A New Camera – The Canon 6D

What to do when you get a check from selling some time-lapse footage? Go out and buy another camera, of course. Just a case of using hobby income to support the hobby. The curious coincidence of the check arrival and a very nice package deal at B&H Photo helped in the process.

Rasalhague mugging for the camera. Canon 6D and 50mm f/1.8 lens
The new camera is a Canon 6D, my first full-frame digital camera. I have been considering the purchase for quite a while, basically since the camera was first announced just over a year ago.

The real attraction to me is the low noise performance of the full frame sensor. This is critical when shooting in the dark for nightscapes and for astrophotography. The camera is currently one of the best on the market, beating out the more expensive Canon 5D MkII and MkIII’s. I am looking forward to what this camera can do when mounted to a telescope or paired with a fast lens in the dark.

Thus I was very happy to see the box sitting in the living room when I got home from work. Quickly unpacked I set about the usual task of taking the first photos. The batteries with the new camera needed charging, but the 6D takes the same packs as my 60D, a nice advantage. Grabbing a charged pack I was up and running in short order.

The first victim subject was Rasalhague. Not the star, the cat.

No problem, Ras was in a playful mood and gracefully accommodated a camera in his face. I quickly captured a number of nice portraits of this handsome feline.

The camera handling is quite nice, it feels good in my hands. The control layout is substantially rearranged from what I am used to. It will be a while before I can use this camera in the dark. I do miss the touch screen of the EOS-M. This feature is appearing on more of the Canon DLSR’s, but not on the 6D.

Heading outside I experimented with the low light capability of the camera. The specifications state that the camera will focus in very low light, -3EV, a full stop better than the 5D MkII. What this means in practice is that the camera easily focused with only dim street lighting, lighting levels I have never seen a camera focus with before. I was more than a little amazed, I suspect the camera will be able to focus with bright moonlight.

The resulting images are very impressive, with levels of noise that are impressively low. I have no quantitative numbers yet, I need to set up properly and take some test shots to really examine this. But the quick conclusion is clear… This is a camera meant for taking photos in the dark.

What I do not have is a general purpose zoom lens to use with the camera. The 17-85mm I generally shoot with the 60D is an EF-S lens, usable only on the smaller sensor APS-C cameras. The only full frame EOS lenses I have on-hand are the 50mm f/1.8 and a 70-200mm f/4 L series telephoto. Of course I do have other optics to use with the camera, notably the Televue 76mm and the AT6RC, both of which should work very well with the camera.

Stay tuned for more results.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

One thought on “A New Camera – The Canon 6D”

  1. Andrew- Congrats on the new camera! I’d love to move up to the “Big Boy” format, and I’ve gotten some good feedback from a former NYC pro photographer (now retired) who really loves his 6D. I’m looking forward to seeing what you can wring out of it with long exposures. I would really miss the pop-up flash, as it gets used a lot for portrait fill to macro, and the 60D style articulating screen would be nice too. Perhaps I’ll make do with my 5+ year old XSi till the next model… -Dean

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