We knew it was coming, but a brief hands-on play with the just-announced Canon EOS 6D has confirmed to the 'Lint that it looks to be a top-notch full-frame camera.
It's claimed to be the "world's smallest and lightest full-frame DSLR", and the body size feels smaller in the hand compared to, say, the Canon EOS 5D mkIII by quite a margin. In fact this latest full-framer is about the same size as the 60D. No mean feat considering the difference in sensor sizes, though we don't feel that the 6D's weight makes a huge difference when a heavy EF lens is attached to the front.
When it launches in December, the 6D will be £1,799 for the body alone - a couple of hundred quid less than the Nikon D600 - which has the potential to open up the 35mm format to a wider audience.
The EOS 6D might have only an 11-point autofocus system, but it's sensitive to a claimed -3EV and, from our tests both indoors and out (though, admittedly, nothing near to -3EV), it felt super-quick to lock on to subjects. Sometimes it's not the number of points but how well they work. Sure, a more complex focusing system might be welcome, but then for this money the 6D was never going to have the same system as the 5D mkIII or 1D X models.
Speed is reasonable too, able to write shots to the SD card at up to 4.5 frames per second. That's about the right figure at this level, though it does sit behind the Nikon D600's maximum 5.5fps ability.
The choice of a single SD memory card, too, seems to suggest that CompactFlash is falling by the wayside when it comes to more "consumer" cameras. Makes sense to us, particularly in a small-bodied design such as this.
"Consumer" is likely to be one of those "hot words" too. The 6D squeezes both Wi-Fi and GPS into the body, making those kind of tracking, tagging and sharing functions available. However the Wi-Fi - as with so many cameras - feels like a first stage solution. There are a lot of screens to fiddle around with, including giving the 6D its own moniker, that are plodding to press on through with only the rear d-pad as your typing weapon. Furthermore the Wi-Fi is either on or off and is embedded in the menu, so leaving it on could be costly to battery life.
Image quality isn't something we were able to test to any great extent, but the newly designed 20.2-megapixel full-frame sensor sounds to be just about the right balance of resolution versus quality. Given that this isn't the fastest snapper out there - so less suited to sports photography or similar, for example - we suspect that it'll suit those with a thing for landscapes and portraits down to a tee. When a final production sample makes its way to the 'Lint offices we'll give it a thorough going-over to see just how capable this latest sensor is. The DIGIC 5+ processing engine is able to shoot from ISO 100-25,600, which can be expanded from ISO 50-102,400 should you fancy really pushing the limits.
From our first play around the 6D looks to be a balanced, well thought-out DSLR. It'll have 60D users thinking of the upgrade potential, while those paused in contemplation of buying into a 5D mkIII system might just have found a money-saving route to imaging perfection…