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First Look: The Canon EOS 6D: A lovely camera, but watch the tradeoffs

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First Look: The Canon EOS 6D: A lovely camera, but watch the tradeoffs

2:48 /

The company's 'budget" full-frame model produces some great photos, but as a whole it leaves us feeling a bit ambivalent.

-In some respect, it's hard to tell who Canon's targeting with the EOS 6D, its budget full-frame camera. On one hand, it's got some fairly consumery features. GPS? Check. Built-in Wi-Fi? Check. Single SD card slot? Check. Viewfinder with less than 100 percent coverage? Check. Wimpy autofocus system? Check. On the other hand, it's missing things like a built-in flash that you'd expect in a non-pro camera. But it's not that the 6D isn't a really nice camera. I happen to like it a lot. It's got great photo and good video quality, a relatively fluid operational design with a soft shutter action, and a solid but not weatherproof build. Photos are everything you'd expect from a full-frame model, sharp with good tonal range and their usable well into the higher ISO sensitivities with lots of details in the highlight and shadow areas. The Wi-Fi implementation fares pretty well as long as you bypass all the stuff that requires a Canon Image Gateway membership, such as direct uploads to other web sites. The camera remote app lets you change shutter speed and aperture, ISO sensitivity, and exposure compensation, which is a lot more than you get with other apps. As usual, the GPS operation was pretty spotty here in New York City. I could get a signal while shooting in Union Square, but practically nowhere else. And if I forgot to turn it off, it drained the battery by incessantly hunting for a signal. That's par for the course, though. My biggest gripe is probably the somewhat sluggish autofocus performance. While the camera performs pretty quickly in good light and it has a reasonably deep buffer to maintain its 4.5-frame-per-second continuous shooting rate, the autofocus really slows down in dim conditions. I think what's most frustrating is that the 6D should be clearly better than the older, cheaper 7D, and it's not. While the 6D's full-frame photo quality noticeably outshines its APS-C-based siblings and it has a much broader feature set in checkbox ways, the 7D has a better viewfinder, faster autofocus, a more durable shutter mechanism, and an extra custom setting slot, just to mention a handful of things. If you're thinking of moving up from one of Canon's APS-C-based models, like the 60D, it's definitely worth it for the photo and video quality. If you're considering it instead of one of the more expensive full-frame models, it's a fine alternative if you don't mind the 97 percent coverage viewfinder, single card slot, less durable shutter, lack of a headphone jack, fewer customizations, and all those other little ways in which you might have to compromise. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Canon EOS 6D.

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