Initial Impressions of the Canon 6D

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 good

  • 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.
Canon EOS 6D Review

Image courtesy of


  • 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.
Canon EOS 6D Back View Comparison

Image courtesy of



Other thoughts

  • 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.


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When I’m not staying up all night figuring out the details of our next Out of Chicago Conference, you’ll find me at the park with our son and daughter, playing my guitar, out on the golf course, or following my favorite (Detroit) sports teams. I love Chicago, but I’ll always root for my Tigers, Red Wings, Lions, Michigan sports, and Pistons.

Latest comments
  • Nice review, the portrait of your son and you is great. Cannot wait to see some cityscapes from it soon!

    • Thanks, Chris. I’ve got a bunch of stuff from Saturday night in Chicago I’ll be posting soon.

  • Chris, Nice summary of the pros and cons of the 6D. I really wish it had dual card slots also – I find sd cards to fragile and easy to lose. I cannot understand the lack of a dual axis electronic level as in the 7D – I relying this extensively for tripod shooting. The quiet shutter sounds great – this would have came in handy at Univ of Chicago (pics to follow soon). Overall, it sounds like an overall improvement, minus some user interface issues which Canon always seems to always tinker with. I was hoping the Wi-if feature would have opened up a lot more opportunities with ease of use – I may just order the cameramator for that. Love the portrait of you and your son.

    • Yeah, I have mixed feelings about the single axis level. It’s the one that I use all the time while the pitch axis I would only use occasionally. But it seems the only reason it’s not there is to keep it different from the 5D Mark III. The silent shutter will be perdect for shooting in churches and that. I think that once I get the workflow down the WiFi may be perfect. That’s yet to be determined. I’ll look forward to your pics from UofC!

  • Spot on review Chris…my 6D showed up on Saturday and I absolutely love it. Coming from the 7D, the high ISO performance of the 6D is nothing less than astonishing. I’m also fumbling around the buttons trying to get accustomed to the new layout, but I’m sure it will become second nature before long.

    As for the wifi remote liveview, you can autofocus, but the AF button on the app was disabled by default on my Android. Check the menu for an option to enable it. Also, it works best if you set the camera up as an access point and connect your phone to it, rather than running over your home’s wifi network. Also, remote shooting worked for me over wifi using EOS Utility, but despite the fact that Lightroom detected the camera, tethering wouldn’t work. I’m really hoping Adobe solves that one.

    Also, as an added bonus, I tried my Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 lens out (since it’s technically an EF mount with appropriate clearance), and it covers the sensor all the way down to 14mm.

    Love the self portrait too…that totally caught my eye in my Flickr stream. 🙂

    • Awesome. I’m glad I’m in good company! I hope that I can rearrange my muscle memory. Right now lots of things seem just wrong. But I’m sure I’ll get it straightened out before too long. I did figure out how to focus using autofocus. I guess it was wishful thinking to think I might be able to zoom in on an area and manually focus. But you’re right, any focusing at all is turned off by default. I don’t know why. I hadn’t gotten to the point to try tethering in Lightroom. That’s disappointing. I hope they figure it out.

      Let me know how that Sigma works for IQ. And good luck with the new camera!

      • I think double-tapping on the screen on your phone will zoom in. Either way, it’s a fairly rudimentary application at the moment…I was surprised to find out that you can’t adjust anything other than aperture, shutter and ISO via the app. I’ve used wired solutions that let you control everything, so hopefully it’s just a matter of time until the functionality is built out. Either way this totally beats a swivel LCD for versatility. 🙂

        Also, forgot to ask…does the shutter button on your 6D seem extremely sensitive? There were several times yesterday when I thought I was doing a half-shutter press and the camera would take a photo. I’m going to blame it on being unfamiliar for the time being, but have you noticed it being a bit touchy? Good thing I’m used to back-button AF I suppose.

        • Yes, yes, yes! Yesterday at the dog show 2 things were happening. I kept hearing a clicking sound when I was pushing the stroller and I kept seeing 10-15 shots of the floor that I didn’t remember taking. It’s really sensitive. We’ll see if it continues to be an issue.

          Double tapping zooms in on a picture you’ve already taken. I didn’t get it to work on the live view screen. And you’re right, I was thinking I’d be able to set how many HDR shots I would take and such, but it’s not possible in this version. I hope they continue to improve it.

          • Ok good…I’m glad it’s not just my camera then. 🙂


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