Taking photos with a full-frame camera is an amazing experience. Shots just look so much wider and more fulfilling thanks to the bigger sensor. It used to be that you had to pay big bucks to get yourself a full-frame camera, but thanks to Canon, you can now get a model like the EOS 6D for about $2400.
The EOS 6D is a 20-megapixel camera that uses Canon's DiG!C 5+ image processor. It can be used comfortably at very high ISO values (the standard range is from 100-25600), and it can also be used for rapid-fire photography. Indeed, with an ability to capture about 4.5 frames per second in burst mode, it's quite fast (we paired it with a Class 10 SD card). You can use this camera for any type of photography and you don't have to be an expert to operate it successfully. We had no problems using it for action shots, and we also obtained some great results during indoor, low-light photography sessions.
The EOS 6D slots in between the EOS 7D and the EOS 5D Mark II in Canon's range of digital SLR cameras for enthusiasts, and it's definitely a camera that's aimed at users who are serious about their hobby. It provides an affordable step up into the world of full-frame photography (the previous entry point being the EOS 5D Mark II for between $4000-$5000), and you'll immediately see the difference between this and a camera with an APS-C-sized sensor that you might be used to (otherwise known as a crop sensor). At about $2400 for the body only, it's only about $600 more than a typical enthusiast-level EOS digital SLR body.
To get the most out of the EOS 6D, you need to use lenses that are designed to work with the full-frame sensor. Canon's EF-S lenses, which are designed for crop sensor cameras, won't work on this camera. You will only be able to use the EOS 6D with Canon's EF lenses. These are marked with a red dot that corresponds to the red dot on the body. EF-S lenses are marked with a white square. If you're upgrading from an entry-level EOS digital SLR, or even from one of the enthusiast models, such as the 60D or the 7D, you'll also need to upgrade your lens collection. Conversely, an EF lens will work on a body with a crop sensor (those cameras have both a red dot and a white square indicating their compatibility). We used the Canon EF 24-105mm 1:4 L IS USM lens for our tests.
Physically, the EOS 6D looks just like a regular, mid-range digital SLR camera from Canon, meaning that it's relatively compact and not very heavy. What helps keep the size small is a minimal control layout, a fixed screen (rather than a hinged screen such as the one on the EOS 60D, for example), and the lack of a built-in, pop-up flash. There is an adequate handgrip that makes the camera very comfortable to hold, and it gives you quick access to the dials that can be used for changing settings on-the-fly. The shutter button is very soft, yet with a distinctive two-step feel so that you can delicately focus before taking a shot. Our only gripe is that a full click doesn't feel like a click, but more of a mash due to its softness.
If you're used to Canon digital SLR cameras already, the layout of the controls won't be anything new to you. You can easily adjust focus settings, drive, ISO, and metering by pressing the shortcut buttons above the settings screen at the top of the body; meanwhile, there is a Quick (Q) menu button on the rear, which sits between the LCD screen and the five-way thumb control. You can use the Q menu to change settings quickly and we think it's an intuitive way of doing things.
Just because it's a full-frame camera that's aimed at enthusiasts, it doesn't mean that scene modes and auto settings are shunned. In fact, the 6D has these on its dial, in addition to a Creative Auto mode that allows you to take pictures based on characteristics — you can choose to blur or sharpen a background, make an image lighter or give it richer colours, for example. Of course, the camera also shoots in RAW mode, so if you know what you're doing you can process your images to your heart's content.
Full HD video can be recorded at the flick of a switch and you use the same button to initiate recordings that you use to enable Live View mode. Shooting video outdoors on a bright day can be a chore if you can't see the subject properly due to the sunlight, and shooting at angles is restricted due to the fixed screen. However, it is a good video recording device and you can get excellent results out of it depending on the settings you use.
It can take a while to get used to shooting with a full frame camera like this one if you are coming from a crop sensor background. You might be surprised with the amount of extra light and area that the camera can capture, but it sure is a camera that's fun to use. If you've been shooting with a crop sensor digital SLR and want to take the next step up, we think an EOS 6D kit would be perfect.
A few JPEGs taken straight from the camera are below. You can see more in our image gallery.