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Nikon D600 vs. D800E high ISO samples

I had the chance to play with the Nikon D600 for few hours. Here are some high ISO comparisons between the D600 and the D800E:

Nikon D600 at ISO 25,600

Nikon D600 at ISO 25,600

Nikon D800E at ISO 25,600

Nikon D800E at ISO 25,600

Obviously at 916px wide, there is no visible difference between the D800E and D600 samples taken at ISO 25,600. Even at 100% crops it is still hard to see any differences:

Nikon D600 at ISO 25,600 100% crop:

Nikon D800E at ISO 25,600 downsampled to 24MP 100% crop:

Nikon D800E at ISO 25,600 original 100% crop:

Few more full size high ISO Nikon D600 vs. D800 comparisons are available on flickr (at ISO 6400, 12800, 25600):

Check also the new Nikon D600 instant rebates for October.

This entry was posted in Nikon D600, Nikon D800. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • fjfjjj

    Impressive. Very impressive. Knee-cone-san has taught you well.

    • http://www.SGphoto.us Stu

      Well, This post did it for me right here, Just put my d300s and d700 up for sale, i need the d600. i’m gonna shoot at 3200 iso all day!

  • IrisChrome

    Great! Thanks Peter!

    It looks like the D600 can hold on to details just a tad bit more than D800. It would probably make very little difference in real life scenario but it’s still incredible for Nikon to pack such a sensor in the D600. Of course, the D800 will always have the advantage for bigger prints.

  • v74

    Can’t go wrong with D600 !

    • Cock ken well

      CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT CRIPPLED HDMI OUT

      d600 as still camera = win

      d600 for video = fail

      Give NIKON the extra $900 for the d800

      • Jaap

        Remind me, please, the D600, what was it again, a photo – or a video camera?

        Oh. Thanks. That’s what I thought I could remember…

        • Andrés Bott

          In times when technical direfernces between video and photo cameras wer so big, it was acceptable to have two diferent cameras.

          today i find it sad to see that the main difference between a video and a photo camra or between a low, mid end and high camera is mainly a firware limitation

          the developers soud stop thnking like a photo/video camra, and start to really make new things

          (nikon if you read this, i have some great ideas!!!)

          • Wellcome to reality

            Just think of processor for example, between the high end and low end often there is no difference, Intel is either burning there chip to make lower version or you get the chip that failed the high chip test…. It is the same with video card heck even TV any electronic actually….

            This kind of stuff is wide spread in manufacturing even clothing!!…

            Though we will see if Nikon fix it or not…

      • KnightPhoto

        What’s your point – last I heard Thom was still confirming whether clean (i.e. without shooting info.) HDMI-out was possible. Is that what you are talking about?

      • Ron

        That’s why real videographer will buy a real video camera.

        • Harry

          and some real indie filmmakers who can’t yet afford RED will buy Panasonic GH3s

          • Banned

            I thought RED was already a low-cost video camera?

            • Her-my-oh-knee

              Yes, they are SO VERY low-cost you would’ve bought thirty at once (if you’re Peter Jackson).

      • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com bob cooley

        Repeat after me – Entry. Level. Full-Frame. That’s how the camera is being marketed and sold. If you want the pro treatment, spend the little bit extra for the 800..

        • Worminator

          Don’t all hurt yourself in the stampede to defend Nikon’s policy of crippling cameras for the sole reason of peddling the upsell. It does you, the consumer, no favors at all.

          Whether the HDMI output is clean or compressed or what have you – it costs them pennies to implement, either way. Heck, it’s probably no more than a line of firmware code.

          But I get, you fanboys would rather pay $800 for the privilege, you are so eager to support your corporate masters…

          • Pt10961

            Every manufacturer upsells…always have: love capitalism and the corporate masters who bring us these amazing inventions:

            GM > Cadillac
            Toyota > Lexus
            Intel > i5 > i7 Processors

            • Big J

              Use hyphens next time. Or people will think that you think i7 is inferior to the i5 for example and so on. (eg: ——>)

            • Dude

              Don’t forget: GM –> Chevy Volt

            • Gethin

              I dont get it when people say stuff like “Every manufacturer upsells…always have”. Like this policy is somehow better for us. They are protecting their bottom line. Do you think innovation is dependent on this? What you get is a stagnent ecosystem, one that is ripe for a maverick with no vertical integration to worry about come and rip your entire market out from under you (eg iphone).

          • Anthony

            Ha! You haven’t been paying attention. Nikon has been killing Canon by offering more high-end features in their lower level cameras. Canon is notorious for crippling its cameras to protect sales of higher priced models. The D800 is still cheaper than the 5DIII, and the D600 is still a good buy. Seems to me, it is you trying to disparage the D600 because you’re a fan boy of another company. Go find a company that offers anything like the D600 today at this price.

            • Moo

              Canon has given up the photo game. All their features are in video for DSLR. They’ve even dropped one of their 1D lines so they could concentrate on 4K video cameras.

              While it will make more $ for them and I wish Nikon had the resources to chase that market too, it’s clear Canon no longer cares much for photo market.

          • Casey

            I don’t see an issue here. The sensor in the D800 is higher res (which is meaningless for most users) and has some features that aren’t in the d600. If they’re binning processors, who is that an issue? The high end rejects are put into a marginally lower end camera. Nikon doesn’t have to toss sensor or processor (or whatever) and you get a FX camera for 800 less (in the U.S.). It’s more than I thought it’d be, but the more we here about the d600, the better it looks. I assume that Canon does the same thing.

          • Richard

            It really is not a matter of the “up sell”, but a matter of the camera not following de facto standards to output the data for the advertised use.

            If you bought a car that had no way to transfer power to the ground would you still say it’s just standard up sell to make you want to buy the car that would actually take you somewhere?

      • gregorylent

        it’s not the 5d mk iii mikon equivalent i was hoping for, at all. and autofocus is useless in video mood.

        a nice walk-around full frame dslr, though.

        • Dude

          [gregorylent] Were you seriously hoping for a 5D Mark III equivalent for a camera that’s ~USD 1350 less??

          I swear, some people …always gotta complain about something, even apples to oranges

  • kvaz

    I don’t know who the hell NED such high NOT NATIVE ISO. Do anyone can make ISO comparison on 6400 ?

    • nebus

      it’s hilarious right?

    • John

      Anyone who likes to shoot people / events indoors, without flash, needs such high ISOs. Anyone who shoots high school football, at night, without flash, needs such high ISOs. Just because people were able to do it in the past at ISO 400, or some such, doesn’t negate the desire to do better, now.

      • Ronan

        Thats a complete amateur bullshit. I’v shot sport indoor, in poorly litten gyms, no flash, and the MAX i have EVER needed was ISO 1600.

        STOP trying to take picture of a black ball in a unlit room. That’s completely stupid.

        • Zeke

          “Complete amateur bullshit?” Get over yourself.

          There are plenty of real-world scenarios where available light photography would benefit from clean ISO 25,000.

          Or are you saying you’ve never seen a grainy photo published in National Geographic? Some pro.

          • syd

            Zeke from Brisbane who works for TRI now?

        • Patrick

          Ever tried to shoot a wedding reception when the DJ turns out the freakin’ lights and there’s no ceiling to bounce a flash off of? ISO 6400+ at f/2.0 barely gets you a shutter speed capable of stopping movement. Direct flash looks like utter cr@p.

          Just because YOU don’t need high ISO doesn’t mean other photographers don’t. For me, high ISO is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT element to look for in a new body.

          Get over yourself.

          • Remedy

            How about You fking amateur use some WIDELY available light modifiers from ebay or use a fking assistant with strobe on a pole with some modifier? Geez seriously people pay for Your incompetence?!

            • Worminator

              Fight! Fight! Fight!

              (NR comment threads are so over the top these days its gone from lame back to hilarious again.)

              Mr. Strobe-on-a-pole vs. Mr. I-Don’t-Need-No-Stinkin’-Lighting-I-Dun-Got-Me-ISO250,000.

              I think strobe-on-a-pole sounds more dangerous than bludgeoning with a D4, so my odds on favorite is on lighting for a knock out in round 3…

            • Remedy

              Been on a wedding last month. The photographer there had an assistant and somehow they managed to use strobes on poles with modifiers and yet didn’t kill or injure anyone. Highly professional duo and they really knew what they were doing. Even inside the church they were using octagons etc. The pics were just wonderful, not another “bounced of the ceiling at full power” boring crap You see every other day.
              I’m not saying everyone should hire 5-8 additional people with 2 tons of gear but I think it’s good to know how to handle different situations like for instance “no ceiling to bounce of”. I always check locations first (if possible) just to minimize the unwanted surprise factor.

            • Whatever

              Attend an event sometime that completely prohibits the use of strobes and you’ll sing a different tune. I attend roughly eight a month (two per weekend), and even shooting a 1.4 with iso 1600 it’s tough in a lot of these situations.

          • thoughtofeverything

            Yeah nice thought there Remedy….. I checked out the hall and it has a nice bouncy-light ceiling. But little did I know the Bride’s party planer was going to take advantage of it too and fill it with helium balloons….. Bahhhhhhhh!!!!

          • HeyF4G

            I shoot weddings every year and I never go over ISO 1600. You need flash in a cave style reception hall and dont give me I dont use any and I shoot Iso 26 000…You are going to offer SHIT like that to your clients? Come on stop being a d1ck. find ways to incorporate flash and ambient without giving your clients images at Iso 26 000 that look like shit. That is not being a pro.

          • Fishnose

            +1

            It’s so ridiculous when people think that their little scenario is the only relevant one and anyone who doesnt’ ‘get it’ is a twit.

        • http://www.VolCo360.com Ken Elliott

          At a wedding, the bride decided to have a candle light reception dinner. Some of are indeed intrested in clean high ISO. And even where there is more light, a higher ISO lets me use my 70-200mm f/2.8 rather than being forced to use f/1.4 primes.

        • Mike

          Back in your day, you walked to school, uphill both ways, didn’t you? Barefoot in the snow no less I’m sure. I can get to work on a horse or a bicycle, but a car is much easier. Imagine the how much easier it is to get better shots using cleaner, higher ISO. That’s wonderful you only use 1600. But more makes it easier to get better. It is 2012 after all.

          • michel

            Actually getting to work or getting just about anywhere in a city is easier by bicycle than it is by car. Regularly faster in peak times, healthier, cheaper. Easier to park, and less stressful. I suppose if we can get noiseless images at insanely high ISOs such as 25k plus then we will also get whiners complaining that their cameras dont have shutter speeds of 1/100000 second. Great results from both the D600 and D800. Its quite a choice one has to make if only getting one or the other, pros and cons for each.

            • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com bob cooley

              Not if your commute is 45 mins on the freeway…

            • http://www.jkellerphoto.com/blog Jonathan

              I dunno, it takes me an hour to ride my bicycle to work, or 20 minutes to drive. 25 if I include parking time…

            • Daviesee

              @Jonathan –
              And then spend an hour & cash going to the gym so you don’t end up a lard a$$ like I used to.
              Always look at the big picture.

            • http://www.jkellerphoto.com/blog Jonathan

              @ Daviesee

              I go to the gym regularly anyway. Not for cardio, but for lifting. So I’m good there anyway.

            • Fishnose

              Not if you have a carful of photo bags and light stands, or audio recording equipment. Love to see you transport that on your bike ;o)

        • tomas to-mas halasz

          Roman amateur bullshit its when you say that your experience can be fully applied for everybody else.

          Btw, I was shooting for news agency for couple of years and I did use higher iso then 1600 for sports very very often.

        • Antonio

          Just try Ballet!! In most settings you are not allowed to use flash and the theater lights varies constantly.

        • tooma

          i don’t know what action/sports you’re shooting at 1600 iso indoors, without flash, that must be a well lit gym my friend!

          • LeadWrist

            +1, I do gymnastics photography, there is no way in hell you get away with shooting at 1600 ISO for gymnastics. I average 12,000 ISO with f/2.8 glass. and get reasonable freeze frame pics. Usually I hover around 1/320 to 1/400 anything less and it becomes a blurry mess.

            • http://www.zhovtenko.net Vsevolod

              Don’t know about indoor but at our main football arena http://nsc-olimpiyskiy.com.ua/en/gallery/virtual_tours/field/ during night (100% artificial lighting) i get sharp photos at 1/500th iso800-1000 f/4

            • LeadWrist

              Well light artificial lightening is the key. Go to your local gymnastics club. Then come back and let me know. Most gymnastic clubs have terrible lighting. First off, who ever changes the light bulbs doesn’t understand bulb temperature because at every gym I go to. there are at least 2 types of temp bulbs installed, usually a mix of warm and cool. Then they decide as they add to the gym that it might be cool to use CFL in one part and mercury vapor ore halogen in another part. Or that you only need one tube in a dual tube CFL housing. Others like to have CFL and let the sun stream in through the windows, or love to keep the doors open around the parameter of the gym for air circulation so not only are you stuck with CFL but backlighting from the outside. Gymnastics photography just sucks. I have invited friends, who poo-poo me for squeezing every ounce of ISO and lens f-stop I possible can, to events, told them to bring their gear, only to have them walk away in shame. I have shot at university gym’s, well light with artificial lightening, consistent bulb temps, those are easy. There is nothing to it. Want a real challenge, again, go visit your local club gymnastics and let me know. Remember, we are talking about freeze-framing backflips and whatnot and you will be limited to no-flash, and location, can’t just walk around the gym as you please to take photos.

            • Kelvin

              @ LeadWrist (or anyone else that knows)

              How do you deal with the problem of getting the wrong part of the FL’s light cycle, when using 1/400 shutter speed and above?

              I seem to remember the problem starting to show at 1/320, but, with a much lower frequency.

            • LeadWrist

              @Kelvin, Oh did I not mention that problem too with crappy lighting? :) So gymnastics is predictable, that is a good thing since I don’t have to fire of 11 fps to capture the right moment. Anyway reason I say that is I’m very selective on what shots I take as I have gotten use to the routines, same thing over and over, at least until grade 10. Then you have to learn the gymnasts moves. Anyway, I shoot raw and post process afterwards to adjust WB to try and compensate for the crappy FL cycling. I have tried using those lens filter WB thingy’s to do custom WB but as you said, FL cycling is unforgiving. So I just do RAW with auto WB, then do selective WB correct on the ones I plan to share.

            • Kelvin

              Thanks for answering.

              That’s also what i do, Raw, auto WB, and correct on post (LR3), but, sometimes, I get shots that I can’t find a way to balance, gonna get LR4 mostly because of the selective color temperature correction and noise treatment, what do you use for post?

            • LeadWrist

              No, LR4 for me. The issue I have with it is it doesn’t understand Nikon metadata. Only renders the RAW data without incorporating the other goodies. So I do everything in Capture NX 2. Does a better job of understanding and apply the meta data, well I hope so since it’s nikone. :) Capture takes a getting use to however once you are it’s not bad tool.

          • sam eye am

            As a photojournalist you shoot a lot of assignments over ISO/800. We used to strobe indoor prep sports like HS basketball and volleyball games, use a flash on HS football, and we would even light most if not all indoor pro-sporting events. But with the refined digital results of recent ISO rates up to and over 800 and above, lighting those assignments is becoming a thing of the past. Much like film has dispersal. So are photographers lighting journalism assignments.

        • Bildo Baggins

          I doubt Ronan has ever held a camera.

        • Lit

          Litten is not a word.
          Well not a word that we use in this century.

          • michel

            Speak for yourself! You probably regard the word litten in the same way as film, carbide, and pens… you haven’t used this century… I would think Ralph from that animated family television series would love that word and probably use it, if he hasn’t already… Rhymes with kitten…

          • webster

            Definition of Litten

            1. Verb. (archaic) (past participle of light) ¹

            ¹ Source: wiktionary.com

            Definition of Litten

            1. lighted [adj]

            Litten Pictures

            • Fishnose

              Yep, ‘litten’ is indeed archaic. The modern equivalent is ‘lit’.

        • Ron

          I’d love to see you blurred indoor volleyball portfolio, when you have a chance!

          • reinm

            i already shot volleyball indoors at 1/500 and iso 640
            at 1.8

            dont complain about things you dont know!!

        • Matt

          Better ISO 25,600 means better ISO 1600.

        • shootist

          Ronan and Remedy,

          Pros choose to shoot in different ways in different circumstances. Keep the condescending remarks to yourself.

          • Remedy

            You didn’t get a single word of what I said, did You. Hopeless?

        • Merv

          “Thats a complete amateur bullshit.”

          Yes, amateurs like me need high ISOs to get whatever shots I can get

          Pros wouldn’t use the D600 for their pro work as their first choice

        • Chris

          Try shooting a social dance sometime. You CANNOT use a flash (ever tried turning or spinning with a strobe going off? you or your partner are going to end up on the ground). I routinely shoot at ISO 3200 at f 1.8 with shutter speeds requiring me and my subjects to be absolutely still (well beyond the 1/focal length rule people use for hand shooting)…just to get the shot. I’d love to be able to push to ISO 6400 but at that point, we’re well beyond what is usable with the D90. Trying to freeze movement? Not happening with my D90 and the lighting I see on a weekly basis.

          Gym lighting? I wish I had something so bright. So yes, some people do use high ISO’s because its impossible to use a flash or additional lighting of any kind in VERY dark venues where YOU are not the one calling shots. Fact is, “back in the day”, photographers put away their cameras in the situations I shoot in most frequently.

          • Delta3200

            Not really, some would use Ilford Delta 3200.

            Check film processing chart here:

            http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20114271219521241.pdf

            • Chris

              Apologies, I did not intend to imply that no one ever shot in such situations. I meant to say that “most” film photographers put away their cameras.

              Amazing the impact of a single word. Thank you for catching that.

            • Delta3200

              No prob Chris, no need for apologies.

              Cheers

            • http://www.cybertects.co.uk Rob Telford

              Sadly Kodak announced they are discontinuing T-Max P3200 yesterday, so I think Ilford is now your only choice.

            • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin
    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      You can do your own comparison at ISO 6400 with the full res images on flickr.

      • Richard Rossi

        Thanks for posting these. Very impressive high ISO performance from the D600. I still wish Nikon had just slapped the D600 innards into a D700 body but from a marketing and pricing perspective, I get why they didn’t do that. This may just be my next camera.

    • rob2655

      Who needs it? Only every single wedding photographer.

      • Worminator

        Every second person posting on NR, in other words.

        (They breed like rabbits..)

        • Steve

          This is why NR is also called “AWPI” (“Angry Wedding Photographers International”).

          ;-)

    • Remedy

      People are You having issues with understanding BASIC sentences or are You just plain stupid?
      He was talking about NATIVE ISO meaning that this “software” enhanced modes are degrading the image quality quite significantly. That’s what he meant.
      People get dumber every year, seriously.

    • Mike M

      Craigslist photographers who think “available light” aka “I don’t know how to use a flash” is hot shit. People have gone insane with this zomg it has to be noise free at 100% crop and I need 7 stops more sensitivity than was available 10-15 years ago. They didn’t not take photos back in the day, they just were actually GOOD at lighting things back in the day, or they lived with the compromises that existed. I’ll be the first to admit I’m just some bullshit hack amateur, but I take pictures of shit that’s within my abilities.

      I see all these “pro” photogs taking pictures of shit without lighting aids because they don’t actually know how to do more than just operate an expensive camera and an expensive lens, you can take great photos with a D90 and a kit lens or any other old BS combo if you know how to light a scene. Low light sports might be the ONLY exception, and even then I think the top of the line sports shooting equipment of today is more than adequate, these aren’t cameras built to do that job anyways.

      • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com bob cooley

        Not only sports shooters.

        Photojournalists and documentary photographers are in situations constantly where strobes are either extremely inconvenient, prohibitive, or just prohibited.

        Wedding photographers find themselves in SO many different types of lighting situations when doing candids, and shooting w/ strobe is not always conclusive to the setting. Many wedding shooters respect that the night is about the couple, no about the photography.

        I’ve been lighting complex studio scenes for over 2 decades, but in my documentary and journalistic work, having the ability to shoot in extreme low light without lighting the scene is critical. If I’m documenting something that is happening in the moment, I don’t have time to set up lighting that simulates the reality of the natural light that already exists.

        Not everything is about lighting the scene… “Wait – would you officers mind knocking down that drug-dealers door once more, I didn’t have my lights set yet…”

        “Back in the day” we used to push Tri-X to 3200 and sometimes even 6400 using UFG to capture low light situations, and it was grainy as hell, but it served a purpose.

        If you are the first to admit you are an amateur. Have you seen the final results of what these pros are shooting? If the images are good, the methodology (lighting or no) matters not.

        • Worminator

          Holy crap! An intelligent reply. What is the NR coming to?

          Look, I think the fairest statement on high ISO is:

          “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

          Yes there are situations where there are no other options. You can push the ISO or not get the photo. I respect that, but that’s a small fraction compared to the deluge, the flood, the ocean of mediocre photos that would have, should have, been taken with more care and attention to lighting but instead where just snapped off because ISO6400 and up was available at the touch of a button.

          • LeadWrist

            +1 I use auto-iso in manual mode when shooting gynmastics, I tell the camera, just pump it up as high as you need to, I would rather have a grainy photo then no photo.

        • Mike M

          My point was really that “pro” photographers should either learn to light their subject or buy the right equipment. Mid (d600) to high (d800) end consumer cameras are not the right equipment for that job. And frankly, the post I was replying to was a person asking why anyone needed more than ISO 6400 clean? The samples I’ve seen from the D600 suggest it would easily deliver a clean 8×10 at ISO 6400, I really feel like that should be more than sufficient for most uses, aside from pixel peeping on the interwebs or front page news, but front page news ought to be captured with a pro camera shouldn’t it? ISO 25,600 doesn’t seem like it should be required in normal usage for most people, but there are people concerned about whether or not there’s too much noise at that setting. Maybe I just don’t hang out with people who are consumers of poster sized wedding photos though, I mean I guess you never know, but I’ve never seen a print bigger than 8×10 from someones wedding.

          • LeadWrist

            @Mike M- That is a very naive statement Mike. Maybe you do not understand that Pro = Professional and Professional = gets paid for their work. It’s that simply. For instance, a Professional driver can either be a F1 racing driver for a team or they can be a cab driver in NY. Both are professional drivers. You are suggesting cab drivers are not professional unless they drive an F1 sports car. I can be a professional with a D40, hell, I can be a professional with one of them point ‘n shoot cardboard cameras or even an instant camera. Equipment and techniqueue don’t make who you are. Plain and simple. As for lighting everything, not everything situation allows it and not every camera is well suited for professional role. For instance, in a studio environment, D800 would be the professional’s tool of choice, at a sports even, the D4 would be the professionals tool of choice. Knowing when to use what is a mark of a good professional, note I said good, because there are some bad professionals out there too. Yes, they get PAID for crappy photos, but it doesn’t make them less professional by definition.

            • Mike M

              I think you should look up the definition of professional, professional means you MAKE YOUR LIVING doing it, it is your full time occupation, not a supplement your income. The “pro” people (quotation marks very intentional) I’m talking about are craigslist shooters that charge money but are ultimately just hobbyists who supplement their income by taking pictures. People in this thread (and others) bemoan the currently available equipment when the fact is the equipment that has been available sine around the advent of the D300, and CERTAINLY the D3, has been vastly superior to anything that was available in human history for low light sensitivity in photography (at least to the general public). Ken Rockwell is off his rocker on a lot of things, but one thing he’s right on about, professional photography is one of the cheapest businesses you can run based on cost of “tools”. It’s up to the photographer to buy the right tools and not expect that one camera will deliver both insane pixel densities for poster sized prints and insane light sensitivity for shooting weddings in caves.

            • Mike M

              I don’t know why my reply didn’t show up, and I’m not going to rewrite the whole thing. Short version, professional=makes their LIVING doing something, I’m talking about “pro” (quotations were intentional) photogs on Craigslist etc that are hobbyists charging to practice their hobby.

      • http://www.jkellerphoto.com/blog Jonathan

        While I joke that the photographers who say “I only shoot with available light” should really say “I can’t light for shit.”

        However, there are many who use the term available light to mean “Any light I have available, be it natural, ambient, or artificial.”

        I can shoot a wedding using flash. I prefer the look of a clean high-iso shot. Sometimes it’s not feasible. Sometimes, it makes more sense. It all depends on the scenario. I rather a camera have the option than not. Another tool in the box is never a bad thing if it doesn’t add any weight ;)

    • desmo

      D600 at iso 6400 is so good its now considered more of a normal than hi iso for noise purposes

    • don

      You people are funny. Look, even if you are the Jedi master of strobe lighting, a high ISO capable camera can be a lifesaver, allowing you to use lower power settings and faster recycle times.

      Honestly, it sounds like anybody who complains about these newer, more capable cameras are just pissed off that their own equipment have become obsolete and are ranting just to stroke their own egos.

      Get over it.

  • Mauro Orlando

    Well done, interesting comparison.
    I studied a bit images on Flickr.

    Looking at the results I think you followed a rigorous process:
    – Same framing
    – Same Aperture and exposure time per each shot at equal ISO on both the camera

    I note that in more darker areas D600 seem to perform better, while D800 is a lot more sharper and on lighter areas outperforms D600 more than I could have imagined.
    I observed D600 samples at 100% and D800 re-scaled to appear at the same ratio.

    I tried to figure out if there are focusing differences but focus distance seem pretty the same for both camera.
    I also looked at EXIF data to find any relevant difference, but didn’t find any.

    There could be some motion blur in D600’s shoots or some different parameter?
    Did you shoot with Mirror-up with both camera?

    Thanks for sharing this interesting test.

  • Eric Calabros

    another proof that “less than 100 points differences in DxO ISO scores is hard to notice in real world tests”

  • wayne

    i cant tell the difference

    • Johnny Rickets

      I can tell, its pretty obvious. I think people are just upset that the D600 is outperforming the D800. The D800 is basically a studio camera, while the D600 is more of a “photojournalism” camera. Two completely different uses. I’m def getting a D600 when I have enough money saved up. I think it’s going to be a great camera and I hope DX cameras stop being produced in the future as full frame is way better.

      • Rob

        You can, and it’s pretty obvious, but you’re not telling? Neat.

      • babola

        Sit down and take a big breath. You’re getting over yourself.

      • Len Mockwell

        “I think people are just upset that the D600 is outperforming the D800.”

        LOL!

        A reality check is due, Johnny boy.

      • Ron

        Errr, the D600 wouldn’t last long in a photojournalism setting… unless you cover park openings and stay in the city.

        Too fragile to my taste.

        • Remedy

          Ever tried NOT using the camera like a complete tool? Just use it for taking photos not crushing rocks or replacing a hammer with it – in other words use brain.

          • fjfjjj

            Some of us use our cameras in damp, dusty, polluted, hot or freezing environments, around nasty chemicals, in bad weather, fighting through crowds, and the like. No plastic D600 body for me.

          • Arkasai

            @Remedy
            The guy holding the camera isn’t always the one who breaks it.

        • Gav

          Is there a photojournalistic setting?

          Cool, I thought it only had landscape and portrait.

          • Dr J

            Now that there is just funny as hell!!! Photojournalistic setting… Bahhhhhhhhhhh hahahahahahah!!!!! The setting is called “f/8 and be there”!!

          • Mike M

            Of course there’s a photo journalist setting, it’s P on the mode dial. Some people also refer to it as “Pro” mode.

        • space we knee

          I’d put it out on a shuttle launch for a remote …. oh wait NASA isn’t going to have a launch for a couple more months and it tan’t gun ah bee a shuttle. Never mind….

      • Andrew

        “The D800 is basically a studio camera…”

        Say what? So the rest of us that thought the D800 was a perfect fit for landscape, portrait, architecture and macro photography to mention some, must be all wrong?

        Johny, stop smoking that dodgy weed…

        • Drazen B.

          +1
          The guy is way off in his observations.

          • http://www.jkellerphoto.com/blog Jonathan

            For a second there I thought I was going to have to stop using mine for travel photography, outdoor portraits, and natural light nightime photography.

            He scared me!

        • quintana

          +1

          I use the D800E as an allround camera. Since I am not a professional who has to deliver even the 4 fps don’t bother me when I photograph sports. Maybe I don’t capture “the decisive moment” as often as it would be possible with the 5.5 fps of the D600 but the difference is very small. Regarding image quality there is absolutely no problem with using the D800(E) as an allround camera. The low framerate and big size of the 36 MP images are IMHO the only issues that prevent the D800(E) of being a camera usable by professionals in every situation.

  • Don

    I have a D600 and have been impressed by its high ISO ability. In fact, so impressed I wondered why Nikon didn’t list ISO 12,800 as a native ISO? Just a few years ago we would have more noise at native ISOs. Maybe Nikon just wanted to distinguish the D4 so people thought they needed it if they wanted to use the higher ISOs.

    Ronan: last year I was the local team and newspaper photographer for every High School basketball game of the season. Between 3 and 6 of my photos were published after every game. I used a D7000 and really needed more than ISO 1600. I needed 3200 at f2.8 (with f2.8 “pro” zooms) to keep my shutter speed high enough to consistently freeze fast paced action. This year I plan to shoot my D600 at ISO 3200 and 6400 to see how that goes. It should be an improvement over the D7000. I figure between going from DX to FX and from the D7000 to the D600 I will gain about two more stops of clean image. This will allow me to use a faster shutter speed to better freeze motion. So there is a need for some people in some situations. I am glad you don’t have it which means you don’t need to buy new equipment. Many sports photographers use a D3s just for its high ISO ability but that is very expensive if you are not doing lots of sports full time.

    A more interesting issue is whether or not there is any significant high ISO difference between the D600, D800 and D4. Are they all basically the same even though the D4 advertizes a higher native ISO? Maybe. I have not seen that comparison tested.

    • fjfjjj

      “last year I was the local team and newspaper photographer for every High School basketball game”

      tl;dr

    • don

      “I wondered why Nikon didn’t list ISO 12,800 as a native ISO”

      Native ISO does not refer to the highest ISO in the specs, rather it’s the lowest ISO — also known as the “base ISO.”

      Nikon’s older generation cameras had native ISO of 200, while the newer generation (D4, D800/e, D600) have a native ISO of 100.

  • Don

    I am thinking that unless you need super high fps or super strong build the smartest thing to do is buy a $2,500 D600 with battery grip instead of a $6,000 D4. The D600 will be strong enough to last until the next update of the D600 in 2 or 4 years. 99% of the time the D600 images will be better than a D4 produces because of the increased resolution. This way you spend one third the cost for your camera body and you can update at each cycle to obtain the benefits of the latest technology. That D600 is going to be a real winner for Nikon.

    • Rob

      Why buy the grip?

    • Studor 13

      Do you know what the single most important factor is in getting a “better” picture? Focus accuracy.

      So, unless the D600 has a better auto focus system compared to the D4, there is no way on earth that the D600 is going to be 99% anything.

      • mo

        I agree. I have a D300, D700, D800, and D7000.
        The AF system on the the first 3 are awesome, even in low light as well moderately backlit situations.
        The D7000’s AF is very poor compared to the others, which is why I only have it around as a backup camera, as my D300’s shutter has failed, and my D700 has 200k+ actuations.
        The D7000 and D600 use the 4800DX and 4800FX AF modules, so their performance should be the same or similar.
        Having said that, I would never recommend anyone at or above a semi-pro skill level to use the D600 as a primary camera.

        • syd

          totally agree.

          It seems like nikon did a strange thing, that is pair a great low light sensor with a (potentially) horrible low light focus module. If it turns out to be true, this will end up as a stupid camera, useful only in low light for taking photos of cakes to compare it to a D800.

          remains to be thoroughly tested.

    • http://www.gordonmoat.com Gordon Moat

      You seem to be confusing file sizes with resolution. If the D600 is as capable as the D3X, then you are looking at near 56lp/mm under perfect conditions, on a tripod, with optimal lenses. The difference to a D3S would be 46lp/mm and I would expect the D4 to be slightly better.

      As soon as you crank ISO above native, the capture resolution will decline. If you shoot hand held, especially at slow shutter speeds, and without strobes, then expect more decline.

      I seriously doubt anyone would be able to pick out a D4 print over a D600 print, even at ridiculously large print sizes. Using the same lenses, differences will be in how you use these cameras, and in what types of lighting conditions.

      Don’t get me wrong, the D600 looks like a great deal for what it can accomplish. However, it’s not a D3X, nor is it as robust and configurable as a D4. There is a lot more to images, and cameras, than megapixels.

    • don

      The fact that you make this comparison means that the D4 was never made for you in mind. Anybody who has used pro bodies knows why there is a huge premium charged for them, and it is not just about the sensor resolution, faster frame rate or more rugged build.

  • KnightPhoto

    Don raises a number of good points. This whole ISO / resolution thing is an extremely tricky one nowadays between D600/D800E/D4 for example.

    But a D600 plus grip, I think you have raised a good point regarding its budget D4 capability. I hadn’t thought about it in quite this way before (and I have a D4).

    Interesting…

  • alex

    iso and white balance looks better on the d600

    • Rob

      To me the D800 image appears to have more of a yellow cast than the D600 image. Did admin use Kelvin, Auto, or some other white balance setting?

  • Bonebreaker

    This just proves what capability the d800 has, the same iso compared to a “newer” and improved camera with less pixels (30% less). I like the d600 , nice camera and good price but not for me.
    BTW. my 800 is in for the 2:nd time for af fix ( not the left focus error but just dont get sharp pictures even with mirror lockup or liveview on a tripod), so if they dont get it right i might get the d600 after all, and a good prime.

  • joshua

    Sony sensor???

  • Dyun27

    I just had a chance to shoot with the D600 and 70-200mm f/2.8 VR in a venue I used to go to and got frustrated in many times. The lighting in there is atrocious. Add to that an excess of fog, and you have a recipe for disaster. I didn’t know what the D600 would do, but I gave it a try anyway. The results were actually far better than I expected. All of the images had to be shot at ISO 3200 minimum, and most were shot at ISO 6400. Many of them were fairly sharp even though good contrast was hard to find (thanks to fog machines). I really like this camera a lot. Now if Adobe would finally offer RAW support for the D600, that would be stellar. Can’t bare to use View NX 2 anymore.

  • Mick

    This June i sold my Canon 5d Mk II and canon lens and i was planing to buy D800 with 70-200 and 24-120 f4 lens but couldn’t afford. Now D600 is here i think i can buy these 2 lens and D600, But here in UK D800 is £200 expensive then D600 not much difference.

    • Big J

      Thought the UK pricing was gonna get a significant drop? Sucks :S

    • Opps You Didn’t

      MICK …. Don’t know what you use your cameras for but I look around and MOST of the shooters on my journalism assignments are now shooting Canon. Used to be Nikon 8 out of 10. Now it’s Canon 6 out of 10. You should of stayed the course!

  • boing wronkwell

    The two 100% crop images are really close, but deep down in the shadows, I think the D600 is certainly showing more detail. Just take a look at the area between the orange and red loops. If everything else is equal, the D600 has it.

    In real life use, shooting pictures with less cropping at more usual ISO levels (and assuming the DJ has NOT shut all the lights out), could you tell the difference?

    I’ll answer that for me, the answer is probably no – or at least not enough to make a difference.

  • Don

    Why the battery grip? For the vertical shutter release and better ergonomics (for some). If you don’t use it or don’t like the feel of it then don’t get the grip and compare whether or not you get all you really need in a D600 for $2,000 instead of paying $6,000 for a D4. Imagne that, just one third the cost for the same image quality. Today technology changes more rapidly than the “brick” D3, D3s, D3x, and D4 will “wear out” unless you shoot a huge amount of frames. Remember the “olden days” when the changing technology was in the film and you could easily run the latest film through a 10 year old Nikon? Well, they are gone. Today the technology is in the sensor/processor/software and you need to buy a totally new camera to get it. Thus, the “olden days” economics of running your Nikon for a decade no longer apply. The best economics today may be served by using a less expensive body for a shorter number of years. Just something to think about.

    Yes, there is some concern about the focus module used in the D600. Nikon says it is an improved version of the one used in the D7000. It also covers a smaller part of the image area than the one used in the D700, D800 and D4. We will see if Nikon’s claims of “improved” are improved enough or not. I have not seen, or experienced myself, any complaints yet. Of course, no D4 user would want to substitute a D6oo if it doesn’t reliably focus, not even for one third the cost.

    • RC

      The comments regarding the D600’s AF system have been overwhelmingly positive. Coming from using a D300, I can say that the D600’s system is FAR quicker, and I’m not having any accuracy issues with it either.

      I think people need to understand that just because a camera uses the same AF sensor, doesn’t mean that it will perform the same in different bodies. The computer/software processing the sensor input makes a much bigger difference.

      • D600 has a tiny one

        All your subjects are dead centre? I tried a d600 and the tiny AF area I’m the middle of the viewfinder put me off right away.

        • Pablo Ricasso

          Most trolls prefer big ones…

  • Spicy D

    OK guys! I’ve been waiting for an affordable FX body and reading all the comments is quite positive on the D600 but still it’s real performance is yet to be proved on the field with irreproachable output combination of high iso, instant sharp focusing and accurate white balance in any hard shooting conditions that pushes the camera to it’s limits. The words reliability, efficiency and trust are more than gold nuggets for those like me who make their living out of these fabulous tools. Is the D600 as RELIABLE as a D4 ? Is it’s built quality good enough if you were to shoot long hours at sea or in a humid jungle… ??? What can I really get for the bucks I would put in ??

    • RC

      Your questions can only be answered by your trying the camera out for yourself. Since the D600 just came out, no one knows what its reliability is going to be like. However, I think the D600 can hold its own even with the most demanding users.

    • Allen W.

      The durability comparison should perhaps be two D600s against one D4. In a jungle or on a beach one D4 would win, but in most other venues my guess is two D600s would win. Ignoring all the other benefits of the D4 of course.

  • Funduro

    Well I’m impressed with the ISO performance of the D600. Not buying it though. Extremely happy my FX DSLR does not have video capabilities. No desire to use the DSLR as a video camera, never mind learning to do video editing and post processing. I like photography.

    • Rob

      Wow that’s pretty stupid. You’re GLAD it doesn’t have a feature you don’t use? Why is that? You don’t HAVE to use the video on the D600. There is no drawback to the camera having greater functionality, but there are benefits if you (or the person to whom you sell it) ever choose to use said functionality.

      You sound incredibly defensive that the D600 is outperforming your D700 and will hold resale value for much longer.

      • Arkasai

        No extra video buttons or menus in the way are nice if all you want is to take pictures. Also adding video functionality hardly turns your DSLR into a video camera, you’ll still need external audio, storage, and depending on how serious you are you’ll also need a follow focus, slider, video tripod and head, constant lighting, stabilizers/shoulder rigs, expensive software, etc.

        Also the last part doesn’t make too much sense because the D600 is actually propping up the D700’s used price. Prospective full frame buyers will still be looking at the D700, given its proven record and durability. If the D600 came out at 1500 like everyone was hoping, used prices of the D700 would have plummeted rather than staying where they’ve been for the last five months.

      • http://www.zhovtenko.net Vsevolod

        Video makes camera more expensive – thus higher price. I means I have to pay for features that are not of this tool (please don\t make lame comparison to compact cameras and smartphones). DSLR’s are bought to shoot still’s so people are overpaying for that video feature they never use.

        • Old hi

          You should shoot film. You know those LCD screens add to the price of your camera!

          If you could look beyond yourself for a second you’d see that video in DSLR cameras has revolutionized the video world. Leaving video out of a DSLR these days is economic suicide.

          • Anon Hymous

            Go buy a good videocamera and revolutionize the video world! waiting for your videos!
            overpaid for that video feature I never use.

        • Funduro

          No video for me. I’m dedicated to photography. Sure I’ll watch someones DSLR derived You Tube videos with the usual hypnotic music playing in the background. Some of the night sky videos are rather good, it’s just that it takes a whole lot of rigs, time spent editing and planning to get several minutes of stars.

  • Don

    Reliablity, good question. But why not match 3 D600s against one D4 for the same price? When the first one goes down, throw it away, don’t even fix it. When the second one goes down throw it away also, don’t fix it, when the third one goes down fix it. I think the 3 D600s would shoot a longer total number of exposures before you had three cameras down compared to the number of exposures one D4 would shoot before it was down and it would probably cost less to repair the D600. Only time will tell. My quess is that few pros who don’t worry about equipment cost will test the reliability of the D600.

  • Twaddler Belafonte

    Both are gorgeous. I’d take either, really.

  • David K

    Based on these sample images at ISO 25,600 it looks to me like the D600 has richer color. The D800e looks a little washed out, by comparison.

  • Jabs

    To me, the D800E is sharper with slightly better definition. Both are great bodies though. Kudos to Nikon. The limitation here is the subject matter being photographed IMHO!

  • Peter

    I have a D600……i was thinking doing video with it………(i have also a D3S)…

    I can not change the aperture in video live view !!! WHAT…that’s make the video user experience real bad (you don’t change speed in video)

    ….and no full HDMI also….

    BAD NEWS !!!

    it will cost me 250$ to return it…..and echange it if for a D800….(from Vistek)

    • Sahaja

      Use lenses with an aperture ring and then you can change the aperture.

      • Arkasai

        Those fast AI, AI-S, and AF-D primes are mighty popular among the DSLR video crowd these days.

  • http://www.jkellerphoto.com/blog Jonathan

    I am actually pretty surprised at how much better the D800 files look. I expected them to be a lot closer.

    Both are fantastic though, and if I had the extra 2000 right now, I would get a D600 to compliment my D800. But I don’t need two cameras.

  • http://www.thefullframe.org The Full Frame

    I have the D600 with the added grip. I bought it to add another body alongside the stellar D700.

    I love shooting with off camera flas, but the work I do rarely allows it (www.thefullframe.org).

    The MB-D-14 grip is GREAT on the D600. Adds heft and balance with pro glass. Btw, why isn’t this camera professional?

    Oh…from one professional to another, high ISO simply adds another tool and dynamic to your photography.

    Last I remember, the D3x was $8k, and has fewer features. Your ability to make money separated the boys from the men, not the size of your camera. This forum is a hoot.

  • tom

    I did the same comparison between the D600 & D7000. The grain was the same. The D600 had slightly better resolution (due to 24 MP). But for me at 2X+ the price (plus needing more new lenses since coming from D300) the D600 was not worth it. So I bought the D7000 ($1000 body) & 18-300 ($1000 lens). Dont get me wrong, the D600 is a great camera, just not worth 2 D7000’s!!! FYI the images out of both the D600 & D7000 at 25600 ISO are WAY better than my D300 at 6400 ISO. That is why I switched!

    • Final size matters

      You should have downsized the D600 to 16MP for a proper comparison. Then teh D600 Would beat it.

    • Dyun27

      I have the D7000 and the D600. The D600 is MUCH better at higher ISO than the D7000. I don’t know how you’re comparing your cameras or what light you’re comparing them in, but I assure you, the D600 blows the D7000 away in ISO performance. The D7000 ISO at 400 looks like the D600 at 1600, no joke. ISO 6400 on D600 looks like ISO 1600 on the D7000. You don’t even have to downsize the photos to make that comparison. I can’t wait for Adobe to support the RAW files. That’s when you’ll see the most difference.

  • http://www.federerphotography.com Joe

    … but can it focus? Because the D800 sucks at that particular aspect. Great sensor, untrustworthy auto focus.

    • Dyun27

      Assuming you’re using good glass, the D600 is great, fast and accurate at focusing. I’ve tried it on wildlife and in a dark venue and got very sharp photos out of it so far.

  • bean counters

    About 4yrs ago I put in a request to buy our rags 4 person staff photog department some new equipment. Wanted to get 5 D3’s one for each of us. The bean counters said I could get 7 D300 because they were more cost effective. I said wooo dawg we need the D3’s, they said you will get the D300’s or go-way! Ha Ha … they don’t care about image quality or their shooters sanity, just their bottom line. Wasn’t going to just go-way so I got what they would let me afford. Is it what we should of gotten…. NO! So today if I wanted the D800 they would authorize the D600 just to save about $600. ech. Is it what we should get……NO!

  • Give Me That One

    I want the camera bodies that they shoot the sample images with! That way I know I’m going to get the same tricky-tack results as they advertise their cameras will produce. Not just HOPE I’ll be getting it. Focus issues, this issue that issue. Nikon rumors fly about speculating what will be released and then it takes them two or three production runs to get it right? All at our expense? This stuff ain’t cheep! Then as with the D800 focus issues at first they deny it? They had to know something was a-muck but just kept feed it to us hoping we wouldn’t notice? How do you manufacturer the camera body’s that you send-out to your select pro-shooters for testing and nowt them out as “look what it will do for you” then can’t follow up with the rest delivering the same results? Reminds me of a carnival sideshow barker: she walks….she talks….she slithers on her belly like a reptile….don’t get too close son….she bites!!

    • Pablo Ricasso

      The hell with that.
      Get the leading competitor’s line of stuff and then you can be assured that your photos will be at least as crappy as the sample images.

      • Bill

        Pablo Ricasso; what’s your favorite color? I feel as though you live under a bridge down by the river. I’ll look for you under the Ambassador on my next ride across! caaaaaalick I take your picture!!!

        • Pablo Ricasso

          What? With the piece of crap your employer gave you for Christmas? Just hang around down there with it. I’ll be by any minute…

          • Give Me That One

            Pablow What are you babbling about now? You need to come up for air! Can you stay on subject for once…. NOT

          • Goonza

            Pablo, drop the glue sniffing…

            • Give Me That One

              Thanks Goonza now I totally understand. Pablo gunah huff & puff & troll us on down….. EH! Smell what the Pablo is cookin!!!

      • LeadWrist

        Leave Pablo Riccaso alone!

  • David K

    I would be curious to see a similar comparison between the D3200, D600 and D800/e. I would hope, for the much larger price difference, to see a more obvious image quality gap. Though they would have to do the test at a lower ISO, the D3200 ISO doesn’t even go up to 25,600!

    • Pablo Ricasso

      And it would be good to put it in DX mode and compare it to DX cameras.

    • LeadWrist

      *Yawn*

    • LeadWrist

      DX = Small sensor, cheaper too make, less defects in the waffer FX = Larger sensor, costs a lot more to manufacture, lot more defects in the waffer. Price alone isn’t about image quality. Even if the FX sensor captures the crappiest images, it still gonna be more expensive to make. So if you are hoping for majoe picture IQ due to price, you may be very disappointed.

  • Nmarhano

    Great, Sony Sensor Inside … any comparison with Alpha 99 or RX1 vs D600?

  • Rmin

    I cannot find any info on how this comparison is done and looks like nobody else is concerned to ask. Is something is wrong with me? I thought when an article is written to compare high iso images, it should mention how this is done: are they jpg out of camera or raw? If jpg, what was the in-camera noise reduction setting? If raw, which application was used to open and convert them to jpg.

  • KG

    I honestly don’t know why anyone would choose a D600 over the D800, apart from getting one as a back up.It can’tbe budget, as D800 can be got for merely £300 more on some sites. Be sensible.

  • Bernard

    I recently received my D600 and have had an opportunity to try the camera at high ISO setting. I agree with your assessment that the camera has great high ISO images with very low noise. The shots you show demonstrate this. I have noticed that the D600 seems to over saturate to some degree and this is also noticeable in your shots. Has anyone else noticed this???

    • http://twitter.com/Vipmediastar VIP Media Star – JZ

      Just got the d600. Images slight over exposed and people look yellow. Back to back shooting with the d7000 the d7k looks better overall in raw. Even the jpg from d7k looks better. Maybe i got a bad copy.

  • tedtedsen

    take the d800 at higest imagequallity and image or pixelsize and shoot TIFF and the d600 will dropp in imagequallity vs d800, it dossent shoot TIFF, tiff has no compression what soever its like raw onley optimased bye the camera People that is shooting raw save the raw in TIFF FOR OPTIMUM QUALLITY from raw to jpg wil onley compress the raw too JPG again

    • dickheads

      …its…trying to communicate!…

  • CJ

    Sold my D600 for the D800E. No regrets, capture far more detail.

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