Canon 6D vs Canon 5D Mark II : Which is a better value full frame DSLR Camera?

by Enche Tjin on January 24, 2013

Lately I got some questions about picking Canon EOS 6D or 5D Mk II. They are both full frame DSLR camera and prices below $2000 body only. With this pricing, these cameras are aimed to semi-professional photographer or serious amateur photographer. Canon 6D is announced in 2012, while the 5D MK II was released in 2009, three years earlier.

In three years, many new technological developments in the world of digital camera, and this makes the specification of Canon 6D better and more complete than previous cameras, including the Canon 5D Mk II.


Back view of Canon-6d-vs-Canon-5d-mk II - 6D is noticeably smaller, but you lose some buttons and joystick in the trimming down process.

Here’s a summary of the advantages and disadvantage of Canon EOS 6D compared to Canon EOS 5D Mk II

Quality and size of image: Canon 6D is better especially at ISO 800 and above. 6D’s picture looks sharper with more details. Both has almost the same resolution, Canon 6D has 20 Mp and 5D Mk II 21 Mp.

Processor: The processor determines speed and overall performance, as well as image quality. 6D is using the latest Canon processor DIGIC V + which improves performance of the camera. (5D mk II use DIGIC IV processor). Startup and continuous shooting are faster on 6D. It can shoots 4.5 frame per second compared to 5D’s 3.9 frame per second.

Metering: Canon 6D uses 63 zone metering with iFCL, which is much better than 35 zone metering in Canon 5D mk II. The new metering system takes account on color and linked to active autofocus point.

User Friendliness: Canon 6D includes various scene modes, auto exposure mode settings, which are not available in 5D Mk II. Canon has realized that a lot of beginners and general consumers attracted to this kind of camera for its image quality and want an easy way to operate the camera.

Autofocus system: The AF system is not as sophisticated as Canon 5D mk III, and does not have as many points compared to its rival, Nikon D600, but there was an improvement from 5D Mk II. 6D sports 11 autofocus points, with a cross-type center point (+), which is sensitive to light -3 EV (equivalent moonlight). This high sensitivity center focus point is far beyond Nikon D600 and 5D Mk II  AF, which is best at -1 and -0.5 respectively. As a result, photographers who often taking pictures in low-light conditions such as in the evening party will be pleased.

The quality of the camera body: Same like the 5D Mk II, 6D is not weather or waterproof. But both has sturdy construction. 6D is slightly smaller and about 50-60g lighter. For shutter durability, 5D mk II is superior because it has been tested to 150,000 operations, while the 6D only 100,000.

There are some direct access button missing in 6D which are White Balance, picture style, direct printing and Flash exposure compensation. The joystick has disappeared, it is replaced with eight direction arrows like EOS 60D. Both cameras have viewfinder coverage of 97% in 6D, and 98% on the 5D Mk II.

For the monitor, 6D display is more detailed because it has 140.000 dots more and the aspect ratio is more suitable for displaying photos and videos, ie 3:2. This camera does not have built-in flash.

Some of other advantages of 6D are: It has features WiFi, geolocation / GPS, HDR (taking several pictures with different exposure and combine them into one photo to achieve smooth tonal gradation from very bright to dark), AEB (automatic exposure bracketing) in 6D has  + / – 7 steps whereas in 5D Mk II only + / – 2 steps. Auto ISO is also improved in 6D. Now, user can specify minimum shutter speed to avoid camera shake.

Some advantages of the 5D mk II: maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec compared to 6D ’s  1/4000 sec. Flash synchronization is 1/200 sec compared to 6D’s 1/180 sec ., and shutter durability, as I had mentioned above, reaching 150,000 compared to 100,000 operations.

Bottom line, the Canon EOS 6D is superior in almost every aspect related to technology. But what most people confuse is whether 6D worth it considering there is couple hundred $ difference in the price tag. It’s good to review the advantages of 6D as discussed above, and  if the features or advantages 6D is not important to you, and your budget it is tight, it is wise to get the 5D Mk II instead plus a quality lens compare to getting 6D with a standard lens. After all, it is difficult to distinguish photo quality when shooting at ISO 100-400 on both cameras.

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