the first place. 6D supports the fastest SD cards available (those with UHS-I label) and I recommend buying one. Not only burst rate will benefit from it, but also casual playback and zoom.
I had only Class 10 SD card and it allowed burst of 13 RAW, 36 large-fine and 107 large-normal files. Using mRAW and sRAW file type actually decreases burst rate, probably because processor has to down sample them.