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Canon 5D Mark II vs 6D

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Canon EOS 6D are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2008 and September 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 5D Mark II has a resolution of 21 megapixels, whereas the 6D provides 20 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 5D Mark II versus Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II Canon 6D
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
21 MP, Full Frame Sensor 20 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-6,400 (50 - 25,600) ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 102,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 3.0 LCD, 1040k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.9 shutter flaps per second 4.5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
850 shots per battery charge1090 shots per battery charge
152 x 114 x 75 mm, 850 g 145 x 111 x 71 mm, 770 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Canon EOS 6D? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 6D. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 5D Mark II vs Canon 6D
Compare 5D Mark II versus 6D top
Comparison 5D Mark II or 6D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 6D is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark II. Moreover, the 6D is markedly lighter (9 percent) than the 5D Mark II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 5D Mark II 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499i
 
Canon 6D 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Canon 6D Mark II 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i
 
Canon 5D Mark IV 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i
 
Canon 80D 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
 
Canon 5DS 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 5DS R 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
 
Canon 5D Mark III 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499i
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 5D 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Nikon D610 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 6D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the 5D Mark II, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the 6D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 5+) than the 5D Mark II (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 6D sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 5D Mark II offers a slightly higher resolution of 21 megapixels, compared with 20 MP of the 6D. This megapixels advantage translates into a 3 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 5D Mark II has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 6.57μm for the 6D). Moreover, it should be noted that the 6D is much more recent (by 4 years) than the 5D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 6D are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.

5D Mark II versus 6D MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
 
Canon 6D Mark II Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
 
Canon 5D Mark IV Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187
 
Canon 5DS R Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5D Mark II and the 6D are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the 5D Mark II offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the 6D (97%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D Mark II, the Canon 6D, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n
 
Canon 6Doptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n
 
Canon 6D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.5 n n
 
Canon 5D Mark IVoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 7.0 n n
 
Canon 80Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 5DS Roptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 Y n
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 5Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Nikon D610optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n

The 5D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the 6D uses SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 6D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 6DYmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Canon 6D Mark IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon 5D Mark IVYmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-
 
Canon 80DYstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
 
Canon 5DSYmonomonoY-mini3.0---
 
Canon 5DS RYmonomonoY-mini3.0---
 
Canon 7D IIYstereomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 5DY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D610YmonomonoYYmini2.0---

It is notable that the 6D offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 5D Mark II does not provide wifi capability.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D Mark II (unlike the 6D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the 6D has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.

Both the 5D Mark II and the 6D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D Mark II was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark III, while the 6D was followed by the Canon 6D Mark II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 5D Mark II or the Canon 6D – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:

  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 97%).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2008).


Advantages of the Canon EOS 6D:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 5+ vs DIGIC 4).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 3.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1090 versus 850) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the 5D Mark II launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 6D is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

5D Mark II 04:09 6D

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 6D place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 5D Mark II or the 6D. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 5D Mark II91/10079/1004/55/5.. Sep 2008 3,499i
 
Canon 6D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Canon 6D Mark II+80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i
 
Canon 5D Mark IV+ +87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i
 
Canon 80D+ +84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
 
Canon 5DS+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 5DS R+83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 7D II+84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
 
Canon 70D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
 
Canon 5D Mark III+ +82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499i
 
Canon 7D+ +84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III..+ +4.5/5.... Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 5D88/100+ +oo.. Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Nikon D610+ +87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 5D Mark II:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 6D:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 5D Mark II vs Canon 6D

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 5D Mark II Canon 6D
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2008 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 3,499 USD 2,099
    Sensor Specs Canon 5D Mark II Canon 6D
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 21 Megapixels 20 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5616 x 3744 pixels 5472 x 3648 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.41 μm 6.57 μm
    Pixel Density 2.43 MP/cm2 2.31 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 25,600 ISO 50 - 102,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 5+
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 79 82
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.7 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.9 12.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1815 2340
    Screen Specs Canon 5D Mark II Canon 6D
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 98% 97%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x 0.71x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 5D Mark II Canon 6D
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.9 shutter flaps/s 4.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy150 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 5D Mark II Canon 6D
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Geotagging no internal GPS GPS built-in
    Body Specs Canon 5D Mark II Canon 6D
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E6 LP-E6
    Battery Life (CIPA)850 shots per charge1090 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 114 x 75 mm
    (6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0 in)
    145 x 111 x 71 mm
    (5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 850 g (30.0 oz) 770 g (27.2 oz)

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