Alessio Michelini Photography

First gig with my Canon 6D: Gypsies on the Autobahn

12 May 2013

I generally don't shoot supporter bands, not because I'm a dick (or am I?) but because I become lazy in the past few years and I always arrive in the venue when the supporter band finishes, but this time the gig was late, and the second supporter band started at the time the main band starts, so at the end Gypsies on the Autobahn became the first band I shot with my brand new camera, the Canon 6D, and beside I have to say that I really like the performance of this band, and they were the perfect models for my "tests shots".
How you can easily understand, this is some sort of quick review of my new camera rather than a normal 3-songs-no-flash review, but I think music photography is probably one of the best fields where you can tell if a camera is good or not. And how it turned out? Well, damn good.

Only one Cross-Type AF point, but it's fuckin ace!
Yes, we all know, the 6D doesn't have a fancy a AF System like the 5D Mk III, even the 7D has way more focus points and all Cross-Type, this little guy has 11 points and only one Cross-Type, even my old 50D if you read the specs is better as it has less points, but all Cross-Type, but at the end, I'm not a sport photographer, I don't need any sort of tracking, I always use the central point, and I couldn't care less of the others, I only need that point to work well, and the 6D worked even better than I was expecting: it didn't miss a single shot, this thing can focus in pure darkness, the few times it missed the focus it was only because I was focusing on the wrong thing, that's it, and it's so good that it makes my beloved 7D looks like a clumsy EOS-M.

High ISO performance are impressive
I know, compared to any APS-C sensors a full frame is obviously better, there are no chances that an cropped sensor could win, or at least if you don't compare with 10 yo full frame sensors, so this is not a real surprise, but what it really surprised me was how good the noise is, no banding like the 7D/50D or, according to other photographers, even the 5D Mk II/III. I'm not saying that there is no noise, there is, you can see it, but it's very "pleasant", it looks more like the noise from a film rather than a digital sensor, and even at 6400 ISO it's way usable, it doesn't make you regret that you used that settings for that shot. Just look the shot below to give you a better idea:

50mm - f/2,5 - 1/160 sec - ISO 6400 (click to enlarge)

Not bad for 6400 ISO isn't it? And this also means that you have, obviously, way less noise at my standard ISO for gigs, which is 1600 ISO.

50mm - f/2,8 - 1/400 sec - ISO 1600

What I can see it's a clean image, and you see the noise only if you zoom in:

But still you have loads of details, the noise is very little and as I said, it's very pleasant.

What about the stinky SD cards?
I never like them, even to me which I generally try to avoid easy prejudices, I always thought that SD cards were just good enough for compact cameras and for people who barely take pictures at parties while they refill their drinks. So for this camera I bought the best I could find on the market, obviously SanDisk, and obviously the Extreme, and I was really worried that even the best of SDs, even if on the specs they claim to be a 45Mb/s, they could never beat a good chunky CF. Well, they actually did it. I try my best to slow the buffer down, I took a blast of photos trying to see how slow it was, and surprisingly I discover that they are actually fast. I never waited more than a couple of seconds to see the buffer to write all the pictures in the memory. Really, really impressive.

Handling & build quality
I don't have huge hands, so even if I always want a batter grip and I'm the first to say that an heavier camera is better because it's simply more stable, I slightly smaller body is not a bad thing for me. About the materials, some people called this camera a "plasticky" one, and in part is true as the top of the camera is made by hard plastic, this is to allow the wifi and the gps to work properly, but apart from that the rest is magnesium alloy, and even the plastic parts don't feel different from the metal ones, and in general the camera it leaves me with a really good and solid sensation, and I come from a 7D, and before a 50D, which are all made of metal, so trust me when I say it's a solid camera, plus is water & dust resistant like the others.

To be honest I was expecting less from this camera, is the little brother in the Canon's full frame family, snobbed by most of the Pros, and often even from some amateurs, the "entry-level" label sometimes is something more psychological rather than an actual limitation, especially from people how often want the most expensive toy thinking that the toy will turn them into great photographers, and then the same people barely know the basics of photography (I know, I shouldn't read what people write on forums).
But this camera is actually a really damn good toy for the price you pay, again it doesn't have some of the Pro optionals, and some things are really silly to me, like the 1/8000th of a second that the 5D and the 7D have, and even if it sounds a lot between 1/4000th and 1/8000th, it's still just 1 stop guys, not 10, just one. What it really matters to me, is that even if the AF system is way simpler than its siblings, that central point works, and it does really well, and the overall image quality, which is what it makes a real difference, is au-pair with the big brothers.

So, am I happy with my purchase? Yes, even more than I thought. I was expecting a decent camera, the only full frame I could afford, and last night I realized that it's not a "just fine" camera, it is actually a really good camera. So, thumbs up for the Canon 6D.

Down here you can see some of the firsts shots I took at a gig, hopefully I will soon post some landscapes to see how this camera behave in a totally different area :-)

Full set can be seen here.