Canon 6D Long Term Review 2018

Canon 6D

Introduction

By now I am sure that everybody knows all there is to know about the Canon 6D. Whether that be the specifications or the capability of it. But with the announcement of the Canon 6D Mark II last year that was met with disappointment in the image quality department, this long-term review might help you decide whether to pick a new original 6D for cheap (if you can still find one) or a second hand and how it has held up all this time

To start, I bought the original 6D body only way back in 2014. I have taken it everywhere with me. Whether that be into the icy Mont Blanc in France, through the Gobi desert (and sandstorm) in Dun Huang, China, to the coast of Atlantic Ocean in Arcachon, drenched in the Mediterranean Sea near Marseille, soaked in rain everywhere I go, and well you get the picture. Taken ten of thousands of photos with it, shot a respectable amount of video, yet it is still (knock on wood) standing tall. 

To make it easy, I have broken the review down into digestible sections as follows: the durability, the image quality and auto-focus, and conclusion. 

The Durability

Now I have never owned a 5D or any of the 1D series from Canon but the consensus is that these two series are built like a tank and can survive a lot! But having taken the 6D to the desert, icy mountains, salty oceans, and having had spilled a beer over it I can assure you that this thing is built to take abuse! After all that the only issue that I have with my 6D’s operation is a semi stuck (or sticky) playback button that requires a little bit of extra force from time to time. 

One thing anyone looking to buy the original 6D second hand should look out for is the rubber around the body peeling off. Mine has peeled off near the bottom left of the screen. This seems to occur especially in warmer climate countries. Another warm climate and rubber-related issue is the swelling up of it. On my unit the rubber under the shutter/ top of the front grip has swollen up a bit. This didn’t just happened to my unit. A photographer friend of mine had to replace the whole rubber layer because they were peeling off. 

A weird point to note of the cameras durability is the latch point for the straps. On the right side of my unit (shutter button side), the latch point is bent out of shape. How or when this happened I am not certain, could have been from a drop? Or a bump here and there while hiking? Soft material? Apparently, I talked to a Canon service rep and this problem can’t be fixed easily. It requires a complete disassembly and replacing the chassis. Wow!

Image quality and autofocus

When it was released the high ISO capability of the 6D was astounding! In my opinion, it is still absolutely acceptable. But don’t expect anything like the latest generation cameras from Sony, Nikon, or even the newer Canon. If your work doesn’t require you to shoot beyond ISO 12,800 you will be satisfied with the performance of the 6D. 

I never expected to shoot sporting events with the 6D. But for a while, my photography career revolved around shooting a lot of motor sports, marathons, some boxing, and concert. All of which pushed the auto-focusing ability of the camera to the limits. I am happy to report that in real-world use, the 6D does hold up to light sporting event shoots and concert photography. Although after having owned and use the 80D to shoot a few sporting events I can’t go back to shooting sports on the 6D anymore. Since the 6D Mark II has the same auto-focus module as the 80D (review coming soon) I imagine it will be as good and way ahead of the 6D.

Dynamic range, of course, it lags behind others… but is it enough? Yes! Unless you are shooting high contrast landscapes (you can still use graduated ND filters or 32-bit HDR it in post-production) or severely missed exposed an important photo (happens to the best of us. No shame in admitting it.) you will be fine with the capability of the 6D. If you are in the Canon ecosystem then the step up from this would be the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV which is way ahead of this in terms of image quality, auto-focus, and price as well.

Conclusion

A camera that has lasted for a while and is used as a workhorse is bound to have some wear and tear. But after going through the rough weather conditions and, to be honest, poor maintenance it is still going strong. The photos from it are still gorgeous, albeit a slight sign of sensor degradation (noisier image than when it was new), the auto-focus, although limited, still performed well in difficult situations, and the durability is astonishing! It is built to take abuse! As for reliability, I still rely on it for 90% of my shoots. But with only one SD card slot and its age, my heart thumps every time I take it out in the field. Hence, I have the 80D as a backup and a bunch of small memory cards.

So who is it for?

  1. A second camera to a professional using a 5D Mark III or IV or 6D Mark II. 

  2. An enthusiast looking for cheap full frame camera. 

  3. A professional photographer on a budget. 

  4. A portrait or studio photographer. 

  5. A hiker. 

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 Phaisal Guladee Professional Photographer Thailand
"Phaisal Guladee is a professional photographer and educator based in Bangkok, Thailand. He runs professional one-on-one workshops with locals and expats. To inquire about services and pricing contact: singhphotography@outlook.com or click here"