When it comes down to DSLR cameras, many photographers consider full frame cameras to be top-of-the-line. Manufacturers like Canon build their full frame cameras for durability and performance, and if you’ve already upgraded to one, then you already know how much different they are. 

Both the 5D Mark III and Canon 6D are great format full frame options, but if you have to pick between the two, where do these products differ? (Keep in mind that we’re referring to the Canon 6D vs. Canon 5D Mark III, not Canon 6D vs. Mark II or 5D Mark II vs. 6D). Here’s an in-depth comparison of the 5D against the 6D Canon. 

Let’s Start With a Cost Comparison

One of the biggest differences between these cameras is cost. Although price might not be more than a number to some photographers, it’s an important factor for a lot of professionals. Even if you know what the better camera is, an exorbitant price tag might keep you from upgrading. Currently, there’s around a $1,500 price difference between the two. 

Depending on where you purchase the camera from, you might be able to get a little bit of a better deal on the 5D Mark III, but you shouldn’t count on it being anything less than at least a thousand dollars more expensive. 

Although there might be quite a few pros that come with the 5D Mark III, you should seriously consider whether or not it’s worth spending over a thousand dollars more. If you’re worried about purchasing extra lenses and other accessories for your portrait photography, you’ll need to factor that into the price. 

Aliasing and Moire

Tired of dealing with messy plaid suits or brick walls that just don’t look right? The artifact can be an annoying inconvenience for photographers. Although the 6D still shows the artifact, the Moire filter on the 5D Mark III has eliminated this problem for you. 

Canon camera on tripod with blue background

How Does Auto-Focus Stack Up?

When it comes to the autofocus system, the last thing any photographer wants is a camera that continuously moves in and out of focus while they’re trying to get the right shot. Or, even worse, a camera that goes out of focus while they’re in the middle of filming a video.

While the 6D already does a pretty job of finding its focus, anyone who’s used the 5D Mark III can probably agree that it helps and handles auto-focus much better.

If you plan on shooting mostly pictures and spots, you might want to consider upgrading to the 5D Mark III. To put in perspective just how different the autofocus system is, the 6D only houses around eleven autofocus points while the 5D Mark III has sixty-one. 

However, if you already know you’re probably going to just film a lot of video, the Canon 6D should work better since you won’t need the extra help.

Overall Build Quality

The build quality of your camera might not seem like the most important feature, but most of the time, the lighter and easier to hold your camera is, the better off you are. When it comes down to comparing the build quality of the 5D Mark III and the 6D, the 5D Mark III does have a slightly better construction, but it isn’t beating the 6D by much.

As far as weight goes, the 6D manages to come in on the lighter end of the spectrum. The 5D Mark III weighs almost two pounds without adding any extra accessories or a lens while the 6D comes in a little bit lighter at around 1.5 pounds.

It probably won’t be enough of a weight difference for you to notice, but if you have to hold your camera for hours on end, you can count on the 5D Mark leaving you with sore wrists. 

If you’re trying to find a device that’s going to be significantly lighter and more portable than the 6D then the 5D Mark probably isn’t what you’re looking for. 

man holding camera at waist level

RAW and Video Capabilities

The good news is that if you’re looking to record RAW video on the 5D Mark, but you’re worried that it can’t pull it off, you don’t need to fret. It’s a misconception that the 6D can’t record RAW video, but this isn’t true. While it doesn’t take a little bit more manual adjustment and involved installation process, the 6D will still record RAW video via Magic Lantern. 

Not everyone wants to have to deal with Magic Lantern and the hefty installation process for RAW video, in which case, the 5D Mark might be the better option. 

The Headphone Jack

Need to listen to the video that you just recorded without disturbing those around you? If so, you’re in luck if you own a 5D Mark. 6D owners, unfortunately, won’t have this ability. 

Some photographers might consider a headphone jack to be a minor difference, but it all comes down to how often you plan on using this feature. 

Dual Card Slots for SD and CF Cards

Photographers that enjoy taking advantage of dual card slots should probably steer clear of purchasing the 6D if they consider this feature to be essential. While the 6D only has 1 SD slot, the 5D Mark has room for 1 SD card and CF cards. 

For some professionals, especially those who have concerns about storage space, having a dual card slot can make all the difference. Not only can it affect how many photos you’re able to store, but having two cards can prevent you from “losing” photos while you shoot. A corrupted SD or CF card can randomly erase photos, which is why it’s good to have a backup on hand. 

Dual card slots might not be as important if you only plan to use the camera for personal use, but you’re likely to lose a client or two if you keep losing their shots. 

Clean HDMI Feature

For up-and-coming filmmakers or anyone who enjoys shooting video, Clean HDMI is an important feature to have for video. Unfortunately, the 6D doesn’t have the capacity for it, but the 5D Mark does. There are plenty of external recorders out there, and the 5D Mark will let you hook them up via the HDMI cable on the side of the device. 

The Amount of Storage Space

Storage is an essential factor for almost every photographer, especially if you plan on shooting for big events like weddings or birthdays and need to store hundreds of photos at a time. If your camera doesn’t have all the storage space you need, it can quickly become an inconvenience and even a hindrance to your work. 

Since it only has the capacity for one SD card, the Canon 6D is only going to write to one card while you’re shooting. The 5D Mark III, on the other hand, has a dual card slot and will write to both cards.

This isn’t always an essential factor, but if you plan to do a lot of professional work, the second card slots can work as a failsafe for any images you take. If one of your cards doesn’t seem like it’s backing everything up, you’ll always have dual card slots to fall back on. 

Changing/Adjusting White Balance

Adjusting the white balance manually isn’t always something you’ll need to do, but when you do need to do it, it can be a bit of an inconvenience depending on the camera.

Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with the 6D, you can count on this process being a little more difficult than it is on the 5D Mark III. 

While this might not be a major factor if you don’t usually change the white balance on your own, it can become more important if this is something you do regularly. 

canon LCD screen

WiFi and GPS Features

When it comes to connecting to WiFi or using the GPS when you take photos, the 5D Mark III isn’t the clear winner in this category. In fact, a lot of photographers might argue that the 6D is the best choice for this category, and allows photographers to connect to the internet or use the GPS. 

The built-in GPS will allow you to geotag your photos automatically so that you organize where you took them on a map or even search for them in Lightroom at a later point. 

This feature isn’t important for everyone, but for scientists that work out in the field or anyone who wants to transfer their photos directly to their phone, WiFi and GPS connectivity can come in handy. 

Rather than deal with HDMI or USB cables, the WiFi feature on the Canon 6D will let you upload your photos onto your smartphone or even onto a laptop as long as you’re in a place where WiFi is available.

If you work out of a studio, some photographers might argue that this feature can save them valuable time while they’re working with a client or model. 

What are the Smaller Differences Between the 6D and 5D Mark? 

While storage space and price might be major factors that warrant consideration, there are some minor differences between the 5D and 6D as well.

One of these minor differences is battery life. Although both of these devices will allow you to work for hours before you have to charge them, the full frame camera 5D does have a little bit of an advantage. If you’re using the GPS or WiFi feature on the full frame 6D, you’ll likely run out of battery life a little bit quicker. 

As far as speed goes, the 5D Mark III works only a little bit faster with features like zoom or shutter response. In fact, unless you’re really paying attention to the speed, you’re unlikely to notice a difference in speed between the two options. 

Conclusion: Canon 6D vs 5D Mark III

Although there are a lot of clear differences between the full frame 5D Mark III and the 6D, there’s no one-size-fits-all winner or best pick to buy. The 5D Mark III does manage to beat the 6D in a lot of different categories, but it also comes with a significantly heavier price-tag too.

Since every photographer has their own preferences and needs, you’ll have to figure out whether or not the best pros of the 5D Mark III are worth paying at least a thousand dollars more to buy this full frame camera choice.