Review: Comparison Canon 5D MarkIII vs the Canon 6D


EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 6D

Now that Canon has two semi-professional full-frame cameras, the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 6D, naturally photographers wonder which is the best model for them. As a former Technical Editor of EOS Magazine (the best magazine Canon owners could possible buy) I would like to share my insights.

But first, if you’re in the market for a full-frame EOS camera, let’s not forget the top of the range EOS 1D-X. This is a high-end, professional camera with a price tag to match. It’s big and heavy and built for the demands of a professional photographer’s life. Most photographers don’t need this much camera, but it’s interesting to look at because its size and price put Canon’s other full-frame cameras into perspective. Here’s a photo:



Big, right? The body alone weighs 1340 grams (nearly three pounds) and will set you back nearly $6800 USD+tax if you buy it from B&H Photo Video. The weight and price alone mean this camera isn’t suitable for most non-professional photographers, leaving Canon’s other full-frame models, the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 6D, as the available choices.

Let’s compare – Canon 5D MarkIII vs the Canon 6D

Key differences

Let’s start by looking at what could be the deciding factor for some people – price. The EOS 5D Mark III costs around $3299. The EOS 6D is $1500 less expensive at $1799 (body only prices). That’s a huge difference, so why would anyone choose the 5D Mark III over the 6D? Let’s take a look.

Size and weight

  • The 5D Mark III weighs around 950g/2.1 lb.
  • The EOS 6D is Canon’s smallest and lightest full-frame digital SLR. It weighs 755g/1.6lb (body only, but including memory card and battery). It is also slightly smaller.

I own an EOS 5D Mark II and I can tell you that it gets heavy when I carry it around all day. If you’re planning to carry a camera on a strap over your shoulder for hours at a time, then it makes sense to buy the lighter model, and use light lenses (such as the EF 50mm f1.4 lens in the photo below).


EOS 6D with EF 50mm f1.4 lens

On the other hand, if you are a landscape photographer, keep the camera mainly in the studio, or just take it with you on location and use it for a couple of hours then pack it away again, the weight probably makes no difference.

Bottom line: If size and weight are critical, then go for the EOS 6D. But not before considering autofocus performance!


Autofocus performance is the major difference between the two cameras. It is a big factor if you are into photographing sports, action, portraits or any moving subject.

  • The EOS 5D Mark III has a 61 point AF array with up to 41 cross-type AF sensors (depending on the maximum aperture of the lens mounted on the camera). Along with the EOS 1D-X, it has Canon’s most advanced autofocus system.
  • The EOS 6D has an eleven point autofocus (AF) array with one cross-type AF sensor in the centre.

Cross-type AF points are more sensitive, and therefore focus more accurately, than other AF sensors. This is especially important if you work at wide apertures (i.e. between f1.0 and f2.8) as depth-of-field is so narrow at these settings.

As an example, let’s look at how it works with portrait photography. Imagine that you’re taking a portrait of someone with an 85mm lens set to f1.8. Accurate focus is critical as depth-of-field is very narrow at this setting – you may have less than an inch of sharpness to play with. The normal way to focus in this situation is to use the AF point closest to the model’s eye. The photo below shows how this works by overlaying a diagram of the EOS 6D’s AF array over a portrait. The single cross-type AF point in the centre is shown in green, and the AF point the photographer would have to use is in red:

EOS 6D autofocus array

You can see the problem right away. As the only cross-type AF point is in the centre, you can’t use it to focus unless the model’s eye is also in the centre of the frame. You have to use one of the less sensitive, and therefore less accurate, AF points at the edge of the array.

With the EOS 5D Mark III the story changes. With up 41 cross-type AF points available (shown in red), it is far more likely you will find one to cover the model’s eye. The end result is that you will get more in-focus photos.

EOS 5D Mark III autofocus array

You can learn more about the autofocus of the EOS 5D Mark III in my article Understanding EOS Autofocus: The EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 1D-X

Bottom line: If autofocus performance is critical, then (budget allowing) go for the EOS 5D Mark III.

Wi-fi and GPS

This is another major difference between the two cameras. However this time, and somewhat counter-intuitively, it is the EOS 6D that has the features and the 5D Mark III that does not.

  • The EOS 6D’s built-in GPS lets you geotag your photos with the camera’s location as you take them. You can then use that to see where they were taken on a map, help organize or search your images in Lightroom, or as extra information if you sell your photos to a stock library. If you want to do the same with an EOS 5D Mark III, you have to buy a GPS unit separately.
  • The EOS 6D’s built-in wireless lets you upload your photos via a local wi-fi connection to a computer as you take them (useful in a studio or even on location if you have a laptop with you), upload photos to Facebook, or remotely control your camera using a Smartphone app. Again, you have to buy a separate wireless unit, which comes built-in to a portrait grip, to do the same with an EOS 5D Mark III.

Bottom line: If you need GPS or Wi-fi, then buying the EOS 6D will save you a lot of money.


EOS 5D Mark III with EF 24-70mm f4 lens

Dual card slots

  • The EOS 6D has a single card slot for an SD type memory card (it also accepts SDHC and SDXC cards)
  • The EOS 5D Mark III has two card slots. One takes CF cards, and the other SD (plus SDHC/SDXC cards)

One benefit of dual card slots is speed. CF cards are faster, which helps give higher burst speeds and assists with recording movies.

Another is security. You can set the EOS 5D Mark III to save photos to both the CF card and SD card slots at the same time, giving you a back-up in case one fails. Bear in mind it will slow the camera down as it takes longer to write a file to two cards, but it may give you peace of mind on important shoots. I imagine wedding photographers will greatly appreciate this feature.

Having said that, if you look after your memory cards, and buy a reputable brand, they are highly unlikely to fail. Most memory card failures are the result of corruption caused by user error, such as removing a card from a reader while the computer is writing to it.

Bottom line: If dual card slots matter to you, then you need the EOS 5D Mark III.

EOS 5D Mark III dual card slots

The dual card slots of the EOS 5D Mark III.

Minor differences

There are lots of minor differences between the two cameras, so I’ve provided some links to in-depth reviews so that you can get more information before making a purchasing decision. You’ll also see some photos taken with both models. In the meantime, if you own or have used either of these cameras, why not tell us what you think in the comments. Why did you choose one or the other, and do you think you made the best choice?

EOS 5D Mark III reviews

EOS 6D reviews

Understanding EOS

Understanding EOS ebook cover

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Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, photographer and traveler. He is the author of over twenty photography ebooks and runs The Creative Photographer photography blog. Join his monthly newsletter to receive complimentary copies of The Creative Image, What's New in Lightroom CC? and Use Lightroom Better!

  • I decided on the 6D mainly because mounting options aren’t as great as I expected and the 6D is pretty good.

  • Christian Dela Cruz

    Wait, Where did you got the 6d with a pop up flash? It must be a limited edition ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kangaroo Be Stoned

    Haha, You’re right.

  • godzillaser
  • Sounds like a good decision. Gavin’s review about the A7r sums up the difficulties involved in using Canon cameras on the Sony bodies:

  • Brian Reese

    I think maybe they were thinking since a full frame camera without a popup flash was a bit more professional, the audience they would be attracting would be people knowing how to use HSS.

  • Alex Dyskin

    Excuse me, are you Stephen I know?

  • Stephen Richter

    I don’t think so. Living in Canada.
    German last name ring a bell?

  • Alex Dyskin

    I used to work in IT with the guy same first and last name

  • Bri

    Have you noticed any loss of quality in the auto focus feature? The review above mentions the Mark III is much better but I’m upgrading from a t3i so I’m guessing I’ll notice a huge improvement there, right?


  • Steve S

    In most case 1/180 is fast enough to sync for most subjects, and if you can not reduce your ambient light enough, then add a ND filter to lower the light.
    My 7D has a sync speed of 1/250 which come in handy at times when I really want to lower bright ambient light (sun light), but am also fine with my 5D III having 1/200.
    I often sync as low as 1/100 – 1/180, which allows me room to move (exposure) without having to change my speedlite power when off camera.
    Remember that the duration of a flash is only a micro second.

  • VivekKhanna

    Ok…. so would it be correct to infer that unless you’re using f/2.8 or larger aperture lenses the superior focus system of the 5D3 wouldn’t work and hence the 6D is a better bet for those with f/4 and smaller aperture lenses ??

  • VivekKhanna

    ….. and with high speed sync on the 6D does this really matter?

  • Pablo

    I LOVE my 6D id go for it over the MKIII nos only because of the price but its a better value. Imagine it this way, if you have the option of buying the 6D and they tell you that for $1700 you would get a special edition 6D more cross type focusing and one more memory slot, would you pay it? probably nos because those are the main differences, the rest of them are very minor. 6D may have one cross type sensor but it is a damn good one especially in very low light, I can focus anything every time, it is in fact a great sensor. Canon had to put only one cross type sensor to make it less than the MKIII, I`ve had to learn to focus-recomopose, focus-recomopose, before i selected the focus point with my 60D. I got used to shooting that way and i kinda like it now. Itยดs a minor gripe, but not a deal breaker by any means.
    GPS and WIFI are a novelty and quickly become useless.
    Bodies loose their value very quickly, by 2016-17 you will see a MKIV. Buy a great lens with the money you save, lens keep their value and can be used for many years.
    Buy a 6D over a MKIII you won’t regret it. I really mean it.

  • Have a 6D – bought 2 months ago. Love it. Focusing is not a issue – 5D3 obviously much better. Upgraded from 20D to 6D and love it. Also have a T3i. HIGH ISO is awesome in 6D.

  • Agree. Have 24-105 f//4 on 6D. Want to add 70-200 F/2.8 and 85MM f/1.2 for primarily portraits.

  • I am planing to use this mainly for documentary and dance videos but also would like to take decent photos every now and then, do you have an advice or resource to point out for that type of use?

  • Lapeque

    I’ve had my 6D for six months now. I absolutely love it! It’s low light performance is just amazing… At my school we can rent 5D3s and I have done so many times out of fear my 6D won’t be up to the challenge but I have ALWAYS ended up with better pictures from my 6D. I love traveling with it, I love shooting with it at night, it captures so many hues and detail in shadows it’s just perfect. I’m absolutely in love with this body.

  • This was really helpful! And so were the comments. I currently have a T2i and I am buying a 6D I have been wondering if it is a good choice to make.

  • dorsan

    Thanks for the feedback, everybody. It’s interesting that most of the lenses mentioned are primes. But not surprising as they are ideal for portraits.
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  • tore

    As with all things, Stellage, everyone’s opinion counts. My experience with this kit has always been quite positive.
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  • Shawn Wreghkt

    Having had both 6D and 5D III, the 6D has slightly sharper images due to no AA filter and the 6D does in fact have less ISO noise than the 5D. I do a lot of low light/night photography and the 6D was the clear winner. After getting the 5D, that was one of the first things I’ve noticed. Many reviewers also back my statement up, just look some up.

  • Sayantan

    Canon India website : For Professional Users >> 1Dx & 5D Mark III

    my question is where canon says 5d mk3 is not a pro cam ?

    source :

  • SuperSVGA

    Usually I’ve seen the 1D line referred to as “Professional” while the lower 5D3 and 6D are “Enthusiast”.

  • Sayantan

    Usually who create this ๐Ÿ˜› canon or end user? ๐Ÿ˜›

  • truebeam

    Thanks so much for the review and discussion. I’m having a hard time choosing between 6D and 5D Mark III. I currently have an Olympus EM5. While I love this little camera, it doesn’t do low light and moving subjects that well. I do portraits (little kids and weddings) primarily. I don’t care about videos that such. Seems like 6D can handle those situation well? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!

  • David2014

    Semi-professional means semi-paid.

  • Susan Wilkinson

    I have a T2i, (getting the 7D Mark II tomorrow!) and a 6D and my husband has a 70D and 6D. His primary interest is bird photography and the 6D didn’t give him the reach he wanted (even with a 150-500 mm lens), so he bought the 70D. Now the lens has an EFL of 800 mm! He uses the 6D for mostly for macro images.

    My photography interests vary from photographing wildlife, macro, landscape, B&W fine art, nightscapes, and studio stills. I use the 6D for everything except wildlife. I absolutely love the camera!!! And for some, the wi-fi and GPS are not necessary, however, they are just one of the reasons I bought the camera. Using my cellphone as a wireless shutter release is a huge plus and I no longer take pictures of signs when I travel, just so I know where I was when I took the photo.

    As far as the ISO range… outstanding! Build quality is very good, too. No, it’s not the 5D Mark III, but I knew that when I bought it. Weatherproofing would be great, but it’s not worth the extra money, to me, at least. I am not rough with my gear and I take good care of it!

    One thing I really wanted to mention, though, was about the focus points. For the most part, I use center point focusing 95% of the time, regardless of the camera body I am using. The 70D has the expanded center point focus and it is useful… depending upon the subject being photographed. In the example the author uses, he shows the top focus point being selected instead of the sharper center point. I really don’t know why, though. Perhaps he (and others) aren’t aware of a really awesome feature Canon cameras offer that will rectify the problem. It’s called “Back-Button Focus”. I have my cameras set to use that 100% of the time. It allows me to focus on the subject with the center point and lock in the focus. Then I can recompose the shot but the focal point doesn’t change, as long as the subject remains on the same focal plain as when I first gained focus.

    For those of you who are interested in learning about “Back-Button Focus” here’s a link…

    Bottom line for me… I have absolutely no complaints and I would highly recommend the 6D to anyone who is limited on cash, wants a reasonably priced full frame camera, and doesn’t need 2 memory card slots. (I don’t even own the type of card the 5D Mark III requires for the second slot). The picture quality is fantastic, great color and all the options I was looking for in a camera.

    And one last thought on the use of “professional vs. semi-professional”… Just because someone owns a Canon 1D-X (or any other “professional grade camera” for that matter) it in no way MAKES them a professional photographer! I have seen images made with top of the line gear, that look really bad. The camera doesn’t make great images… it’s the experience and talent of the photographer that makes the image great! Of course, in the hands of a such a photographer, the best equipment definitely makes a difference, but they can also make images from ANY camera look amazing.

    So my advice… buy the best equipment you can afford. The biggest investment any photographer can make is in learning, understanding, and spending time behind the camera. Like the saying goes…”Practice makes perfect!”

  • Susan Wilkinson

    The wi-fi is not like a wi-fi modem. The wif-fi on the 6D is intended to allow the camera to connect to a LAN (Local Area Network). It will directly connect a device that has wireless capabilities, such as a cellphone, tablet or computer. Therefore, you can’t upload photos to any social media sites or email them to someone like you can with a cellphone. The cellphone is using a cell tower to transfer the data, which you pay to use. The camera’s wi-fi is a direct connection to a specific device within 98 feet or 30 meters from the camera.

    The 6D’s wi-fi connection is useful for transferring images from the camera to a computer or cellphone without having to remove the SD card. Canon also has an app that you can download that turns your tablet or cellphone into a wireless remote/shutter release. You can preview images and even use the monitor on the secondary device to change certain functions on the camera, just like in “live view mode”.

  • Manacle Hail

    I believe semi-professional meant it’s both used by professionals and enthusiasts (non-pro) alike. no foul in that.

    I doubt enthusiasts will shell out the dough for the 1D without making money out of it, making them professionals.

  • cbug

    Will this camera take photos while shooting video? if so, is the image quality the same as just a regular still shot?

  • Nizmo

    Why the one can’t use the centre cross-type and then recompose? All this cross-types only usefull if you shoot a single bird in open sky otherwise camera can focus at any of these points. Useless piece of hype

  • J

    If you pay a few thousand dollars for a camera body, I’d say you’re more than an enthusiast. When you pay that much, you’re either in need of it (professional) or rich!

  • Michael

    I’ve had the 6D for a while now and the only down side is that the peripheral focus points are less accurate than the centre point, so more duds using those points. Now I exclusively use the centre point and reposition. Not usually a problem but that split second can rob you of a shot and the more one waves the camera around, the greater the chance of blur. But a brilliant camera otherwise. If you are upgrading from a crop sensor, you will find that those clipped highlights are quite rare, which is a full frame thing rather than just a 6D thing. In fact, I find I’m often dialling in +1/3 or +2/3 exposure compensation for everyday shooting.

  • Richard Gunther

    I own and shoot both cameras. The 6-D is my go to for landscapes and travel. Especially with the pancake 40. The 5D111 is my wildlife,sports ,and portrait body. I don’t shoot weddings. If I did it would be a tough choice. Both are great cameras.

  • h.nolan

    In my opinion, the difference with these cameras is on how you’re gonna use it. /h.nolan from

  • Plus, accurate AF down to -3 to -4 EV, and same image sensor as the Mark III.

  • oceanblue7777

    For best results. What camera would you recommend for food photography. 5D or 6D? I do have the 700D.

  • Juck

    What are you babbling about? The 6D DOES have an AA filter.

  • Duskrider

    Just an FYI, as a rule, full-frame cameras have slower sync speed because of the extra time it takes the shutter to go across the entire sensor.

  • Liza Castro Robinson

    I find the opposite to be true… I have both the 6D n 5D iii, andthe low light ISO is fab. I find it to be better than the 6D.

  • michellebrowne

    I have Canon Powershot SX50 and it never fails to give me such beautiful pictures. Easy to use and cost effective!
    Got from:

  • michellebrowne

    I can’t thank enough Sony HX400V/B for having such Optical SteadyShot feature that minimize blur. Good also for long shot because of its Clear Image Zoom. See from:

  • Ishina Tugap

    Canon EOS 5D Mark III with 24-105mm Lens represents a great value of product in a high quality, performance, full-frame Digital SLR. I an using this branded camera and believe me it gives excellent photography experience. After using this branded camera I am a big fan of it. If you are looking for purchasing a new camera then I recommended you to buy Canon EOS 5D Mark III with 24-105mm Lens. For getting complete details click –

  • Sarah Toulouse

    Good lord, it is a marketing term. Of course Canon calls their most expensive option professional, and the less expensive ones semi-professional. It is freaking marketing psychology. A professional is someone who gets paid and earns a living doing photography. The camera you use to earn your income has little to do with determining if you are a professional or not. There is a lovely very large botanic garden in my area that is located in one of the most affluent zip codes in America. It is a great place to go for runs and walks, and of course do nature photography. There are always several wealthy enthusiasts there taking pictures of flowers…some are trying really hard to get great artistic shots of peonies at high noon standing a foot away using a long lens and direct flash (did I mention high noon). On any given day there are at least a dozen 1Ds, Leicas, Hasselblads owners walking around that giant flower park, often with super expensive lenses. I will never be able to afford the gear that most of those wealthy photo enthusiasts have. The fact that they own the most expensive cameras on the market sure does not make any of them professionals. Be careful with using marketing jargon…canon knows damn well it irks photographers, because they also know it also make some spend more than they might need to just to have some kind of ridiculous affirmation that they are a professional from a camera company’s marketing department.

  • Ioan Nicolau

    I’m currently reeling from my 5d Mark 2’s recent fall which seems to have damaged its light meter, and hesitating on repairing v. “upgrading” to the 6D, with a stron financial constraint. So this tells you my state of mind, yet your post is brilliant and made me smile ๐Ÿ™‚ cameras should be coddled indeed.

  • Ioan Nicolau

    Because as you recompose with your set focus on say subject A, there is always a chance you actually lose some focus on your initial choice, even if he/she/it does not move. You’re changing the plane of sight so focusing can be affected as well.

  • oji kanu

    I bought the bought 6D over 5D mark3 due to :
    1) Prefer the pictures I have seen at many websites taken at night with the 6D compared to 5D mark3.I have not been disappointed with my pictures taken at night with the 6D either.I call my 6D the “Owl”‘cos it is my go to camera for night pictures.
    2) 6D was less expensive than the 5D mark3 and light to carry.

    For day time photography,I use a Nikon D7100 for landscape and is my usual walk around camera with a 18-300mm G 3.5-5.6 lens. I call it the “Eagle”. It has excellent resolution and I like the color rendition.It is well built and is weather proof.Has survived heavy rainfall.It has a better dynamic range than the 6D and it is why I use it during the day over my 6D.

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