I'm using the 50D at the moment and trying to enter the full frame digital world. I'm not considering the 5D mark 3 because it's out of budget, and no Nikons as I have a lens collection already in EF mount... so I'm only considering the 6D and 5Dm2.

I know the reviews aren't out yet, but just based on first look and specs what are the main advantages and disadvantages of both cameras?

Edit: I don't care about video capabilities.

Thanks a lot in advance.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I also don't really care about WiFi and GPS... and I have small hands so rebel sized body/looks is fine with me. build quality also not bothering me... so seems like I'm only looking at the lighter weight, AF in low light, high ISO performance and slower max shutter speed of 1/4000? Actually when does that come into question, the slow max shutter speed? Shooting wide open in sunlight? Or something to do with flash photography? \$\endgroup\$
    – apertur
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 18:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Slower max shutter speed comes into play in bright sunlight when you want also want a shallow depth of field. Most of the time you can overcome that with a ND filter anyways, so it's a non issue for most people unless you really are doing high speed photography and want 1/8000, but even then a full frame DSLR isn't really the way to go. Flash photography you want to look at the x-sync max speed, which the 5D MKII has a very slight advantage in. There is still a long list of differences beyond what you mentioned, see my answer below for the rest. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 1:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 5D Mkii is in my BAG and the 6D isn't... :- ) Sorry, it's early. I bought the Mkii when the iii came out. I had waited a long time for it and the iii didn't shine where I needed it to. (I use manual focus almost all the time...) So given the price difference it was a no-brainer. I've purposefully ignored the 6D not wanting to know it was "the one." Now I have to somehow not read these answers. Yeah, right, of course I'm going to! Great question! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 11:16

7 Answers 7


Based on the specs the 6D has

  • a smaller lighter body
  • better AF system
  • WIFI and GPS built it
  • slightly better screen and more recent UI
  • SD card slot instead of CF (users may have a preference, or a collection of cards already)

The 5D mkII has

  • magic lantern firmware option
  • lower price
  • CF card slot
  • is available now

plus a host of lesser differences, e.g.

  • faster max shutter speed 1/8000s vs 1/4000 (may be useful for shooting wide open in daylight)
  • marginally faster sync speed + pc sync port (for shooting with remote flashes)

The resolution difference of both cameras is negligible. Results aren't out yet but I would imagine the 6D performs slightly better with regards to low light noise. In general it's a newer model and whilst it is based around a 40D/50D type chassis it equals or exceeds the 5D mkII in most areas, the only reason I see to go with a 5D mkII would be cost/availability or if you strongly prefer the ergonomics of a larger body or if you wanted to shoot a lot of video with magic lantern.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the quick answer Matt. I am also hoping for significant better high ISO performance. It'll be my main deciding factor I think... \$\endgroup\$
    – apertur
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ or HDR bracketing with Magic Lantern. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matt I guess you meant "the difference in resolution" or do you really want to say that the "resolution is negligible" in the 5d mk ii? \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not current on the magic lantern forums, but would one anticipate that the 6D would be added to the compatibility down the road? It hasn't been released yet so it is kind of expected that it isn't supported. But how about in 6 months? Thoughts? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt First reports are saying the video is prone to moire, the result of going back to line skipping not the 3x3 binning employed by the . Whilst this is not a disadvantage over the 5D mkII, I would imagine the magic lantern team would focus their efforts on their current 5D mkII user base and developing the mkIII magic lantern, over trying to get it working on the 6D. I'm sure a port will happen, but it wont be a priority, as very few people will be buying the 6D for video, given the 5D is cheaper and already has magic lantern. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 13:39

Finding the differences is easy. Other answers have already listed them thoroughly, so I will simply refer you to the specification comparison between the Canon EOS 6D and 5D Mark II.

To decide between any cameras, you have to go over the differences and give them value according to your needs. The more similar they are, the easier it is, so in this case you are choosing between two full-frame DSLRs with Canon EF-mount. Here is what I see:

  • 1 MP difference, that is 5% more pixels for the 5D Mark II and is negligible.
  • ISO 25600 max for the 6D versus 6400. While we do not know yet how the 6D performs, I would expect at least 1 stop, if not 2, of improvement in terms of image-noise. If you shoot anywhere need low-light, this alone justifies the 6D.
  • 1/8000s max shutter-speed for the 5D Mark II versus 1/4000s. It's only one stop and would make a difference in limited circumstances. If you shoot race-cars for example, this could help. For high-speed photography such as water-drops, people user flash instead.
  • 97% vs 98% coverage viewfinder. Negligible difference. In either case, you cannot see what ends up in your images before you shoot and may have to crop later.
  • 1040K vs 920K pixels on the LCD. Negligible for viewing and no effect on photography.
  • 4.5 FPS for the 6D versus 3.9 FPS. If you shoot action this makes a difference, not a huge one but it helps.
  • Digital-Level on the 6D. Convenient for sure. You can buy one that fits the hot-shoe but it wont help with the camera at eye-level. If you tend to shoot off-level, this will save you time and image quality if you choose to correct tilt.
  • HDR & Multiple Exposures. Only you know if you use this. On the 6D, the camera does it for you. On the 5D Mark II you have to do it in software and get more control while doing so.
  • WiFi on the 6D and Sync-Port on the 5D Mark II: You decide which one you would use more.
  • 1090 vs 850 shots-per-charge. If one is not enough, buy an extra batteries. It really is too little a difference compared to other things. Same thing about 55g weight difference.

Overall, it looks like the 6D is most advantageous outside of some specific circumstances. Besides the 1/8000s max shutter-speed, everything the 5D Mark II can do, the 6D can do it too. In the case of the sync-port, you can buy a hot-shoe to sync-port adaptor or you can join the modern world and go with wireless triggers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ 1/8000s is a corner case usage scenario and can be worked around by using ND filters. I would say this is a minor issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – insignum
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 10:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @insignum - It can be worked around by using a ND filter, but it is nice if you don't have to get an additional piece of equipment out of your bag, screw it on, etc. That is assuming you even own one. If the camera can handle 1/8000 it is a welcome benefit. I shoot 1/8000 sometimes when in bright light and desiring very shallow DoF, on a f/1.2 lens typically. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 13:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt: it is nice, indeed. Just not anywhere near close to big cons the OP has asked about. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – insignum
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ In your answer you said 5D Mark III but I think you meant 5D Mark II. \$\endgroup\$
    – Viv
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Vivek - Good catch. Fixed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 15:21

I'll try to keep my post unbiased and stick to the facts. All of this information is currently based on the spec sheets and what we know from hands on usage of current DSLRs. The 6D has yet to have any public reviews, so any discussion of the AF or ISO performance is not yet based on lab tests of a production copy of the body. This is important to understand, as it is possible that either spec may not hold up to its perceived improvement.

Keep in mind that these cameras were announced four years apart from one another. That is quite a time span, so some of the technology has improved, and even though the 5D series is positioned slightly above the 6D series some of the technological advancements have made their way into the 6D line.

The biggest of these advancements will likely be seen in the progression from the Digic 4 to Digic 5+ processor. With this you get a native ISO range on the 6D that adds 12,800 and 25,600. You also get the expanded options of 50, 51,200 and 102,400. The new processor can also attribute to faster frame rates, higher burst capacity, and improved performance at the same ISO.

Differences include:

  • Weight: The 6D is .17lb (77g) lighter
  • Size: The 6D is about 13% smaller
  • GPS: The 6D has it built in, 5D MKII requires additional hardware
  • WiFi: The 6D has it built in, 5D MKII requires additonal hardware(WFT-E4 IIA $675)
  • Framerate: The 6D is slightly faster at 4.5fps, the 5D MKII is 3.9fps
  • Shutter Speed(Max): The 5D MKII is 1/8000 sec, the 6D is 1/4000 sec
  • Viewfinder: The 5D MKII has 98% coverage, the 6D has 97% coverage
  • LCD Display: The 6D has a 3" 1,040,000px display, the 5D MKII has a 3" 920,000px display
  • UI: Updated UI is newer on the 6D
  • Autofocus: The 6D has 11 focus points(single center cross type), the 5D MKII has 9 user focus points, 6 assist(single center cross type)
  • Resolution: The 5D MKII has a slightly higher resolution of 5616 × 3744, the 6D has 5472 x 3648
  • Metering: The 6D has a 63 zone system, the 5D MKII has a 35 zone system
  • Sync Speed: The 5D MKII has a flash sync speed max of 1/200sec, the 6D has a max of 1/180sec
  • Shutter Life: The 5D MKII has a shutter life of 150,000 actuations, the 6D is 100,000
  • Metering: The 6D has a range of -3 - 20EV, the 5D MKII is 1 - 20EV or .5 - 20EV(I've read conflicting reports)
  • Memory: The 6D uses SD/SDHC/SDXC/UHS-I, the 5D MKII uses Compact Flash, UDMA
  • Scene Modes: The 6D has scene modes available, the 5D MKII does not
  • Sensor Size: The 5D MKII sensor is 24x36mm, the 6D is 23.9x35.8(microscopically smaller)
  • Sealing: The 5D MKII is dust and water resistant, 6D is splash and dust resistant
  • Frame: The 5D MKII is completely magnesium alloy, the 6D is made of magnesium alloy with the exception of the top plate which is polycarbonate(allows for the WiFi)

Keep in mind, at least two separate upgrade paths exist. If you already have a 5D MKII, and are looking to switch to the 6D, the differences are very small. If you have a Rebel line DSLR, the differences will be much more significant for example.

As of 10/25/12 - The Canon 5D MKII body has an MSRP of $1699, and the 6D is at $2099. That is a $400 difference. Obviously the 6D is not currently available, with a planned release date of December 2012. The 5D MKII may or may not be discontinued at that time, and the price may or may not go down.

I'll leave it up to you to draw conclusions on the above, I don't want to push you toward either solution - as price, availability, and current equipment make this a personal choice.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I hardly call the fact that one takes SD cards and the other Compact Flash negligible! Especially if you happen to have a stack of one type of card already. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 10:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MattGrum - I do have a stack of CF cards, not a stack of SD cards, and did buy the 6D. I find the fact that it takes SD cards negligible. I bought a 64GB UHS-I Sandisk Extreme card for $60. When I'm buying a $2800 kit, I find a $60 expense to not really matter. I also find that I can use SD cards for multiple things such as tablets, GoPro's, etc. So as I said, its insignificant for me. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Most people don't just buy a single card, it's not just about cost either, there are performance/handling differences (I much prefer changing larger CF cards in the field). Plus having two cameras that take different cards is a pain on trips as you have to guess how many shots you'll take with each camera, not just in total. These may all be insignificant for you, but you start your answer with the statement "I'll try to keep my post unbiased and stick to the facts"... \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are right, having the word negligible in my comments negate my unbiased goal. I will revise. In my opinion it doesn't matter, but clearly in yours it does :P \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the sealing, is it actually a difference or have Canon just clarified what they have always meant by "Water resistant"? i.e. that splashing/raining are OK but immersion is not \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 6:09

Matt covered it pretty well. I wanted to comment but run out of room...

I am also deciding between the two but I will not make any move until I see a few full "hands-on" reviews of the production model. I also think the $2100 price point is a bit too high so I might wait until the price drops a bit. Was hoping for sub 2K as the rumors were suggesting prior to Photokina.

The 6D has a slightly smaller sensor (8.8 mm² smaller compared with 5DMII, 5DMIII) so it is not 100% full frame but close enough. The AF system is boasting a new ultra low light sensitive cross type focus sensor (sensitive to -3 EV as oppose to 9 points and -0.5 EV in the 5D Mark II). There are "only" 11 AF points in the 6D which (based on what I read in the many discussion forums that have sprung up) isn't enough for "all-auto" shooters. Personally, I prefer 11. Again, it's important to note that no one can say for certain how good or bad this AF system is because no one has yet reviewed an actual production version of this camera.

The built-in wi-fi is a big one for me. (I don't really care about the file transfer option nor the cloud uploads, etc. Not even the GPS is important to me) Still, the fact is that the 6D wi-fi is probably the only reason why I am waiting this out. Here is why: If the 5DMII had a flip screen or a similar built-in wi-fi I would likely buy it. I have the 60D and I love the flip-out screen. It allows me to photograph from all sorts of angles and upside down mounted on a tripod with ease. (and without having to purchase a separate battery draining screen) I can tilt the screen to get a clear live-view in almost any conditions then fine-tune my focus and settings manually. Initially I was disappointed the 6D didn't have a flip screen (it was rumored to have one) but I am anxiously waiting for reviews of how well the live-view works on the EOS Remote app for iOS/Android app. As I understand the smartphone app will allow remote camera control and live-view display up to 30m without needing a network or a laptop. For me personally this should eliminate the need for the flip-out screen. Theoretically I should be able to go to any of my favorite remote locations outside of cell coverage and use my wife's ipad to remote control the camera and precise-tune the focus by turning the lens ring while looking at the iPad/iPhone. I am interested. But again, I will have to see it to believe it.

If durability and longevity is a deciding factor it is important to note that the 6D shutter durability is 100000 cycles as oppose to the 5DMII 150000 cycles. That may not mean much but it is considerably less.

In terms of weather sealing, i've read a few articles that suggested it's likely to be better then the 5DMII even better then the 7D (take this with a grain of salt) but not as good as the 5DMIII.

Ergonomics: I am disappointed that the body is smaller. Unfortunately I have huge hands so the Rebels for example simply do not fit. The 5DMII is perfect. The 60D is borderline OK which is what it is being compared to in terms of size. I can probably live with that but I was hoping for a bigger body.

Lastly, the 5DMII price has been steadily dropping and it can be now had for $1,699 (B&H) That is, well, cheap. I suspect that the price will take another plunge when the 6D comes out at which point it might be discontinued. Hm, maybe I can find a wi-fi adapter for the 5DII that will work with the smartphone app.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What articles have you read that describe the weather sealing to be better than the 5D MKIII? I would be interested in browsing those. Also - have you tried adding a grip to your camera for added heft if you desire it? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 18:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ dpollitt - I said NOT as good as the 5D III. I've read pretty much everything out there about the 6D and it stuck in my memory. This is why I didn't quote but I remember seeing the mention of the sealing being comparable or better then the 7D a few times. Of course we wont know until someone does an actual review. Yeah, i've tried an aftermarket grip and it sucked the juice out of my batteries. I didn't have it long enough to decide whether I liked the ergonomics better but I will give a try again once I decide on a FF. Found it a little bit off-balance. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I meant to ask where you read the 6D is better in regards to sealing in comparison to the 5D Mark II. Stupid roman numerals. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 19:25

While the specs say that the sync speeds are a bit different, there are lots of postings on the 'net that the 5Dm2 has a lot of variance in delivered sync speed, and that the quoted 1/200 is not delivered for a lot of examples


The 6D is too new to have a lot of real world experience with this, so I don't know if its an issue.

And, this only matters if you do a lot of work with flashes and strobes and other studio lights.

So in this case, the specs may not really point to differences.


As a video user, I can add a couple of advantages to the 6D compared to the 5D mark II that made it a deal breaker for me:

  1. 60fps for slow-motion
  2. Video files can be up to nearly 30 minutes! (as opposed to 15)

Note that Canon 6D only supports SD cards and not CF cards. It may be a minor difference, but it is notable (if I am not mistaken it's the first FF camera which only supports SD cards af of October 2012 EDIT: I was mistaken, it's not the first :-) ).

Another difference to keep in mind is the non 100% viewfinder coverage (again, a bit surprising with respect to what FF usually offer). I was wrong: both viewfinder are cropped, so this is not a difference.

I guess that all these go under the "host of minor differences" cited by @Matt Grum :-)

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Nikon D600 uses only SD cards. The Canon 5D Mark II also has a cropped viewfinder. But yes, it is surprising that a recent DSLR does not show 100% coverage considering even cameras under $1K have it now. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 14:47
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand the argument against SD cards. It supports SD, SDHC, SDXC, and UHS-I. The speed difference is irrelevant, and the price is too unless you really have 100's of GB of cards for shooting video. For me, I'm just going to pick up 1 or 2 32GB SDHC UHS-I cards for $30/ea. I consider having SD an advantage. I can use the SD cards more easily in card readers of laptops and my tablet. Just my 2 cents. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt Fair enough, I see your point but note that I was merely stating the difference, not making a judgement :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 16:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Right, you were just stating the difference. I was more noting my argument for the rest of the forum world that seems to think the 5d has a huge advantage here! \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 17:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmmm, but isnt compactflash the only robust card? I have had my share of different cards and my CF cards are like tanks, and my first card I ever got still works , while every other card Ive had broke has broken sooner or later. I would go for 5D just for that reason alone. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 21:43

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