The First Real World Nikon D600 ISO Test

The First Real World Nikon D600 ISO Test

I was planing on eventually buying a D600 but when I saw yesterday that they were "in stock" and ready to ship from Amazon, I bought one. I'm a Prime member so I get free 2 day shipping but for just $3.99 more they gave me over-night shipping. Patrick was over at my place packing for a wedding this weekend when the camera came in and we decided to quickly compare the cameras ISO performance to the D800

Let me first start off by saying that the D600 is significantly bigger than the D7000 (in a good way). It fits in my hand much better, but I am still looking forward to putting a battery grip on it. We put a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 on a tripod and focused the camera in live view at F2.8. We then stopped the camera down to F5 and shot 4 shots with each camera from ISO 3200 up to "hi 2.0" which is ISO 25,600. In our test both cameras performed almost identically, producing fantastic looking shots at ISO 12,800. Once we went up to "hi 2" the noise became pretty severe but in many cases (especially black and white images) these files are still totally usable.

Full Res Nikon D600 Images:

D600 ISO 3200

D600 ISO 6400

D600 ISO 12,800

D600 ISO 25,600

Full Res Nikon D800 Images:

D800 ISO 3200

D800 ISO 6400

D800 ISO 12,800

D800 ISO 25,600

My biggest beef with the D600 so far is that you cannot change the Fstop while in live view. I shoot a bunch of video and that is going to be a big pain. The button layout and the rotating nob up top is also really cumbersome but I've learned to live with that since I've shot with D7000s for so long. I was hoping that the D600 would perform better at high ISOs since it has less megapixels but that doesn't seem to be the case. What do you guys think about this cameras performance? Is it worth saving $900 and buying a D600 or should you pay a little more and get the D800?


Log in or register to post comments


Previous comments

Why was the picture of the camera on the header doctored? You have what is clearly the D800 pictured, but someone changed the 8 to a 6. The reason this matters is because the D600 doesn't have sync ports on the front, or at all for that matter. No big controversy, just weird and needlessly misleading.

Hah whoops. I just grabbed an image off google images. I'll fix it when I get back to a computer.

Lee can you give any feedback on how is AF in stills compared to D700 and D7000 ?

I'll know more on this after I shoot the wedding on Saturday. A full review is on the way.

Is this true that you can only shoot at 1/4000th of a sec with the D600?

The photo of the top of the website, isn't a D600 camera. Why? Look in B&H, is very diferent. Now, i'm confused. What's correct?

My image is wrong and will be fixed soon

Can you change the Fstop in Live View on the D800? I am trying to make the decision between this and the D800 to use mostly for video. If the D800 allows Live View Fstop changes, that probably makes up my mind...

Yes you can with the d800

Based on specs alone I have no idea how anyone could recommend a 6D over the D600.
These cameras are intended to be aimed at people who aren't upgrading from their previous generation full frame cameras, without any lenses.  They're meant to be your "first" FX camera.  The D600 completely destroys the 6D in most meaningful specs. Flash w/ commander mode, more AF points, higher resolution, etc.

I don't know what Canon is thinking. Plus they still have that shadow noise issue.

don't wanna be a party-pooper here but actually the first D600 ISO test were published here:
and here:

bans predrag from commenting on Fstoppers :)

 I had pre-ordered the D600 but after seeing the specs I revoked my pre-order. it just wasn't a cam for me. I was hoping for around 1500-1800€ and than I could have lived with things like the smaller body, the 1/400sec shutter speed and the x-sync of 1/200sec. But in Germany it costs around 2100€ which is way to much considering that the D800 costs around 2600€. I thought about buying the D800 for a while (round about 2 hours) but the D800 is a monster which eats a "cheap" lens for breakfast. To smack a Tamron (28-75 2.8) or the Sigma (70-200 2.8) on an D800 is like buying an Porsche and only using the first 2 gears.
So I bought a D700. Found a "new" (not used) one after a few hours of searching. It's a pretty cool camera and it really feels solid. Looking forward till Friday (my day at th Photokina and the day I can compare the D600 to the D700 in terms of size, build quality, weight and haptic, for myself).

Tengo una D700 y conservo la D200...  Necesito algo más o es puro consumismo?

No one seems to understand the architectural limitation that seems to preclude changing Aperture in LiveView on the D7000 family.  Have seen any good explanation, or is it just careless design and lack of caring about user feedback???

luisfaustino's picture

I think its model lineup segmentation purely. 

Ken Yee's picture

Lee, could you elaborate on why this is needed?
"cannot change the Fstop while in live view. I shoot a bunch of video and that is going to be a big pain"

I don't see why you'd change the F stop while doing video?  ISO yes to keep shutter speed and aperture constant, but not fiddling w/ aperture during video.
And I'll second the request to do a video comparison of the D800/D600 :-)

There are two live view modes on the 600 - photo and video. In photo mode you can change the aperture, in video mode you cannot. You can flip the switch to photo mode, change aperture, then switch back. The change carries over to video mode. Also in photo mode exposure settings don't change the brightness of the display.

I'm upgrading from a D7000. I don't shoot much video, but there were times I tried to use live view as a viewfinder for still shots - say if the camera was low to the ground and you would be standing on your head to use the viewfinder. So the photo live view is a win for me.

So you're 100% sure switching to Photo mode allows live view aperture updating and carry's over to video live view? I could live with that work around if it works.

Hi Chris-

I tried it tonight and it worked. I set a large aperture then entered video live view and shot a few seconds video. Then switched to photo live view and closed the aperture. Then switched back to video live view and the display was dark. I had to increase the iso to compensate for the smaller aperture. I took a few seconds of video and compared the two. The second one clearly had a larger DOF. 

If you look in the front of the lens you can see the aperture change when switching from photo live view to video live view. Another interesting thing is that while you are changing the aperture setting in photo live view, the aperture of the lens doesn't change. It only changes when you take a still shot, or switch to video live view. If you take a still shot, the lens changes to the aperture you set, then stays at that aperture. 

Hope that helps.


Patrick Hall's picture

How does this help though? Switching in and out of live view is just as much of a pain as switching between video and photo live view

I agree - it's a pain all around. I originally mentioned it because in all the talk about live view I didn't see anything about the two different modes. 

I never understood why you couldn't change the aperture in live view on the D7000. I really don't understand why you can change it in one mode and not the other on the D600.

Well you can actually see the screen dim and adjust without the aperture without going back and forth many times.

I love my D800. It has relegated my D300 to the 2nd string body in the bag. Now this D600 is begging to take its place... 2FFs w/o the "which lens to put on the DX/FX" choice would be awesome. If only I could get $500 for my gripped D300.

I'd love to see the difference in quality versus the D700. I love the D800 but the file size is just insane to deal with on a daily basis and the D4 is out of my budget so I am really looking forward to seeing what the D600 can do. If the D600 isn't that much of an improvement then I'll probably look into getting a D3s.

Patrick Hall's picture

If either of us still had our D700s we'd love to test as well....trouble is finding a D700.  That camera is about 4 years old now so I'm sure the D600 smokes it.  Heck the D7000 looked pretty good for a DX camera.  

Why do so many complain about file sizes of the D800? There's 3 image size setting available in FF. Large-36Mp,Med-20Mp, Small-9Mp. When you don't need the huge files of 36Mp just use the appropraite setting.

love the website, just so i wont sound like an old fart.
thing is that the test is... not invalid.... "therycrafting" wrong. but usefully not correct.
since the D800 has much more MP's than the D700 and D4 people often take the picture, and ZOOM in to..... 200-400%
the problem is that with the d800 you actuly zoom much more in, than with the d600, to see the same amount of pixels. if that make sense (im from Denmark so sorry if my english is abit bad)
lets say, that you take a picture of a car. (fill the frame) with the D600 you zoom in 300% and se the hole cardoor, with the D800 you zoom in and se only ~60% of the car door, so you are much more zoomed in.
to see a visual compare between the two cams, you need to make them not same size but to make the visual size or same Crop if that make sense?
but ceep up the god work im following you everyday.

Nathan Mollison's picture

Cool. I'd love to see an evaluation of the D600's hypersync performance if you guys get the chance! I know it's a bit of a specific request but I figure if anyone will do it, it's you guys.
How it goes with hypersync is my make or break on the decision to purchase. I want to be able to get the same performance as my D3s (1/800 with speedlights on 1/2 power with only a tiny bit of falloff).

I used my D600 last night for the first time. I was not able able to get the Live View (shooting stills) to represent the changes I was making to my shutter speeds. In other word I was moving the shutter from 1 second to 5 seconds and could not notice the change in Live View. Any ideas...

More comments