Canon 6D

One of the key themes of Photokina 2012 is shaping up be the resurgence of the full frame format, with the launch of a raft of cameras featuring 24x36mm sensors. First up was Sony, with its SLR-like Alpha SLT-A99and Cyber-Shot RX1 fixed-lens compact. Now, just four days after arch-rival Nikon announced what it billed as the ‘smallest and lightest full frame DSLR’ in the shape of the D600, Canon has revealed its own contender – the EOS 6D.

The EOS 6D is best seen as a full frame version of the EOS 60D – indeed it’s very similar in both control layout and dimensions. Its front profile is very similar to the Nikon D600, but it’s rather slimmer front-to-back, and lighter too. However it differs from the Nikon in a number of key respects; for example it has Wi-Fi and GPS built-in, while the D600 offers a distinctly higher spec’ed autofocus system, dual card slots and a built-in flash.

Canon EOS 6D key specifications

  • 20.2MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 5+ image processor
  • ISO 100-25600 standard, 50-102800 expanded
  • 4.5 fps continuous shooting
  • ‘Silent’ shutter mode
  • 1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
  • 11 point AF system, center point cross-type and sensitive to -3 EV
  • 63 zone iFCL metering system
  • 97% viewfinder coverage; interchangeable screens (including Eg-D grid and Eg-S fine-focus)
  • 1040k dot 3:2 3″ ClearView LCD (fixed)
  • Single SD card slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
  • Single-axis electronic level

The EOS 6D is built around a new Canon CMOS sensor, which offers a pixel count of 20.2MP (compared to the D600 and A99’s 24MP, or the 5D Mark III’s 22MP). In concert with the DIGIC 5+ processor it offers a standard ISO range of 100-25600, expandable down to 50 and up to 102,400. The AF system has 11 points, but only the central one is cross-type (i.e. sensitive to both vertical and horizontal detail). However according to Canon to will operate at extremely low light levels; right down to -3 EV – a stop dimmer than the 5D Mark III.

The EOS 6D’s most eye-catching additions are integrated GPS and Wi-Fi – their first appearance on a Canon SLR. The GPS unit includes exactly the same functionality as on the company’s compacts – it can embed location data into every image, and has a logging function that can keep track of where you’ve been through the day. This, we suspect, will be most-popular with landscape and travel photographers.

The integrated Wi-Fi unit has the basic functionality you might expect, allowing transfer of images to a smartphone or tablet, and direct upload to social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube. You can also send images directly to a Wi-Fi-enabled printer. But we think more photographers are likely be interested by the fact that it can also be used to turn your smartphone into a wireless remote control via Canon’s EOS Remote app for iOS or Android, complete with live view and full control of exposure settings.

The EOS 6D gains Canon’s silent shutter mode that we saw on the 5D Mark III, which offers quieter, more discreet shooting. It gets in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure modes, but disappointingly these are JPEG only, unlike on the 5D Mark III that also records RAW files. There’s also a single-axis electronic level to check for wonky horizons.

The 6D doesn’t, however, offer the latest goodies Canon introduced on the EOS 650D. There’s no on-chip phase-detection to aid autofocus in live view or movie mode, nor does Canon’s superb touchscreen interface make an appearance. As usual at this level the screen itself is fixed, rather than articulated as with the 60D the camera is modeled on – Canon says this is for maximum durability and minimum size. So if you really want a full frame camera with an swiveling screen, the Sony A99 is your only option.

Canon hasn’t yet offered any firm commitment on pricing or availability for the EOS 6D, but we’re led to believe it will be a month or two before it’s in the shops. Its price is likely to be in the same ball park as the Nikon D600, placing it between the EOS 7D and EOS 5D Mark III in Canon’s lineup.

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