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Canon 6D versus Sony A7 II

The Canon EOS 6D and the Sony Alpha A7 II are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and November 2014. The 6D is a DSLR, while the A7 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 6D vs Sony A7 II

The physical size and weight of the Canon 6D and the Sony A7 II 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 measures 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 – the 6D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 6D vs Sony A7 II
Compare 6D versus A7 II top
Compare 6D and A7 II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7 II is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Canon 6D. Moreover, the A7 II is markedly lighter (22 percent) than the 6D. 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (6D) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7 II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7 II, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the 6D gets 1090 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the A7 II can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 6D» 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Sony A7 II« 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 7D II« » 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« » 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D C« » 158 mm 164 mm 83 mm 1545 g 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D X« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 5D Mark II« » 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Nikon D610« » 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon D600« » 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Olympus E-M1 II« » 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Sony A7 III« » 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A7R II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i

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 A7 II was somewhat cheaper (by 5 percent) than the 6D at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 6D vs Sony A7 II

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. 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 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, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A7 II is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 6D and Sony A7 II sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A7 II offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 20 MP of the 6D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 6.57μm for the 6D). However, it should be noted that the A7 II is much more recent (by 2 years and 2 months) than the 6D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

6D versus A7 II MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 A7 II has a markedly higher DXO score than the 6D (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 6D» Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
Sony A7 II« Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
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 1D C« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p----
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
Nikon D600« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7 II provides a faster frame rate than the 6D. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 6D vs Sony A7 II

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7 II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the 6D has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 6D, the Sony A7 II, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 6D»optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Sony A7 II«2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 1D C« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D600« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 Y n
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n

Both the 6D and the A7 II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 6D was replaced by the Canon 6D Mark II, while the A7 II was followed by the Sony A7 III.

Review summary: Canon 6D vs Sony A7 II

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 6D better than the Sony A7 II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 6D:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1090 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7 II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1040k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 145x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 171g or 22 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the 6D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 II is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 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.

6D 04:14 A7 II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 6D and the A7 II in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 6D»HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Sony A7 II«Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D C« »----- Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon D600« »HiRec87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/5-5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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