Canon 5D versus Canon 6D
The Canon EOS 5D and the Canon EOS 6D are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2005 and September 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The 5D has a resolution of 12.7 megapixel, whereas the 6D provides 20 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Canon 5D vs Canon 6D
The physical size and weight of the Canon 5D and the Canon 6D are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 5D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
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 (6 percent) than the Canon 5D. Moreover, the 6D is markedly lighter (14 percent) than the 5D. 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 find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Canon 5D (⇒ rgt)||6.0 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||31.6 oz||400||YES||2005||3,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 6D (⇒ lft)||5.7 in||4.4 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||1090||YES||2012||2,099||discont.||check|
|Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.7 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1200||YES||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||YES||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.9 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||32.1 oz||670||YES||2014||1,799||latest||check|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||920||YES||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||YES||2012||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||YES||2011||6,799||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||YES||2008||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||800||YES||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.2 oz||1200||YES||2005||3,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||42.9 oz||1200||YES||2004||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||54.1 oz||1200||YES||2004||4,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||YES||2002||8,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||YES||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 6D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 36 percent) than the 5D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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: Canon 5D vs Canon 6D
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 6D offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixel, compared with 12.7 MP of the 5D. This megapixel advantage translates into a 25 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 6D has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.57μm versus 8.25μm for the 5D). However, it should be noted that the 6D is much more recent (by 7 years and 1 month) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 6D offers substantially better image quality than the 5D (overall score 11 points higher). The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 5D (⇒ rgt)||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||no||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|Canon 6D (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/60p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||22.5||11.6||926||68|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||no||21.8||11.4||696||63|
|Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||no||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||no||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||no||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||no||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||no||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 6D indeed provides for movie recording, while the 5D does not. The highest resolution format that the 6D can use is 1080/30p.
Feature comparison: Canon 5D vs Canon 6D
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 5D 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D, the Canon 6D, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Canon 5D (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||3.0||no||no|
|Canon 6D (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||no||4000||4.5||no||no|
|Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||6.5||no||no|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||no||8000||10.0||11||no|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||6.0||no||no|
|Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1040||fixed||no||8000||14.0||no||no|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||3.9||no||no|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||6.3||13||no|
|Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||8.5||no||no|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||230||fixed||no||8000||4.0||no||no|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||230||fixed||no||8000||8.3||no||no|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.0||120||fixed||no||8000||3.0||no||no|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||8.0||12||no|
Both the 5D and the 6D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the 6D was followed by the Canon 6D Mark II.
Review summary: Canon 5D vs Canon 6D
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5D and the Canon 6D? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D:
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2005).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 6D:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 12.7MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 125g or 14 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1090 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (36 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 1 month of technical progress since the 5D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 6D is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 2 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 5D and the 6D in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Canon 5D (⇒ rgt)||88/100||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2005||3,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 6D (⇒ lft)||HiRec||83/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||2,099||discont.||check|
|Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||83/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||3,699||latest||check|
|Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||84/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2014||1,799||latest||check|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||83/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2012||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2011||6,799||discont.||check|
|Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||91/100||79/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||-||2008||3,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark II N (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2005||3,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||-||-||2004||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||reviewed||-||2004||4,499||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||-||-||2002||8,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D700 (⇒ lft | rgt)||89/100||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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