After almost five years of adventures, it is finally time to upgrade. My Canon EOS 6D Mark I has served me well, and it’s been a reliable companion that I’m sorry to consign to bubblewrap, parcel tape, and eBay. Over the years, I've become quite attached to it.
In early 2014, I was in need of an upgrade. My 5D Mark I was starting to feel dated, and I began the long process of researching my options. Having sunk money into a couple of L lenses, stepping away from Canon’s ecosystem felt impossible. My choice seemed to be between the 7D Mark I, the 5D Mark III, and Canon’s first foray into a stripped-down, lightweight, full-frame body: the 6D.
This was not an easy choice. The 7D meant not only compromising on the width of my beloved wide angle lens, but also stepping down from a full frame which, for whatever reason, felt unthinkable. The 5D Mark III, notably bigger than my Mark I, offered a markedly better frame rate than the 6D, along with weather-sealing and the option of great quality video should I ever want to start shooting anything other than stills. By contrast, the 6D was smaller, lighter, and significantly less expensive — almost half the price. The 5D would give me 6 frames per second compared to the 6D's 4.5, and this was a big consideration. As a sports shooter, the higher frame rate would give me the luxury of being able to blast away at an athlete rather than rely on my timing. In the end, I opted for the 6D, figuring that I was used to a low frame rate and could rely on my timing and also save myself a small fortune. It felt like a brave choice.
I should add: photography is a part of what I do, and my tight budget and love of minimalism were also huge factors in making this decision. That said, there have certainly been moments where I’ve been frustrated at missing a shot, and some jobs have taken longer than they should, simply because I’ve had to ask someone to repeat a movement because I couldn't get my timing right. With that said, the smaller body has been hugely appreciated, permitting budget airline travel and much easier hikes up mountains and across strange lands.
In theory, a camera is just a tool, something we shouldn’t get too attached to, but that’s not my experience. As academic/photographer/explorer Bradley Garrett once wrote, the camera becomes “an appendage to the urban body.” Effectively, this magic box becomes a part of us: it shapes what we see and how we see it, and its buttons fall under our fingers with such familiarity that it can seem like an extension of our hands.
The 6D, this ugly, somewhat soulless chunk of metal and plastic, is emotionally embedded within me, having been a consistent presence on countless adventures, not just accompanying me, but shaping how I’ve created my experiences. The 6D was a companion: it came with me when I climbed 150 meters up the side of a building, as well as being a motivation, it was there when I trekked alone half a day into the Bulgarian wilderness to find a remote village that has been abandoned for over 20 years, and it was a reason for driving twice around former Yugoslavia in search of communist monuments characterized by contradiction and mystery. With its brassing and slightly sticky thumb wheel (two hours of shooting in Norwegian snow came at a price), listing this lump on eBay feels almost like a betrayal.
As much as I’d like to put the 6D on a shelf, I can’t justify it, and I need to put that money towards the cost of my shiny new Sony a7 III (an equally soulless lump). Fortunately, the excitement of my new camera is a good balance to the sadness I feel at seeing my old friend disappear in the post. It’s not as if I don’t have anything to remember it by — just tens of thousands of photographs.
So, goodbye, 6D. You were a fine friend, and I wish you well. I hope your new owner puts you to good use, perhaps exploring distant lands and stumbling into adventures with remarkable people. All the best.