With Photokina drawing the crowds in Germany and with both Canon and Nikon announcing important new DSLRs I have (typically) been having a good look at a camera that has been on the market for ages. I bought my EOS 6D for a very specific reason; the ability to use it as a remote and control it from my smart phone. It performed that task rather well and I will definitely be making use of that function again but I also wanted to blog about what it’s like as a daily working camera.
I was at another major show last week – The Southampton International Boat Show to be precise and I wanted to carry as little gear around with me as I could. Most of the work was going to be shot using EOS 5D MkIII cameras which have become my favourites (although they are far from perfect) for day-to-day jobs but I had a problem with one of them and decided to use the 6D as my second body once it had performed it’s (not able to post the pictures here) remote task. I had quite a bit of confidence in the camera having used a borrowed one when it was first launched and so I stuck a 16-35mm f2.8L lens on it and away I went.
Press day at the Boat Show is a mixture of dull press events, glitzy celebrity appearances and the search for different and interesting pictures that nobody else has. I found myself drawn to the official opening despite there being over a dozen other photographers there. To get something different I managed to get on board the tall ship Phoenix to see if I could shoot a different angle to everyone else. It wasn’t much of a gamble as the value of having the same picture as everyone else was pretty low on this job for me and I managed to get this nice frame of a couple of the invited children at the helm of the moored ship.
Anyway, back to the EOS 6D. It is a tiny bit smaller than the 5D MkIII and it is a tiny bit lighter. It has fewer buttons and fewer megapixels (20 for the 6D and 22 for the 5D MkIII) and it only has a single SD card slot compared to the CF + SD combination on the 5D MkIII. It doesn’t have the same amazing auto focus and it isn’t as well built as the 5D MkIII either but, and it is a big but, it is really nice to use. It fits in your hands well and the controls are easy to use even with the camera to your eye – ergonomically speaking it ticks a lot of the boxes for me. I haven’t used it with a big lens attached yet and I suspect that with something like a 70-200 f2.8L IS it might feel a little unbalanced without a battery grip but with the 16-35 and with a range of primes including the 135mm f2L it feels great without a grip (I’m not a grip fan). The shutter sound is OK and the ‘quiet’ option is also pretty good.
I have written a lot about processing RAW files from various cameras recently and I found the 6D files to be remarkably similar to the 5D MkIII ones and that is a big plus for me.
As always there are a few things that I’d like to see changed on. Canon have this amazing knack of producing “almost perfect” cameras and the 6D is no different here. In no particular order:
- I’d like them to add the ability to add custom file names in camera in the same way that you can in the 5D MkIII and the 1DX – surely this could be done as part of a firmware update?
- All Canon cameras need to have the ability to lock the diopter adjustment on the eyepiece. Having to put bits of gaffer tape on every camera is getting boring.
- I know that the camera already has built-in wifi but better Eye-Fi integration and the option to assign a button (the Q button?) to “protect” an image for transmission would be great.
- Twin card slots on a MkII would be far better than the single slot that this version has. 2x SD would be fine.
- Similarly, USB2 on a camera of this generation is poor.
I don’t shoot a lot of on-camera flash and I was caught out on this job where I only had a single 580exII with me. With not much time to work I found that the flash exposure with an older lens wasn’t great. It works well with the newer lenses and flash but the technology has left a couple of y older (but still great) L series lenses behind.
There was photocall with a couple of celebrities (Eddie Jordan and Claudia Winkleman) on the Sunseeker luxury yacht stand and I managed to steal the former Formula 1 team boss onto the bridge of a £3.8 million boat for a quick shot. I had to flash it and the head linings of the boat made a low but useable place to bounce from. Sadly my “exclusive” was ruined when a local agency photographer jumped in and did much the same shot. You win some and you lose some!
So what about the 6D’s performance as a working camera then? It is good without being brilliant. Lovely to use but not perfect. I could have written the same summary of just about any camera I have ever used but for anyone needing a full-frame Canon body on a tight budget it really does represent a great buy. It will get used again soon and I will add anything that crops up. Anyone want to lend me a 7D MkII for a day?