The Canon 6D was released in 2012. I bought mine in 2014. When it was released it was a great camera.
7 years on from its release, I am asking the question “Is the Canon 6D still worth buying in 2019?”. And the answer? Of course it is - time does not make a camera rubbish. In this post I am going to tell you why the Canon 6D is still worth buying, giving you a great, economical route into full frame photography and great image capture capabilities.
My Canon 6D took great photos in 2013, and took great photos this week.
What about progress and technological advances?
Despite all the technological advances that can be found in shiny new cameras the Canon 6D is still a great camera. And just because other cameras have advanced significantly since 2012 this does not automatically make the Canon 6D over the hill, past it’s sell by date, irrelevant or obsolete.
And in my humble opinion this applies to many cameras released in the last, well I don’t know, 15 years?
What did I have before the Canon 6D?
My first full frame camera was a Canon 5D Mk 1. This camera was first released in 2005 would you believe! And I still have this camera, which I am very fond of.
This is an image that I took with my Canon 5D which can be found in my current architectural photography portfolio.
Ok – before I justify my statement about the Canon 6D being still worth buying in 2019 I need to say something else.
Photography is not about gear. Photography is about recording the light. Composition and creativity.
All this technical stuff is really irrelevant.
No-one cares which camera you or I have used to capture an image. No one cares about the camera settings, if it was taken in RAW or JPEG? I have never been asked that question.
The only people who care about this are other photographers. And I am not working for other photographers!
What Is The Number 1 Most Important Thing In Photography?
The photo(s) you give to your client.
All most people care about is the photo itself. That is all. Let us not forget that.
Everything else is irrelevant to the most important person to me in my photography business - my client.
OK – so back to the gear….
I know. I complain too much about gear talk. But here I am not talking about new gear. I am talking about gear that I already have, and have learned to use inside out. And I am asking the question about the relevance of an older camera in 2019.
When I say talk I do mean write of course – it is just that I type as I would talk, as things come into/ out of my head.
Lets start at the beginning. What do I like so much about my Canon 6D?
Firstly, it just works.
Day in, day out. And having used it for so long I know how it works inside out. I can operate my camera in the dark with no problems. I can change lenses in the dark. Once I have found them that is! I use my Canon 6D without thinking about the camera - it is instinctive to me.
Ok – so now for some specific features, in no particular order.
Back button focus
I know that this is by no means a unique feature on the Canon 6D, but I still love this feature, and the way the Canon 6D does it.
Why do I use back button focus?
Simple. I compose my image, and then decide where I want to focus. Then I choose an appropriate aperture. And then I press the shutter button, which meters for the scene and starts the self-timer.
I have separated focus from exposure and image capture. I take the vast majority of my photos on a tripod, meaning that this makes perfect sense for me. This applies to not only my architectural photography but also to my travel and landscape photography.
This just works for me.
The sensor and the image quality
These to me are one and the same. I love the images that my Canon 6D produces. I love the look and feel that the RAW files give.
I like the depth of details that the sensor captures.
I like the tones.
I like the range of shadows and highlights, lights and darks. And with the way I take the photos I like the way I can take bracketed sets and put the bits together in Lightroom.
I like the information that my Canon 6D records that i can work with.
I like the photos that my Canon 6D takes.
Note the Canon 6D has 11 focus points. The Canon EOS R has 5655 focus points. You might want to read that again.
The CANON EOS R HAS 5655 FOCUS POINTS.
THE CANON 6D HAS 11 FOCUS POINTS
I have found 11 focus points just fine. To be honest I tend to only need to use one at a time. So what would I do with the other 5654 focus points on the Canon EOS R? I’m not quite sure (but I am looking forward to finding out!).
The way I take my photos I focus on one part of the composition, typically around 1/3rd into the scene.
And another thing about the focussing on the Canon 6D – it can focus in ridiculously low light. I don’t know how it compares to other more technologically advanced cameras, but it does focus down to ridiculously levels of light, or darkness
Do I need to be able to focus in near darkness?
I take a lot of photos pre-sunrise and post-sunset but rarely have a problem with focussing.
I compose with Live View and focus without Live view – this works just fine for me.
If you research the autofocus of the Canon 6D you will find lots of people who say that it is not that great, especially in low-light. I have no idea what they are talking about, and I have never had a problem focussing in low light.
A word about camera reviews and other peoples opinions
The Canon 6D has it’s critics. There always seems to be someone somewhere who has to criticise something, or always demand more, or find something better in an alternative (in this case camera) and draw on the negatives.
That is why we all have to be careful how we assess and value peoples opinions.
I have had people say to me that the focussing on the Canon 6D is rubbish in low light. Really? I have never had a problem with this.
Someone else asked how can I work professionally as a photographer using a camera that only has one memory card slot?
I have never had a card failure. Never. I look after my memory cards incredibly carefully. I don’t want to tempt fate but this has never happened to me.
The point was valid, but was it relevant?
You can find numerous negative reviews and comments on the Canon 6D, probably more bad press than good. But be careful with the agendas of these people - the Canon 6D is a great camera. And to be honest you are hard pressed to find a rubbish camera these days.
Ergonomics of the Canon 6D
The Canon 6D fits in my hands and the controls are all in very familiar and to me logical positions. I have never wished that things weren’t where they are. Not that the camera is perfect, it is just that we have grown close to each other over the years! To be fair I do not believe that there is such a thing as the perfect camera.
The familiarity of my Canon 6D is a bit like having a favourite pair of shoes, they mould to you over time and end up being irreplaceable.
I know – I am getting worryingly sentimental here. Having said that we have been through a lot together, me and my Canon 6D!
Wi-Fi - very important
I use the Wi-Fi to take photos in unusual locations and from unusual viewpoints. This is an essential part of my work.
OK the Canon Connect App is hardly cutting edge, but most of the time it works fine and allows me to do what I need to do.
I have not used the Wi-Fi to view photos remotely – the way I work I only want to look at photos on my big calibrated monitor in my office. This is changing though, and I find that more and more I would benefit from instant access to viewing photos on my iPad Pro.
This is something that I need to look into with my Canon 6D and Canon Connect App – that and transferring Jpeg files for instant publication and sharing.
Did I say JPEGs???
Canon Camera RAW
Canon’s RAW format. I use this all the time - I never use Jpeg. It is so good and gives me so much. Just awesome.
GPS built-in - how did I ever manage without this?
Another invaluable feature. I do a lot of travel photography – much more than I ever did, and also have other websites about specific travel photography locations. Now that I have mentioned them I might as well tell you what they are.
OK - advert over.
I need GPS, and the Canon 6D has it. I use the Map module in Lightroom a lot, which enables me to erm, tell where I took photos from.
I also have been known to stop and take photos when travelling – anytime I see something I like I stop and take a photo, and the GPS tells me where I took the shot.
So an invaluable feature that I would not be without.
And I use it on my various websites and for writing articles about my photography work.
Reliability over the years
My Canon 6D is a workhorse. It just works, day in, day out. I turn it on and it is there for me. It has never failed, never let me down.
The Canon Ecosystem
Canon have been criticised for slow technological advances. For getting into mirrorless late. And for not innovating with the technology in their DSLRs.
It seems that there is again so much negativity. Take s step back though and look at the Canon ecosystem - it is an awesome place to be with lenses for every and any occasion.
It’s not all sweetness and light - there are things that are not perfect! What do I not like about the Canon 6D?
The viewfinder and my dodgy old mince pies
I am 51 years old. I am struggling with the viewfinder I’m not going to lie to you. I have a dominant eye. And a lazy one on the other side of my head. And I am short sighted. And my near vision is much worse than it was.
As grim as this sounds this is the reality of being my age! And I am not going to get any younger!
I never know which eye to use when composing through the viewfinder.
The future of viewfinders – the EVF
I have recently been trying out EVFs on the cameras on display in shops and at airports. Well every time I go to an airport, which is quite often, I always have a look at all the shiny new loveliness on display.
An EVF is an electronic viewfinder by the way.
Yes this is how I spend my time waiting for flights – trying out EVFs and wishing I had one! And then realising even in holiday mode that the airport is not the place to buy a camera. I nearly cracked once and would have made an expensive mistake but thankfully I saw sense.
Now when I find one that is actually working I find these to be a bit of a revelation. I tried an Olympus EVF last time I was at the airport that was absolutely remarkable.
This is the thing that has taken me down the road to mirrorless cameras – my age, my short sightedness and the blurry distance vision I can get from time to time. For travel photography that is.
Yep getting old has its drawbacks, my eyes being a pretty big one.
Getting back to the point - pleaese forgive my digressions!
I struggle to focus close and then at a distance. My contact lenses correct for my short sight, which I have had since the age of about 13, and now also give me assistance with close vision.
These contact lenses need light to work properly, so at times using the Canon 6D is a struggle. Sometimes I cannot read the LCD panel on the top, even with the (faint) light turned on.
So it might be ageing that forces me to buy a new camera - I really hadn’t thought about that until writing this!
The GPS. If I do not manually turn off the GPS when I turn off the camera it is still running and drains the battery. Completely infuriating and there is apparently no fix for this. I actually asked Canon people at the Photography Show.
I hope that the Canon 6D Mk 2 and other newer models have had this problem sorted as it drives me up the wall. And for no reason that I can think of.
A small thing I know but an irritation all the same.
The LCD screen
The LCD screen is quite frankly rubbish. Rubbish when compared to my iPhone 7 Plus screen that is. Having said that I can’t see my iPhone 7 Plus screen in full Greek sunlight anyway!
But no - the screen is much too small. To get round this I have had to buy a Loupe Viewer – this is what it looks like. This shades the sun and magnifies what is on the LCD screen - a really good accessory for less then £30.
I had to stick a small plastic window on the LCD screen, onto which I can attach the viewer quickly whenever needed.
I use the LCD screen to compose images all the time, which would be very difficult, even impossible in some lighting situations with just the small LCD screen on the Canon 6D.
And add the problems with my ageing eyes and you will see that the screen is a serious issue to me.
So much so now that I have written about it that I might have to consider replacing my Canon 6D to get over my ageing eyes!
I don’t get them sorry Canon. It seems such a convoluted way to customise my camera that I have never really used it. Sure I have set it up but find it so un-user friendly. Maybe I should give some more time to this feature and see if I get can get my head around it properly.
I did try it but when I saved the settings I was no longer shooting in AV Mode, which confused me so I gave up.
There is an in-camera HDR merge feature on the Canon 6D, but rather bafflingly this only works with JPEG files?
Why can’t any camera, and not only the Canon 6D just do the HDR thing automatically in-camera? With RAW files that is. It is only a case of taking three exposures and merging them together. Why do I have to do this in Lightroom?
And why doesn’t the in-camera HDR work on RAW images?
If the Canon 6D did in-camera HDR with RAW files I would only ever need the RAW HDR file which would save me so much time.
It has a horizontal level but not a vertical level
This is the other thing that is making me think about a new camera. When I use the electronic level I get a big bright green line that tells me the camera is level. There is not however another green line to tell me that my camera is vertical.
This is a genuine problem for me - I often cannot see the bubble on my Manfrotto tripod head.
And getting my camera properly level is very important for me. This is an issue on every architectural photo I take.
What is the working life of a Canon 6D?
I don’t know to be honest.
Shutter actuations are the key thing here. The shutter after all is the major moving part and rather critical to the workings of the camera.
The Canon 6D shutter has a shutter rating of 100,000 actuations. How many shutter actuations have I made with my Canon 6D?
I could get some software that will give me a number but it is unlikely to be accurate.
No I will go with the number of images in my Lightroom Catalogue. Of course that will not include images that have been deleted, but I don’t think that this will be significant knowing the way I work and how few images I delete once they are in Lightroom.
This will give me a good enough idea.
21,652. It was 22,422 when I first wrote this post. Clearly I have been doing some housekeeping in Lightroom.
Not too bad and not a concern. Not as much as the state of my eyesight that is!
Lets not forget 100,000 is a number to provide an indication of the working life of a camera shutter. To me this number is only of use when I am comparing one camera to another – the number gives me an idea of the relative robustness of two cameras.
A much more relevant factor is how many times I have dropped my camera, how many times I have got it wet.
Basically how badly have I treated it?
Dropping it - well there was the big drop in the National Trust office at Corfe Castle – this resulted in an expensive repair (at a Canon Autohorised repairer I should add).
And lots of small drops. Mostly onto rocks at sunrise.
Splashes by the sea.
Being rained on (not a problem as it is weather sealed).
A quick spray of Mythos (the Greek beer for those who don’t know!)
General wear and tear
My camera has been with me every day everywhere I go. Every day I put it in the boot of my car, and every night I take it out again. It has been crammed into tight spaces on planes, buses, trains and boats of various types. But has always been carefully looked after.
The working life of my Canon 6D is from now until is stops working!
Enough waffle – what about some photos taken with my Canon 6D?
Here are six photos taken over the 6 years I have had my Canon 6D
What lenses do I use with my Canon 6D
I just have four lenses these days.
Canon 24-105mm F4 L
Canon 17-40mm F4L
Canon 70-200mm F4 L IS
These are all I need to be honest. I use the 24-105 for travel photography, and the 17-40 for most of my architectural work.
What would my ideal focal lengths be?
Digressing here but just a thought I would like to add.
12-300mm is the range that I would like to cover, ideally with 2 or 3 small lenses.
What would it take for me to change to another camera?
I would like something smaller and lighter, especially for travel photography.
And for travel photography I have invested in an Olympus OM-D EM10. I sold my Canon tilt-shift lens and bought this tiny camera and lens.
This is for travel photography. I am still going to use my Canon 6D for my commercial architectural photography.
So I have changed to another camera manufacturer?
Added, not changed. The only other manufacturer I have used is Fujifilm – my first “proper” camera was a Fujifilm (film) SLR.
I liked the look of Olympus and Fujifilm’s current offerings – this is based on a pretty superficial look at them in camera shops and some stuff I have heard – nothing too scientific or exacting. So I had a more in-depth look and went with Olympus micro four thirds.
Would I go back to film?
No. Why ever would I do that? Why do people do that? I just do not get it.
Do I not want something shiny and new?
Yes of course I do, and after all that talk about how much I hate gear and the time spent talking about gear I would love to have a new camera.
I love new tech gear. I was very excited to get a new iPhone when my contract ran out in January 2019. I went straight for an iPhone XS.
And every time I use my Apple Airpods they make me smile.
But I must not forget this
I still enjoy using my Canon 6D, even after all these years.
But yes I do browse new kit at airports and in camera shops and do have those background gear lust feelings.
Before I finish
Photography hasn’t really changed – photography is after all making photos.
Lets not forget that – photography gear is just that – gear. Tools of the trade. The equipment we use to capture what we see in front of us.
If I get a new camera will I take better photos?
I will have additional features that will give me better opportunities to capture better images but no, fundamentally no.
My Canon 6D won’t last forever though?
No it won’t. What would I do now if I broke or it just expired?
What would I replace my Canon 6D with if I had to replace it right now?
There are things that I would need to have in a camera to convince me to change from my good old Canon 6D.
What about the Canon 6D Mk 2?
The Mk 2 version has some very cool features. It is a general evolution of the 6D Mk 1 into a generally more advanced camera.
As well as all that the 6D Mk 1 has there are also some cool new features.
An articulated screen. And a touchscreen at that!
More resolution (but not too much) – 26 Megapixels
A (slightly) better sensor that the 6D Mk 1
But to be honest these things did not excite me enough to make me upgrade. My 6D Mk 1 is still working just fine thanks.
But the Canon 6D Mk 2 is a great camera. And there would be no problem with all my lenses and other bits of kit. And there is the familiarity of sticking with Canon.
I am digressing now
This is drifting into 20 features I want in a new camera. I might as well make that next weeks post! I just need a snappy Google friendly title and I am good to go.
Tell you what – head back to my photography blog next week where you can read the next post in my series, which will be called something like
20 features I need in a new camera to replace my Canon 6D (by the time I had completed this post I was quickly up to 25 things!)
So I wrote the post How to choose your next camera – 31 features that I want.
Blimey. I can go on sometimes. Still it is good to get these things out of my head and out into the wonderful world of the World Wide Web.
You may have noticed that on more than one occasion I have used the terms “it works for me”. Well that pretty well sums it up.
The Canon 6D works for me.
I hope that you are finding the new format of my photography blog, with less frequent but much longer and more in-depth posts useful and more interesting.
Next week I dive into micro four thirds photography.