Nikon D600 vs D800

Here is another quick specifications comparison between the new Nikon D600 and the D800 that was announced earlier in 2012. I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the resolution king, the D800, and the $900 cheaper D600. Looks like both cameras are quickly becoming popular among many amateur and professional photographers, so what feature advantages does the former offer over the latter? Let’s take a look in this Nikon D600 vs D800 comparison. Please keep in mind that this comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons is provided in the Nikon D600 Review right here.

Nikon D600 vs D800

The Nikon D800 is currently the highest-resolution DSLR camera in the market. Sporting a whopping 36.3 megapixels, it is undoubtedly a very impressive camera that can deliver beautiful and crisp images with excellent colors and dynamic range. As I have shown in my Nikon D800 Review (see it here), it easily beats the Nikon D700 and even rivals high-end DSLRs like D3s/D4, when images are down-sampled. Let’s take a look at how the two compare in specifications.

Nikon D600 vs D800 Specification Comparison

Camera FeatureNikon D600Nikon D800
Sensor Resolution24.3 Million36.3 Million
Sensor TypeCMOSCMOS
Sensor Size35.9×24.0mm35.9×24.0mm
Sensor Pixel Size5.9µ4.8µ
Dust Reduction / Sensor CleaningYesYes
Image Size6,016 x 4,0167,360 x 4,912
Image ProcessorEXPEED 3EXPEED 3
Viewfinder TypePentaprismPentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage100%100%
Built-in FlashYes, with flash commander modeYes, with flash commander mode
Storage Media2x SD1x Compact Flash and 1x SD
Continuous Shooting Speed5.5 FPS4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip
Max Shutter Speed1/4000 to 30 sec1/8000 to 30 sec
Shutter Durability150,000 cycles200,000 cycles
Exposure Metering Sensor2,016-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering II91,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III
Base ISOISO 100ISO 100
Native ISO SensitivityISO 100-6,400ISO 100-6,400
Boosted ISO SensitivityISO 50, ISO 12,800-25,600ISO 50, ISO 12,800-25,600
Autofocus SystemMulti-CAM 4800FXAdvanced Multi-CAM 3500FX
AF DetectionUp to f/8Up to f/8
Video CapabilityYesYes
Video OutputMOV, Compressed and UncompressedMOV, Compressed and Uncompressed
Video Maximum Record Time20 min in 24p, 30 min in 30p20 min in 24p, 30 min in 30p
Video Maximum Resolution1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 25p, 30p1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30p
Audio RecordingBuilt-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
Built-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
LCD Size3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD
LCD Resolution921,000 dots921,000 dots
HDR SupportYesYes
Built-in GPSNoNo
Wi-Fi FunctionalityEye-Fi Compatible, WU-1B, UT-1Eye-Fi Compatible, WT-4A
BatteryEN-EL15 Lithium-ion BatteryEN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery
Battery Life900 shots (CIPA)850 shots (CIPA)
Battery ChargerMH-25 Quick ChargerMH-25 Quick Charger
Weather Sealed BodyYesYes
USB Version2.03.0
Weight (Body Only)26.8 oz. (760g)31.7 oz. (900g)
Dimensions141 x 113 x 82mm144.78 x 121.92 x 81.28mm
MSRP Price$2,099 (as introduced)$2,999 (as introduced)

As you can see, despite many similarities in camera features, there are some big differences between the two cameras. First of all, the sensors are completely different. As I have shown in the review, the noise characteristics are similar at the pixel level. At the same time, the Nikon D800 looks better when down-sampled to 24.3 MP, because of slightly less noise and sharper images, thanks to the process of down-sampling. While the D600 is faster with its 5.5 fps rate compared to 4 fps on the D800, its max shutter speed is limited to 1/4000 and its shutter durability is rated at 150,000 versus 200,000 on the D800. In addition, the Nikon D600 has an inferior autofocus system with 39 AF points and an older generation metering sensor. Lastly, the Nikon D800 has buttons like AF-ON on the back, providing overall better ergonomic experience.

Looks like the Nikon D600 would be a great backup camera for the Nikon D800, since both share the same battery type and charger. For a primary camera though, I still think the Nikon D800 will be a better choice, especially with the better and more advanced AF system it has.


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
    ) Mike

    Hi Nasim

    Look forward to that, but the surprise for me is the costings over here in the UK, they are quoting a D600 body only for £1955, yet I can get a D800 body for £2279, if you are spending £2000 on a camera you might as well spend a couple of hundred more and treat yourself to big brother.

    Mike

    • 8
      ) Martin

      Camera World in the UK are currently listing the D800 at £2099. A week ago at Heathrow Terminal 5, Dixons Travel had half a dozen D800s on the shelf at £1099.99. I checked inside the box of one. It had a UK plug and a European warranty.

      We have a slightly peculiar situation whereby, feasably, the D800 may be available in the UK at a cheaper price than the D600 within a short period of time. I suspect that that sitiation will not last for long.

      • 9
        ) Martin

        That should read £1999.99, of course.

        • 10
          ) Simon

          Interesting prices at Dixons Travel Martin. (I almost choked at the GBP1,099.99 price, but even at GBP1,999.99 that is not too bad for the D800).

          I am passing through Heathrow Terminal 5 in two weeks so I’ll see if my resolve to save my money holds out. What terminal did you spot the D800s in stock at the Dixons outlet?

          Thanks, Simon.

          • 25
            ) Martin

            There are two Dixons Travel outlets at Heathrow Terminal 5, Simon. There is one to the right of security on the top floor, once you pass through. This is the bigger outlet of the two. It had a D800 on display, and six on the shelf behind the pay point. As I said above, I asked to check the content of a box from the rear of the display, and all seemed to be absolutely OK.

            There is also a smaller Dixons Travel on the lower, departures, floor. This one had a card offering the camera at £1999.99, but there were no cameras on display.

            On my way out of Heathrow, on August 21st, I also saw the D800, on display, for £1999.99 at the Dixons Travel outlet in Terminal 3.

            Of course, the way that prices are currently falling, there may be an even better offer out there by the time that you travel from Heathrow. Check out prices on Camerapricebuster on a daily basis.

            To get back to my original point, we might actually have a situation in the foreseeable future where the D800 can be bought more cheaply than the D600, which is ludicrous. My own feeling is that the D600 will be available for £1499 by Christmas, and nearer £1299 by next spring.

            • 26
              ) Mike

              I think you are right Martin, seems an unrealistic price on the D600 at the moment, it may be that Nikon are dictating the price to the retailers, I intend to sit it out untill Xmas and beyond maybe, perhaps they do not want to upset D800 purchasers by bringing in the D600 alot cheaper.

              Good information on Heathrow, I will be travelling out to Montana,Wyoming and Colorado come Jan and it would be nice to have the D600 to accompany me (as well as the wife) for that trip as we are taking in Yellowstone.

              I have always taken a sceptical view of duty free prices at airports, perhaps I should look closer next time, but it would be gamble by then against hopefully better retail prices.

            • 27
              ) Simon

              Thank you for the information Martin. – Simon

    • Mike, that’s strange – there should not be such a small difference in price. I think the price of the D600 will come down pretty quickly…

      • 30
        ) Anders H

        Here in Denmark the price difference is less than $200.

        D800 = DKK 17995 and D600 = DKK 16995.

        This is a price diffrence of DKK 1000 which is the same as $175,64.

  2. 2
    ) Simon

    Ditto that Mike. UK prices for the D600 make no sense whatsoever. The USA price differential is understandable and makes it upsell from D600 to D800 a hard call to make unless you specifically want the extra shutter speed, MP and pro A/F. But the UK price differential makes the upsell to D800 more of a no-brainer.

    Unless – like me – you decide to keep shooting with a D300, and say what the heck… I’ll treat myself to a new lens instead. It is not as if the D300 suddenly takes awful photos… it remains a great camera, especially with my battery grip for extra FPS.

    Simon.

    • 4
      ) Mike

      I know Simon, the D300 has been a super camera, am I updating for the sake of it or do I want the extra pixels, updated processor ect, ect, in a quandry here, perhaps I will sit it out and watch the market.

      Mike

  3. 3
    ) Mody

    Dear Nasim
    very informative and useful as usual, i own d7000 and seriously planning to upgrade to full format , i waited for this camera to come into real life to see how it will be compared to D800 which i hate its Low ftp but with inferior Focusing system compared even to D700 and older generation metering sensor, I am really disappointed , i love to shoot landscape , macro and wild life and feel very confused now to choice between this too cameras .

  4. Looks like the D600 is missing the 10-pin accessory connector too.

    • Yes, that is a real bummer for people with remotes and GPS units. Oh well, you can’t get it all!

  5. 6
    ) Stefan

    I had D7000 last year and D600 is everything I wanted to see in my next camera. I was ready to get D700, but then D800 was coming up. I got one and (despite the left AF problem, which was solved after two returns to Nikon) I love it!
    I realize it’s a bit overkill for what I’m doing – 24mpx are enough for me (plus they give better low light performance – see the pixel pitch on D600 is 5.9 vs 4,8 on D800). The extra 1.5 fps are also welcomed (although it depends on how big the buffer is). I would prefer to be able to hold 4fps for longer than 5.5 for just few shots.
    I do agree with the guys above that the price tag in UK doesn’t make much sense, but it’s similar in USA – for $800 difference I think just the better metering and AF systems make it worth the upgrade.
    D600 is amazing camera though – I am impressed by the sample images and will wait to see more, as also the DXoMark score. I agree with Nasim – surprises may be coming…

  6. 7
    ) William Jones

    Request:
    Side by side comparison with the Canon 5D Mark III. They are close in Full Frame MP size (the D3X is also close, however is a lot older tech).

    Thanks,
    WEJ

    • William, that sounds like a plan. Also, a comparison against the new Sony A99 would be a good idea as well…

  7. 11
    ) jorge Balarin

    Dear Nasim, the D800 left autofocus problem still didn’t dissapear. I hope the D600 is not going to have the same problem. As a happy owner of a D700, I would like to have the chance to buy a real update of that camera. I mean, something with better resolution (but not too much) and the same low light ability. I would like a Nikon camera similar to the new Canon 5D Mark III. Its a pitty that the D600 is going to have an inferior autofocus system than the one of the D700. Greetings, Jorge.

    • Jorge, the new D800 units do not seem to have the left AF issue. I don’t think Nikon will make the same mistake twice…

      • 29
        ) Simon

        Hi Nasim,

        To me this (left autofocus) is the critical issue concerning a D800 purchase.

        Both the D600 and D800 are awesome cameras from the consideration of the specifications. I think the price of the cameras is attractive for the D600, and okayish for the D800 at USA prices. However, the issue of quality control (left AF) on the D800 is a MOUNTAINOUS issue.

        I am not running a photography business so this would be a $3,000 post tax discretionary expenditure for me when I already have a D300 which works great.

        I understand that people that have experienced problems are more likely to “review” that people that are happy with their purchase. And I understand that some people might be reporting problems have have something to do with poor technique or lens quality issues. However the “volume” of complaints is very worrying. Also the “quality” of critical comment from people such as yourself and Thom Hogan also tells me to be very cautious with my savings.

        I believe that the very genuine quality control problems existing on the D800′s release, and the way Nikon dealt with the problem (poor communication, poor transparency) has seriously damaged the brand.

        You state that “new D800 units do not seem to have the left AF issue”. When I looked on Amazon yesterday there were still plenty of people complaining about left AF. Nasim, where does your information on this come from? Should I disregard the latest Amazon reviews as no longer reliable on this issue.

        Thank you for any insight. – Simon.

  8. 12
    ) Hoeras

    I think Nikon is out to dominate the DSLR FX market. And in an odd way the D600 is the real replacement for the D700 – and a lot less expensive. Maybe Nikon is doing a smart move.

  9. 13
    ) Christian

    Nasim, do you already know when you will receive the D600 for testing purposes?

    • Christian, hopefully next week, but that’s being VERY optimistic :)

      • 24
        ) Christian

        Thanks, Nasim. I am looking forward to your review.

  10. 14
    ) nix

    was surprised to c the ” viewfinder ”

    it doesnt resemble the other FX cam view finders

    wud love to hear that its bigger and better than the d7000 view finder

    that shud help me to buy my 1st FULL FRAME cam

    also hope that the 600 has flash fp sync .

    i often shoot at 1/1000 sec with the SB700
    and need that hi speed sync feature . was told that Nikon cud have gone from bad to worse on that feature .

    • 15
      ) Hoeras

      If you come from a DX camera and to a 100% FX Viewfinder, I promise you… YOU WILL LOVE IT !!!

      I reckon they are on a winner with the D600.

    • See this regarding the viewfinder: http://photographylife.com/nikon-d600-limitations

    • 39
      ) mj

      D600 = 1/200th sync.

      Bahhhhh………

      • 40
        ) Hoeras

        This was a very deliberate choice by Nkon. I have a pro friend who told me that he will NOT buy the D600 for that reason and he said that would go for other professional colleagues too. He recently bought a D7000 as a backup, and it has 1/250th sync. His other reason is that the D7000 being a DX camera has greater DOF when used in video mode. He made the point that while stills (weddings) the more limited DOF of FX works to advantage in a way that video does not. With video, the client expects mor DOF – in video mode you need to keep as much as possible within the frame to be in reasonable focus. Interesting observation.

  11. 16
    ) drumbo

    Nasim,
    Could you please do a comparisson between D7000 and D600. It would be interesting for upgraders
    Drumbo

    • Sure, will start working on it tomorrow.

  12. 28
    ) dencelly

    The D800 is out and sets the benchmark in pixelcount and image quality, now a D600 with a good chance to be an alrounder for enthusiasts and maybe a backup body for pros too. But is there not enough place between both? Maybe for a new low light and speed champion: a D700x, 24 MP, ISO 100-12600, 8 fps. At an effordable price for enthusiasts. A good competitor for Canons 5D MIII.

    What do you think Nasim?

  13. 31
    ) Pat222

    With that USB 2.0 in 2012 year, in EXPENSIVE 2000 EUR digital camera is a complete joke!
    The same with old, boring, 3.2 930k pixel viewfinder. This should be 5mpix OLED and
    not an old crap!

    Regards,
    Mike

  14. 32
    ) GianCarlo

    What to do? I have a D7000 and would like to switch to Fx, I thought to do it with the D600 but does not seem the right choice. Help me!
    Thank you, GianCarlo.

  15. Dear Nasim,

    I haven’t been on your site for awhile.It has been a very busy year (and challenging) in the environmentally oriented farm business. I use to have very large format cameras. Then I switched to a Nikon F5 (and F100, N90S, etc). I have owned many Nikon DSLRs from D100,D70, D200, D300,D90,D7000 and even for awhile D700. We are using video a fair amount as some of our subjects require that. We own QUITE a few video cameras but I myself prefer the D7000 and have a Rode (Australian) sound system when we need it. Even some of the D90 video was very useful! I am looking at a Nikkor 200-400 and a D800 or a D600 but the investment is risky in that no other operations like ours is using any imagery gear like we are already. Yet write speed to SD cards is an issue. So I was waiting for a D400. That is now a LONG way off. The tests you may do on say the D7000 versus the D600 is going to be very interesting to me. Again I have also looked at the D800.
    Many thanks in advance for what I know will be a fair and objective review. Those who have found about your site are very fortunate, and I wish them all the best.
    Thanks,
    DaveyJ

  16. 34
    ) Alan Lenk

    Hello Nasim,

    I currently use the Nikon 300s DX body and as a bird photographer I am hoping that Nikon will in fact come out with a new DX body that will provide the built in reach with the 1.5x crop factor, and also provide less noise and better quality at low ISOs. I am somewhat skeptical however, after reading your take on this matter, and my next camera might well be the D600. But here’s my question that I have not seen address about FX bodies: Don’t most Nikon FX cameras have a DX mode, and if so, couldn’t this feature help provide the best to two worlds? Could one switch to the DX mode on a FX body and get the crop factor for added reach, or do you think this would highly compromise image quality in the DX mode and defeat the purpose of FX?

    Really enjoy your site!

    Thanks,
    AlanL

  17. 35
    ) Steve McCall

    Thank this article is helpful everyone and you can read my article http://www.d600review.com/nikon-d600-vs-d800-what-is-the-worth-of-money/ hope it help you.

  18. 36
    ) mohamed

    dear nasim
    i know it may seems stupid question ,so excuse me for that , my question is when downsampling/resizing an image of D800 (36 mp) for the web , is the final small image more prone to suffer from jaggies and artifact compared to the image of d600 24(mp) which resized to the same size , putting in consideration that i follow the same workflow u have mentioned in the down-sampling article , i can afford to get d800 and i have no issue with my computer to handle it large files, but most of my work will be for web sharing and only some time small printing so i think this may help me to make my mind more which way to go

    best regard

  19. Why a professional like you just don’t buy D600 from craigslist (it is there for the same price from a first day it appears on a market) and make a review holding it in hands in stead of making guessing based on a specs? Just to quicker jump on first page of google?

  20. 38
    ) Kim

    I bought the D600 and tested its low light AutoFocus capability against the D700. I used the AF-S 70-200 VRII for the test, turned off the AF assist lamp off on both bodies, and lit the room with a lamp facing the wall to minimize light.
    I was excited to hear the D60o was sensitive down to f/8, so I thought it would beat the old D700 in low light. However, the D700 was decisive and locked on focus quickly with a light that required ISO6400, F2.8, for 1/2 seconds. The D600 would hunt indefinitely, never able to acquire focus.

    Does anyone have experience testing the low light AF of the D800 vs the D700?
    Thanks crew.

  21. 41
    ) William Jones

    Would request that anyone who has used the following camera + lens combinations let me know the type of results you have gotten (good, bad, indifferent). A am interested in focus speed and accuracy, plus picture quality of course.

    D800 with: Nikkor 105mm f/2 DC; Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 AF-s; Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF-S (if possible this lens also with the TC-14E II). If anybody has used the Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC, this is one I would also consider.
    D600 with the same lenses.

    I am curious about an IQ comparison of the 105 lenses (if going to purchase only one, which should it be? Or would the 135 DC be a better choicve). I don’t plan to shoot micro stuff, so that is not a deciding factor for me.

    I tried a copy of the 300 f/4 with a TC-14 on a D3X, and I was not happy with the results (maybe just me, maybe that copy of the lens, maybe that copy of the TC-14). Does the TC-14 hurt the focus speed of the 300 f/4 much?

    As the two DC lenses are AF instead of AF-S, I am worried about focus speed.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    WEJ

  22. 42
    ) Krister Melander

    Hi,
    I am wondering what you suggest to best second/landscape camera to complement my D3s!?
    D600, D800 or D3x?
    All have advantages such as
    D800: new tech, sensor…
    D600: new tech sensor..
    D3x same battery and memorycards….

    If the D3x picture quality will hold against the 2 newcomers?

    Krister

  23. 43
    ) mfrank

    I see you show the d800 in dx mode capable of 6 fps with the mb d12 battery grip.
    I called Nikon Technical and have been told that 4 fps is the maximum fps no matter what battery and or grip is used.
    Who is right???????
    Thanks,
    mfrank

    • 45
      ) Darrell

      6fps with battery grip is in DX crop mode so they are both right.

  24. 44
    ) Darrell

    Hi Nasim
    Do you think there is still room between the D600 and D800? I like the sensor size of D600 but want pro build and options of D800. I’m really on fence about D800. I like build/options but think 36MP is a little too much. I really with they would come out with D710. Pro build with 24MP sensor. If you had a hunch do you think they would announce a 4th full frame body?

    • I would be ALL OVER a D710 if it was a mini D4. 18MP or so, very clean ISO 6400, 8fps with battery grip, oh yeah!!! :-P

  25. 47
    ) David Johnson

    I have the D7100 and the D7000. Although I have used the FX Nikons quite a bit I have only actually owned the D700. The D7100 is a step up from the D7000 to be sure. A lot of the D7100 advances are in the video modes. RAW right now on D7100 is just becoming a viable option as the NX2 software is just getting up to speed for that camera. On JPEG fine, large (which I prefer) the D7100 is quite good and worth the current price. Aperture adjustment cannot be made in live view with the D7100 and we are using a work around solution for that.

  26. 48
    ) P.R.Ratnayake

    Im Graphic Designer. I want know which camera is Good…………… now I use canon. But canon speed light not good I think………………
    I use my friend’s Nikon D7000 with SB-700. I think Nikon is Good in speed Light.
    Now I want to go for Nikon. I do outdoor photograph lot. Here lot of month get rain.
    Which one I choose. D7100 OR D600 OR D800?

  27. 49
    ) David Johnson

    I have used the D600 and the D800. I have quite a few FX Nikkor lens. Of all of these cameras for outdoor use in tough weather conditions I always use the DX Nikons, right now the favored cameras to use are the D7100 and the D7000. I did sell my D700 as it was not getting used much and it would not do video. I still wonder if selling it was justified. I still use a D90 in really tough settings where stills are all we need. I have come to feel though that i would rather have a Nikon that will do both stills and video really well. The D400 Nikon when it does get introduced should be a winner, but I will be waiting a long time if the introductory price is too high. I do feel the D600 needs revamping more than any Nikon I have used in a long time. The focus grids are too grouped in the center. A lot of corners were cut with the D600. Also the D600 initial price was way too high.

  28. 50
    ) Thomas

    I am debating between D600 and D800.
    Using D800, If i take a pictures in the medium size or the small size, do i still get the same picture quality (sharpens of 36 mega pixels) with smaller file size? Are they planning to bring a wi-fi connector for D800 anytime soon?

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