I sold my 5D Mark II and bought the 6D. I’ve had it since Friday and I’ve had a chance to photograph the kids, take it to the Chicago Dog Show and shoot Chicago with Anne Belmont. I always like to make a mental note of my initial impressions of a new piece of gear because it doesn’t take long to forget any details about the gear that it replaced. So here are my initial impressions.
- The screen is much nicer than my 5DII. Pictures look great on the back of the LCD.
- The 6D is noticeably smaller and lighter than the 5D Mark II. This is nice for packing it in a bag, but I didn’t notice much difference when shooting except that my pinky finger slides off the bottom of the camera. I don’t know if this will become frustrating, but, overall, the camera feels great in my hand.
- Everything about the camera is quicker. It’s quicker to start-up and be ready to shoot. The autofocus is quicker. The frame rate is faster. The shutter seems quicker because the shutter blackout time is shorter.
- I actually really like the 5 or 7 shot bracketing feature and I may start using this a lot more often.
- I miss the built-in level from when I owned the 7D. I wish it was a two-axis level rather than one. But I used it quite a bit shooting in Chicago and I think it’s going to be something I use pretty much every time I go out.
- The high ISO quality of the 5D Mark II was incredible and the 6D is even better. This was at ISO 6400 from the dog show Sunday. Click to view it large. I did use Nik Dfine, but I think you’ll be impressed by the amount of detail in the shot. This is a crop of about 70% of the original image.
- When I first started shooting I was sure that the camera was set to silent shutter. It turns out it wasn’t. Even the regular shutter is much quieter than 5D Mark II. With silent shutter on it would only be audible in a quiet room. This is something that will come in handy for me.
- I actually like that the buttons on top only have one function now rather than one for each wheel. The only other person that I’ve seen feel the same way is Ken Rockwell. So I’m in good company, right? This means that white balance is now changed in the quick screen. Considering I almost always shoot in RAW and I don’t ever switch back and forth between white balance settings, this should not be a big deal for me.
- I tried the WiFi function in a few different situations. I tried using the WiFi while we were shooting Chicago a couple of times. It may be more of a hassle than it’s worth, but you can view live view and focus from the iPhone. I couldn’t figure out how to zoom in on an area in live view from the phone and I don’t think that you can manually focus from the phone, but it still has a lot of potential. I used it here while the 6D was on a tripod to focus and compose this image (and get his attention). We’re looking at ourselves on the phone by viewing the live view from the 6D.
The not so good
- I was not a fan of Canon’s new method for zooming in on images when I borrowed a 5D Mark III and I’m still not. It is nice that you can zoom in to a set value with one push of the button, but it seems silly to scroll a wheel to zoom in. Maybe I will change my mind over time. Or maybe I will stop scrolling altogether and just start zooming in all of the way with one push.
- The buttons are more difficult to use on the 6D than the 5DII. I may get used to this and it becomes a non-issue, but it seems more difficult to operate some of the functions. So far I’m most frustrated by the wheel around the quick selection buttons. It is difficult to turn the wheel without also hitting the buttons in the middle.
- The 6D uses SD cards. I like the feel of CF cards better, but all of my computers, and even our TV, have an SD card slot. So I don’t really care either way. And sure, I’d like to have two card slots, but I’ve never had it before and I’ve survived.
- the 6D has only 20 megapixels compared to the 21 of the 5D Mark II. I don’t notice a difference when working on images on the computer.
- Although the 6D autofocus is much better than the 5D Mark II, it still isn’t going to work well for sports. I have mostly kept it on center point focusing and will probably continue to do that. To really test the AI Servo, I tried shooting the dogs running straight at the camera. Even with the legendary focusing of the Canon 85mm 1.8 it didn’t do a great job focusing. I think this is just asking too much for this camera. I know that the 5D Mark III would do better, but I’m not sure by how much.
There are some things that are really not much better than the 5D Mark II. The biggest being image quality. It’s really only a little bit better. But the handling and the little luxury features like WiFi, electronic level, 7 shot bracketing, and better autofocus will make it much easier to get great shots. I don’t understand the people who say that they would rather have a 5D Mark II. Maybe to save a few hundred dollars. But the 6D is a better camera in almost every way. Should you save your pennies for the 5D Mark III? That’s a completely different question. For me, I think the 6D is going to be the ideal camera. If I were shooting weddings, portraits, sports or wildlife, I’d want to have the 5D Mark III. But for landscape, travel and cityscape photography, along with chasing the kids in the backyard, the 6D is the perfect camera.