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Full frame 6d vs cropped 70d


Hi guys,


I know there are several threads on here that compare these two cameras and I think I've made my mind up, but wonding if I could get a little more help. 


I'm upgrading from a T3i and was going to go to the 70d since it's the newest and seemed every bit as good as the 7d. Then, I got looking at the 6d and I'm thinking that might be the better way to go. I really don't care about shooting the highest quality video and I don't (or haven't yet) shot sports. I undterstand that the EFS lens's won't work with the 6d and I'm ok with that. Also, I would like to do this at least part time professionally.


Mainly I've been doing portraits and would like to do some landscapes. I guess my main questions are:

1-Are portraits going to be better with a full frame camera?

2-Would landscapes be any better with full frame?

3-Does the 6d have spot metering?

4-Is it true that the 6d doesn't have a pop up flash? That would mean I couldn't use my 430exII as a slave?


I think those are my main concerns. I would appreciate any feed back you guys have for me. Thank you! Robert



1 & 2 : Any modern camera is good for theses purposes. You barely can tell the different nowaday.

3: yes, but in-camera spot meter is some what limited use (because the spot is too big especially on wide angle lens).

4: no pop up flash, also syn speed is 1/180s as opposed to 1/250s. You will have to buy additional equipement to trigger your flash off camera.

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Thanks hsbn, I appreciate the response. It sounds like I'd do just as well with the 70d? The only other thing I forgot to ask about was the "low light" capabilities. I've read that the 6d is superior in low light situations. Is this just because of higher iso capability, or larger sensor? Which is the superior camera? Ah, one last both have more options iso wise than what I have now (T3i)? I've hear pro's talk about using iso 250 or something similar. On the T3i it's just 100-200-400-800 etc. Thanks,




4. FIrst of all, none of the full frame cameras have a built-in flash. To use your 430EX II off camera wirelessly as a slave with 6D, you'll need to buy and ST-E2 controller module to put in the camera's hot shoe. This will give you similar (actually better, IMO) optical control over the flash. It will still be limited to line-of-sight, same as now. But the communication will be done with near-IR light, rather than the somewhat obnoxious white light your present camera's built in flash uses to communicate with the flash now. To get non-line-of-sight wireless off-camera control you'd need to go to the 600EX-RT and an ST-E3-RT controller module. These use radio waves to control and trigger the flash, which give much greater flexibility placing the slave flash, as well as a lot more range. 70D has a built-in flash and can operate your 430EX as an off-camera slave much as you do now (though I personally think it woiuld be better done with an ST-E2 module).


As to your other questions:


1. Portraits.... it's a bit hard to say. You'd see the most advantage to the full frame camera if you make big prints from your image files. But even then, portraits don't necessarily need a lot of fine detail, which is the clearest advantage of a full frame camera.  In fact, feminine portraits often are done with some sort of filtration or post-processing to reduce fine detail. (I.e., your mother-in-law might not really like all the fine details of her face being etched forever in your images.)


Portraits are also often done with shallow depth of field effects, to blur down busy backgrounds. Depth of field doesn't actually change between formats, but because we either stand closer or use longer lenses with a full frame camera, it feels like you can get greater background blur (i.e., shallower DOF) with a full frame camera. It is true that the larger viewfinder of a full frame camera makes it a bit easier to see what's going on with DOF, whether viweing with the lens wide open or using DOF preview and stopping down.


On the other hand, if you are rapidly shooting candid portraits and following moving subjects, the superior AF system of the 70D might be an advantage.


Lens selection for portraiture will differ too, depending upon the sensor format. On the crop camera the "ideal, traditional" portrait lenses are a 50mm and 85mm with large apertures (50/1.4 and 85/1.8 are what I use). I also really like a 24-70/2.8 for portraiture on a crop camera... better than I like it on full frame.


On the full frame camera, the ideal traditional portrait lenses are 85mm and 135mm, again probably with as large apertures as budget and practicality will allow.


2. Landscapes... once again it depends. If you will be making really large prints from your images, the full frame camera will be the better choice. Also, because you won't be enlarging the file as much, loss of fine detail due to diffraction is reduced, allowing somewhat smaller apertures to be used. For example, an 18 to 20MP crop camera has a diffraction limited aperture of f7.1 (this assumes an 8x10 print, and is the aperture at which diffraction starts, tho it might not be a significant problem until smaller apertures are used). Meahwhile a 21 or 22MP full frame camera has a DLA of f10.


Auto focus performance isn't much of a concern with landscape photography.


If you want to use the camera's LCD monitor to compose and focus your images, the 70D might have a couple advantages. For one, it's LCD monitor is articulated, so would be more usable at less than ideal angles, such as overhead or really low angle shots. Also, the 70D is the first Canon DSLR to have Dual Pixel focus in Live View, which considerably improves focus performance in that mode.


In general, lenses for full frame cameras are a bit more limited since they can only use EF and "full frame compatible", while crop cameras can use both EF and EF-S or "crop only" lenses. Now, the Canon system is extensive and there really are plenty of choices for full frame or crop cameras.... There are just a bit more to choose among, for crop cameras.


But, also in general, lenses for full frame will be larger, heavier and more expensive. For example, for portraiture consider the 85/1.8 on the 70D vs the 135/2L on the 6D. Or compare the EF-S 10-22mm on the 70D with the 16-35/2.8L II, new 16-35/4L IS or 17-40L on the 6D (granted, the full frame lenses feature non-variable apertures and are "faster", up to two or three stops in the case of the f2.8). Not likely something you'll need for the subjects you plan to shoot, but finally compare the handholdable EF 300/4 IS on a crop camera with the not-very-handholdable EF 500/4 IS on the FF camera, which will quite possibly also require a sturdy tripod rig in the $1500 range.


The Canon 70D is a "step up" or "pro-sumer" model... a couple notches above your current camera in build, features and handling. The 6D is sort of an "entry level" full frame model, sort of a "full frame Rebel", in terms of build and features.


One of the biggest diffferences is in the AF systems. The 70D's AF is pretty advanced, just slightly short of the 7D's. It has 19 AF points, all of which are dual-axis/cross type (center one enhanced for f2.8 and faster lenses). It has the usual One Shot and AI Servo focus modes for stationary and moving subjects, along with the Single Point/Manually Selected and All Points/Auto Selected AF patterns that pretty much all Canon DSLRs now have, plus Zone Focus mode that's sort of like a scaled down All Points. (It doesn't have Spot Focus or Expansion Points that the 7D offers... and I don't think it has a dedicated chip driving AF, the way the 7D does.... But it has a newer and faster processor than the 7D, that somewhat levels the playing field.)


The 70D's focus screen is an Active Matrix/Transmissive LCD that reconfigures for the selected AF pattern, similar to what's used in 7D, 5D Mark III and 1DX. This screen isn't intended to be interchangeable, but you can turn on "grid on demand", which can be helpful feature shooting landscapes and architecture, in particular. (It gives "rule of thirds" guide, so I use it all the time for composition too).


The 6D uses a simpler AF systems and a fixed, standard focus screen that can be user interchanged, with a "D" or "grid" type, or with an "S" or "Precision/Manual Focus" type. It has 11 AF points, with only the center one the more sensitive Dual Axis/Cross Type. Though likely just fine for sedate types of shooting, the outer points are not up to the same performance as the 70D's (or 7D's) outer points. In fact, the 6D's are likely more similar to the outer AF points on your current camera. If I were using a 6D, I might put it in Single Point mode, select the center point, and rarely change it. However, for the type of photography you say you do now and want to do in the future, the 6D's AF system might be just fine... all you will ever need.


Now, the 6D's center AF point is more usable in low light, than any of the 70D (or 7D) AF points... even their center ones. The 6D's center point is good for one or two stops lower light (-3EV or -2EV with 6D vs -1EV or -0.5EV with 70D/7D, depending upon where you look up the specs for the cameras). This is a good thing because it nicely complements another big advantage of the 6D... it's low light imaging capabilities. Full frame sensors inherently give less image noise at high ISOs so are more ideal for low light shooting, and the 6D really takes full advantage of this. Many users think it's the best low light camera Canon has produced to date and don't hesitate to use ISOs that were unheard of a camera generation or two ago. The 70D seems slightly improved upon the 7D in high ISO performance... but still falls well short of the 6D (and 5D Mark III) in this regard.


3. Yes, the 6D has Spot Metering. It's centrally located, like most Canon models. It's 3.5% of the image area, which is a little larger than some models, but probably about average for most. (70D has 3.0% and 7D has 2.3% Spot Metering. 5D Mk III has 1.5% , but 5D Mk II has same as 6D... 3.5%. Your T3i has 4% Spot.).


Some other stuff....


Both cameras use SD memory, same as your current camera. Both cameras use larger LP-E6 batteries, which should give nearly double the number of shots per charge as the LP-E8 used by your current camera.


It might not be much of a consideration for the type of subjects you want to shoot, but 6D shoots at 4.5 frames per second, slightly faster than your current camera. 70D can shoot considerably faster, at up to 7 fps.


Your T3i has a 95% viewfinder with 0.85X magnification and 19mm eye relief. Like all Rebel series, it uses a penta-mirror instead of a true pentaprism. This is a cost, size and weight saving strategy. The 70D has a 98%, 0.95X, 22mm eye relief viewfinder, along with a true pentaprism. This will make for a larger and brighter viewfinder. The 6D's is 97%, 0.71X and 22mm eye relief, but also will feel larger than your present camera's since it's a full frame sized image to start with. I am pretty sure it also uses a true pentaprism, for brightness. (For comparison, both 7D and 5D Mk III have 100% viewfinders. The 7D's is 1.0X, 22mm and the 5DIII's is 0.71X, 21mm. Both also use pentaprisms.)


EDIT: Yes, both 6D and 70D can be set up to use 1/3 stop ISO increments or full stop. I think probably in 1/2 stop increments too (though it might be only the aperture and shutter that can be set in choice of 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments).  Frankly I just leave my ISO set to full stops, which makes manually changing it faster (I do not and will not use Auto ISO... that's just another wild card, as far as I'm concerned). Even with only full stops of ISO, I still have plenty of flexibility setting exposure, since aperture and shutter are in 1/3 stop increments.


Your current camera offers ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (expandable to 12800). The 70D offers 100 to 12800 (expandable to 25600). 6D offers ISO 100 to 25600 (expandable to low 50, high 51200 and even higher 102400).


Again, the considerably larger sensor in the full frame cameras are less prone to high ISO and long exposure noise.  This is because their sensors are much less crowded. A 21 or 22MP full frame camera has roughly 25000 pixel sites per square mm. Meanwhile an 18 or 20MP APS-C sensor has approx. 55000 pixel sites per sq. mm... more than twice as many. In rather simple terms... the more crowded the sensor, the more it will heat up in use, in turn causing more "signal gain" and more "crosstalk" between pixel sites. So, thanks to their less crowded condition, full frame sensors give cleaner images at high ISO, low light work.  (The downside is the larger image area makes for slower shooting rates, lower flash sync speeds, possibly more mirror slap vibration effects, more area to keep clear of dust specks, and considerably higher cost.)


Ultimately, only you can say which camera is "better" for your purposes. The 70D might be more versatile and less expensive, both for the camera and for lenses to use upon it. If all you ever print is 8x10s and 11x14s, and most of what you shoot is in reasonably good light, you'll have a hard time telling apart images from one camera or the other. But the 6D would be very capable for your stated purposes and has some advantages if you want to make really big prints and/or shoot in really low light conditions.


Hope this helps with your decision!


Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories


Hey Alan,


WOW! What great and detailed info! Thank you for taking the time to relay it to me....very valuable stuff!


After reading the part on flash I realize that the pop up is not the way to go and shouldn't let that play into my desicion. 


Believe it or not, I'm still unsure. Right now I have a 50mm 2.8 which I've taken all of my portraits with. I recently bought an 85mm 2.8 for portraits, but I have to be a long way away from subject. Like so far, I can't get far enough away in my makeshift "studio". I really haven't even been able to use it taht much because of that. So, in that sense the 6d would probably benefit me.


For some reason, even though I don't care that much about the video I feel like I dhould go with the 70d just because of the newer technology and the articulated (and touch screen?) lcd. Wish I could just afford a 5d mkIII : ))


I really appreciate your help!

Just keep in mind that Lens > body. Good lens will last for years and years. So even if you can afford 5DMIII, buy something cheaper and use the rest of the money on lens.

But the best way, go out to your local camera store and play with both cameras, see which one fits you more. I agree with Amfoto1 about almost everything except where he thinks 6D is a "full frame rebell". I have the rebel, 30D, 5DMII, 7D and 6D. I sold the 7D and the other 3 are my back up now. And the 6D is pretty solid, it is way better than people who don't have it give it credit for. 🙂 but like I said, you can go out and play with all of them.

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hsbn, that is an awesome piece of advice! Very good point!

I just upgraded from a 60D to a 6D.  I'm amazed at the image quality and low noise from the full frame sensor.  You can easily capture usable photos at ISO1600, 3200, and 6400.  This will open up a lot more opportunities to you when shooting in less than ideal lighting situations.  The difference is really amazing in my opinion.  What prompted my switch was having to shoot an event at high iso's without a flash and not being very happy with the results from the 60D.  Anything over ISO 800 on that camera just doesn't look very good.


If you plan on shooting fast-moving subjects in good light, go with the 70D.  If image quality is of the upmost importance, then the 6D is a no brainer.  


If you want to fire your flash off camera wirelessly, I purchased some cheap triggers (Yongnuo YN-622C).  These are compatible with the Canon E-TTL system and the menu within the 6D will allow you to control the output power of the flash remotely.

Hi mazer,

Thank you for the reply. That's actually very helpful. What is your opinion on the 6d's focusing system? That's the only thing that's holding me back. I saw a review that called it prehistoric. As I said, I don't do much vid or sports, but if the occasion came up is like to be able to handle it. Thanks again.

It has worked well for me.  Then again I'm not shooting a lot of fast action with it.  The 70D has a lot going for it in the focusing department.  The 6d can't compete with it in that regard.  If I were shooting sports, I'd go 70D.  If you are shooting portraits, landscape, and low-light shots, get the 6D.  You can even mount the flash to help focus in low light.  If you buy those triggers you could just mount one of them to the camera to provide auto-focus assist.

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