Nature,  Photo Gear,  Wildlife

Nature Photographers – Should you Buy a Canon 6D?

This is the third part of my series on the recently announced Canon 6D.  The first two series covered.

·      A specification comparison of the Canon 6D, 5D Mark III, and 7D
·      A discussion on the fit of the Canon 6D for travel photographers
 
This post will finish the series with my opinions on how the 6D is matched for Nature photographers.  Nature photography is a broad subject.  There are many types of nature photography including: wildlife, birds, landscapes, macro, long exposure night photography, etc.  In this post, I will focus on wildlife and bird photography, macro photography, and landscapes.

 
Canon 6D
 
I’ve created the following table for comparison and then will discuss the exceptions for each type of photography. 
 
6D Specs Wildlife & Birds Landscape Macro
Digic 5+ Image Processor Yes Yes Yes
20.2 Megapixels Yes Yes Yes
Full CMOS Sensor Yes Yes Yes
ISO 100 – 25600, L:50, H1: 51200, H2:102400 Plus Plus Plus
11-Point AF Array, 1 Cross-Point No Yes Yes
3.0-inch TFT LCD Display Yes Yes ?
4.5 FPS Shutter Speed No Yes Yes
Weight – 27.2 oz / 775g Yes Yes Yes
Single SD Card Slot Yes Yes Yes
100,000 Shutter Actuation Rating Yes Yes Yes
Built-in WiFi ? ? ?
Built-in GPS Plus Plus Plus

Legend
Yes 6D specs would be acceptable for this type of photography
No 6D specs might not fit for this type of photography
? May or may not be a fit depending on the implementation and usage
Plus Bonus feature that could be a plus for this type of photography
 
ISO Range.  The high ISO range of the Canon 6D will be a benefit to most photographers.  The ISO range of the 6D is the same as the Canon 5D Mark III which in my opinion is very good.  This should help macro and landscape photographers if they need to handhold shots in low light conditions.  This will also benefit wildlife and bird photographers attempting to photograph animals at the beginning or end of the day such as capturing short-eared owls in flight in low light conditions.
 
AF Points.  The Canon 6D has 11 AF points which is an upgrade from the 5D Mark II’s 9 AF points.  However, this is significantly less than the AF points on the 5D Mark III or the 7D.  This should work for landscape and macro photography that is mainly manual focus.  This could be a drawback for tracking birds and wildlife.
 
LCD Display.  The 3.0-inch LCD display is the same size as the Canon 7D.  A bigger LCD might be beneficial for macro photographers who mainly manual focus in live mode on the LCD.  It’s probably not too big of a deal.  I’ve done quite a bit of macro photography with my Canon 7D.
 
Shutter Speed.  This could be a show stopper for wildlife and bird photographers.  At times, I find the 6 fps of my 5D Mark III too slow for birds in flight.  If you photograph birds or wildlife in action, 4.5 fps may cause you to lose shots.
 
Built-in WiFi.  This is a cool feature.  I just don’t know how applicable this is to nature photographers.  Nature photographers typically don’t work in the range of a WiFi signal unless they have a mobile wireless hotspot in their pocket.
 
Built-in GPS.  Built-in GPS could be very beneficial to nature photographers.  I like to Geotag my photos for future reference.  A GPS solution fully integrated with the camera could be a big time saver.
 
Overall, the Canon 6D looks to be a good match for nature photographers.  The exception would be for bird and wildlife photographers where the number of AF points and the low frames per second shutter speed could be a drawback.
 
 These are my own personal opinions on the Canon 6D for nature photographers based on the published specifications.  If you disagree with my opinion (or agree), share your opinion by posting a comment to this blog post.

6 Comments

  • Louis Rumis

     
    I haven't had the 6D too long, but it leaves my 7D for dead! Much higher ISO ratings with little visible noise. Superb image quality.The Silent mode is brilliant-especially for photographing Badgers-who have rather acute hearing. Locks onto birds in flight very quickly. The Geo-tagging is something I wanted-I could be in India, Alaska or Kenya as well as the UK (where I live). I hadn't looked into too much when I opened my files, in the dedicated Canon software. I wondered what the Globe above the image was?(I only read the manual when it doesn't work).I double clicked it-and as it slowly opened up, it showed a map-this identified where I parked my vehicle when I had arrived, then the river alongside where I had photographed the image of the Kestrel I was looking at. A word of warning! When you switch the 6D off-the GPS is still active and will quickly drain you battery, so much so that it needs a kick start and a very long charge to bring it up to a full charge. You can switch the GPS in the settings-just as siple to drop the battery out. Just don't forget. I am still keeping my 7D and my 1D Mk111-for now!

    • Martin Belan

      Louis,

      Thanks for the informative comment. I agree that you need to turn the GPS off when not in use ore it will drain your battery. I’ve tested this and wrote a blog on it.

      Martin

  • Wifi

    About WiFi…

    Isn't one of the main features of the 6D's wifi the ability to use a smart phone as a live view remote? I don't own a 6D, but I'm pretty sure you don't need to be near a hotspot for that. Couldn't that be extremely useful for nature photography, i.e. setup the camera and monitor and control it remotely to avoid scaring subjects.

    • Martin Belan

      Thanks for the comment.  Yes, the Canon 6d can create its own wifi hotspot for use in the field.  The Canon EOS Remote app is available for smart phones as well as tablets for use as a liveview remote.

  • Johnathan Peal

    I own the Canon EOS 6D full frame camera. I would think that the crop sensor on the 7D mark II would be a biggest advantange especially for wildlife and birding. This extends your focal length by 1.6x. I have heard that if you use an 1.4x III extender that you can still autofocus with a Canon 100 – 400. To me this is the biggest advantage between the two. I read that the 7d mark II has twice the life at 200,000 takes vs 100,000 of the 6d. I'm thinking of switching to the 7d mark II. I take alot of birds and wildlife shots with a 100-400 lens & it seems like I'm always needing extra focal length. 

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