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?


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Patrick Hall's picture

I think at some point the camera can't calculate what a long exposure will look like in live view. With video it's 1/25 because it's shooting at 24p. Maybe the same is true with stills

This is one area where Canon just makes my Nikon eyes weep. The LCD on the back of  the 5d mark iii is so, too use an old expression, WYSIWYG - makes shooting at night such a painless and fun experience.  Let me know if there are any work arounds, external monitor etc. for the Nikon.  Also, kills me is zooming into focus on the Nikon LCD -  it looks like a TV from the 50's - especially at night. Unfortunately the same problem on the D800's. Please Nikon get me a solution - today. (It's ok to call late in the evening - I'll stay up way passed bed time to see this dream a reality.)  This works fine on Canon - even the Rebels outshine Nikon here. So, if your asking - yes -  I do have a serious case of LCD envy. 

Can you say, how D600 compares to D4 at High ISO? I think that D4 is better but not as much as most of us would think.

luisfaustino's picture

No one seems disappointed by the missing audio-out connection...? That is a major drawback if you are doing film mostly.

There's port to headphones which is partly the Audio Out. But who needs Audio out? If you have external recorder, you won't plug the mic to camera and then send audio out from the camera to the recorder. You put the mic to the recorder and that's it.

I´m keen to see the D600 up against the D4 as well. Would be good to see if that could be the replacement body for my aging D700. As a second body that is.

When sell at south america?

Fellas, I really appreciate your initial comments. Can't wait for a full review after you've taken it thru its paces on a shoot. The 3 questions for me at this point are quality/speed of the AF, max top speed of 1/4000, and sync speed of 1/200. I've saved enough for the D800. But the 600 might be all I need, and I can also get a nice piece of glass as well. If it turns out the AF is super snappy, and the lower numbers don't severely limit your ability to" get the shot", I'm there.

Apart from the higher pixel count, I wouldn't buy a D600, D7000 nor a D800. None of the new camera's really impress me much. Just get a cheap D700 and you're good to go. If you want light and small get a nice micro 4/3 system like the Olympus OM-D.

So Lee how was the wedding? :)

Omar A. Sierralta's picture

After reading Ken Rockwell's D600 review, Im convinced too that this is just marketing stuff, D4 D800 and D600 have the same innards but just packed differently and with an adapted firmware for a certain target market. And makes sense seeing the performance in they are so close, that's suspicious. And if Canon did it with the 1Dx and the 1Dc (swapping just firmware to have a whole new cam) pretty sure Nikon did it too...

This is easy understood with an example, lets say you and an given area of 4 square inches. Lets call this area A1. Lets say that each square inch is a pixel.
This area was build by a= 2 inches (vertical) and b= 2 inch

If you want to double the area, you will have to multiply A1 times 2= A1x2= 4 square inches x 2= 8 square inches
Ok, if you double a, or b, same result, you have double the area, but more resolutions means more pixels in the SAME area. And the shape of that area is constant. Now lets call the initial A1 area, the standard area to report the so call resolution of the camera (p.e. 4megapixels, 8 MP, 16 MP.... You name it) remember they use the same base of area to report the number of pixels.
Now, if you want to put the double of pixels in the same area, and in order to maintain the same ratio, a=b, you will have to put 4 times the pixels, if you don't do that you will have and area with double of pixels and 2 empty spots.
Conclusion: More pixel located in the same are will means more resolution.
Double the amount of pixels in the same area is not possible because a square configuration must be kept.
4 times the amount of initial pixels will kept the square area intact.
Your math is correct, your conclusions are not.

apologies if this has been pointed out but the 6400 iso comparison pic is a bit misleading. The d600 is further away/or zoomed further out.Causing 2 problems.
1. Theoretically according to iverse square law, if the camera is further away, the intensity of light from the surface hitting the sensor will be smaller.
2. The image on the left appears darker than that on the left due to inclusion of darker areas around the outside of the frame (cropped out in right image) Try manually cropping the image on the left with your fingers to match the framing of the picture on the right, and the begin to look far more matched.

Have fun with the camera, hope it serves you well!