The Canon 6d, my low light solution?

Canon 6d www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

Why and how did I choose the Canon 6d

Canon 6d www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

 

For quite a while now, I’ve been looking at getting a new camera body to accompany my Canon 1ds mk3. It was increasingly the case that I needed to be in the higher end of the ISO range for me to capture an image. The Canon 1ds mk3 isn’t really good at this. In fact, push it much above ISO 800 and the tears start to flow. She’s not a happy bunny and the noisy files are testament to the upset. After a little bit of research and plenty of chats with my buddy Brian Worley of p4pictures. It was down to only two cameras. The Canon 5d mk3 or the Canon 6d.

 

Calumet Camera Hire

I took the opportunity to give the Canon 6d a try when I returned to London for Chef Robin Gill. I was shooting his new restaurant, Paradise Garage. When I got off the train at London Euston it was just a short walk to the Calumet store on Drummond Street, where I would hire the Canon 6d. I also hired the Canon 24-70 f2.8 L ii, everyone had raved over it, all except the price that is, so it was a good way to see how it handled the situation.

Robin Gill Kira Ghidoni and Simon Woodrow www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

Paradise Garage, Paradise 254, Bethnal Green, London, UK. 22nd July 2015. Chefs Robin Gill, Simon Woodrow and Kira Ghidoni posing infront of the bar and kitchens inside the restaurant

Once I Got To Paradise

I was pretty determined to primarily use the Canon 6d for most of the shoot. Only if it was falling short would I return to my trusted 1ds mk3. It took a little getting used to. The size is the first thing I noticed. It’s smaller and lighter than my old Canon 40d. The button layout is much more simplified compared to the pro level cameras. Once I’d figured my way through the extensive menus, setting it up for most of what I wanted, it was just a case of get down to shooting.

I almost exclusively shoot in manual, but certainly on an important shoot like this. I have to say, what I viewed on the LCD looked petty good, but of course that’s a trap you fall into only once. The new generation cameras have such nice LCD’s they can fool you into the idea you’re nailing the shot, only to download them and find that’s not the case.

Isle of Wight tomatoes, eel jelly, nasturtium www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

Paradise Garage, Paradise 254, Bethnal Green, London, UK. 22nd July 2015. Plate of Isle of Wight tomatoes, eel jelly, nasturtium, prepared by chef Robin Gill

ISO Lotsa

The biggest change with the Canon 6d compared to the 1ds mk3 is the ISO range. I could set it to ISO1250 and still get clean files. Although at ISO2000, the files looked pretty awful, even on the LCD display when I zoomed in. I’ve never been much of an ISO shooter, preferring to keep the files cleaner and bring my own light to the party. More and more often I’ve needed that extra ISO action to get a usable shot when in restaurant situations.

At first this ISO ability was pretty cool. I began moving past ISO2000, trying ISO3200 which actually seemed to produce slightly cleaner files. Mostly I shot around the ISO1250 or less where I could, it’s hard to get out of the habit of dropping the ISO as soon as the light allows for it.

Anna Rosa's sea bass, Norfolk Peer potatoes, seaweed, morels www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

Paradise Garage, Paradise 254, Bethnal Green, London, UK. 22nd July 2015. Anna Rosa’s sea bass, Norfolk Peer potatoes, seaweed, morels. Prepared by chef Robin Gill

 

On the whole, I was pretty impressed by the Canon 6d. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed, if I’m honest. But considering it’s about £1000 less than the Canon 5d mk3, it was very worthwhile taking it for a test drive.

Canon 5d mk3

I returned to Paradise a couple of days later. I needed to get a night time shot of the exterior. With the second visit being on a Saturday night, I took full advantage of getting more action from the kitchens too. I’d stopped in with my buddy, Brian Worley, on the way down to London. He’d very kindly offered to lend me his Canon 5d mk3 to try out. It was going to give me a real world comparison on the two cameras I was considering.

Chefs in kitchen during service including Robin Gill and Simon Woodrow www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

Paradise Garage, Paradise 254, Bethnal Green, London, UK. 25th July 2015. Chefs in kitchen during service including Robin Gill and Simon Woodrow

 

Immediately the 5d mk3 feels more at home with me. Buttons in the similar location and with the battery grip, a similar weight and size to my 1ds mk3.  There’s obviously much more ability in the 5d mk3 compared to the 6d. That’s only to be expected. The 6d is marketed as an entry level full frame DSLR, so you can’t expect it to have the full functionality of a pro level body like the 5d mk3.

Once I got shooting there wasn’t much difference from  the feel of my 1ds mk3. In fact I forgot about the camera really, get the setting right and focus on getting the shots needed. I did bring out the 1ds mk3 later in the shoot. Once it darkened enough outside I took my tripod, with the 1ds and shot the external images. That was probably more to do with my tripod plate being attached already. The scene was so much more atmospheric and I knew they were the shots we needed. Tripod and my trusty 1 series was the way to go.

www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com Paradise Garage Evening External Image

Paradise Garage, Paradise 254, Bethnal Green, London, UK. July 2015.

The Decision Is Made

The shoot was complete and I’d looked through the files. My conclusion was the Canon 5d mk3 is a brilliant camera. It would have definitely been an easy fit for me. The files were pretty clean at the higher ISO and I was happy with how it performed and felt in my hands.

The canon 6d was the big surprise really. The files, on the whole, were very good and clean as long as I stayed away from ISO2000. Seeing I’ve never been much of a high ISO user, I also didn’t know what to expect. So many people rave about how good image quality is with high ISO on modern cameras. Yeah they’re better. They’re better than a lot of film. But I think it’s a bit over rated.  The 6d was nice and light and would work well with any of the rest of my kit. The batteries are the same as the 5d mk3, so if I replaced the 1ds mk3 in the future, which I’d expect to be with a 5d mk whatever,  I wouldn’t need a bunch of different batteries and chargers.

For about £1000 less, the Canon 6d would do just about all I wanted it to do. Yes the 5d mk3 would have done it better, but not enough to justify another grand. This is the point. Get the equipment that works for you, not necessarily what everyone else is buying.

The Canon 6d Arrives

I bought the Canon 6d with the 24-105 L IS kit lens. The extra focal length for restaurant shoots comes in handy to get closer to the action. You notice different things once you’ve bought a piece of gear too. I was a bit concerned that the buttons and rear dial were a bit flimsy and cheap, well, they are.  I’m pretty much used to it now and even though it’s bigger brother is tougher made, the Canon 6d is doing a great job for me. I have to remember, I’ve been used to a tank of a camera from a different generation. The 6d was never going to stack up to a 1 series build quality, was it?

 

Pear Tart Tatin for Wilde Orchard www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

I’m primarily using the Canon 6d for shooting now, more to work any bugs out. And lets face it, I didn’t buy a new camera to sit in my bag looking shiny and new. The wifi tethering has been a great tool which we use a lot shooting for our blog, Wilde Orchard. The 5d3 should have had this added when it was released. Video is something else the 6d will do rather well. That’s an area I will be moving into so there’s another big plus for it and all for a pretty reasonable price.

Plum and Salted Honey Galette with Sour Cream Cornmeal Crust www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

So there you go. Do some research, decide what you’re going to shoot and buy a piece of kit that does what you need it to do. Even if you get the same kit as everyone else is using, you will have made an informed purchase.

Canon 6d with 24-70 f4 ISL www.jonathanthompsonphotography.com

 

I’ll give you all an update on the 6d as we continue on but I expect it’ll do a great job of complimenting my other kit with it’s own qualities.

See you back here very soon with how I’ve changed up my lenses to better suite my work.

Thanks for stopping by.

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