Should I Get the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or the EOS 6D?

If stepping up from a crop sensor camera like the EOS 80D or a Rebel-series camera, there are two full frame Canon DSLRs outside of the 1-series that one might consider – the EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS 6D. Both offer a step up in high ISO image quality afforded by a larger full frame sensor, but feature gap between them is as significant as the price gap. Let's dig a little deeper to see which body might be the better option for your needs and budget.
Before we analyze the differences between the two bodies, let's first take a look at the features they have in common:
  • Full frame 1.0x 35mm field of view with EF lenses
  • Excellent high-ISO image quality
  • AF working range: EV -3 - 18
  • Autofocus Microadjustment
  • AEB: 2, 3, 5 or 7 Shots +/-3 EV 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments
  • Viewfinder: Pentaprism, approx. 0.71x magnification
  • Exposure compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/2 or 1/3 increments
  • Top LCD Panel: Yes
  • Wi-Fi and GPS: Built-in
From an image quality perspective (assuming a properly in-focus subject), the two bodies perform very similarly (disregarding differences in resolution). And from that standpoint, either body can serve as a very compelling upgrade for those stepping up from a 1.6x crop sensor camera like the **D or Rebel/***D/****D series. With that in mind, let's take a look at the specific benefits of each DSLR.
Benefits of the Canon EOS 6D over the 5D Mark IV
  • Smaller size/lower weight: 5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8" (144.5 x 110.5 x 71.2mm), 26.6 oz (755g) vs. 5.9 x 4.6 x 3.0" (150.7 x 116.4 x 75.9mm), 31.4 oz (890g)
  • Better battery life: Approx 1090 shots vs. 900 (at 23°C/73°F, AE 50%, FE 50%)
  • Significantly lower price
Benefits of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV over the EOS 6D
  • More resolution: 30.4 MP vs. 20.2
  • Newer image processor: DIGIC 6+ vs. DIGIC 5+
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF: Yes vs. No
  • Better AF system: 61 Point / max of 41 cross-type AF points inc. 5 dual cross type at f/2.8 and 61 points / 21 cross-type AF points at f/8 vs. 11 points inc. f/5.6 cross type at center, extra sensitivity at f/2.8
  • Better metering system: Approx. 150,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, 252-zone metering vs. TTL full aperture metering with 63 zone Dual Layer SPC
  • Higher Metering Range: EV 0 – 20 vs. EV 1 – 20
  • Higher max. shutter speed: 1/8000 sec vs. 1/4000
  • Faster continuous shooting/higher buffer: Max. approx. 7fps. with full AF / AE tracking, speed maintained for up to unlimited number of JPEGs or 21 RAW images vs. max. approx. 4.5fps. with full AF / AE tracking, speed maintained for up to 1250 JPEGs or 17 RAW images
  • More memory card slots: 2 (CompactFlash, SD/SDHC/SDXC) vs. 1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
  • Selectable auto white balance setting: AWB (ambience priority, white priority) vs. AWB (ambience priority)
  • Larger viewfinder coverage: Approx. 100% vs. 97%
  • Better mirror assembly: Motor driven quick-return half mirror vs. quick-return half mirror
  • Higher shutter durability rating: 150,000 shots vs. 100,000
  • Light flicker detection and shutter timing: Yes vs. No
  • Better LCD: Touch screen 3.2" (8.10cm) Clear View LCD II, approx. 1620K dots vs. 3.0" (7.7cm) Clear View TFT, approx. 1040K dots
  • Slightly faster flash sync speed: 1/200 sec. vs. 1/180 sec.
  • Higher max. movie resolution and frame rates: 4K (17:9) 4096 x 2160 (29.97, 25, 24, 23.98 fps) Motion JPEG, FHD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, 23.98 fps) intra or inter frame vs. FHD (16:9) 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps) intra or inter frame
  • NFC: Yes vs. No
  • Faster interface: SuperSpeed USB 3.0 vs. Hi-Speed USB 2.0
  • Headphone socket: Yes vs. No
While it's obvious from above that the EOS 5D Mark IV is a full featured, advanced DSLR with numerous benefits over the 6D, the 5D IV's superior feature set results in a significant price differential in respect to Canon's entry-level full frame DSLR. How significant? Considering current manufacturer suggested retail pricing (without rebates), you could purchase two Canon EOS 6D DSLRs in place of a single 5D Mark IV (and still have a little money left over).
It's difficult to deny that the 5D IV is a general purpose powerhouse, with the ability to cover a wide range of situations including sports (thanks to its faster frame rate & flicker avoidance), wildlife (due to the advanced AF system and cropping ability afforded by its higher resolution), architecture, portraiture, event photography and... well, just about everything else. But if you're upgrading to a full frame camera for the first time, or otherwise are looking to add a backup camera to your full frame capable kit, then the EOS 6D represents an excellent value for the feature set it does have and the image quality it is capable of.
Of course, the 5D IV would be an easy recommendation for many enthusiast/advanced/pro photographers. However, one's budget and primary photographic disciplines must be considered. For instance, if you're a wedding photographer, you could easily make the case for investing in two EOS 6D bodies rather than purchasing on a single EOS 5D Mark IV (we recommend always having a backup body for wedding/event photography purposes). Or, if you're a hobbyist who is uninterested in DSLR video recording and does not intend on needing/wanting the majority of the 5D IV's benefits, then the EOS 6D will ultimately be the better choice.
For everyone else, there's the 5D Mark IV.
Posted: 3/30/2017 8:07:50 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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