Its specs and price are roughly similar to the older but still available 5D Mark II, which it is likely to replace in Canon's lineup. Photo.net has a nice comparison chart here.
It also offers some interesting refinements, most notably built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. Those are expensive options on the 5D Mark III. For videographers, in has 1080p HD video at 30fps.
Years ago, I heard it said that Japanese companies generally only pay serious and close attention to their main Japanese rivals. So, Toyota doesn't really care what Hyundai or Chrysler are doing; it cares what Honda and Nissan are doing. Nikon and Canon have fit that stereotype pretty well for years. Although each have products—and each product has features—the opponent doesn't, they're still very much like two fighters in a ring, each eyeing the other intently.
Accordingly, the 6D is Canon's answering jab to the D600. They're both very close in size, although the Canon shaves off just enough, especially in the weight department, to kill Nikon's days-old claim that its D600 is the "smallest and lightest" full-frame DSLR. In practice they'll both be touted as "small" or "compact" for full-frame, but they're really cruiserweights, especially to anyone acclimated to mirrorless.
The Nikon promises better autofocus, and has a built-in flash for triggering slaved off-camera flash units or for fill-flash in sunlight. Neither has an articulated viewing screen.
The 6D is probably aimed anyone upgrading from an older original 5D, or for any Canon fan who's been itching to get into full-frame but holding back because of the age of the 5D Mark II and the cost of the Mark III. Or for anyone who just wants a no-nonsense, workhorse camera with the typical full-frame advantages of a relatively big, bright viewfinder and the restoration of accustomed angles of view of legacy 35mm focal lengths.
The 6D's 20 MP is close enough to the D600's 24 that pixel peepers are unlikely to detect any consistent difference, but it's certainly a wash with the Mark III's 22 MP. It's a newer sensor, said to do a little better in the lowest light.
The price on both, slated to be a little above $2k, is a disappointment to some enthusiasts, who were hoping one or the other of these new FF models would break the $1,500 barrier. Not close yet. Still, the prices of both cameras seem eminently reasonable considering the ample goodness on offer.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Doug: "Slightly off-topic, but I found it interesting what Canon didn't introduce. There were no refreshes for Canon's aging 'enthusiast' APS-C models. The 7D is three years old, the 60D is two years old, and the sensor that they share has been surpassed by the competition. In some regards, both cameras have been surpassed by the 'lowly' Rebel T4i (650D). Does the 6D serve notice that Canon's enthusiast DSLRs will henceforth be full-frame?"
Mike replies: A interesting concept, but I doubt it, because of the 10 EF-S lenses I count in Canon's current lens lineup. (Hope I counted right.) Also, the lowest cost APS-C camera currently available is the T3i at $549, and that's a long way from the lowest cost FF.
Featured Comment by Brad Calkins: "I wonder how many of us would have guessed 10 years ago that enthusiants would someday consider a $2000+ body as 'reasonable'? :-) I know my threshold on what I'm willing to spend on a body or lens has been steadily creeping up over the years, until I finally snapped when I realized I was starting to consider spending $2100 on a body and $1500 on a lens. Hello Micro 4/3! While I'd love to have one of these FF bodies, hard to justify—for me at least!"
Mike replies: 'I feel ya,' as the cool kids say (my son hates it when I try to speak hipster). But consider also that in 2002, the very first Canon with a full-frame sensor came out (the 1Ds). It was also the first Canon with a two-digit megapixel count (11.4), and it cost $8,000. This Canon gives you nearly double the pixel count for very close to 1/4th the price. What you're willing to spend might be creeping up, but the cost of the technology has been creeping down, too.
[A tip of the hat to dpreview's "Camera Timeline" here.]
Featured [partial] Comment by Tom Bell: "I have just spent a few days on a great photography refresher in Cornwall U.K....concentrating on only using Manual mode. Wonderful. I was enjoying my Pentax K5...but my other 'student' had a Nikon D800 and the really remarkable thing to me was the viewfinder. Mine is acceptable but the FF viewfinder was like being back with my LX...and as I get older I realise that reviewers are all young, because the viewfinder difference, whilst mentioned, really does not get the attention it deserves."