the move to full frame

July 06, 2014  •  2 Comments

I had a Canon Rebel (XS) for several years.  It captured Kylee's first day at school, girl scout days and the few and far between vacations we were able to enjoy.

When I finally learned how to use a camera, my wife gave me a Canon 60D (Christmas 2013).  It was like getting that first car that you picked out yourself.  I loved it and once coupled to non-kit lenses, it opened up possibilities.   I love that camera but this post isn't about the 60D.  I recently decided I needed something more...something full frame and so after selling a rifle scope, an UWA lens and borrowing money from my 11 year old... I brought home a new and shiny (well, matte) Canon 6D.  This blog won't be a technical article or thorough review (you can Google it).  These are just my thoughts...

After months of practice and use on the 60D... culminating at my last formal outings with the 60D (Events - Portland), I was still content at the image quality at it's crop sensor.  I eventually felt held back however.  Maybe it's mental but even if just it's mental, that's reason enough to upgrade.  One must have complete confidence in their tool. 

My original passion/hobby is rifle shooting/target sports.  The advice I was given when I started and I gave likewise is thus: Always buy the best quality firearm you can buy.  Don't let the firearm be the weakest link.  You want it to 100% reliable (both in terms of consistent grouping/POI and also never jamming/failing).  Once a gun fails me, it may take several thousand rounds to win back confidence in it's reliability.  I just get rid of guns that don't perform.  Period.

If you have the smallest doubt in the capability of your tool, you will fail.  I captured great images with the 60D but I threw away a lot of images also.  Sometimes (especially in low light), I'd would be under-impressed.   I don't feel that way with the 6D anymore.  If I have a bad image, (understanding it's limitations) I can blame it on me, no longer the camera.  I'm the weakest link right now but I can keep improving that.

The 6D is Canon's entry point to the wonderful world of Full Frame and all of it's benefits - specifically better dynamic range (better image quality/tone/color) and awesome high ISO performance (better photos in the near dark).  At $1900 ($1700 on sale) it's supposed to be an 'entry level' price point..

The overlook quality in both natural light, flash and no flash/near dark is absolutely stunning. (check out streets - Gallatin for shots I took at near dark and very high ISO).   I cannot describe it but photos from full frame cameras have a certain 'look to them'.  I remember trying to get that look that I first saw from my cousins Canon 5D mark ii... the 6D shots images with 'that look'.

After image quality (90% of the decision), the ergonomics are perfect.  The build quality is tight and good.  I love the ergonomics and layout (if you have a 60D, it's essentially replicated which made it very easy to transition).  It's smaller than other full frames and so when I couple it with my favorite lens (the 50mm 1.4), it's an absolutely perfect tool for street photography and tight quarters.  It handles like a bullpup rifle!

Cons?  It has less features than the 60D.   Possible the worst is losing all those cross type focus points and now only have 1.  I used to be able to use any of the focus points and know they can get me a good lock.  Now I rely on the center focus point and have to recompose.  Shooting action/fast moving subjects also prove a bit more difficult. 

I don't do much sport photography yet so I can manage for now but it's a huge con nonetheless. 

It takes a gun guy to understand this but I also don't like the 'trigger'.  The 60D had a very positive '2 stage trigger'.  You pull back with resistance and it stops and it requires a little more push to actuate the shutter.  Like a good 2 stage rifle/handgun trigger, it allows you to take the trigger all the way to the end, verify your crosshairs are on target and then pull.  The 6D has a very light trigger that doesn't really talk to you.  It just goes and then snaps.  Again, most folks won't notice or likely care but I do love a good 2 stage trigger.

The 6D is an awesome piece of machinery.  It's allowed my imagination to flow more quickly into an image captured.  I don't have any excuses now (unless I'm shooting a ballerina in the dark) and it allows me to concentrate on getting better.  Stay tuned for more full framed images!






ardee chua photography
Oleg, Again, your tutelage is much appreciated. I was just looking at some recent portraits where I KNOW I was in focus but when I zoom in at 100%, it's a little soft and I had to discard. Your comment explained it and solved that enigma.

It'll have to be a limitation I'll have to work with until the next upgrade. =)

Thank you for the wonderful comment.
Oleg Volk(non-registered)
With focus-->re-compose process, keep in mind that it can easily cause back focus in portraits. More obvious with shorter lenses like the 50mm because of the greater angle of change when re-composing. I run into that problem regularly.

I do think that your upgrade came in time. Your skills got ahead of your gear.
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