Which is Better the Sony A7 or the Canon 6D?

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Two of the most interesting and unique cameras to hit the market between 2012 and 2013 are the Sony A7 and the Canon 6D.  The A7 was unique as it was Sony’s first attempt to bring mirrorless technology to full frame photography.  The 6D was unique in that it was Canon’s attempt to create a budget full frame camera without all of the bells and whistles found on the much more expensive Canon 5D Mark III, which was also introduced earlier in 2012.  The A7 and 6D were extremely popular when introduced and still retain their popularity today despite a follow-up version of the A7 being introduced since 2013, with the 6D not changing since it was introduced.

Canon EOS 6D | Amazon
$450.00

EOS 6D is the world's lightest full-frame DSLR equipped with a 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor with a precision 11-point AF system and also offers built-in WiFi and GPS support.

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11/26/2022 02:30 pm GMT

The Similarities

The Sony A7 and 6D share very few similar characteristics even though they are both full frame cameras.  The most significant similarity is the ability of both cameras to shoot HD video in a number of formats, including 1,920 x 1,080 at speeds ranging from 24-60 frames per second on the A7 to 24-30 frames per second on the 6D.

The A7 and the 6D both have similar shooting speeds with the A7 being slightly faster at 5 frames per second compared to 4.5 frames per second on the 6D.  Images are captured on a single SD, SDHC or SDXC memory card in either RAW or JPEG formats.  The A7 does have the ability to use proprietary Sony memory sticks as well.

The Differences

The biggest difference between the A7 and the 6D is that the A7 is a mirror-less camera, while the 6D is a traditional DSLR, which uses a mirror to bounce the image onto the sensor as it comes thru the camera’s lens when the shutter is released.  In a mirror-less camera such as the A7, the image is captured directly onto the sensor when the shutter is released.  While both are effective, the elimination of the mirror assembly makes the A7 significantly smaller and lighter than the 6D.  The A7 measures 5.0” x 3.7” x 1.9” compared to the 6D, which measures 5.7” x 4.4” x 2.8”.  The A7 is also significantly lighter at 14.67 ounces compared to the 6D, which measures 25.7 ounces.

Another difference between the two cameras is in resolution, with the edge going to the A7, which uses a 24.3 megapixel CMOS sensor compared to the 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor found in the 6D.  However, it is important to keep in mind that this difference is not as significant as it may seem, as the images are virtually identical at this resolution.

Sony a7 Full-Frame Mirrorless Digital Camera | Amazon
$1,258.99

No other full-frame, interchangeable-lens camera is this light or this portable. 24.3 MP of rich detail. A true-to-life 2.4 million dot OLED viewfinder. Wi-Fi sharing and an expandable shoe system. It's all the full-frame performance you ever wanted in a compact size that will change your perspective entirely.

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11/26/2022 10:30 am GMT

Somewhat related is the difference in the ISO capabilities between the two cameras.  In this case, the A7 and the 6d both have a native ISO range of 100-25,600, however, while the ISO can be reduced in both cameras to 50, only the 6D can be expanded beyond 25,600.  At the H2 setting, the 6D is capable of ISO 102,400!

Other significant differences between the two cameras include the viewfinder with the A7 using an electronic viewfinder, while the 6D uses a traditional optical viewfinder.  Somewhat related to this is the number of autofocus points visible in the viewfinder with the A7 having 117 compared to the 6D’s modest 11.  In addition, the A7’s viewfinder provides 100% coverage, while the viewfinder in the 6D only provides 97% coverage.

Minor differences include a 3.0” tilting screen on the A7, while the 6D has a 3.0” fixed screen.  In addition, while both cameras have WIFI capabilities, the 6D also has GPS capabilities allowing images to be geo-tagged.  The A7 also has a faster shutter speed capable of capturing images at 1/8,000 seconds compared to 1/4,000 found on the 6D.

The Pros and Cons

As with all digital cameras, neither camera is perfect and they both have positive and negative characteristics.  It is critical that any photographer considering either the A7 or the 6D carefully weigh the positives and the negatives to assist in determining which camera best fits their needs.

In the case of the Sony A7, the biggest “Pro” was its small size and lightweight, which is remarkable considering the capabilities.  When you handle the A7 it becomes very clear how much size and weight is related to the traditional mirror assembly in a camera such as the 6D!

Canon EOS 6D | Amazon
$450.00

EOS 6D is the world's lightest full-frame DSLR equipped with a 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor with a precision 11-point AF system and also offers built-in WiFi and GPS support.

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11/26/2022 02:30 pm GMT

The biggest “con” of the A7 is the number of autofocus points found in the electronic viewfinder.  The electronic viewfinder is nice, however 117 autofocus points is overkill and is actually distracting when trying to compose an image.  On top of that they are primarily clustered in the center of the viewfinder and not spread out.

The biggest “pro” of the Canon 6D is the incorporation of the C1 and C2 settings into the camera.  These settings allow the photographer to save custom user defined settings and instantly recall them simply by twisting a dial.  This is one of the best features found on any camera today.

The biggest “con” of the 6D is the slower shutter speed of 1/4,000 of second compared to the 1/8,000 found on the A7.  While 1/4,000 of a second may seem to be sufficient, it could be somewhat limiting when photographing fast moving subjects at sports events or air shows.

Just the Facts, A side-By-Side Comparison

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Sony A7 and the Canon 6D both have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Item Sony A7 Canon 6D
Year Introduced 2013 2012
Format Full Frame Full Frame
Megapixels 24.3 20.2
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Processor BIONX X Digic 5+
Image Format RAW or JPEG RAW or JPEG
Sensor Size 35.8 mm x 23.9 mm 35.8 mm x 23.9 mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes Yes
Auto-focus Points 117 11
Modes Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Program Auto (P), Shutter Priority (S), Scene Selection, Sweep Panorama Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Program (P), Shutter Priority (S), Special Scene
Metering Center Weighted Average Multi-Zone and Spot Metering TTL Metering With 63 Zone SPC
View Finder Coverage 100% 97%
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 5 4.5
ISO 100 – 25,600 100 –25,600
Lowest Expandable ISO 50 Lo-1 (50)
Highest Expandable ISO N/A H1 (51,200)

H2 (102,400)

Shutter Speed Range 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds 1/4,000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash No No
Card Slots 1 1
Card Type SD, SDHC, SDXC, Plus Various Proprietary Memory Sticks SD, SDHC, SDXC
LCD Size 3.0” 3.0”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Tilt Fixed
Video Yes, Full HD Yes, Full HD
Video Type / Speed 1,920 x 1,080 At 24-60 FPS; Other Types As Well 1,920 x 1,080 At 25.0 – 29.97 FPS; Other Types As Well
Video Format AVCHD 2.0 / MP4 MOV
Internal Autofocus Motor No No
GPS No Yes
Wireless Yes Yes
WIFI Yes Yes
Battery NP-FW50 LP-E6
Unique Features Electronic Viewfinder, Light Weight; Mirror-less C1 and C2 Settings, Mostly Magnesium Alloy Body
Size Without Lens 5.0” x 3.7” x 1.9” 5.7” x 4.4” x 2.8”
Weight Without Lens 14.67 Ounces 25.7 Ounces
Manufactured In Japan Japan
Body Only or with Kit Lens Both Options Available Both Options Available
Included Accessories NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery. AC-UB10 AC Adaptor, Shoulder Strap, Body cap, Shoe Cap, Eyepiece Cup, Micro USB Cable, PlayMemories Home App, Image Data Converter Version 4 Lp-E6 Battery, LC-E6 Battery Charger, Eyecup, AVC DC400ST Stereo AV Cable, IFC-200U USB Interface Cable, EW EOS 6D Wide Neck Strap, Software Disk
Cost, Body Only Around $1,698.00**

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Around $1,699.00

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Cost With Kit Lens (Various Lens Options Available) Varies Depending On Lens Selected Varies Depending On Lens Selected

*Information from Sony’s, Canon’s and other websites, including pricing.

** The Sony A7 has been replaced by a number of follow-up models, but the A7 is still available for a number of retailers.

The Final Frame: My Overall Recommendation

As one would expect, the Sony A7 and the Canon 6D are both excellent full frame cameras capable of exceptional image quality.  While I really like the small weight and size of the A7, I prefer the 6D for a number of reasons.  The main reason is that the A7 just does not feel good in my hands and it is critical that a camera feel good to handle, especially if you are going to be using it a lot.  Also, the Sony line up of lenses continues to improve, but Canon’s line up is much deeper and in many regards superior.

While camera bodies come and go, great lenses last a lifetime, so I tend to look at the lens lineup primarily when buying a camera.  Although I liked the viewfinder on the A7, as it provides 100% coverage, I prefer traditional optical viewfinders, as electronic viewfinders tend to be power hogs!   That being said, both the A7 and the 6D would be excellent choices for those looking for a budget full frame camera.

Canon EOS 6D | Amazon
$450.00

EOS 6D is the world's lightest full-frame DSLR equipped with a 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor with a precision 11-point AF system and also offers built-in WiFi and GPS support.

Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
11/26/2022 02:30 pm GMT

The Camera Guide Team
 

The Camera Guide Team is a group of writers, shutterbugs, and professional photographers. We know the challenge of looking through different cameras or accessories. We want you to learn everything about cameras. We provide honest reviews, detailed guides, and helpful comparisons. We have everything you need. We are here to help you find the perfect click.

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