Photo Gear,  Travel

Is the Canon 6D a fit for Travel Photographers?

Canon just announced their new mid-level full frame camera this week – the Canon EOS 6D .  I started wondering about what this new entry meant to the travel photography community.  After conducting some research on the 6D and its specifications, I came to the following conclusions.  Here is the link to the specification comparison that I used for my research for this article.

 
Canon 6D Front
 
 The Canon 6D might be an interesting choice for travel photographers as it weighs less than both the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 7D.  It also has the high ISO/low light capability that is helpful when shooting without a tripod.  Here are my Pros and Cons of the Canon 6D for Travel Photographers.
 
Pros
  • Lighter weight.  If a travel photographer wants a full frame DSLR instead of a crop sensor or one of the new EVIL (Electronic View Finder with Interchangeable Lenses) cameras, the Canon 6D is lighter than the 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, and the Canon 7D (crop sensor).  See the specification comparison.
  • ISO Range.  The Canon 6D has an ISO range that is equal to the 5D Mark III (100 – 25600, expandable to 102400).  This is very useful for travel photographers.  A travel photographer will encounter many dimly lit places where a tripod is not allowed and high ISO is necessary to get a sharp image.  Some examples are:  monuments / memorials on cloudy days, morning and evening shots of city streets and buildings where it is difficult to set up a tripod due to crowds and traffic, and museums.
I am very happy with the high ISO, low light capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark III.  If the Canon 6D provides the same performance as the 5D Mark III, it should be a good fit for travel photographers shooting in low light conditions.
 
I took this photograph handheld inside the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC with my Canon 5D Mark III and was able to get a sharp image with low noise.
 
Spirit of St. Louis, National Air & Space Museum
  • Megapixels (20.2).  While smaller than the 5D Mark III (22.3), the 6D still has plenty of megapixels for cropping and large prints.
  • Built in GPS.  This could be terrific.  If you like to geotag your images with the exact location, this could save a lot of time if it is fully integrated with the metadata of the photos.
  • Built in WiFi.  This could also be a very useful feature.  However, the rumor is that it only works for JPEG and not RAW images.  Regardless, this could help travel photographers to quickly post images to their blogs or social media sites.  No more need for the Apple Camera Connection Kit.
Cons
  • Weather sealing.  The Canon 6D was announced with weather sealing as one of the features while the 5D Mark III was promoted with enhanced weather sealing.  Weather sealing is important to travel photographers as they can be caught out in the open with little or no protection from the elements.  In fact, stormy skies can produce some of the best effects for city and travel photos.  That said, you will have to determine if this is worth the additional $1,500 for the 5D Mark III
  • Card Slots.  Dual card slots are perfect for photographers who like immediate backup of their images.  This eliminates the need to back up to an external hard drive on the road to have redundancy.  The Canon 6D only has one SD card.   I prefer CF cards to SD cards as they are more durable.
  • AF Points.  The 6D has 11 AF points compared to 61 for the 5D Mark III and 19 for the 7D.  The 6D also has only 1 center cross-type point.   While additional AF points help with focusing flexibility, I’m not sure this is a show stopper for travel photographers.
With its smaller size and weight, high ISO capability, the Canon 6D appears to be a viable candidate for travel photographers.  The new built in WiFi and GPS features could also greatly benefit a photographer on the go.
 
These are my own personal opinions on the Canon 6D based on the published specifications.  If you would like to add your opinion (good or bad), post a comment at the bottom of this post.
 
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5 Comments

  • SoravitL

    Cheers for this great review. I have thinking to get the 6d for travel photography and some street photography untill a affordable mirrorless camera comes out that I like.
    I will probs take the rest of the money and get myself a good lense to go with it. Any recommendations?

    • Martin Belan

      Thanks for the feedback on the blog post. For a lens, it really depends on what you are shooting. I use the Canon 24-105 f/4 as a good all around lens on my Canon 5d Mark III.

  • Paolo

    Have you ever tried mirrorless (EVIL…) cameras in the field?
    Pick up a Fuji XE-1 or an Oly EM-5 and try to use them extensively for a couple of trips (with a couple of good glasses, obviously), and then you'll find a new definition of "travel photography camera"…
    Obviously IQ can't compete with a full frame DSLR, but with my EM-5 I've been able to take photos even without people seeing me, in the evening and when it was raining. DSLRs for street photography are too intimidating, and when others were failing, I've been able to take good shots.. Indeed, one body and 3 lenses < 2kg

    • Martin Belan

      Paolo,

      I was debating between a micro four thirds camera and the Canon 6d for travel photography. The size of the EVIL cameras are certainly an advantage. I opted for the Canon 6d because of the low light / high ISO performance. An EVIL camera is definitely on my wish list.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Paolo

    I agree with you, nothing can compete with a full frame DSLR (even if I'm more a fan of the Leica system, but then the investment is more like buying a good car…).
    But exactly as you noted, size and "stealthy" are major points for me doing street photography. When going in crowded places, and when you must travel light, mirrorless are the best system I've ever tried.
    If you have the ability to try a mirrorless system before buying, I suggest you to try the Oly EM-5 with an excellent glass like the Pana Leica 25 1.4, and go for some walks… It's like walking with a Leica (at least for some of it's strengths, like soft shutter sound and the "old and stealthy" appearance), but at a fraction of its cost and a way smaller and lighter! I've taken shots at 3200 and 6400 ISO, and the results are very pleasant, the noise is well controlled and it's very close to film grain in appearance.
    If I could, I'll travel with both systems, a full frame (DSLR like the 6D or Leica) system and a "stealthy" mirrorless with a couple of the best prime glasses… Sadly I had to travel light every time in the last years, so the mirrorless world saved my photographic life! 😉
    Paolo

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