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Sony A7 versus Canon 6D

The Sony Alpha A7 and the Canon EOS 6D are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2013 and September 2012. The A7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the 6D is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Canon 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: Sony A7 vs Canon 6D

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A7 and the Canon 6D is provided 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. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A7 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony A7 vs Canon 6D
Compare A7 versus 6D top
Compare A7 and 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 larger (35 percent) than the Sony A7. Moreover, the 6D is substantially heavier (62 percent) than the A7. 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 Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (6D). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A7, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the A7 gets 340 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the 6D can take 1090 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 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)
Sony A7» 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i
Canon 6D« 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A6500« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7S« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i
Sony A5100« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i
Sony RX1« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- 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 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 19 percent) than the 6D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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: Sony A7 vs Canon 6D

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 6D is 1 percent bigger. 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.

Sony A7 and Canon 6D sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Sony A7 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 20 MP of the Canon 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 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the 6D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

A7 versus 6D MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the A7 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 6D (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 2.1 EV in additional dynamic range, 0.1 stops of reduced 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
Sony A7» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
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 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 X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785
Sony A6500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Sony A7S« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
Sony RX1« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493

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, but the A7 provides a higher frame rate than the 6D. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A7 vs Canon 6D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A7 and Canon 6D along with similar information for a selection of comparators. 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
Sony A7»2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 6D«optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 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 X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Sony A6500« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7S« »2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Sony RX1« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n

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

Review summary: Sony A7 vs Canon 6D

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Sony A7 better than the Canon 6D or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.1 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 (127x94mm vs 145x111mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 296g or 38 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (19 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year after the 6D).

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 6D:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1090 versus 340) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

A7 13:04 6D

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A7 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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)
Sony A7»HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i
Canon 6D«HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 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 X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A6500« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7S« »-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i
Sony A5100« »Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i
Sony RX1« »-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i

The review scores listed above should be treated 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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