This definitely is not another “how to take great digital photographs” guide. Yet, you will be able to take better pictures if you pay attention to the author’s explanations, recommendations and experiences in this 263-page how-to manual.
As the subtitle states, James Johnson’s new Canon EOS 6D book shows how to understand and use your camera by getting comfortable with the EOS 6D’s many menu settings, feature options and accessories.
The Canon EOS 6D is a new addition to Canon’s line of full-frame DSLR cameras. It shoots digital images and digital video, and it has built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. You also can connect it to a TV screen using an HDMI cable.
The text is well written, and the book is adequately illustrated with menu screenshots and other graphics. And the author doesn’t pull many punches when he describes a feature he thinks is hard to use or doesn’t quite live up to its marketing hype from Canon. For example, he’s no big fan of the new GPS feature. “[I]t’s not a strong performer; satellite signals are lost quite easily,” he writes. And: “I find that by simply rotating the camera on the tripod, I can induce an error of 100 to 300 feet in surface measure, or 50 to 80 feet in elevation.” But not everyone needs great accuracy when using the GPS feature, he concedes. “With the GPS feature enabled…the EOS 6D will record GPS data (surface coordinates, elevation, UTC time and date) along with each photo.” And the data will stay with the images when they are transferred to a computer. The internal GPS “can also log locations, totally separate from photo-recording” for a time period set in a menu option.
The Wi-Fi feature generally works well, he notes, and he explains how to use it. But “[t]he Wi-Fi data transfer speed is slower than the USB cable transfer speed, so you will see some delay, and probably some jerkiness in moving objects, in the Live View display on your computer screen.” On the plus side, he adds: “In my own environment, I can reliably maintain a Wi-Fi connection up to 75 feet (I have not tested beyond that), and from that 75-foot distance I can shut off the camera and have the Wi-Fi connection automatically restored when I power on the camera.”
The EOS 6D camera package is offered in two versions, the body-only package, and the body and lens kit, which includes Canon’s EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Johnson calls it “a very good general-purpose lens” but says little else about lenses in his book. The focus remains on the camera body, its accessories and options, and using the EOS 6D’s extensive array of menu choices to support whatever lenses you choose.
Essentially, Johnson covers all features great and small, right down to the eyepiece cover. “Many Canon owners are not aware that this piece exists,” he points out. “Its purpose is to completely block ambient light from entering the viewfinder’s eyepiece. This is useful if you’re capturing an image when you don’t have your eye at the viewfinder.” For example, you may be taking a long-exposure shot or using remote tripping to take a picture while you are a safe distance from the camera. Cautions the author: “Ambient light entering through the viewfinder can influence exposure metering, resulting in underexposed photos.”
Many DSLR cameras are equipped with tiny pop-up flash units that some photographers like and others consider as insults to their photo-lighting skills. The EOS 6D does not have an internal flash unit. But: “Canon designs, builds, sells, and supports a line of electronic flash units under the name Speedlite. These units represent a broad spectrum of power and capabilities,” Johnson states. And: “I won’t pretend to address the choice of a Speedlite, but will cover what the EOS 6D can do to communicate with and control an external flash, or a flash commander, mounted in the camera’s hotshoe. A flash commander is capable of managing several remote flash units, configured in numerous ways.”
Of course, you can’t really discuss flash settings without using some kind of flash unit to help activate the camera’s menu settings. Johnson uses the new Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite in his descriptions and cautions readers that “[i]f I cover a feature in this section that does not appear on your flash unit, don’t get frustrated trying to find it. However, you may want to evaluate the feature and determine whether you really can live without it.”
From hooking up the camera’s wide carrying strap to cleaning the sensor, managing folders on the memory card, and plugging in an external microphone, this book offers solid how-to guidance for photographers with intermediate-level experience using DSLRs.
Canon EOS 6D: The Guide to Understanding and Using Your Camera can help you master the features you need and want to use and introduce you to new capabilities that can bring you even greater satisfaction with your photography.
– Si Dunn