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Why I Upgraded from the 5D Mark ii to the 6D

by Erin Peloquin on April 10, 2014 · 54 comments

*As of November 28, 2014 at 6:22 AM, the 6D is selling at $1599 after rebate. This is a great price and much less than I paid for it. Click here for details.*

Yes, you read that right. I upgraded from a Canon 5D Mark ii to a Canon 6D. But the price, you say! I know, the 6D is only $1900, and the 5Dii’s price never went lower than $2400ish.

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However, the 6D is simply a better camera. Not to mention a camera I never expected to own!

I was actually planning to buy a Mark iii this year. I had money set aside and was just waiting on a sale that approached the holiday’s $2800 range. Of course, it’s never gone below $3300 since I started watching.

As I was trolling the internet looking for sales, I happened to read an article comparing the 6D the the Mark iii. After tons of reading and research, it turns out the cameras both have the same exact sensor, and, for my purposes, there is only one difference: the Mark iii has 61 focus points and the 6D has only 11.

I’ve been doing fine shooting with 9 focus points on the Mark ii, so those extra 52 didn’t seem worth the $1500 price difference between the 6D and the Mark iii.

So, that’s why I bought the 6D over the Mark iii. But you guys want to hear about how the 6D is better than the Mark ii, right?

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The 6D is newer and has improved technology – the new sensor in particular is a huge upgrade over the Mark ii. The Mark ii has been out for years, and the sensor, while high quality, isn’t the best on the market.

Also, the 6D has those 2 extra focus points.

The 5D Mark ii has 21.1 megapixels, while the 6D has only 20.2. The difference in maximum print size at 240 ppi resolution equals less than an inch due to the reduction in megapixels.

The 6D is slightly lighter and just a touch smaller. It actually feels more comfortable in my hands.

Now that I’ve used the camera, I can list my favorite differences between the 5Dii and the 6D.

    • The On/Off switch on the 6D is under the dial where you switch shooting modes. It makes much more sense there than on the lower right corner of the back panel, where it is on the 5Dii.
    • Also, the mode switch has a lock on it. How many times have I picked up that 5D only to find that the mode has switched from Manual to something funky like Bulb. More importantly, how many photos have I missed because of that?
    • I love love love that it uses SD memory cards, unlike the CF cards that the Mark ii uses. I have SD slots in both my laptop and my desktop
      – no more needing to have a card reader cluttering my desk!
    • The wifi in the 6D rocks. I do a lot of photography at church and love to post photos directly from the pew to the church FB page. Using the 6D and my iPhone, that process is easy.
    • Photo quality – yes, it’s better on the 6D than the Mark ii. The increased quality is due to that fancy new sensor. Want to see the difference? Look at the screen shot below.

5d6dnoise1

The two images above were taken in the late evening with the same lens and the same settings: f/20, 1/125 and ISO 25,600. I took the 5D photo first, moved the lens to the 6D and shot that photo a few minutes later. I zoomed in on each image the same amount in Photoshop before creating the screenshot. You can see the pullback below.

Now my daughter was wiggly and the 6D shot isn’t focused as well as the 5Dii shot. I know that this experiment doesn’t quality as scientific. However, the difference in noise between the two photos is simply amazing to me.

noise 2 cameras1

I’ve only discovered one thing that I don’t love about the 6D. The ISO button is the third button over on the top of the camera, rather than the 2nd. It’s harder to reach. Also, when you click the ISO button, the meter disappears. You have to tell yourself how much you want to adjust ISO before going into ISO adjustment mode. I have found somewhat of a workaround – more on that later.

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I can’t resist throwing in one more comparison about the 6D to the Mark iii. The Mark iii has 22.1 megapixels, about 2 more than the 6D. In terms of maximum print width at 240 ppi, that equates to a difference of 1.2 inches.

However, a side effect of having additional megapixels is that the appearance of noise can be increased when there are additional pixels to generate noise. Remember that the sensors on the 6D and Mark iii are exactly the same, not only in quality but also in size. The more pixels you cram into the same sensor, the higher your potential for noise.

That means, guess what, that photos from the 6D have the potential to be cleaner than those from the Mark iii. And you can find tests on the internet that prove this!

Just in case you couldn’t tell, I am thrilled with the 6D. I am especially delighted that I didn’t spend the extra money on the 5d Mark iii. ;)

 

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna April 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Great article, Erin! Congratulations on getting the 6D! I had been saving up to replace my beloved 40D. Was considering the 7D, then the 70D. The 5D Mark III was a consideration but I didn’t want a camera any bigger or heavier than the 40D, if I could help it. Then I found out about the 6D and that was it, I was sold. There are only two things I wish were different. First, I wish the WB button had not been removed from the top lcd screen, but left there where it’s quickly accessible, as on the 40D and the 5D models. The other is that a built-in flash would have been nice. Other than that I’m thrilled. The weight is still a lot for me though, but that’s because of the L lens which weighs so much more. And on top of the camera+lens weight, when I add my 430 EX II speedlight with 4 batteries, my arm and wrist really feel it. One question: in the photos above what lens were you using? Thanks again for the great article and enjoy your new camera!

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 8:23 am

Those are both good points, Donna. I always shoot Auto WB and change in post if necessary, since I shoot Raw. So using that button would never have occurred to me. I’m glad you pointed it out!

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Donna April 11, 2014 at 9:02 am

Thanks for the reply, Erin! Just curious, which lens did you use for the photos in the article? And what lens do you find you use the most with your 6D for people photos?

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Robert P Butler April 10, 2014 at 10:37 pm

I too waited for the price of the Mark iii to drop and felt that i could not afford it. So instead i purchase the 6D and have been well please with it.

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 8:23 am

Great minds think alike!

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Jill April 11, 2014 at 5:21 am

I have done a ton of research on this as well. I am purchasing the 6D, and with the money I am saving the 35L lens!!!

Thanks for posting!!!

Jill

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 8:23 am

You are making a great choice, Jill!

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Dean Martin May 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

If I was you I would skip the 35L and get Sigmas 35 Art. I sold my 35L to buy the Sigma Art version after trying a friends. Less than half the price, twice as sharp and colours are on par with the 35L. Paired with the 6D, it focuses faster than my 5D III due to the mega sensitive center focus point of the 6D.

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Melissa April 11, 2014 at 7:51 am

I love my 6D! Awesome camera!

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Karen Wolff April 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

I’m so glad to hear a professional not bashing the 6D!!! I wanted to upgrade from a T1i but couldn’t find anything that made sense. Everyone raved about he 7D but I had rented it and sadly the quality and noise were about the same. I could not afford the mkiii and also would feel guilty since I am not in business. So like you, I was comparing the mkii and the 6D. One of my biggest issues with my t1i was the noise and I read how great the ISO capabilities were on the 6D. They were absolutely correct! I am blown away by the ISO capabilities plus how reliable the “auto” ISO is. I love my 6D and am so glad I gave it a second look after reading bad reviews from “pros”. And as far as the “it only has 11 focal points”, I have never found a reason to need more than one focal point!

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I do use all 11 focal points, but I can live without 62! I’m glad you bought it also!

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Cinnamon Wolfe Photography April 11, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I absolutely love the fact that the mode dial has a lock on it. I never thought about that before getting the 6d and when I got it I thought, “well isn’t that smart!” =)

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I think I saw somewhere that Canon is selling an add-on for the 7D and Mark ii that does the same thing. They must have had complaints about it!

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ellie April 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Thanks for the review. I just bought a 5D mark iii so of course I was kinda kicking myself! I did get it for the holiday price of $2700 – but still. After checking the experts reviews I am still glad because I shoot a lot of sports and the mark iii is better for that (whew!) I do want to mention that I’ve found the jpegs to be terrible on the mark iii – :( after googling I discovered this has been tested and proven-I thought something was wrong with my camera or software or lens . . . I have to shoot raw now which I don’t like to do because I shoot a lot of photos as I have 4 children who play a lot of sports. So that stinks. Anyway thanks again for your review.

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Hi Ellie! Your JPG situation does stink. Were you able to determine what caused it? Maybe Canon will issue a firmware upgrade to fix that. And yes, shooting sports, you need lots of focus points! I’m glad you bought the right camera for you. :)

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Tonya April 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Great article! I’m hoping to upgrade this year from a little ole Rebel, and of course dream of a Mark III. But the price, gah! I hadn’t actually thought of the 6D until now. In your opinion, would this be enough camera to start a business with…family, lifestyle, kids kind of thing. If the main difference between the 6D and Miii is focal points, I would think the 6D is enough. Just curious what your thoughts are.

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

The 6D is absolutely and without a doubt enough. It’s what I use for my business. Good luck! :)

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renee April 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Love my 6D. Bought it on sale for $1500 plus bunch of free stuff that come with it. I compared these two before I bought 6D. For that price, 6D all the way.

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Inge Wallumrød April 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

You can not be serious to compare image quality by showing two complete different pictures. I use 1dx, 5diii, 5dii, 6d, 7d and 60d.
That is the quality range/line of the cameras too.
6d is the wannabe semipro camera with full frame capasity. But seroiusly, not the quality compared to 5dii and 5diii.

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TarikT April 11, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Is the 6D a full-frame camera like the 5D?

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Yes. The sensor is the same exact size.

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Ralph Quinones April 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I used 7D and then bought a 6D and have been completely pleased. I was worried about focusing speed but am amazed at how fast it is. I bought the kit w/ 24-105 for $2,100, free shipping and no sales tax, so I was real happy. My last trip to old San Juan, in PUerto Rico, allowed me to take some great shots with the 6D. Unless you are shooting sports, you don’t need 61 focus points! I highly recommend it. Thanks for the review.

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Genevieve April 11, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Hi Erin. Oh your article made me put the 6D two times in a cart but didn’t complete the transaction yet! One question, do you miss the joystick to change your focus point? Do yo miss that feature on my 7D but I’m getting so frustrated at with images quality and noise with my crop body.

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Haha! It is a good buy, it really is. Yes, it’s different to change focus points without the joystick, but the joystick on the Mark ii was always a bit funky for me. I could never get to the diagonal points easily. But, I have gotten used to the dial pretty easily.

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Genevieve April 11, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Thank you Erin. I just need my hubby to approved that purchase now!

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Pam April 12, 2014 at 5:44 am

I have to disagree about your comparison of 6D and 5DMKIII. I also struggled deciding I rented the MKIII for several months of weddings as I work in very dark environments. Even spent an hour on the phone with CPS tech support discussing differences. Head to head for a non-pro or natural light photographer then sure the 6D is a great buy. However it’s my experience and other pros that the 6D under exposes by up to a full stop. That’s a deal kill. Add in the awkward placement of all functions to the right drive me crazy fumbling with them. I’d have to stop and press extra buttons that were out of reach. Lastly moving white balance to the Q menu was an exercise in stupidity. Now as a backup unit for weddings instead of 2 MKIIIs is on my agenda. I can sell my disappointing 7D, get a deal on 6D.

So I disagree and agree. I didn’t own the MKII but to compare the two really fair. It’s like comparing the original 5D to MKIII, two different beasts several years apart technology-wise. I do agree for the average consumer looking for more functionality and quality the 6D is a darn good camera. But don’t be fooled by extra ISO quality. There is absolutely no comparison between tithe 6D and 5DMKIII. If you consistently work in lowlight with changing light temps and lots of subject movement such as a wedding save your money and buy MKIII.

My 2 cents.

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Erin Peloquin April 12, 2014 at 9:07 am

Pam, I love when people disagree and use evidence in support of their opinions. Thank you so much for taking the time to right. There’s no doubt that the Mark iii is a better camera, but, for my purposes, the 6D does everything I need. I haven’t noticed the under exposure issues, but I’ve only had the camera for a week. I wonder what would cause that, since the sensor and metering process are the same.

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Pam April 12, 2014 at 9:30 am

That’s technical beyond my comprehension. However yesh a few pro friends agreed the meter under exposes about a stop. Test it in a dark environment around 10,000 ISO you’ll see what I mean. But you’re absolute right it’s a darn good camera and leaps above the 7D. But for weddings at night I do not recommend it over the MKIII. Not just ISO but also focus accuracy. Those extra cross points are a big deal. You know what I mean.

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Donna April 12, 2014 at 11:52 am

I’ve been using the 6D for event photography (also for portraits). I’ve been very pleased with its performance in low light at high ISOs at receptions and events. I would say that in terms of underexposure it performs as every other Canon I’ve owned, underexposing slightly for my taste. I’ve learned that I prefer my exposure set to +1/3 as a rule, and more if necessary depending on the light and subject. There is a feature on the 6D that I’m still not sure whether I like it on or off — that is the ALO (auto lighting optimizer). I’d be interested in knowing your opinions on this. Do either of you use ALO? I know many photographers who say they just leave it off.

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Erin Peloquin April 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Hi Donna. I don’t use ALO. I am under the impression, although I could be wrong, that all it does is adjust the ISO. I can do that myself, so I don’t use it. But like I said, I don’t have a great grasp on exactly what it does.

Pam April 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm

You’re right also! Disappointed that my new MKIII like the others is about ⅓ under exposed. It’s easy to compensate but it generally ticks me. I shoot pretty fast during ambient with 2 flashes our secondlines here. Lots of dancing and movement, sometimes no backlight. I use an on camera and an OCF my assistant holds and runs with giving me a 3D Hollywood light. So it’s important to me that faces and details aren’t dark and noisy because of where I go from there in post.

As far as that optimizer I remember reading about it and decided it would stifle m shooting. Don’t remember why. But remember I shoot regularly at 10,000 ISO with TWO OCF to get that New Orleans cool neon ambient.

Darren May 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I own the 6D.

If you are shooting events in Low Light and you use the Centre focus point and recompose method then get a 6D because the centre focus point is even better (more sensitive in low light) than the 5D mk 111.

If you use the outer focus points then get a 5D mk 111 as they are all cross hair and better than the 6D outer focus points.

I have found the 6D to have excellent image quality even at high iso’s. You won’t regret buying it

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deniz ilter April 12, 2014 at 5:47 am

Hi Erin, I have been using my 6D for 8 months and I love it! I currently only take photos of my daughter who is 2, running around all time.. My question is would you use more than one focus point in this situtation or do you use them with still objects who do stand at the same point in your frame as long as you wish. And my second question, would you use the servo AF mode to catch “in focus photos” of an ever moving 2 year old?

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Erin Peloquin April 12, 2014 at 9:08 am

I always select my focus point manually, so that I can use the one closest to my subject within the composition I’ve choses. And yes, that sounds like a good use of servo to me!

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Sandy April 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

The 6d and 5d III do not have the same sensor. While they are both full frame sensors they are in fact different megapixel counts. The 5d III is 22.3 and the 6d is 20.2. Just an FYI.

Thanks!

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Donna April 14, 2014 at 9:11 am

Not enough difference to matter to me.

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Genevieve April 14, 2014 at 7:46 am

Ok after reading your blog post! I sell my 7D and my 6D is in the mail! Can’t wait to be blown away by the 6D!

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Erin Peloquin April 14, 2014 at 10:16 am

Yay! You will love it!

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Tina April 15, 2014 at 9:15 am

So happy to see you write about the 6D. I upgraded to the 6D this past Christmas after it was recommended by a local professional here in town. I love it!!

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Amie April 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I love this article as I have been wanting to upgrade my T3i for a while. My question for everyone here is what is a great lens to use that is multifunctional?

Currently, I have an 18-55 and 55-250 and it is a PAIN to keep switching back and forth with my busy children during sports, preschool, home, etc. Would love to be able to stick with just one lens for now if I could. It would also need to be functional for close up shots (product pictures) and distances (baseball outfield).

Hope that that makes sense! Thanks for the help!

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Pamela Reed April 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

50mm 1.4 about $300 or check canon refurbished.

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monica May 31, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I’ve been on a 6D board on fb for over a year. For some reason most of us have problems with the 50mm 1.4 on our 6D (front focuses) only a few people have been successful micro calibrating it.
Everyone loves the Sigma 35 1.4, 85 1.8 and the 135 on their 6D.
Although it’s heavy I use 70-200 2.8 for sports

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Erin Peloquin April 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Hi Amie. You might check out this lens if you need to go indoor to outdoor. I’ve never used it, but you’ll need that kind of length for baseball.

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Alexandra May 16, 2014 at 9:50 am

Hi Erin,

Have you ever used the Rebel series? I am looking to trade in my T1i for either the T5i or the 6D. What are your thoughts on crop sensor?

Thanks.

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Nancy May 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Hi Erin,
I am so happy to read your article on the 6D, because I have been struggling with which camera to upgrade to. I am just a hobby photographer, so spending the extra bucks on a 5DIII was bothering me, so reading that you bought a 6D helped me make my decision! I just received it last night! Thank you!

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Simon June 19, 2014 at 8:34 am

A 6D is NOT an upgrade of the 5DMkII. It is a downgrade or at best a sideway option. An upgrade does not reduce a resolution from 21MP to 20MP, reduce maximum shutter speed from 1/8000 to 1/4000, reduce the viewfinder from 98% to 97%, lower build quality and poorer ergonomics, have inferior video with worse moire handling.
The real 5DMkII upgrade would be the 5DMkIII.
The only thing the 6D has over the 5DMkII is better low light handling due to the newer sensor design and a better AF. If I spend my money to upgrade a 5DMkII I look for a camera that offers genuine upgrade such as the 5DMkIII not a technical downgrade such as the 6D.

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Erin Peloquin June 19, 2014 at 9:57 am

Simon, I am 100% sure that Canon would agree with you. However, from my point of view, the 6D is an upgrade. Better focusing and better image quality than the Mark II, and the price was right.

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Simon June 20, 2014 at 12:29 am

An upgrade should not involve taking a hit for ANY features. Everyone knows how poor the 5DMkII AF is even my old 40D has better AF but nobody would call that an upgrade. At low ISO studio type photos the 5DMkII has better IQ than the 6D, you be hard push to tell the different except in poor or demanding lighting situation. Canon knows what they are doing when they market the 6D.

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Charles July 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Hi,
I just ordered a canon 6D and still have some charge to get a canon 85mm f/1.8 lens. As a wedding photographer the canon 6D is a prayer answered because of the iso and the price.

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Donna July 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Since my last comment in April, and after many months of using my 6d, I’ve decided that although it is has outstanding image quality, the weight with an L lens is just too much for me. Also, the heaviness of the lens and camera have caused me to increase my shutter speed to a minimum of 1/125 to prevent camera shake, even with IS on. Before the 6d I had two crop sensors, the 40d and 70d. I could shoot at much lower shutter speeds with both without image blur. Ultimately, what made me decide to downsize is the Canon SL1! I wanted a small dslr for creating photo name badges at work. Didn’t expect to use it for much else. Wow, was I wrong! The image quality is fantastic! As good as my 70d and 40d and in my opinion, not lagging too far behind the 6d. I haven’t wanted to pick up the 6d since I got the SL1 — it feels so good to be using a lightweight dslr again. I still think the 6d is one of the world’s best dslrs. But I shot film with a 35mm SLR for many years and have never gotten used to the weight of the full frame dslrs, especially with heavy L lenses. I’ve also decided to get another 70d — I loved that camera when I had it before, but sold it to afford the 6d. I’ll use the 70d for major events and the SL1 for everything else. It’s so nice to once again carry a dslr with me everywhere and I feel so free again! We’re all different and have to decide what’s best for our needs and lifestyle. For me, the older I get, the less weight I want in a camera. Otherwise and would keep the 6d because it’s one of the best dslrs out there. But right now, I’m very happy I’m downsizing and lovin’ the SL1-70d combo. Whatever dslr you have, enjoy it! That’s what really matters!

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Erin Peloquin July 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Donna, thanks so much for updating your review. I am glad you are happy with what you’re carrying – you’re right, that is the most important thing. Happy shooting!

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Donna July 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Thanks, Erin — happy shooting to you too!

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Jon Dickson November 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm

thanks for the comparison….I’m sold! I was in the same boat, trying to decide which camera to upgrade my MKII to…the MKIII or the 6D. Wonderfully concise presentation.

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Erin Peloquin November 26, 2014 at 8:04 am

Thanks Jon! You will love it. I haven’t regretted that purchase once.

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