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2012.09.17

With Photokina starting this week, Canon is going full-force by introducing 4 flagship products in their respective categories. The most eagerly anticipated one is their low-cost full-frame DSLR which is now the cheapest full-frame DSLR on the market.

Yes, the cheapest full-frame DSLR title changed hands 3 times in the last 7 days. The Nikon D600 took it from the Sony Alpha SLT-A99V, which took it from the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. And now, the Canon EOS 6D is the first full-frame DSLR with an official $2099 USD price tag. Considering the D600 already sells for that price, the 6D probably will be available for just under $2000 USD very soon. Compare them here for a quick glance at specification differences.

Canon EOS 6D

The Canon EOS 6D slots itself above the cropped-sensor 7D and the full-frame 5D Mark III with major letdown, discussed further down. It uses a 20 MP high-speed CMOS sensor capable of recording 1080p HD video and continuously shooting at 4.5 FPS for an amazing 1250 JPEG images! With a native ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 25600, expandable to 50 – 102400, the sensor of this full-frame DSLR may be very promising.

As a full-frame DSLR, this is a relatively high-end product and includes the usual complete manual controls, bracketing and hot-shoe for external lighting. There are dual control-dials and plenty of external controls and the ergonomics are a cross between the older 50D and the 60D.

In order to appeal its target market of people upgrading from a cropped-sensor model to a full-frame one, Canon made considerable efforts to keep size and weight down. At 755g, the 6D is now the lightest full-frame DSLR and even the smallest by volume.

Canon had to cut major corners to achieve such a small size and weight. The use of a cropped viewfinder, showing a mere 97% coverage, is the most serious and frankly embarrassing, considering that the cheaper 7D has a 100% coverage viewfinder. Even competitors selling for less than half-the-price of the 6D have 100% coverage OVFs. The other notable omission is that the 6D does not have a built-in flash. It does support all of Canon’s add-on flashes. Considering that the Canon EOS 6D can achieve a stellar ISO 102400 and that built-in flash rarely makes flattering images, this is no great loss.

Canon EOS 6D

The most controversial specifications of this new full-frame DSLR is its 11-point autofocus system with just one cross-type sensor dead center. While this is less that the 7D’s 19-point system and considerably less than the 5D Mark III’s 61-point system, the center-point is the most sensitive Canon has ever produced, matching the one on the Pentax K-5 IIs and K-5 II. For the numerous photographers who exclusively use the center-point for autofocus, this will not be an issue at all. It will be problematic for high-speed action and events where subjects move and there is no time to recompose after focusing.

Despite the drive for smaller size and weight, Canon squeezed in built-in WiFi and GPS, making this the first DSLR  to include WiFi. While it is not an essential photography feature, WiFi lets camera manufacturers bring remote capabilities to the next level. With the 6D, an Android or iOS device can control the camera and even see Live-View  remotely. This also eliminate the temptation to include a fragile rotating or tilting LCD, allowing cameras to be built tougher, smaller and lighter. This will also eventually replace intervalometer by software. GPS has its uses too but certainly not with as much potential as WiFi. Actually, if WiFi goes both way, a camera could get GPS data from a more precise and powerful GPS!

The Canon is scheduled to arrive in December for a suggested retail price of $2099. Those using a 60D or similar Canon cameras should find this a very tempting upgrade path, providing they have some high-quality EF lenses. Amazon.com is already taking pre-orders.

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