Canon EOS 6D review: The best value for money in the EOS range?

By David Newton - Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Camera Review
Introduction | Measurement | Comparisons | Conclusion

Canon EOS 6D vs Nikon D600

This comparison sees the battle of a new market sector, that being the mid-range full-frame camera.

Straight in at the top of this sector, the Nikon D600 outscores the Canon EOS 6D in every testing metric. The DxOMark Overall Score of the Canon EOS 6D falls a fair way short of the Nikon D600 (82 vs 94).

The closest score between the two cameras is for Low-Light ISO, where the Canon EOS 6D scores 2340 to the Nikon D600’s 2980 – but this still represents a difference of almost 1/3rd stop. This is not to suggest the EOS 6D is a bad camera – far from it, but in comparison with the best in its sector, its image quality could be higher.

Canon EOS 6D vs Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs Canon EOS-1D X

Canon now offers three full-frame CMOS sensor cameras within the EOS range. This could potentially confuse the buying decision; however the prices are very well stratified. So, how does the lowest priced model, the EOS 6D, fair against its more illustrious stable mates?

Interestingly, the overall DxOMark scores for the three models are very similar, with the EOS 6D actually matching the flagship EOS-1D X on a score of 82. Each of the three models has one area in the three testing metrics where it performs slightly better than the others. For the EOS 6D, this is in the Dynamic Range area, where it manages 12.1Evs to the EOS-1D X’s 11.8EVs and the EOS 5D Mark III’s 11.7Evs.

In terms of Color Depth, the EOS 5D Mark III comes out on top, scoring 24bits to the 23.8bits of both the EOS 6D and EOS-1D X. In the sports or low-light ISO area though, the EOS-1D X justifies its flagship status by scoring 2786 ISO to the EOS 6D’s 2340 and the EOS 5D Mark III’s 2293 ISO. It is actually this slightly lower ISO score for the EOS 5D Mark III that has caused it to drop 1 DxOMark point compared to the other cameras.

Which camera of these three that you choose should therefore be decided by what you want to shoot? If you are a landscape photographer, the EOS 6D will serve you better. If portraits are more you main subject, then the EOS 5D Mark III will be best and if you shoot in low light, at weddings, sports events or as a photojournalist, then the EOS-1D X makes the most sense.

EOS 6D vs EOS 1Ds Mark III vs EOS-1Ds Mark II

As a final comparison, let’s look at how Canon’s full-frame sensors have evolved over the last few years.

These three cameras represent a transect through the last 8 years of Canon CMOS sensor development. Interestingly, the overall scores for these three cameras are not that different. There is a jump between the EOS-1Ds Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark III, but the EOS 6D actually out performs the other two models.

In terms of Color Depth, the EOS-1Ds Mark III is at the top, with 24bits, but the EOS 6D is only fractionally behind on 23.8bits. For Dynamic Range, again the EOS-1Ds Mark II is behind, as expected, but the EOS 6D is now on top. Again however, the difference is not that great, and certainly not enough to be visible in final prints.

It’s in ISO performance where the biggest differences appear. The EOS-1Ds Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark III both score just either side of 1500 ISO (1480 and 1663 respectively). The EOS 6D though shows a marked improvement, with a score of 2340 ISO.

Nikon’s AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED
Looking in a little more detail, we can see from the SNR 18% chart, that the EOS 6D outperforms the older models at all ISO settings, pointing to a good improvement from Canon.
Nikon’s AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED
Despite the improvements in ISO performance, the Dynamic Range at low ISO settings shows a slight increase from EOS-1Ds Mark II to EOS-1Ds Mark III, but very little improvement in the 5 years since then.

Considering the EOS-1Ds Mark III was the pinnacle of Canon cameras when it launched in 2007 and had a price tag of $7100 USD, the EOS 6D shows a major benefit in trickle down technology and now offers matching or better performance, with almost the same resolution, for only $2099 USD.