Saying Goodbye to My Trusted Companion: The Canon 6D Mark I

Saying Goodbye to My Trusted Companion: The Canon 6D Mark I

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.

Saying goodbye to an old camera: the Canon 6D Mark I

Left image courtesy of Saša Ševo and Skochypstiks.com

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.

Saying goodbye to an old friend: the Canon 6Dk Mark I

Left image courtesy of Saša Ševo and Skochypstiks.com

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.

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82 Comments

Alex Cooke's picture

My first full frame camera. The 7D was my first semi-pro camera, and I never cared for the files out of it, but the 6D's sensor was so lovely. And the silent shutter was remarkably quiet — one of the few DSLRs I could get away with for photographing classical music. Loved that camera.

Andy Day's picture

I have one for sale if you're interested. The thumb wheel isn't sticky at all. Honest.

imagecolorado's picture

Used the 6D for several years. It was a trusty companion. All things must pass.

Ryan Luna's picture

I went nearly identical route as OP with some difference.

Canon 40D --> 5D 1 --> 6D 1 --> Fuji X-T2

Mike Stern's picture

Oh. As soon as you get used to your a7III you will never look back. Like many of us did.

Andy Day's picture

Yeah, it's impressing the hell out of me so far. :D

David Morales's picture

I am currently going thru this conundrum with my wife right now. I got the 6DM1 when it released. But about a year ago, I had the opportunity to "field test" an a7sii for about 10 months thru my job, but I had to give it back recently. I found that I loved the ISO and external monitor features that allowed me to shoot very guerrilla style and I just can't do that with my 6D (live view just is not usable the way I shoot). But my wife thinks I'm just starstruck with the newest "tech" and doesn't want me to sell the 6D for the a7iii.

Andy Day's picture

I sympathise! I've been weighing up the decision ever since the a7iii was announced. For me, having ten frames per second in a full frame camera is a clincher. The eye AF is also very special, and it's already changing how I shoot. Good luck with your decision..!

Andy - question for you. So are you going to be adapting all of your Canon glass to the Sony? If so, which adapter have you found is good for action photography, which it sounds like you do a lot of? Thank you!

Andy Day's picture

Hey Steven, Thanks for getting in touch. It's a good question. I'm not a convention sports shooter - I almost never track a moving object so, fortunately for me, incredible autofocus isn't a massive issue. I'm adapting my Canon 16-35 L mark ii (my workhorse) and I'll be doing some tests with my Canon 24-70 L which rarely gets much use. I bought Sony's nifty fifty - the 50mm f/1.8 - and tried it wide open for some ice skating and it did amazingly well. As soon as I get chance I'll see how the adapted 24-70 compares.

I'm using the Sigma MC-11 and I think it's the default choice for most people at the moment in terms of the autofocus.

Xander Cesari's picture

I have the 50mm f1.8 and it's the worst focusing native lens I've tried. Perfectly adequate for most shooting but even the 28-70 kit lens is a way better focuser. Sounds like it'll work fine for you and the optical quality is fine but just don't judge the body based on that lens cause it really holds it back. Maybe rent the 16-35mm GM for a real apples to apples with your Canon lens.

Andy Day's picture

Hi Xander,

Yes, I've heard the same re the 50mm f/1.8, and I'm already impressed with it. To know that performance will only get better as I acquire more glass is quite exciting.

Awesome - thanks for the feedback and information, Andy! Much appreciated

I went Canon 6D --> Sony a7rIII. Tried several Canon to Sony lens adapters and by far the one that worked the most reliably and consistently was the Metabones V (you get what you pay for). With that said, it still bugged out from time to time. So after several months of hit or miss situations with the adapter shooting concerts and events, and making certain I'd stick with Sony, I switched to all native Sony glass--zero problems! If you need 100% accuracy and reliability, you'll want all native glass at some point.

To this day when doing comparisons with other Canons on the DPReview tool, I find the 6D to have the lowest noise at high ISOs, even beating in my eye the 5D4 and 6D2. I have a 5DS and even after downrezzing to the 6D's 20 MP, it's a tight battle, where you would think the larger starting size of the 5DS would give it an significant advantage. With the 6D's value so reduced, I haven't brought myself to part with mine, just in case there is a low-light scene that could benefit from it.

I "upgraded" to the 5D IV, and although it's definitely superior in a lot of ways, the 6D's low light/high ISO performance is definitely better than that of the 5D IV. I sold the 6D after buying the 5D IV, but I wouldn't mind having the 6D back, just because it does so well in those types of situations. A brand new 6D has been hanging around in my Amazon shopping cart for about a week now:P.

Check some used models as well, which will save you some money. I get used stuff from B&H and LensRentals partner company (forget the name at the moment).

Impressive (5years with 6d), your post made me realize the GAS syndrome I have and did math for the past three hours.

Outcome: I have spent 100 fold for the output I produce.
Gear journey: Sony alpha a100 -> Canon EOS 6D -> Canon EOS 5D Mark III -> Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + Fujifilm xt2 -> Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + Fujifilm xt3 -> Fujifilm xt3 + Fujifilm GFX-50S
Overall investment: ca$ 46,369 since 2008
Overall returns: ca$ 7,330

Although I am more of enthusiast + hobbiest, this has to stop.

Andy Day's picture

Ha! The first way to beat an addiction is to acknolwedge it. But hey, if you're enjoying it, and if you can afford it... :D

Marc-Andre Donato's picture

6D was my first FF camera. I started with the 60D and when the 6D came out I upgraded to it. I did not have the money back then to buy the 5D3 so this was a perfect compromise and the camera delivered! I kept the 6D 5 years and it became my backup camera when I bought the 5D4. Sold the 6D to a friend of mine who upgraded from a 5D2 and the camera is still working perfectly.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Use the proper name for the equipment, would ya? Unless you think the people reading this site are too stupid to know what a 6D or 5D is. And I think the "7D Mark I" was a mistake because the hyperlink is to a Mark II version. So, while you're adjusting to using the proper name for a piece of equipment, review your articles a little more thoroughly while you're at it.

Rick Nash's picture

Can't find a 6D Mark I listed at Canon websites. Must be secret camera sold only to special photographers.

Andy Day's picture

Hi Jonathan, thanks for the observations and the snark. Readers not well versed in the gear make up the vast majority of the readership of the site, despite the comments often suggesting otherwise. Being able to make a clear distinction between the mark i and the mark ii makes for much easier comprehension. When writing this article I knew in advance that I'd probably get some pushback in the comments for saying '6D Mark I' instead of '6D', but I ignored that prospect because I knew that I'm trying to please a wider audience, not an annoying handful of people who are unnecessarily pedantic.

At Fstoppers, editorial policy is to link to the BHPhoto item, or the most relevant listing. In this case, the original 7D is not present and so the link is to the next best thing.

Jonathan Brady's picture

The clearest distinction would be to use the cameras actual name, not make one up. And, linking a made up product name to an incorrect product is ridiculous and only furthers confusion. Your decisions have quite likely created the very confusion you hoped to prevent.

Andy Day's picture

I'm happy with my decision, as are the editors.

I don't understand why it prompted such an unnecessary degree of snarkiness from you. I really hope that this is not how you would pose these questions to me if we met face to face.

Jonathan Brady's picture

And I'm confused why you feel it's necessary to confuse your intended audience by using superfluous, inaccurate product names. Would you talk down to and confuse your intended audience face to face?

Andy Day's picture

If you mean "would you try to explain something in terms that I believe most people would understand", then yes. Your opinion is clearly different and that's fine. However, to me, it still doesn't justify the tone or manner of your comment.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Accuracy is important. Here's an analogy... Go to Atlanta and ask someone where the road named Peachtree is. Tell them it's the first one when they ask for more specificity.
If you felt like readers needed theor hands held through your article, why not simply say "the Canon EOS 6D" and then follow that with any number of potential clarifiers in parentheses such as: the first generation of the line, not the 6D Mark II (which would have allowed you to throw in another affiliate link), known to some (for who knows what reason) as the 6D Mark I, Canon's first budget FF, or any other unique identifier.
As for the snark, honestly, I feel it's insulting to assume your audience needs their hand held. So, I fired back with the same level of insult to get my point across.

Harley Stendel's picture

First, how disrespectful, unprofessional, and condescending to call the author out on such a simple matter. You are the one making the error about the audience and assuming they are stupid, not the author, who clearly did the honor of assuming his readers are intelligent (which I praise him for since he's writing as if we are all equals!)
Second, if you personally were outright confused, send a private message, nobody here wants to hear your roid-rage at not being able to understand the article when he provided a damn picture of the camera in reference.
Thank you Andy Day for the article! I appreciated the way you depersonified your camera in order for the audience to relate to your connection to photography and the disattachment in order to move on. Many people develop relationships with their technology (writing this from my laptop Lola after all) and you did well to stimulate a feeling many of us have had. Waiting for your next article!

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