Nikon D600 High ISO Performance Comparison

Here is a quick comparison of ISO performance (low ISO and high ISO) between the Nikon D600, Nikon D700, Nikon D800E and Nikon D3s. Please note that all of the images below were shot in JPEG, since Nikon D600 RAW support is not available yet. All images were also down-sampled to the Nikon D700/D3s resolution (cameras with the lowest resolution). Everything was shot in ambient light (lab results are posted in the Nikon D600 review here) with all camera corrections turned off and camera profile set to standard (default, no changes). Cropping and export was performed in Lightroom 4 and I used Photoshop to add the text on the bottom of each image.

1) Nikon D600 ISO Performance

Nikon D600 ISO 100 Nikon D600 ISO 200

Nikon D600 ISO 400 Nikon D600 ISO 800

Nikon D600 ISO 1600 Nikon D600 ISO 3200

Nikon D600 ISO 6400 Nikon D600 ISO 12800

Nikon D600 ISO 25600

2) Nikon D700 ISO Performance

Nikon D700 ISO 100 Nikon D700 ISO 200

Nikon D700 ISO 400 Nikon D700 ISO 800

Nikon D700 ISO 1600 Nikon D700 ISO 3200

Nikon D700 ISO 6400 Nikon D700 ISO 12800

Nikon D700 ISO 25600

3) Nikon D800E ISO Performance

Nikon D800E ISO 100 Nikon D800E ISO 200

Nikon D800E ISO 400 Nikon D800E ISO 800

Nikon D800E ISO 1600 Nikon D800E ISO 3200

Nikon D800E ISO 6400 Nikon D800E ISO 12800

Nikon D800E ISO 25600

4) Nikon D3S ISO Performance

Nikon D3S ISO 100 Nikon D3S ISO 200

Nikon D3S ISO 400 Nikon D3S ISO 800

Nikon D3S ISO 1600 Nikon D3S ISO 3200

Nikon D3S ISO 6400 Nikon D3S ISO 12800

Nikon D3S ISO 25600 Nikon D3S ISO 51200

Nikon D3S ISO 102400

Quick analysis: very impressive performance by the Nikon D600. I do not see any difference in performance between the Nikon D600 and the Nikon D3S all the way to ISO 6400. Boosted ISO levels on the D3s above ISO 12800 look better, but that’s expected. Nikon D700 is a thing of the past when compared to any of the above cameras. The clear winner here is the Nikon D800E. Not only because it has the most amount of details (thanks to down-sampling), but also because the noise it produces looks very natural. Again, note that this is a preliminary analysis using JPEG output only (which I would not rely on, since JPEG rendering is not the same as RAW conversion). The above test will be redone using RAW files when Adobe releases NEF support for the D600.


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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Andre

    Nasim, how is the D600 focus compared to D700?

    • 2
      ) francisco

      2nd that on the focus, in addition, how is the feel of the shutter release button, compared to D700? is it more like D7000 or D700? and the feel in general is it more of a D7000 or a D700?

      • 8
        ) D600 User

        I just ran a bunch of tests on the D600 that arrived at my doorstep this afternoon. Unlike the D800… I couldn’t find any focus problems. I followed Nasim’s test guidance steps as close as I could. Yay!

        • 35
          ) Jorge Balarin

          Congratulations !

    • 13
      ) Steve

      Nasim would you recommend this Camera based on low light performance, image quality, focus speed? I have a d700, a d7000. I was thinking of selling the d7000 and buying the d600

  2. 3
    ) Maegan

    Thank you for being so quick and taking the time to post these! I’m still confused on whether i should get the D4 or D600 based on indoor low light use, not just high ISO abilities. Thoughts??

  3. 4
    ) William Jones

    For what it is worth, the current version of ViewNX2 works with D600 NEF files (including conversion to JPG).

  4. 5
    ) Marcelobtp

    D800e is superb but the lack of contrast and the yellowish image is somewhat strange, the d700 and d3s at the same iso, seems to be darker than the others, nikon ISO rating maybe diferent from one camera to the other.

    • 10
      ) Mark

      Maybe its just a matter of the jpg creation. Lets wait for the RAW comparison – hopefully with the same motive.

  5. 6
    ) Luis Santos

    thanks for sharing, too bad they have different WB :/

    • 11
      ) Mark

      Yes, I hope the RAW pictures will be better comparable :)

      On the D600 pictures I was thinking that the yellow head is made of plastic (without looking to closely). But then on the D800E-pictures it was suddenly so clear that it is wood with a carved face. Even on the D700 pictures this is better visible than on the D600 pictures. I was thinking its a jpg thing, but you are right, it might just be a WB thing.

  6. 7
    ) Asif

    nice … getting +1 for D600 :)

  7. 9
    ) Doug

    Capture NX does open D600 NEFs for some reason. It will produce better results than ACR/LR from Nikon raw files, so that would really be the golden test and it could be done now.

    • Exactly. Nasim, why you haven’t done so? I hope you can do this test soon.

      Also, View NX is supports all the Picture control styles and, most importat, represents colors in the “Nikon way” than in the “Adobe way”. Adobe makes a sort of revers engineering of View NX and the NEF may give different colors.

      Which is a very important aspect for me.
      For example, I had several problems using Lightroom 1.2 and Adobe Photoshop CS1 opening my D70s NEFs, expecially in skin tones and all the colors that have lots of Red/Magenta in it.
      The worst result I got was with a fuchsia/violet orchid, that went to violet in LR.

      I can link to my gallery if you’re interested in this aspect.

      Thanks again, Sebastiano

      • 36
        ) Jorge Balarin

        Sebastiano, do you think it is better to use Nikon softwares to post-process your photos, instead of use Adobe softwares ? Greetings.

        • 38
          ) Sebastiano

          Hi Jorge,
          there’s a post on Nikon Italy official forum where we talked about the issues dealing with using ACR/LR respect to Nikon SW.

          If you have a look at this link

          http://www.nikonclub.it/forum/index.php?showtopic=131167&view=findpost&p=1625128

          you can feel the differences of a NEF opened with View NX (the bee on the top) and LR/ACR (the bee on the top). As you can see it’s not only a matter of sharpening but also of color themselves.

          This one is another example
          http://www.nikonclub.it/forum/index.php?showtopic=131167&view=findpost&p=2470983
          where yellows get darker and with more saturation while the whole scene has more contrast.
          Opening with ACR makes the colors look dull sometimes.

          Normally I open my NEF with View Nx and, if needed, I’ll adjust the WB only. Then I’ll export the file as TIFF 16bit @Adobe RGB.
          Then I open the file in CS and make the rest.

          Greetings, Sebastiano

          • 42
            ) Jorge Balarin

            Thank you Sebastiano, your advice is very useful for me. Greetings, Jorge.

  8. 12
    ) Structure

    Nasim, I currently using LR 3.6. Can D600 raw file be used in LR3.6?
    Thanks.

    • 14
      ) Joe

      Next version of LR will support D600.

  9. 15
    ) Padmanabhan

    Hi Nasim,

    Eagerly awaiting your detailed analysis / comparison of D600 with other cameras!!!

    Rgds

  10. 16
    ) St.

    Hey Nasim,
    you’re comparing D600 and D800e, but according to DxoMark they have almost identical ISO performance – 2980 for D600 and 2979 for D800e. The question is how does it compare with D800 (2853)?
    Can you add that one to the list?

    • 20
      ) Andrea

      I do not understand how the D800E gets best ISO performance, because on DxOMark the curves are identical in print mode, and below the D600 in screen mode

      • 32
        ) Stefan

        It makes sense – no AA filter = more light comes in = less noise
        But one is on paper, other thing is to see with real examples.
        I hope Nasim will be able to do that comparison!

        • 46
          ) ertan elma

          Stefan, D800E has an AA filter but has an additional filter that reverses the AA filter’s effect.

          • 48
            ) St.

            I don’t quite understand what you’re saying here… can you clarify?

            • 49
              ) William Jones

              Stefan, use the link below to see what Nikon does with the D800E. Scroll down to the section: “Functions of low-pass filter”, and look at the images that explain the differences between the D800 and D800E.

              Link: http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d800/features01.htm

              WEJ

            • 53
              ) St.

              I think you guys are going off what i initially said…
              I know what AA filter is and how it should affect the image sharpness, details, etc.
              I have read many articles (this one included) before I got my D800.
              My point was that Nasim compared D600 with D800E and I asked how it would compare with D800.
              D800E and D600 have similar ISO points on DXoMark, but D800 has more than 100 points less.

  11. 17
    ) Mevlut Calisan

    Hi Nasim, would a D800 be the better alternative to get reasonable shots between ISO 6400 and 25600 ?

  12. 18
    ) Faz

    Judging from the ISO 1600 between the Nikon D600 and D700, I wouldn’t count the D700 out just yet. For a 4 year old camera, it’s still delivering in terms of the quality of the images. As tempting as it is to get the D600, I’m just not that convinced that my photos would look any better. After all, it’s all about technique!

    • 80
      ) carl

      +1

  13. 19
    ) Mike

    Thanks Nasim, impressive results, can feel my wallet stretching itself, you may remember me pointing out the high cost in the UK for the D600 and your surprise, well now Amazon are selling it for £1613, now that’s more like it.

    Ps you recently wrote that you would rather have a crappy camera with a good lens than the other way around, would you say that Nikon 24-120mm f4 G AF-S ED VR Lens with the D600 would make a good combo.

  14. 21
    ) larson

    Hi, I was actually waiting or the D7000 successor. After what I’m reading about the D600 this could be a good upgrade to a possible soon to come D7100. I imagine that a D7100 would be around the $ 1300-1400 range. So not that much meat between the two.

    I’m speculating that I might outgrow a D7100 after 3-4 years and start wishing for a full frame camera. Which would also cost me more money because of the different glasses I would need. Is it realistic to think that if I buy a D600 right now and skip a possible D7100 that it will still satisfy me after lets say 6-8 years? If so, the price different from a speculative D7100 to a D600 I could buy right now is virtually not exitant.

    Well, I know this sounds confusing but what I actually want to know is if it makes sense to go with full frame straight away (since it’s that affordable right now) especially when you don’t have invested in any DX lenses so far to save money in regard to a an alternative dx camera incl. a future step up to fx.

    btw: I like to take pictures of birds (also in flight) – especially in low light situations. Is it in your opinion even nessesary or desireable to go with fx with this preference? After what I read and saw on your blog I do give your opinion the highest regard and would even contrary to my ‘what I read about believes’ rather follow your expert opinion backed up with lots of real live experience.

  15. 22
    ) alx

    It is my eyes or samples of D600 are less sharper thant others, even the D700 ones. Or maybe it’s only micro contrast ?

    • 37
      ) Jorge Balarin

      It is true, the images of the D600 are the less sharper.

  16. 23
    ) mohamed

    d600 pics are the least sharp images among the others to my eyes , right dears ??

    • 26
      ) Doug

      Don’t conclude that necessarily. I think this is meant to be a noise comparison, not a sharpness comparison. I believe that focus is not identical. Also, they don’t yet reflect the true potential of the sensors since they are JPEGs; the results are more an evaluation of the JPEG converter’s noise reduction. That is relevant for some applications (like sports JPEG shooting), but you don’t need these cameras for the image quality in those use cases (for the most part). I’m sure we’ll see much more information soon. But there is already enough available to conclude that the D600 has 24 good MPixels with an information-theoretic performance that is similar for practical purposes. And also that the D700 is still very, very good up to ISO 6400. :)

      • 27
        ) mohamed

        Dear Doug
        thank u for your input and most probably you are right, as u said let us wait for more information

    • 85
      ) Steve

      Looking at the number 597 on the video on the left side of the picture, the d600 looks sharper to me.

  17. 24
    ) Sanjeev

    a) Can you also post performance comparison of D7000 Vs D600
    b) Aren’t all NEF files same?

    Sanjeev

  18. 25
    ) Carlo

    I think that D700 pictures are just half stop under-exposed (too dark imho).

  19. 28
    ) rhlpetrus

    Nasim: I think it’s obvious that the D800E default uses a stronger chroma NR than the D600. Adjust that and you’ll get much closer results. Also, detail is related to the resizing + USM, but it’s expected that the D800E will show slight better detail (well, focus could have played a role as well). Thanks, will wait to see RAWs, but remove all chroma NR (ACR also uses some as default).

  20. 29
    ) Ben Ooijevaar

    What i’m curious about is the Dynamic range in higher ISO’s. Can you make a comparison like you did with the 5Dm3 and D800 with the shadow recovery on a rock? And maybe also in highlights.

    The reason is that DxOmark gives the D7000 as 13.9 ev dynamic range, and the D700 a 12.2 ev, and they say the D700 gives a better range. Thats what i dont really get…

  21. 30
    ) Srini

    Looking forward to your review.

  22. 33
    ) Dina

    Thanks so much for this

  23. Hello! Excited about the D600. Can’t wait for your full review. Looking at the sample shots, the dynamic range of the d600 is awesome! Although, have a question regarding your tests, is the NR in the d600 turned off? Comparing some shots from the d600 to the d700, the shots from the d600 seem to be softer.

    • A little off topic, but I like the design of your webpage (the photos too, hehe).

  24. 39
    ) Chris

    Thank you for doing these test! What I’m really concerned about is the af accuracy and speed. Canon 6D has a extra f/2.8 sensitive cross-type point in the center, does the nikon have anyhting like this? Or are all its cross-type points only f/5.6 sensitive? I’m going to possibly be shooting weddings with either this or a 6D, which one has a more accurate af (even if it is only in the center) ?

  25. 40
    ) Mike

    Hm, I fail to see why the D700 is a thing of the past. It does great up to ISO3200. What more do you need? Apart from the resolution and somewhat smaller size I don’t see any reason to jump from a D700 to a D600. If you need a small camera, try a Sony DMC-RX1 and if you need better image quality get a D800.

    • 41
      ) Francisco

      Agree! I think it will be a downgrade for D700 users if they opted for D600…

    • 43
      ) Callum

      I think it might also depend what Fx lenses you already have – the D600 might feel badly balanced with a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 on it and that for me would be a waste – I can cope with a heavy set up if it feels good to hold, but if it’s totally off balance is annoying.

      • 44
        ) Jorge Balarin

        Perhaps you could use an extra battery pack. The prize is going to raise up, but you will enjoy extra battery life.

      • 50
        ) Ronald C

        @Callum: You will need to get used to it. There will always be lenses heavier than the body. For longer or heavier lenses, the recommended practice is carry them on the lens instead of the body. Like the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, even on the D700, I carry them on the lens and not on the body. It’s not only easier on your wrist but it also puts less torque on the lens attachment. With a lens longer and heavier than the body, its center of gravity is farther from the lens attachment, hence, puts more torque and stress on the attachment.

        • 54
          ) Am-Expat

          To further the good explanation above, any heavy lens balances well with any camera. If not, it is your holding method, not the camera weight/size. A d3200 balances perfectly with the 70-200 since your left hand finds the balance point and supports the lens and camera combination while your right hand controls operation of the camera with a light grip. If you are using any more than a light grip, camera shake increases, as does hand fatigue during a long session. The right hand supports nothing or very little of the weight of the camera/lens.

          • 57
            ) Callum

            Thanks to Ronald C and Am-Expat – both very good points! I think that means I need to practice my technique more and head down the gym for my left arm only! I am very right handed if that makes sense, so I probably do rely on my right arm strength too much.

            I also mean my comments from a grip size and comfort though – for example I had a D5000 with the 16-85mm on it and as the grip was too small for my hands I never found this combination as comfortable as the D5000 with 18-55 kit lens due to the heavier lens making the whole rig more front heavy. I still find that the case now – a gripped D700 and 24-70 feels more comfrotable to me than without the grip as the rig is less front heavy.

            Hope that makes sense and isn’t just me being weird! Thanks again to both for your comments, and all the info so far on the D600 Ronald C.

            • 62
              ) Am-Expat

              Calllum
              Next time you shoot with the D700, look where you place your left hand. It determines the balance point and moving it 1 inch forward make the combination feel camera heavy and 1 inch back makes it feel front heavy. Mount a heavy lens like a 200 2.0 and your left hand will be pushed out further to find a balance point, although few people try to hand hold a 200 2.0, there is still a good balance point where there is no tipping tendency where the combination does not feel like it wants to tip the front down. Every lens you have balances fine at some left hand position. All the weight should be on the left hand which is supported by tucking the left elbow tighter to the chest. The right hand should not be supporting weight at all, just operating controls and giving direction control. That improved stability of focusing manually, tracking moving subjects, using lower shutter speeds without motion blur etc. Your right hand should feel relaxed and fresh after hours of shooting. If you find that you are supporting the camera too much by the right hand, it adversely impacts the shooting. To use the right hand without using strong gripping pressure(as desired to be relaxed) adding a wrist strap or hand strap adds support from the arm so the finger tension and pressure can be relaxed. The fingers should not be supporting anything.
              Good luck!

            • 63
              ) Callum

              Thanks Am-Expat. It maybe sounds stupid but its not something I really think about, so I think I need to!

  26. 45
    ) Ronald C

    I’ve been playing with my D600 for two days now and I think I’m liking it better than the D800. Here are my observations so far:

    1. The D600 is smaller and lighter than the D800.
    2. The D600 has a smaller image size. For my use, the 36MP of D800 is too much.
    3. The mirror slap of the D600 is softer and more quiet than that of the D800. I’m always worried that the loud clanking sound of the mirror slap can make the image quality worse. I can really feel the vibration so it could really affect the image quality.
    4. I don’t see any focus problems yet on the D600. All areas are consistent. I haven’t pixel peeped into it yet but if there is a problem, it’s not obvious unlike the D800. Yes, my D800 has the dreaded left autofocus issue. On the D800, you can clearly see the out-of-focus problem even on the camera’s LCD. I have some lenses which I need to AF-fine-tune with the D600. The correction is not too bad. One was just up to -10.
    4. The D600 supports the ML-L3 wireless remote. Yay!
    5. The D600 has U1 and U2 switches like the D7000. I wish the D800 has this feature. I can’t emphasize how important this is if you need to change settings quickly. I think the pros need this more than the casual photographer.
    6. The D600 has two memory card slots of the same type like the D7000. I find the D800 weird for using two different types of memory. Whatever advantages it offers, I don’t think it is worth the inconvenience of using two types of memory cards. It’s like driving a car with two sizes of tires so you need to carry a spare for each size.
    7. The only thing I don’t like about the D600 is that it doesn’t have the feature to quickly zoom-in when you press the “ok” button. The quick zoom-in is a must if you need to verify quickly if you got the shot. I’ve looked around the settings but I couldn’t find it.
    8. If you are choosing between D700 and D600, then I’d tell you that there is no comparison. I also have the D700 and one of my issues with it is the weight and the LCD screen. The LCD screen of the D700 is not that good compared to the D600 or D800, so it’s hard to tell if you got a good shot or not.

  27. 47
    ) ertan elma

    I don’t see why D700 is a thing in the past. It copes pretty well. D600 should be praised because it has a similar performance with 24MP vs 12MP.

    • 65
      ) francisco

      I fully agree, the D700 is still a great camera, matter of fact I am seriously considering 2nd hand ones right now! I am a D7000 shooter and really wanting to move from DX to FX, and I find the D700′s built miles ahead from both D600 and D7000. To me, the single card of the D700 is the only down side that I can see.

      • 66
        ) Jorge Balarin

        I have a D700 and I want to have second body to shoot reportage and events. If the D600 would have an autofocus system similar to the one of the D700 (+ face detection) I would run to buy it, but unfortunately, what in some aspects is an upgrade, in terms of autofocus is a downgrade, so I think that I prefer to buy a second D700. If I would shoot only landscapes I would buy the D600, but for reportage pics I prefer to have the autofocus points widely spread, even if they are not so much as the ones of the D700.

  28. 51
    ) Henry

    Presently confused and needing direction. Coming out of D7000 looking for image improvement and Full frame. D600 is almost like the D7000! the D800 may be a bit too much due to file size…
    For an improvement in detail and quality of the shot, D600 or D800???

    • 60
      ) Choo

      If you’re looking for detail and quality, the D600 will definitely be a great choice. Going from DX –> FX is already a superb choice!!

  29. 52
    ) Roberta

    I plan to upgrade from the D90 to the D600. Have a question and would like to know if anyone can help. Any input on how the old Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 D will be combined with the D600? What about DX lenses such as the Nikkor 17-55 mm f2.8 DX or Tokina 12-24 F4 DXII? I need to be able to live with some of my old lenses for a while until I can afford to make some changes. I’ll keep the D90 but would like to be able to pretty much use the D600 full time.

    • 55
      ) Francisco

      DX lenses will work fine on the D600…

  30. 56
    ) Choo

    Hi Nasim!! Great website you have here! I’ve been reading it religiously since you started, and this will be my very first posting!! I recently upgraded from a D7000 to the D600 and I find the results amazing!! I’m really enjoying the advantages of the FX format. I would like to know when your review of the D600 wlil be out, would love to hear what you say about the camera!!

    • 58
      ) Henry

      Hi Choo
      I too want to upgrade from the D7000. But I cant seem to decide between the D600 and the D800.
      Did you ever consider the D800? if so, can you share the reasons you opted for the D600?

      • 59
        ) Choo

        Hi Henry!!

        I did consider the D800 and who wouldn’t, especially since it’s such an awesome camera. As much as I loved the camera, there were a couple of things that held me back and are as follows:

        1) Pricing – Coming from Malaysia, cameras here cost a lot in our on local currency. The D800 goes for MYR9,998 whereas the D600 goes for MYR6,800 (approx.) Being a hobbyist and upgrading to the D800 would cost alot and the spare cash can be used for getting newer lenses.

        2) 36mp vs 24mp – I don’t have much use for the very high resolution of that the D800 offers. 24mp seems plenty enough for me and for what I shoot. Having 36mp would also mean getting more memory cards, hard disk and so forth. I also wouldn’t want to ‘downsample’ every picture to a smaller resolution for whatever benefits.

        3) Familiarity in handling and controls – D600 feels like a beefed up D7000 with similar handling and control locations. If you’re coming from the D7000, you might not even be aware that you’ve got a D600 in your hands until you take that shot and remind yourself that you’re on a FX. It’s that similar. Speaking of which, I was still shooting with my D7000 on Saturday morning and afternoon, and only got my D600 that night. The differences were night and day!

        Those are just a few (and main reasons) that I eventually opted for the D600. If I could afford a D800, I would get it. The D600 does everything that I want and need from a camera. The IQ so far is excellent and coming from a D7000 you WILL BE blown away by the performance of this sensor. I may upgrade to a Pro build full frame in the future, but for now the D600 suits me in terms of price/performance. I have seriously no regrets.

        • 61
          ) Henry

          Choo:
          Your response is excellent.
          Your 3 detailed items are exactly what keeps me from making a move.
          Prior to hitting the enter button on the order, I would like to see Nasim’s final review on the D600, with lots of pictures.
          Ill drop you a note when I decide which way to go.
          Thanks

  31. 64
    ) Jorge

    Hello Mr. Mansurov,

    I am trying to save for the D600 and a good lens to go with it. As such I have been going back and forth between the nikon 24-120 f4 and the new tamron 24-70 VC. I enjoy shooting my three year old daughter and weddings for family members and friends. I would like to shoot weddings professionally in the future. I currently have the nikon D7000 with the nikon sb700, nikon 16-85, nikon 35 1.8, nikon 85 1.8d and tamron 70-200. So after your review of the new tamron, which would you recommend for an aspiring wedding photographer. Thank you for all that you do and for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Jorge

  32. 67
    ) EagleS

    Nasim when is the full in depth review coming ?

    • It will be posted this week. I hope Adobe releases RAW support within the next few days, or my review will have to be updated later…

  33. 68
    ) Farhad Farajov

    Hello Nasim,

    Thanks for such a great comparison.
    I’m planning to buy D600, however haven’t decided which lens to buy for the camera. Considering the fact that I’m an amateur photographer could you please suggest which lens is more appropriate for me: 24-120mm f/4 or 85mmf/1.8 + 28mm f/1.8?

    Kind regards,
    Farhad

    • 69
      ) Farhad Farajov

      Sorry, I forgot to say that I’ll mainly use my camera for portraits and while traveling :)

  34. I am amazed by the complete package this camera brings…specially the compact size. Sadly I cannot afford one now, but I will definitely keep an eye on it.

    I mainly use a m43 system because if its size because for what I do (non commercial stuff for my blog) it is plenty. However, the geek in me is very tempted ;-)

    Great review as usual Nasim, your site is one of the very best I have seen and I really like your objective reviews. Great great work.

  35. 72
    ) gsum

    A very interesting comparison but why are you using Adobe? Surely you should be using the best available software for these tests i.e. NX2.

    • Who says NX2 is the best? I personally find Lightroom and Photoshop to be the best – it is all a matter of personal taste. My workflow is 100% Adobe, which is why I always compare the results from Adobe RAW converters.

      • 77
        ) gsum

        As a user of both CS4 and NX2, I can see that Nikon’s noise reduction algorithms are more effective than Adobe’s, probably because NX2 takes account of the camera’s noise characteristics, something that Adobe cannot do as their algorithms are aimed many makes of camera.
        It’s far more than personal taste; it’s about getting the best out of the image, something that cannot be done with Adobe’s mediocre toolset. Why anyone would want to deny themselves the excellent NX2 toolset, such as the selection brush and control point technology, is beyond me.

      • 78
        ) Am-Expat

        I use LR because it is fast, easy and has an excellent library system. For pixel level editing, I use Photoshop CS6 with a lot of plug-ins. I have and use the entire CS6 Creative Suite and like the whole system. When I want to get the best from an image, for printing large, which is a small minority of frames, I open the NEF in Capture NX2, latest version because it does render best. I make basic camera level adjustments such as WB and Active D-Lighting and save as a high bit TIF and finish processing in Adobe products. Adobe gets better in camera profiles with each version after a new model is introduced but it does take fine tuning with their guesses in reverse engineering the NEF files for that model. By the time LR 3.1 came out, they had D300s files pretty well sorted out but it took 18 months after the camera’s introduction, same with the D90. The D7000 was faster but the D800 is still needing tweaking. I imagine that in 12 months, ACR will do a job essentially as well as NX2 after a few updates. That has been the pattern for years. If Nikon every published their file specs like other companies, all programs could read and render NEF files completely.
        For the majority if archive images, LR is enough.

      • 79
        ) Sebastiano

        It may be I haven’t a really deep knowledge of these tools but I don’t know why ACR (so LR or CS) is better than NX2 (View or Capture) at rendering the NEF in the Nikon’s way, and I would like to know.

        I understand ACR works on the NEF raw information, also to make levels or curves adjustment, so we expect it can work better because it does on the lower and more accurate level of information we have after shooting, but we should point out that the NEF itself is not a “visual file format”, but it uses a 16 bit TIFF canvas to oper the file.
        So, after you “lock” the exact WB at the value you need, the NR level you want, the overall starting point sharpness and .. what else? … why you shouldn’t save this intermediate result as an Adobe RGB 16 bit TIFF file and then procede with LR or CS?

        The only reason I could argue is that ACR uses a wider Color Space (wider than Adobe RGB and very close to ProPhoto RGB, which is the max we can get and the best for tonal transitions), but, again, we should consider which colors we are now “maximizing”.
        If opening in ACR creates a “color shift”, similar to the ones we can have when you do not apply the color management opening a file with an embedded color profile to a different color space, which is the real benefit to use a “wider” color space?

        I read that to have the real maximum when using ACR you should calibrate ACR, creating your camera profile using the X-Rite palette. I had severe problems opening my D70s NEF directly in LR 1.2.
        All the reds shifted and both the skin tones and the fucsia flowers changed a lot.
        This was more severe when I had sunset light in the scene.
        Also trying the demo version of LR 3 nothing changed, as my camera ACR profile didn’t change.
        The only one step I could do was to profile my camera and then pass this new profile to ACR.
        But why I had to do so when opening in NX all of these issues automatically solved?

        Best Regards, Sebastiano

    • 83
      ) Kevin S

      Re. PP. I think you’ll find most professionals use: firstly Lightroom, for speed of workflow; and then Photoshop for any retouching that might be required on an individual file.

      Just a little niggle Nasim: would be really helpful if comparisons could be side-by-side on the page. Doing it as it is here means making screen grabs to view comparisons side-by-side.

      Good work though – thanks!

  36. 73
    ) Dennis

    Ken Rockwell has written that he finds the D4, D800/800E & D600 show a green-shift in the JPEG’S. He recommends setting white balance to M1 to compensate. Do you find this to be true for these cameras ? I almost bought a D800 / waited because of the focus problem – now I am ready to buy the D600 – but am anxiously awaiting your testing & review of your D600. I follow your website posts closely & rely greatly on your experience & opinions.

    • 81
      ) Noctilux

      I’ve tried D600 yesterday, it had that greenish tint on lcd. i don’t know if it is visible in actual pics but that is deal braker for me. aside from that and the fact that all AF points are centered in the middle of viewfinder, this camera is excellent. Afterwards i’ve tried new 6D and that camera was better overal, no greenish tint. AF speed was about the same for both cameras.

  37. 74
    ) Steve McCall

    Amazing Compare Thank Nasim

  38. 82
    ) Lim Lee

    Dear Nasim, the d800 is better than d3s in low light ?

  39. Looks like its a d600 then :)

  40. 86
    ) qdoss

    “note that this is a preliminary analysis using JPEG output only (which I would not rely on”

    so why the heck did you bother? There’s enough rubbish and deadwood to trail through on the net as it is. I wish you people wouldn’t bother, is it just for being kicks of ‘being the first’ amd appealing to fanboys and gadget hunters?

    • What was I supposed to do when Adobe didn’t have RAW support for D600 files? I produced JPEG images to compare the sensors – nothing wrong with doing that. Have you actually seen the full review?

      http://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-d600

      I don’t care about being first – just decided to post some comparisons, that’s all.

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