Canon EOS 6D: Performance

June 26, 2013 by Theano Nikitas Reads (117,554)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 10
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Expandability
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.60
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

As expected, the 6D is responsive from start to finish, with no shutter lag and good shot-to-shot times. Autofocus was generally speedy and accurate, although low light or low contrast scenes slowed things down a little–especially with the IR AF assist beam disabled. It’s also important to note that the 6D’s autofocus depends on 11 points with a single cross-type AF point, so it’s not as sophisticated as some of its siblings and competition. 

For its price, continuous shooting speed is good–but not great–at 4.5 frames per second. It’s best to use a high speed (UHS-1) card to get the maximum number of shots during a burst, e.g., 1250 large/fine JPEGs, 17 RAW, 8 RAW + JPEG full resolution. 

Battery life, when using the optical viewfinder, is estimated at about 1090 shots. If you need longer battery life, the optional battery grip can–depending on the batteries used–double that capacity. While Wi-Fi and GPS are handy features, which some will put to very good use, they can affect battery life dramatically–especially if either or both have to do a lot of searching for signals. 

Wi-Fi and GPS
While both the 6D and Nikon D600 offer similar photographic features the 6D offers on-board GPS and WiFi–two functions that require optional accessories on the D600.

On the 6D, GPS works well outside of major cities where there’s an easier path to satellite signals. Even in less urban areas, you will likely have to go outside to initially set up a signal. Wi-Fi implementation is good, although for some direct-from-camera sharing options you’ll have to register and go through Canon’s Image Gateway site; otherwise you can transfer images to your smartphone and share from the device. With the free Canon EOS Remote app you can remotely compose and shoot images on the 6D but, more importantly, the app allows you to use the cameras AF and adjust settings such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO. 

Video Quality
Canon is well-known for its excellent DSLR video and the 6D does a good job capturing more casual (versus pro level) video. It’s no 5D Mark II or Mark III, however, due to anomalies like artifacting. But, for general use, it’s more than acceptable. 

Although there’s no headphone jack for monitoring audio, video can be captured up to full HD (1920 x 1080 at 30/25/24fps) in MOV format (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264). Manual exposure is available in movie mode as is manual control over audio levels. The on-board microphone is monaural so if you plan to shoot video, you might want to pick up an external stereo microphone. 

Image Quality
Image quality is excellent, especially when Picture Style parameters are adjusted to one’s particular aesthetics. Colors are richly saturated but not over the top and exposures were almost always spot on. As is common with Canon cameras, auto white balance produces a warmer, more “this is what you see” look under incandescent lighting but that can be tweaked as well. 

On its default settings–and depending what lenses are used (I shot with the 18-105mm, as well as other higher end lenses, while editor Laura Hicks, who produced the images you see in the gallery, shot with Canon’s 35mm f/2.0)–images can be a little soft straight out of the camera. But the camera maintains good detail and sharpening can be adjusted in-camera (Picture Style parameters) or in post-processing. As always, it’s important to put the best piece of glass you can afford on your camera. 

ISO ranges from 100-25600 and is expandable to a low of 50 and high settings of 51,200 and 102,400. The camera handles high ISO image noise very well and we felt comfortable shooting above IS0 800 on a regular basis but made sure to shoot in RAW or RAW + JPEG at and above 12,800 and reserved 51,200 and 102,400 for emergencies only. Although my older Nikon D3s 102,400 images looked cleaner than the 6D’s at the same ISO, the Canon 6D offers low light shooters a wide range of workable options. And the in-camera noise reduction worked surprisingly well by maintaining detail. 

Sample Images

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