Canon 5D vs 6D: Are Classic DSLRs Still Relevant?

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Canon’s lineup of EOS Digital SLRs has been a staple in the photography industry for a very long time. Among them, the Canon EOS 5D and EOS 6D are two of the most popular cameras.

Both cameras have stood the test of time and remain popular among photographers to this day for their full-frame sensors and outstanding image quality.

This article will try to provide a clear understanding of the differences between these two cameras and draw a conclusion about Canon 5D vs 6D.

Canon 5D vs. 6D: Quick Comparison Chart

FeatureCanon EOS 5DCanon EOS 6D
Sensor12.8 MP Full frame20 MP Full frame
Lens MountCanon EF-mountCanon EF-mount
Image stabilizationN/AN/A
ISO100-3200100-25600 (50-102400 expandable)
ScreenFixed 2.5”Fixed 3.0”
Continuous Shooting3fps4.5fps
ViewfinderOptical (Pentaprism)Optical (Pentaprism)
Battery lifeUp to 800 shots per chargeUp to 1100 shots per charge
VideoN/AFHD 1080p
Weight895 g770g
Weather SealingAvailableAvailable
Price$389$467
Buying linkCanon 5DCanon 6d
Announce dateOctober 2005November 2012

Canon 5D vs. 6D: Detailed Comparison

The Canon EOS 5D was released back in 2005 and was a top competitor while the Canon EOS 6D was released in 2012. This generation gap has led to significant advancements in technology between the release of the two cameras.

Let’s look at the key differences between the two cameras.

Price

As older products the Canon EOS 5D and EOS 6D come at relatively cheap prices. A photographer’s budget is a big consideration for them and whether either camera fits those criteria is the topic of discussion here.

The Canon EOS 5D is priced at only $389 on Amazon which is expected due to the camera being a very old model.

The Canon EOS 6D on the other hand is a bit more pricey at around $467 which is the result of being a relatively newer camera. The price difference is also due to newer features available on the camera that was developed after the launch of the EOS 5D.

The Canon EOS 5D is cheaper so it takes the win in terms of price. However, there are better options available at this price range, more if the photographer is willing to dip their toes in the used market.

Build Quality and Design

The Canon EOS 5D has a magnesium alloy built all around it with a weight of approximately 895g. It has a professional design. The camera is well-constructed and feels sturdy when held.

The Canon EOS 6D has a modern design. It is built with a plastic body which makes it very light and more portable and the weight comes to around 770g. The frame is however built with metal so even if the body isn’t as solid as the Canon EOS 5D, the metal frame provides a good level of durability for the camera’s components.

Both cameras are weather-sealed so they are protected from dust and moisture accumulation during harsh weather conditions.

The Canon 6D is a well-liked camera among travel enthusiasts who want a light and portable camera that is reliable. The sturdiness and build quality of the Canon 5D are no joke either.

The difference in weight between the two cameras isn’t significant. The Canon EOS 5D provides better protection so here the Canon 5D takes another lead.

Here’s a side-by-side picture for comparison.

(Source: Camera Decision)

Both cameras feature almost identical design layouts with a few changes to the front side of the camera. Here is another comparison image.

(Source: Camera Decision)

In terms of design, both cameras are on par but in build quality, the Canon EOS 5D is the winner.

Autofocus

These cameras have fast autofocus. The Canon 6D’s autofocus is faster and more reliable than the Canon 5D.

The Canon EOS 5D has 9 AF points while the 6D only provides 11. The difference is significant because the more AF points the easier it is to focus on a particular subject while changing composition and framing.

Continuous Shooting

The Canon 6D is the newer camera that can shoot bursts up to 4.5 fps which can be a big deal to a lot of photographers. The Canon 5D only shoots bursts up to 3 fps.

This makes the Canon 6D a better option for sports and action photography where there are a lot of moving parts. The Canon EOS 5D has a limited buffer than the Canon 6D. That means the 6D can shoot for a longer period before it needs to pause to write to the memory.

Resolution

Both cameras provide excellent image quality because of their full-frame form factor. The Canon 6D however has a 20.2 MP sensor compared to the 5D’s 12.8 MP sensor which produces better overall sharpness and clarity in images.

The difference isn’t significant enough for the Canon 6D to outright beat the 5D.

Image Processing

Another aspect of consideration is the image processing capabilities. Both cameras feature the DIGIC processor. The Canon EOS 5D has the DIGIC II processor, and the 6D features the newer and more advanced DIGIC 5+ processor. The Canon 6D is leagues faster in image processing.

The Canon 6D battery also lasts longer and can take up to 1100 shots on a single charge. On the other hand, the Canon 5D can only take up to 800.

Low Light

The Canon EOS 5D has been a big player in low-light photography for over a decade. The Canon 6D falls short here and cannot own up to the standards of the 5D.

The Canon EOS 6D has a higher max ISO capability at 25,600 natives which can be extended up to 102400 so it still holds some sort of advantage.

The Canon EOS 6D has modest shortcomings but it has better features than the 5D and performs overall well as well.

Image Quality Comparison: AA Filter

The Canon 5D has built-in Antialiasing filters that eliminate rough edges in photographs. Let’s take a look at a sample to grasp what this filter does.

(source: DSLRvideoshooter)

The photo on the right taken with the 5D shows how the filter called “Moire” detects abnormal brick structures and proceeds to smoothen them out.

However, the 6D has a slightly sharper image due to no filter being applied and the ISO noise is also cleaner.

The AA filter that is applied makes photos less sharp and for that, the 6D takes a lead.

Video Performance

The Canon EOS 5D is not being a good choice for video recording is not very true, at least when compared to the 6D. The Canon 6D has FHD 1080p video capability.

However, the Canon EOS 6D can shoot raw videos. Despite that, it cannot reach 1080p because it is limited by the SD card write speed. Users will be better off with the 5D and a 1000x CF card for video recording on these cameras.

Neither cameras offer 4k video recording. In terms of video performance, The Canon 5D takes a lead.

Unique Features of the Canon EOS 6D

The Canon 6D has several unique features and upgrades that make it a worthwhile investment over the 5D.

The most important one is wireless connectivity. The Canon 6D has built-in Wifi and GPS. The LCD screen is larger and the button layout is more user-friendly.

The ease of life improvements go a long way and earn the 6D another win.

Verdict

Both cameras are relatively cheap options that are fairly available on the market. The decision to choose between the two cameras ultimately comes down to a user’s preferences; what they want to shoot.

The Canon 5D is a great choice for video recording mainly and doing still shoots on the side. It will provide enough clarity and sharpness for images to be taken.

The Canon 6D however has a lot of improvements over the old 5D, is better geared toward photography, and can even record 1080p videos with some limitations. The victory of this debate goes to the Canon EOS 6D.

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