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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Canon 6D is the Low Light Winner Over Nikon D600

In high ISO video tests, the Nikon D600 was at least 2-stops behind the Canon 6D. © Michael Andrew
Early reviews were a disappointment to many Canon users: Both cameras are entry-level, full-frame sensor cameras in the $2,000 price range. When the Canon EOS 6D finally came out in December 2012, following the Nikon D600's flashy entry in September 2012, many Canon users were somewhat disappointed. The Canon has fewer mega pixels: 20MP verses the Nikon's 24MP. It has only 11 focusing squares verses the Nikon's 39. The Nikon has a built-in flash, and the Canon does not. The Canon shoots at 4.5 frames per second in burst mode compared to Nikon's 5.5 frames/second. The Nikon can do focus tracking in live view, but the Canon cannot. Nikon has a wireless transmitter and a headphone jack, and the Canon does not. The Nikon's shutter is duty-rated at 150K cycles, whereas the Canon is only rated at 100K cycles. The Canon does have a cool Wi-Fi tethering feature though, that the Nikon does not.

Specs on paper don't always translate to real world shooting experiences: Michael Andrew has recently produced a YouTube video that provides one of the best and most unbiased field reviews of these two cameras I have seen. It's called the, "Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D Epic Shootout Comparison". Michael concludes that the Nikon D600 is still a slightly better all-around full-frame camera than the Canon 6D, but not by as much as some had suspected.

At high ISOs, the Nikon D600 often exhibits excessive noise in the shadow areas. © Michael Andrew
Low Light Leader: What will surprise many is how much better the Canon 6D performs in low light over the Nikon D600. Michael concludes that "…the Canon 6D is outstanding in its low light focusing and its high ISO noise …the Canon 6D is at least 2-stops better than the Nikon D600 [in its handling of high ISO noise for video] …the Nikon D600 peaked out a little before ISO 3200, whereas the Canon looks pretty phenomenal even at ISO 12,800—and in some cases even ISO 25,600."

High ISO JPEGs and RAW images: In still photos, Michael concluded that, "...the Canon 6D is 1-2 stops better in reproducing high ISO images than the Nikon D600, depending on the subject and file type."

The Canon 6D's high ISO JPEG performance was about 1 to 2 stops better than the Nikon D600. © Michael Andrew
How does the Canon 6D compare to the Canon 5D Mark III? The observations of this editor indicate that for still photos, the Canon 6D and 5D Mark III sensors perform very similarly. The $1,500 savings between the two cameras should be quite attractive to the entry-level photographer looking to find a great full-frame camera for high ISO night photography.

However, Michael Andrew points out in his review that there is a reason the Mark III has a very good reputation for professional quality video. His test showed that the Mark III handled aliasing and moire much better than the other two cameras. In his conclusion, the Nikon D600 had the best dynamic range. It's weaknesses were high ISO noise, moire, and aliasing. The Canon 6D had the best quality in high ISO noise (almost identical to the Mark III). Its weaknesses were in aliasing and moire. The Canon 5D Mark III had the least aliasing and moire, and was similar to the 6D in good quality high ISO noise. Its weakness is its high price (about $3,500).

Michael Andrew (aka Michael the Maven) has great "Crash Course" training videos on many camera models at his popular blog.

Use promo code "nightcape" to save 20% off premium stock photography at prime.500px.com
Advertisement: Hot Weekly Photography Deals - Amazing discounts (updated twice a week).

125 comments:

  1. Very good review! Its hard to find reviews not biased towards one brand or the other. This one was very helpful.

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  2. Great review that is unbiased and focused on one detailed feature! Here is another good one for Canon 6d overall:

    http://www.squidoo.com/canon-6d-digital-slr

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  3. Look at the Nikon's noise! Garbage.. High iso is a waste on that camera when the image turns out useless.

    The 6d has also been shown to perform even better than the 5d3 in low light.

    Check it:
    http://blog.planet5d.com/2012/12/the-high-iso-battle-of-the-full-frame-heavy-weights-canon-6d-vs-canon-5d-mark-iii/

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  4. And who uses ISO 25600? Nobody. Nikon is better at mattering ISO numbers up to 12800.

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  5. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

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  7. Win a Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III
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  8. What is the max high ISO both camera share same quality ? I still trying to decide between both camera for my need. Thanks

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  9. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

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