Nikon D600 has the second best sensor in the world

When Nikon announced the Nikon D600, I knew the new sensor would not disappoint. Since the D3, Nikon has put a lot of focus on sensor technology and A/D conversion. As a result, almost every single sensor that has been released during the last few years has been ranked very highly by many reviewers and image labs. As you may already know, DxOMark has been testing most new digital cameras on the market today (including medium format) and they crowned the Nikon D800E sensor as the best in the world earlier this year. Today, DxOMark released its rating for the Nikon D600:

Nikon D600 DxOMark

In the new article that DxOMark published today, it says “the D600 is an affordable camera that places a high premium on image quality, as it ranks just behind the top performing Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E. It is also a significant improvement over the high-end professional flagship DSLRs, the Nikon D3X and the Nikon D4″. And here is an excerpt from their conclusion: “As an added bonus, the camera provides users extreme value, as noted through its DxOMark sensor score of 94, which puts it in an elite category currently occupied by two additional Nikon cameras”.

Looks like the sensor on the Nikon D600 is almost as remarkable as the one on the Nikon D800. The overall score of the sensor was just one point below the Nikon D800 and two points below the Nikon D800E (which has the same sensor as the D800, but a different anti-aliasing filter).

Here is a comparison of the D600 with the D800 and D4:

Nikon D600 vs D800 vs D4

Very impressive! Take a look at the Low-Light ISO figures – the D600 has the highest score there. Detailed image analysis and comparisons will be provided this week.

Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D

With Canon having recently announced its take on budget DSLRs, the Canon 6D, the most obvious rival just happens to be the brand new Nikon D600. We’ve already seen how the latter stacks up, at least on-paper, with such great cameras as D700 and D800, but neither of those cameras were direct rivals. Priced at the same relatively low price for a full-frame sensor camera, $2099 body only, Canon 6D is as direct a rival as it can get. Lets see how it measures up against its Nikon counterpart spec-wise. Please keep in mind that this Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons will be provided in the upcoming Canon 6D Review.

UPDATE: there has been a misleading set of specifications spread throughout the internet, indicating that the top shutter speed of Canon 6D is 1/8000th of a second. It’s incorrect – according to official Canon specifications, the top shutter speed of their newly announced “budget” full-frame camera is 1/4000th of a second.

D600 vs 6D

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Nikon D600 Limitations

Since the Nikon D600 DSLR has been released this morning, I have been receiving a number of emails and comments about it from our readers. Looks like there is some confusion about the capabilities and limitations of the camera. A number of online resources are talking about the D600 and thanks to some famous bloggers, people now think that the D600 has serious problems. I am not here to defend the camera that I have not touched yet, but I would like to clarify these issues so that there is no misunderstanding or confusion.

Nikon D600

1) Sharp Images

After I posted the Nikon D600 Sample Images, some of our readers started questioning the quality of the camera, blaming softer images (particularly from the owl shot) on the camera. First of all (and I am sure most photographers already know this), the softness of images has little to do with the camera. Even the cheapest entry-level DSLRs like the D3200 are capable of producing very sharp images. Take a look at my article on making sharp images and you will know exactly what I mean.

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Nikon D600 Pre-Order Links

Looks like our friends at B&H are already accepting pre-orders for the Nikon D600. Here are the links for the body-only and body+kit options, along with links to the new UT-1 unit:

Nikon D600 Pre-Order Information

  1. Nikon D600 Body Only for $2099 at B&H
  2. Nikon D600 kit with Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR for $2699 at B&H
  3. Nikon UT-1 (pricing not yet available)

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

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Nikon D600 vs D700

Now that the Nikon D600 is officially out, I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the old and discontinued Nikon D700 and the new D600. Please keep in mind that this Nikon D600 vs D700 comparison is purely based on specifications. Note: a detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons is provided in the D600 Review.

Nikon D600 vs D700

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Nikon D600 Image Samples

These are the same Nikon D600 image samples as the ones presented on Nikon.com. I am providing these images here, because most Nikon websites have been either down or too busy serving millions of requests. All EXIF data is attached to the original images.

Please keep in mind that the below images are taken in RAW and simply converted to JPEG via Capture NX 2. No other editing has been done, including sharpening.

These high resolution image samples look very impressive – looks like the sensor on the D600 is excellent. It will be interesting to see how it performs against both the Nikon D800 and the older D700.

Nikon D600 Image Sample (1)

Link to download the image | Shutter Speed: 1/1250, Aperture: f/5.6, ISO: 100, Lens: Nikon 24-85mm VR
Photographer: Florian Schulz

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Nikon D600 Information

I will be posting additional information on the Nikon D600 that was announced earlier today in this post. There is a lot of information, with some sample videos coming from everywhere, so I recommend coming back to this page to get more updates.

Nikon D600

The Nikon D600 Brochure is available on NikonUSA. If the site gets too slow and you cannot download it, you can also get it right here on our site.

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Nikon D600 Announcement

NOTE: See our full, detailed review of the Nikon D600.

Nikon has just released the much anticipated Nikon D600 DSLR, a new breed of “economy” full-frame camera. Priced at $2099, it is currently the cheapest full-frame DSLR on the market. While it does not have the same ultra high-resolution 36.3 MP sensor as its older brother, the Nikon D800, it still sports an impressive 24.3 MP CMOS sensor, most likely a similar one as on the new Sony A99. With a native ISO range of 100-6400, it should provide pretty clean images throughout the ISO range for both daylight and low-light environments. The Nikon D600 is designed for any kind of amateur and professional photography – from landscape and studio, to event and wildlife photography.

Nikon D600

Built to be affordable, the Nikon D600 does not have the same robust autofocus system used on the D800 and D4 cameras (same 39 point AF system used on the Nikon D7000). Its shutter speed is limited to 1/4000th of a second and its flash sync is also limited to 1/200th of a second, which might be a disappointment for some photographers out there. However, it has 100% viewfinder coverage, 5.5 fps speed, which is faster than the D800′s 4 fps and has the same 3.2″ LCD monitor with 921,000 pixels used on the latest Nikon DSLR models. And movie fans will be delighted to see impressive 1080p video with uncompressed HDMI output.

Nikon has clearly taken an aggressive pricing strategy with the D600, although some may have been expecting a price of $1,500, which was widely circulated on a number of photography forums. While outgunned by both Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III relative to specifications, at only 60-70% of the price, the D600 represents a significant value. The D600 is sure to attract a large number of customers that have been holding off upgrading their D700s, but also those who have been on the fence between the DX and FX camps, and put off by the higher costs of FX DSLRs. With the recent announcement of the Nikon 24-85mm VR lens, Nikon has signaled that it intends to bring value-priced FX lenses to the market to compliment the D600.

It will be interesting to see how the D600 body is perceived by diehard D700 fans. The D600 has been portrayed by some as being a blend of a D7000 and a D700, since it borrows the D7000’s more compact body styling, its controls and autofocus, while incorporating a 24 MP FX sensor that represents a moderate gain over the D700’s 12MP sensor.

So, what does the Nikon D600 bring to the table? Here is a summary of its features:

  1. Sensor: 24.3 MP FX
  2. Sensor Size: 35.9 x 24mm
  3. Resolution: 6016 x 4016
  4. DX Resolution: 3936 x 2624
  5. Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-6,400
  6. Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 50
  7. Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 12,800-25,600
  8. Processor: EXPEED 3
  9. Metering System: 3D Color Matrix Meter II with face recognition
  10. Dust Reduction: Yes
  11. Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
  12. Body Build: Magnesium Alloy
  13. White Balance: New White Balance System
  14. Shutter: Up to 1/4000 and 30 sec exposure
  15. Shutter Durability: 150,000 cycles
  16. Storage: 2x SD slots
  17. Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
  18. Speed: 5.5 FPS
  19. Exposure Meter: 2016 pixel RGB sensor
  20. Built-in Flash: Yes, with Commander Mode, full CLS compatibility
  21. Autofocus System: MultiCAM 4800FX AF with 39 focus points and 9 cross-type sensors
  22. LCD Screen: 3.2 inch diagonal with 921,000 dots
  23. Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ 30 fps max
  24. Movie Exposure Control: Full
  25. Movie Recording Limit: 30 minutes @ 30p, 20 minutes @ 24p
  26. Movie Output: MOV, Compressed and Uncompressed
  27. In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
  28. Two Live View Modes: One for photography and one for videography
  29. Camera Editing: Lots of in-camera editing options with HDR capabilities
  30. GPS: Not built-in, requires GP-1 GPS unit
  31. Battery Type: EN-EL15
  32. Battery Life: 900 shots
  33. USB Standard: 2.0
  34. Weight: 760g (body only), 850g (with battery and memory card)
  35. Price: $2,099 MSRP

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Why DX has no Future

Although I called this article Why DX has no future, I believe it applies to all cropped sensor DSLR cameras, not just Nikon. Earlier in 2012, I wrote an article called “The Future of Digital Cameras“, where I shared my thoughts on what I think will happen with DSLR, Mirrorless and other camera technologies within the next few years. One of the main points of the article, was my opinion on DSLRs and why I think they are here to stay for a long time. I did not clarify what I meant by DSLRs, because the DSLR technology defines how the camera works, not what type of sensor or features it has.

FX and DX camera

As I am sure you already know, DSLRs today come in different sensor sizes. There are expensive, pro-level DSLRs with full-frame sensors equivalent to 35mm film in size, as well as cheaper DSLRs with much smaller sensors (about twice smaller in size than 35mm, generally referred to as “APS-C”). Historically, DSLR manufacturers have been producing APS-C cropped-sensor cameras for three main reasons: lower cost, smaller size and lower weight. The smaller size of the sensor meant that the camera’s internal components such as the reflex mirror could also be made smaller and the entire frame of the lens did not have to be used, making cropped-sensor DSLRs and lenses lighter, more affordable and a little more compact in comparison (see my DX vs FX article).

The End of the Small Compact and the Rise of the Mirrorless

With personal computing making its way to phones and tablets, instantly reaching millions of people, the message has been clear – people want smaller and more capable devices. This change in consumer behavior is very obvious. If just a couple of years ago the general population was carrying compact digital cameras to capture their everyday moments, now most people just resort to smartphones with built-in cameras. We live in a very connected world today and people are willing to give up a little on quality, as long as they are able to instantly share a picture or video with friends and relatives. They do not want to carry multiple devices – convenience has become hugely important. That’s what has been shattering the compact camera market for sometime now and as I have previously pointed out, I believe the small sensor compact market will pretty much disappear within the next few years.

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