Our last comparison will be to show the difference between the new Nikon D7100 and the full-frame Nikon D600, which we reviewed last year. Despite the price differences, seems like a lot of people are wondering which one of the two cameras to choose – the D7100, a cropped-sensor “DX” camera, or the D600, a full-frame “FX” camera. In this article, I will first go into detailed specifications of both cameras, then talk about main features that differentiate the two. Please keep in mind that this comparison is purely based on specifications.
First, let’s go over the bare specifications:
Nikon D7100 vs D600 Specification Comparison
|Camera Feature||Nikon D7100||Nikon D600|
|Sensor Resolution||24.1 Million||24.3 Million|
|Sensor Pixel Size||3.91µ||5.96µ|
|Low Pass Filter||No||Yes|
|Sensor Dust Reduction||Yes||Yes|
|Image Size||6,000 x 4,000||6,016 x 4,016|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 3||EXPEED 3|
|Built-in Flash||Yes, with flash commander mode||Yes, with flash commander mode|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/250||1/200|
|Storage Media||2x SD||2x SD|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||6 FPS, 7 FPS in 1.3x Mode||5.5 FPS|
|Buffer Size (RAW, Lossless 14-bit)||6||16|
|Buffer Size (RAW, Compressed 12-bit)||9||27|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000 to 30 sec||1/4000 to 30 sec|
|Shutter Durability||150,000 cycles||150,000 cycles|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||2,016-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering II||2,016-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering II|
|Base ISO||ISO 100||ISO 100|
|Native ISO Sensitivity||ISO 100-6,400||ISO 100-6,400|
|Boosted ISO Sensitivity||ISO 12,800-25,600||ISO 12,800-25,600|
|Autofocus System||Advanced Multi-CAM 3500DX||Multi-CAM 4800|
|Focus Points||51, 15 cross-type||39, 9 cross-type|
|AF Detection||Up to f/8||Up to f/8|
|Video Output||MOV, Compressed||MOV, Uncompressed|
|Video Maximum Resolution||1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 25p, 30p, 50i, 60i||1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 25p, 30p|
|Audio Recording||Built-in microphone|
External stereo microphone (optional)
External stereo microphone (optional)
|LCD Size||3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD||3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD|
|LCD Resolution||1,228,800 dots dots||921,000 dots|
|Bracketing||2 to 5 frames||2 to 3 frames|
|Wi-Fi Functionality||Eye-Fi Compatible, WU-1a||Eye-Fi Compatible, WU-1b|
|Battery||EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery||EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery|
|Battery Life||950 shots (CIPA)||900 shots (CIPA)|
|Battery Charger||MH-25 Quick Charger||MH-25 Quick Charger|
|Weather Sealed Body||Yes||Yes|
|Build||Top and Rear Magnesium Alloy||Top and Rear Magnesium Alloy|
|Weight (Body Only)||675g||760g|
|Dimensions||135.5 x 106.5 x 76mm||141 × 113 × 82mm|
|MSRP Price||$1,199 (as introduced)||$2,099 (as introduced)|
At first, it might seem like these two cameras have a lot in common. However, there are a number of differences, some of which are so big that I will spend some time talking about them detail. The first main difference between the D7100 and the D600 is obviously the sensor. The Nikon D7100 has an APS-C sized sensor, also known as “DX” in Nikon lingo, while the D600 has more than twice larger full-frame “FX” sensor. I won’t spend a lot of time discussing differences in sensor sizes here, because I have already written about it in detail before. Head on over to my Nikon DX vs FX article, give it a good read and then come back here. In short, sensor size matters! While both cameras have comparably similar resolution (24 MP), the sensor sizes are different, which means that the full-frame D600 has several advantages such as: lower noise, higher dynamic range, better colors, shallower depth of field, less diffraction and wider field of view. Larger sensor also means a larger mirror and viewfinder, which is a huge advantage that many people underestimate. If you took a DX camera and an FX camera and looked through the viewfinder of both, you would notice the difference right away. I talked about this a number of times before, but it is best to experience this yourself. I highly recommend to go to a local camera store and compare – it is hard to visualize until you actually see it. Yes, it is that much different.
Lack of a low pass filter, also known as “anti-aliasing filter”, means that the D7100 will produce sharp images and take advantage of good lenses that can resolve a lot of detail. The D600 has such a filter in place, so it is at a slight disadvantage in that regard. Although for some people, the possibility of moire showing up in images is much worse than having slightly sharper images. Again, I won’t cover the advantages and disadvantages of low-pass filters, because I covered it in detail in my “what is a low-pass filter?” and Nikon D800 vs D800E articles.
Speed-wise, both cameras are comparable at 6 (D7100) and 5.5 (D600) fps, although the D7100 can shoot at 7 fps in 1.3x crop mode. The buffer capacity difference, however, is quite big. One of the limitations of the D7100 is its very small buffer that can accommodate a maximum of 16 smallest (compressed) RAW files before the buffer fills up and the camera slows down. The D600 is better in that regard: it can fit 60% more images before slowing the camera – an important metric for sports and wildlife photographers. At the same time, the D600 has an inferior autofocus system from the D7000, with 39 autofocus points that are tightly placed around the center of the viewfinder. The Nikon D7100 is the complete opposite of the D600 in that regard – because it uses the autofocus system from high-end full-frame cameras, its 51 focus points are spread out across the frame. Take a look at the difference between the two:
I will save my commentary on the above for the next article that I am working on.
Another important difference worth noting is the maximum shutter speed – the D7100 can go all the way to 1/8000, while the D600 is limited to 1/4000. Most people won’t care about this difference, but it could make a difference for shooting very fast prime lenses in bright light. The same goes for the flash sync speed limitations – the D7100 is better at 1/250 sync speed, while the D600 is limited to 1/200. For most photographers out there, this does not make a difference, but flash gurus will prefer the 1/250 sync speed for a number of reasons. Lastly, bracketing is also limited on the D600 compared to the D7100 – the latter can do 2 to 5 frames, while the D600 can only go as far as 2 to 3 frames total.
Screen sizes on both cameras are of the same size, but the D7100 has more resolution, with its 1.2 million dots versus 921K. The D600 is slightly larger and about 85 grams heavier. Lastly, the price difference between the two is quite big – the D7100 retails for $1,199, while the D600 is at $2,099 (although its price has been around the $2K mark for a while now).
So, here comes the big question – should you get the D7100 or the D600? It is surely a tough choice and not an easy answer. The D7100 is better in features, but the D600 is better in image quality. Personally, I favor the D600 for its better image quality and large viewfinder. But it comes at a much higher cost, especially for someone that owns a number of DX lenses. So I suggest to go through your priorities and decide what is more important for you and decide whether the cost difference is worth the change or not.