Canon's 6D Full-Frame DSLR Camera vs. The Competition

By Norman Chan

Not exactly the entry-level DSLR rumored and short on a few specs.

As new full-frame cameras seem to the big trend at this year's Photokinda event, Canon has officially announced the EOS 6D, a DSLR that is their smallest and lightest camera with a full-frame sensor. The 6D's specs fall in line with what rumors and leaks had reported all last week, including a new 20.2 MP full-frame sensor and use of the DIGIC 5+ processor from the 5D Mark III. Many Canon watchers had been hoping for cheaper full-frame camera after reports that both Nikon and Canon would introduce "affordable" FF models, but the $2100 price tag for both Canon's 6D and Nikon's D600 still puts FF in the realm of professionals or deep-pocketed enthusiasts. Along with Sony's FF point and shoot (the $2800 RX1), it seems none of the camera makers are ready to disrupt the prosumer market with FF cameras at the $1000-1500 range, where the popular D7000 and 7D still sit.

What's surprising though is that the 6D doesn't seem to be impressing professionals with specs that are uncharacteristic of a $2000+ camera. Most glaring is the AF system, which uses a unimpressive 11 focus points, only one of which is crosspoint. We weren't expecting the staggering 61 crosstype system used in the 5D Mark III, but it is even a step back from the 16 crosstype system found in the 2-year old 7D. Even the now-dated 5D Mark II has 9 AF points (1 crosstype), and its street price has dropped to under $1900. Other concerns include the 97% field-of-view viewfinder, 4.5fps maximum burst, and lack of headphone jack for video recording. The absence of a built-in flash is a fair trade given that Canon is going for the smallest weight and size in this class, though omitting a flip-out LCD like the one found in 60D and T4i is disheartening.

What the 6D lacks in sheer technical prowess it tries to make up for with two new features not in other Canon DSLRs. The 6D is the first Canon DSLR to have built-in Wi-Fi and GPS tracking, features previously offered only through expensive accessories in the pro line. The Wi-Fi connection can be used with desktop or smartphone apps for remote shutter and viewfinder capabilities, in addition to automatic uploading to photo services (I don't know anyone who actually does this outside of special use cases like liveblogging). GPS tracking will let you geotag location details in photos' EXIF data, which is very useful for landscape photographers.

Nitpicking photographers on camera sites have been vocal about the trade-offs both Canon and Nikon have made in their new "enthusiast" full-frame cameras, calling out specs like flash sync delay and max shutter speed in comparison to the cameras' respective next step up in the 5D Mk3 and D800. But the complaints really boil down to pricing and the disappointing stemming from widespread speculation that full-frame cameras would hit the $1500 mark.

Here's how the newly-announced EOS 6D fares against other Canon offerings, and more importantly, Nikon's similarly priced D600 full-frame DSLR.

Key SpecsCanon 6DCanon 60DCanon 7DCanon 5D Mk2Canon 5D Mk3Nikon D600
ISO Sensitivity100-25600100-6400100-6400100-6400100-25600100-6400
Continuous Shooting4.5fps5.3fps8fps3.9fps6fps5.5fps
Viewfinder Coverage97%96%100%98%100%100%
Autofocus Points11 (1 crosstype)916 (all crosstype)9 (1 crosstype)61 (all crosstype)39 (9 crosstype)
Video Recording1080p 30fps1080p 30fps1080p 30fps1080p 30fps (12 min)1080p 30fps1080p 30fps
LCD3.2" 1040k dots3" 1040k dots3" 920k dots3" 920k dots3.2" 1040k dots3.2" 921k dots
Shutter life100k100k150k150k150k150k
Built-in FlashNoYesYesNoNoYes
Weight (inc. batt)770 grams755 grams900 grams890 grams950 grams850 grams
Other Featuresmini HDMI, Wi-Fi, GPS, mic inFlip-out LCD, mini HDMI, mic inmini HDMI, mic inmini HDMI, line in/outmini HDMI, line in/outmini HDMI, line out
Street Price (body only)$2100$865$1500$1900$3500$2100

Canon's 6D is available for pre-order now, and will start shipping in October.