In today’s post, we will compare two semi-professional digital SLR camera from Canon, the Canon 5D Mark III, and the Canon 6D Mark II. In many respects, the 6D is the unofficial replacement to the 5D, as both cameras offer largely similar core capabilities and performance.
Today we will compare the key difference between these two cameras to help you understand which is best suited for your shooting demands. Each camera provides several distinct advantages over one another. However, some of these advantages are likely not important to you. So then, which is best for you? Let’s find out.
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Size & Dimensions
In physical size, the Mark 2 is the smaller of the two cameras, though not significantly so. In this case, it measures in at 144 x 111 x 75 mm compared to 152 x 116 x 76, roughly an 8% reduction. However, in weight, it weighs substantially less at 685 g compared to 860 g equating to a 25% reduction. In hand, the difference between these two cameras in weight is immediately evident. Thus, the Mark 2 makes the better choice for those looking for a more compact and light full-frame camera.
Physical Controls & Ergonomics
Both cameras offer virtually identical physical controls and functionality, though their button positioning differs slightly. The main difference in their controls comes in the form of added customization and the presence of an AF joystick. In this case, the Mark 3 provides an additional custom user setting, C3, while the Mark 2 only offers two, C1-C2. The Mark 3 also provides an AF joystick, for immediate and responsive AF point selection, a feature missing on the Mark 2. Outside of this, the cameras are identical.
While both cameras feature rear TFT LCD screens with a resolution of 1.04M dots, the Mark 3 offers a slightly larger 3.2-inch display, compared to only 3.0-inches on the Mark 2. However, the Mark 2 provides a fully articulating touchscreen display, which offers far superior flexibility when shooting in awkward positions and assists in navigating the camera’s menus. Overall, while it lacks the size, it makes up for that with fantastic functionality and better versatility.
Both cameras feature optical viewfinders, but the Mark 3 provides a 100% viewfinder, while the Mark 2 oddly only has 98%. In practice, the minor difference isn’t significant, but it is worth noting. Outside of this, both cameras have viewfinders with large 0.71x magnifications.
Both cameras also feature top-deck LCDs, which displays all critical shooting parameters at a single glance.
The Mark 2 delivers an 18% increase in resolution, moving from the Mark 3’s 22.3MP sensor, instead, to a larger 26.2MP sensor. Not only that, but it also offers a newer iteration of Canon’s image processor, Digic 7, instead of Digic 5+. In all, these improvements allow the camera to deliver higher resolution images with better low-light high ISO performance.
The Mark 2 also offers better video. It can now shoot 1080p Full HD video up to 60 fps, whereas the Mark 3 limits at 30 fps. This addition allows users to capture slow-motion video, something not possible with the Mark 3. Outside of this, both cameras still have the same industry-standard recording time of 29 minutes and 59 seconds.
Autofocusing is an interesting area for both cameras and is an area each has defined strengths. The Mark 3 offers a system that delivers better overall point coverage, with its 61-point system compared to only 45 points in the Mark 2. The AF points in the Mark 3 are also better spread around the imaging area, reducing much of the burden of focus recomposing during still shooting.
However, the Mark 2 features Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which allows the camera to deliver better overall subject tracking performance in both stills and videos. And this addition alone creates the superior system, granted the user must shoot with the camera in Live View to take advantage of it.
Nonetheless, the lack of this technology renders video autofocusing virtually useless in the Mark 3. So if you plan on shooting video at all, the Mark 2 is the better choice. However, if you don’t, and you’re solely shooting photography, the better point distribution of the Mark 3 may be worthwhile. Otherwise, the Mark 2 delivers the better all-rounded system.
Battery life on the Mark 2 is much improved. It now offers a 1,200 shot battery life compared to the 950 shot lifespan of the Mark 3, a 20% increase.
User Interface & Menus
Both cameras feature a nearly identical user interface and menus. Though, the Mark 2 provides a slight refresh to the overall design. Nonetheless, previous Canon users will be immediately familiar with navigating either camera. One thing to note, the addition of a touchscreen display on the Mark 2 significantly aids in menu navigation, and, overall, it makes the process quite intuitive.
Both cameras feature the Quick Menu, a customizable menu that allows for direct access to desired shooting parameters.
The Mark 2 offers more settable custom functions than the Mark 3, moving from 13 functions to 28. Overall, while it lacks the additional custom shooting preset, C3, as mentioned before, it makes up for it in added custom functions.
- Both cameras offer weather sealing.
- Both cameras have microphone inputs.
The Mark 2 deliver better continuous shooting speeds, moving from 6.0 fps now to 6.5 fps. While this is not a substantial difference, it’s enough to determine whether or not you capture that critical moment, or not. It also features a deeper buffer, now at 98 JPEGs compared to only 65 JPEGs. Overall, it makes for the better sports or action camera, though not ideally suited for these mediums.
- The Mark 3 offers a headphone input, a missing feature on the Mark 2.
- The Mark 3 offers dual cards, one of which is a CF card, and the other is an SD card. The Mark 2, however, only has a single SD card slot.
- The Mark 2 features built-in time-lapse recording, a feature surprisingly missing on the Mark 3.
- The Mark 2 features 5-axis digital image stabilization, which helps remove handshake when filming. The Mark 3 lacks this particular feature.
- The Mark 2 offers superior connectivity by including built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS for pairing to a smartphone device for remote control and image transfer. The Mark 3, however, lacks all of these features.
- Both cameras lack built-in pop-up flashes.
- Both cameras lack 4K video recording.
So which is best?
Of these two cameras, the 6D Mark II is the better choice. It provides improved image quality with a stronger feature set in a more compact body, which creates a better package and better value for money. Comparing these two cameras, it’s apparent that it outperforms the 5D Mark III in nearly every comparable measure. The only reason for someone to skip it is strictly due to budget restrictions, or they’re strictly shooting photography.
But, even then, it still doesn’t make any sense. While both cameras aim to sway enthusiasts and semi-professional users, the simple fact is the 6D offers superior all-around capabilities and is the better choice. While you can undoubtedly deliver excellent images with the 5D and the addition of an AF joystick along with better AF coverage are nice. It just doesn’t make any sense to go with the older camera in this case.