What’s the difference between the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 6D?

I’m trying to figure out the major differences between the Canon 5d and the 6d, besides price.

— Jacadra Y. (via the Free Photo Webinar)

The Canon 6D has got to be the equivalent of being Brad Pitt’s little brother. No matter how good looking you are, everyone will always compare you to the older heart throb.

Seriously. In any other situation, the Canon 6D would be an enviable camera, except its studly older brother is the Canon 5D Mark III.

What’s the main difference between the two? First let’s look at the Canon 6D.

According to a Canon product manager at PhotoPlus Expo, the 6D is basically the Canon 5D Mark II with a facelift and a new computer. You remember the Canon 5D Mark II, don’t you? For years it was considered the best mid-level full frame camera in its class. Even Nikon fans grudgingly agreed.

Take this well established camera and add built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. While you’re at it, how about extremely good low light performance? The 6D’s sensor offers an ISO range of 100 - 25,600, expandable to 50 - 102,400. It only has 11 auto focus points, but that’s a slight upgrade from the 5D Mark II’s nine AF points.

In any other universe, the Canon 6D would be quite a looker, except for the Brad-like 5D Mark III.

The Canon 5D Mark III improves on the 6D in a number of ways. First, the Mark III has a more rugged magnesium alloy body. The 6D uses a polycarbonate top plate, which allows the Wi-Fi to work.

The Mark III also significantly upgrades the autofocus with 61 focus points. It’s a little faster than its little brother; the 5D Mark III clocks 6 frames per second to the 6D’s 4.5 frames per second.

What do you get with the Canon 5D Mark III for the extra price? You have a more rugged, durable body, better autofocus system, and slightly better overall performance. 

The 5D Mark III is aimed at professionals, while the 6D targets serious enthusiasts. Both are great cameras with very specific intended audiences and uses. No matter which one you purchase, you shouldn’t mind being seen with it.