Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D: Digital SLR Camera Comparison

| October 2, 2012 | 15 Comments

Nikon D600 SLR camera compared to the Canon EOS 6D SLR side by side

Nikon D600 Compared to the Canon EOS 6D SLR Camera Side by Side:




The Nikon D600 and Canon EOS 6D are two new enthusiast oriented digital SLR camera models that are creating considerable excitement in the photographic community. The main buzz is centered around the fact that the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D are the first two full frame digital SLR cameras to become available at price points that are more realistic and affordable to the enthusiast photographer compared to the price of their higher-end professional counterparts.

The similarly priced (once it becomes available) Canon EOS 6D features an impressive 20.1 MP resolution sensor that is specifically designed to provide enhanced performance with low light photography in mind.

Usually the choice between buying a new Nikon or Canon SLR should be quite easy for users who already have an investment tied up in lenses. One of the key differences between the D600 vs 6D however, is that the Canon EOS 6D digital SLR is not backwards compatible with Canon APS-C format lenses (EF-S), so current Canon users looking to update to the new full frame EOS 6D SLR camera may be faced with having to invest in new lenses as well. This could mean an interest in switching systems if it ends up seeming worthwhile to pick the D600 versus 6D.

The Nikon D600 provides an advantage over the Canon EOS 6D by offering backwards compatibility with a wide range of Nikkor lenses, including DX (APS-C) format Nikkor, and even extending to older Ai type manual focus Nikkor lenses. The latest generation of Nikkor lenses that feature built-in AF-S motors are required to take full advantage of the D600′s extended feature set, including contrast detect AF tracking in Live View HD movie recording mode.

Over the last couple of weeks I have invested most of my time and effort on researching, analyzing and comparing how the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D full frame digital SLR cameras stack up against against each other from a feature and potential performance perspective.

While I have had the opportunity to work with a Nikon D600 evaluation loaner camera combined with the new Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G VR FX format wide-angle zoom lens during this time period, production units of the Canon EOS 6D have not yet become available for testing.

The findings and conclusions as presented so far are based on a combination of first hand knowledge (including D600 product testing), on official specifications as provided, and from conversations with senior company insider technical contacts.

Based on all of this, the Nikon D600 versus Canon 6D digital SLR camera side by side comparison article below serves to document the major differences, and respective advantages and disadvantages of each camera in detail. Graphical representations have been used as much as possible to better illustrate some of the technical concepts and feature differences between the two cameras.

As of today the Nikon D600 is the least expensive full frame SLR camera available on the market at a manufacturer’s suggested price of $2099 US body only. To top that off the camera incorporates a 24.3 MP high resolution sensor making it the class leader in this respect.

For those who are trying to decide between the Nikon D600 or the Canon EOS 6D full frame digital SLR, this article is intended to simplify the process by replacing the extended information gathering normally required to make a well informed personal purchase decision.

A direct side by side image quality comparison review between the Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D will have to wait until final EOS 6D production cameras become available. The current expected release date for the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera is December 2012.

Some argue this could give Canon time to improve upon the specifications of the EOS 6D before the camera actually ships. If this ends up being the case, I would expect it to be limited to areas of camera performance that can be enhanced and modified by firmware (software) improvements, as opposed to any upgrade in the camera’s physical hardware.

Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D: Major Features and Respective Differences

With similar price tags around $2100 US, the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D are both full format (equivalent to 35mm) sensor size digital SLR cameras that are geared towards serious enthusiast and professional photographers.

In terms of features and specifications there are a many differentiators as well as similarities between the D600 versus 6D. With this is mind lets take a closer look at how the Nikon D600 and Canon EOS 6D digital SLR stack up against each other.

• The Nikon D600 offers a greater range of lens compatibility and can be used with  FX (for full format), DX (for APS-C) and older Ai type manual Nikkor lenses: the D600 offers selectable image area options: FX format (35.9 x 24.0 mm) and DX format (23.5 x 15.7 mm).

Nikon D600 field of view in FX full frame mode versus DX cropped format mode

Each image area can be confirmed in the viewfinder. In DX format, you can get closer to distant subjects and capture them using a lens with a short focal distance. The above image was taken with a Nikkor AF 80-200mm F/2.8D lens at the 200mm telephoto focal length. In DX format, the cropped field of view becomes equivalent to the field of view provided when using a 300mm focal length lens in FX full frame mode.

When a DX Nikkor lens is used, the D600 switches automatically to DX format as the default setting with the maximum image size available equal to 3,936 x 2,624 pixels (approx. 10.4 MP).

It is possible to switch between FX and DX cropped format manually if so desired. If DX (APS-C) type Nikkor lenses are used on the Nikon D600 SLR camera in FX mode, light cut off (vignetting) in the corners of the image may apply.

The Nikon D600 SLR camera is also backwards compatible with older Nikon manual focus Ai Nikkor lenses. Matrix exposure metering and automatic exposure, including shutter and aperture priority are supported with AI-P type Nikkor lenses.

The D600 SLR even features a built-in electronic range finder to assist in confirming focus when looking through the camera’s viewfinder (Live View can also be used with up to 19x magnified manual focus view).

The Canon EOS 6D digital SLR is compatible with all of Canon’s broad range of full frame SLR lenses, although Canon lenses designed for the APS-C sensor size (EF-S type) can not be used with the 6D.

The Canon EOS 6D (like all Canon digital SLR camera’s), is not backwards compatible with older Canon manual focus type lenses (FD). Nikon to their advantage have not changed their standard Nikon F-mount bayonet SLR lens attachment in over 50 years, providing a great benefit to end users.

The Nikon D600 SLR camera is compatible with FX, DX and older Nikkor AI type manual focus lenses

Nikon D600 SLR camera with Nikkor P 45mm F/2.8 pancake type manual focus prime lens

While I had the Nikon D600 SLR on loan for testing, I thought it would be interesting to try out the camera with an older Nikkor lens. I own a Nikon AI-P 45mm F/2.8 Nikkor manual focus pancake type lens that was sold many years ago in a high-end kit with the Nikon FM2 35mm film camera. The lens has very high resolving power and a great reputation for sharpness. Below is a quick sample photo I took with the combination of this lens attached to the Nikon D600. The camera’s electronic rangefinder was used to confirm manual focus. Shooting info below.

Nikon D600 SLR tested with the Nikon AI P 45mm F/2.8 pancake type manual focus lens

Aperture-priority exposure f/3.2 at 1/500 sec. Auto ISO (1100 ISO selected), -0.33 exposure compensation, JPEG Large

The above crop shows the level of quality provided by this lens in combination with the high resolution Nikon D600 SLR sensor, when the image is viewed at 100% maximum FX format image size (JPEG Large 6014 x 4016 pixels).

Similar results or better could be expected using the more modern and considerably brighter Nikon AF-S 50mm F/1.4G Nikkor prime lens that is currently on the market. Canon users are presented with similar high quality lens options with respect to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USMstandard lens and the newly announced Canon EF 40mm F/2.8 pancake style prime lens.

Nikon D600 enthusiast photographers however, are provided with the opportunity of experimenting with a broader range of creative lens options (fun), and being able to explore outside the box compared to the more strict pairing of the Canon EOS 6D with full frame EF lenses only.

• The Nikon D600 features a higher resolution 24.3 megapixel sensor compared to the 20.1 megapixel sensor in the Canon EOS 6D: The Nikon D600 SLR features a 24.3 megapixel FX format CMOS sensor versus the lower resolution 20.1 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor found in the Canon EOS 6D.

The diagram to the below right shows the difference in the maximum image size that can be captured by the Nikon D600 compared to the Canon EOS 6D. The Nikon D600 FX format maximum file size at 4016 x 6016 pixels (24.3MP) will produce a 13.4 x 20-inch print enlargement at 300 DPI native resolution.

In comparison, the Canon EOS 6D maximum file size at 5472 x 3648 pixels (20.1MP) provides enough resolution to produce an approximately 12.1-inch x 18.2-inch print at the same 300 DPI native resolution.

In a nut shell, the Nikon D600 offers an advantage over the Canon EOS 6D SLR by providing users with a greater amount of latitude in terms of the amount of fine detail (resolution) and image quality that can be preserved when cropping or producing larger sized prints.

Nikon D600 versus Canon 6D full format SLR camera relative maximum image size comparison

The higher resolution provided by the Nikon D600 SLR sensor provides a benefit in terms of capturing finer details and being able to maintain higher resolution when cropping from original image size.

On the flip side, the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera features an advantage in that by adding fewer pixels to the surface area of the camera’s large sensor, each individual pixel can be constructed to be bigger in size.

The ‘pixel pitch’ (size of a pixel) on the Nikon D600 SLR sensor is 5.96µm compared to the larger 6.55µm pixel pitch on the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera’s sensor. Larger pixels are associated with enhanced light gathering ability.

The logic is that Canon’s engineers have elected to sacrifice a bit of resolution in the Canon EOS 6D, in order to benefit from the gains in the sensor’s low-light / high-ISO performance capabilities.

Supporting this argument is the fact that Canon has assigned a higher native ISO range to the Canon EOS 6D versus the high ISO settings available on the D600.

• The native 100-25,600 ISO range on the Canon 6D SLR provides up to a 2 stop high ISO settings advantage compared to the Nikon D600: The Nikon D600 features a native ISO range from 100 ISO to 6400 ISO versus the Canon 6D which offers a broader 100 ISO to 25,600 native ISO range .

Both camera’s provide an expandable ISO ‘boost’ range. The expandable ISO settings on the Nikon D600 SLR go from 50 ISO to 25,600 ISO (H2). In comparison, the Canon 6D offers an expandable ISO range from 50 ISO to 102,400 ISO.

Canon clearly labels the EOS 6D digital SLR as a superior low light / high ISO performer. The expanded ISO range is a benefit, especially to those who are passionate about low light photography (interior of clubs, concerts, theater etc.). Being able to shoot at up to 102,400 ISO equivalent with usable image quality is very impressive.

Final judgement will have to depend on how well the image quality of the Canon 6D holds up at the expanded ISO settings. Although the Canon EOS 6D has not been released yet, Canon Japan has provided a full size 6400 Hi-ISO sample image (shown below) that certainly seems to provide promise.

Canon 6D Hi ISO sample image taken at 6400 ISO. Crop on left when viewed at 100%. Image copyright Canon Corp.

Canon EOS 6D at 6400 ISO. Click on image to download full size

The Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D both provide options for setting the amount of noise reduction that is applied during in-camera image processing.

While the Canon EOS 6D might be designed with the specific intent of being able to perform better in low light situations, after having had the opportunity to test the Nikon D600 SLR at all high-ISO settings, I can only say at this point that the Canon 6D faces a hard act to follow with regards to the D600.

As with many of the core technologies in the Nikon D600 that are inherited from the Nikon D800 and Nikon D4, the camera’s noise reduction and image processing functions (combined with the sensor’s capabilities), allow the Nikon D600 to become an excellent low light performer in its own right.

The Nikon D600 12,800 ISO (H1 boost) sample image shown below was recorded as a large full size jpeg original file with high-ISO noise reduction set to Normal. Working from a NEF/RAW file and post editing with software will usually provide even better results.

The cropped area is equivalent to viewing the image at approximately 10MP file size at 100%. Impressive considering that being able to capture good quality pictures at 12,800 ISO with a digital SLR, let alone with one that offers a full frame solution and that is affordable, is an accomplishment that photographers could only dream about not that many years ago.

Nikon D600 high ISO image sample test at H1 boost equal to approximately 12,800 ISO

• The Canon EOS 6D SLR camera is smaller and significantly lighter versus the Nikon D600: The Canon EOS 6D camera body is over 100 grams lighter compared to the Nikon D600 (755g compared to 850g). The Canon EOS 6D also features a smaller footprint compared to the Nikon D600 SLR. The Canon EOS 6D camera body on its own measures 144.5 x 110.5 x 71.2mm (W x H x D) versus the Nikon D600 SLR with measurements of 141 x 113 x 82mm.

Accounting for much of the difference in size and weight between the two cameras is that the Nikon D600 features a built-in flash compared to the Canon EOS 6D SLR which does not.

• Both the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D incorporate partial Mg Alloy body cover construction with the D600 offering the added benefit of enhanced weather seals: the Nikon D600 and the Canon 6D both feature partial Mg Alloy body panel construction designed to provide enhanced ruggedness and durability. The D600 and the 6D differ in terms of how the Mg alloy body panels are employed in the construction of each camera.

The Nikon D600 features Mg Alloy top and rear body cover construction, with the main front part of the camera being constructed from polycarbonate materials (including the lens ring mount). In comparison, the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera features Mg alloy front and rear body panel construction.

The Nikon D600 is pictured with the optional Nikon MB-D14 vertical release battery grip. Unfortunately I do not have a similar image highlighting the inner construction of the Canon EOS 6D with its optional Canon BG-E13 vertical release battery grip. Nevertheless the difference in construction between the D600 vs 6D is clearly seen in the side by side (top by top?) product image comparison below:

Nikon D600 SLR camera body construction compared to the construction of the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera

Body shell construction of the Nikon D600 versus the 6D SLR camera

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Tough to say necessarily what the main advantage is here between the two cameras. While the Nikon D600 certainly looks more plasticky in the front, the top cover on the Canon EOS 6D is not metal. Depending on the nature of potential impact damage either camera could be susceptible depending on where it gets hit. Safe to say that although designed to be durable, the Nikon D600 and the EOS 6D do not offer the same degree of ruggedness and protection as the higher-end professional Nikon D800 and Canon EOS 5D Mark III full frame digital SLR cameras.

Given that the Nikon D600 shares so much in common with the Nikon D800 SLR, there have to be compelling reasonsbuilt-in to rationalize the higher cost of the D800. One of these is the enhanced durability offered by the Nikon D800 vs the D600.

One of the main justifications for the difference in level of construction between the Nikon D600 and the stronger built D800 is that the needs of the enthusiast photographer are not equal to the higher demands of the professional photographer. Other reasons would be to minimize costs, and to keep the weight of the camera down to make it lighter and more travel friendly, factors that are appealing to enthusiasts. The same would apply with respect to the difference in build quality between the Canon EOS 6D and the more expensive EOS 5D Mark III.

Nikon D600 versus Nikon D800 SLR camera body construction difference

The Nikon D800 features a more rugged full metal body chassis compared to the Mg Alloy partial covers on the Nikon D600 SLR which stands to reason based on marketing segmentation and to keep costs down

In terms of product positioning, Nikon has geared the D800 FX format SLR camera towards working professionals that require a day to day rugged workhorse with enhanced durability,  while the more affordable D600 is aimed towards meeting the needs of the photography enthusiast and as a back up camera for the pro’s. The Nikon D600 does however feature multiple weather seals and the same level of dust and moisture resistance as the Nikon D800.

Much of the same applies with regard to the Canon EOS 6D, in that Canon has aimed the EOS 6D SLR as a more affordable alternative built to appeal to enthusiasts compared to the more expensive full frame EOS 5D Mark III. Although Canon talks about weather-resistant features with respect to the EOS 6D, they have not highlighted or elaborated on this functionality. The weather seals on the Canon EOS 6D are undoubtably not as extensive as the ones found on the Nikon D600. Based on past Canon product history they are most likely limited to the areas around the battery, interface connections and card side doors.

Nikon D600 digital SLR camera with rugged body construction and weather seals

Location of weather seals on the Nikon D600 SLR designed to help protect against moisture and dust

• The Nikon D600 and the Canon 6D both feature optical pentaprism viewfinders, although the Nikon D600 benefits from 100% frame coverage versus the Canon EOS 6D SLR viewfinder with 97% coverage: The Nikon D600′s 100% viewfinder coverage in FX mode allows for more precise composition. Both cameras offer approximately 0.7x viewfinder magnification.

Nikon D600 SLR focus points and on demand grid lines in the viewfinder One of the first things that struck me when I received the Nikon D600 for testing was how bright and clear the camera’s full frame viewfinder was. Even though there are APS-C sensor size digital SLR cameras that feature viewfinders with 100% coverage, like the Nikon DX format D7000, the experience is enhanced in cameras with full frame sensors because the viewfinder has to be built bigger to match up with the larger sensor size. Once you go full frame viewfinders it is hard to go back.

The Nikon D600 SLR provides the option of displaying superimposed grid lines inside the TTL viewfinder, a feature designed to assist in composition. (Canon EOS 6D unconfirmed). Both camera’s offer the ability to feature selectable gridlines superimposed over the LCD monitor while shooting in Live View recording mode.

It is possible to install an optional fixed pattern focus screen in the EOS 6D and switch it out with the standard screen that is already installed in the camera. The Nikon D600 SLR does not offer ability to interchange viewfinder screens.

To accommodate those who normally wear eyeglasses, both the Nikon D600 and the Canon 6D offer a viewfinder diopter adjustment dial (degree of correction is -3 to +1 m-1), located to the immediate top right of the camera’s respective viewfinders.

Nikon D600 versus 6D Canon full frame SLR camera side by side top view

• The Nikon D600 incorporates a 39-point AF system versus the Canon EOS 6D SLR with 11-focus points: When the Canon EOS 6D was officially announced one of the specifications that left a feeling of disappointment among many was Canon’s decision to only feature an 11-point AF system in the new camera. These days 11-point AF is a common feature set on even the most entry level of digital SLR cameras. Sony’s affordable consumer oriented Sony alpha SLT-a37 digital SLR features 15 AF points.

Nikon D600 versus Nikon D800 versus Canon 6D AF points

The Nikon D600 incorporates the same Multi-CAM 4800 autofocus sensor module as the DX format Nikon D7000 SLR (APS-C size). As such, the AF points become more closely centered when incorporated in a camera like the full frame D600 with its much larger sensor size.

As can be seen in the above comparison diagram between the D600 vs D800 vs 6D, the Nikon D800 offers considerably broader AF point coverage versus the D600, since the Nikon D800 features a dedicated Multi-CAM 3500 FX format AF sensor module with 51 focus points.

The Nikon D600 offers an advantage with 39 focus points compared to the Canon 6D with only 11 AF points.

Nikon D600 versus D800 FX format SLR camera relative AF point distribution coverage

Nikon D600 FX format viewfinder view (AF points in red)versus Nikon D800 SLR FX  view (AF points in green) showing relative AF point distribution.

The above graphic illustrates the relationship between the location of the Nikon D800′s 51 AF focus points compared to the location of the Nikon D600 DSLR’s 39 focus points in FX mode. The coverage of the Nikon D800′s AF focus points are shown in green and the Nikon D600′s are highlighted in red.

Shooting in the FX format with the Nikon D600 SLR could result in a scenario where the main subject ends up towards the edge of the frame and the camera’s AF points would not be able to acquire a proper lock.

The Nikon D800 with its dedicated FX format AF module and 51 focus points provides a much broader area of AF point distribution, and in a similar scenario would be able to lock on to the subject (red active focus point).

Since the Multi-CAM 4800 AF module is designed for the DX format sensor, a camera like the Nikon D7000 DX SLR features a broader distribution of AF points in relation to the camera’s sensor, and as such there is no issue in this respect.

Then all is not lost. Since the Nikon D600 SLR offers the ability to switch the camera from full frame FX mode to APS-C size cropped DX mode, the solution is simply that when you need broader AF distribution coverage you just set the camera to DX mode. With the Nikon D600 SLR set to DX mode the AF points mimic the distribution of the AF points seen in the Nikon D7000.

In the image below you can see the relationship between the location of the AF points with the Nikon D600 set to full frame FX compared to DX cropped (1.5x FOV) format mode, with the main subject contained within the same area of general field of view.

Nikon D600 SLR camera relative AF point distribution between FX mode and DX mode

Nikon D600 relative AF point distribution between FX mode and DX mode. In FX mode with the same relative FOV, the camera’s focus points (green) would not provide the reach to cover the outer edge location of the main subject.

Nikon D600 digital SLR camera AF point coverage in DX mode

In DX crop mode, the Nikon D600 SLR offers the same AF point distribution as the Nikon D7000 DX format SLR. When shooting sports, wildlife or other unpredictable action, the Nikon D600 lends itself best to being used in DX format.

The downside of all of this is that when the Nikon D600 SLR camera is set to DX crop mode the maximum image file size that can be produced is reduced to 3,936 x 2,624 pixels or approx. 10.5 MP resolution. Still a large enough file to make a 8″ x 13″ inch enlargement at 300 DPI full native resolution. The nature of the lower resolution file means that there is less latitude in cropping the image further after the fact.

The obvious advantage is that photographers can benefit by using APS-C lenses (DX Nikkor) with the Nikon D600 in DX mode, while benefitting from the 1.5x lens multiplier factor (200mm telephoto = 300mm lens field of view), and working with smaller more manageable file sizes. In the event of using an FX format Nikkor lens, it is possible to switch the camera to DX crop format mode using the D600′s shooting menu.

Nikon D600 SLR camera DX versus FX format viewfinder view

Nikon D600 FX compared to DX format crop viewfinder view

In terms of general AF technology, the Nikon D600 provides more advanced AF functionality versus the Canon EOS 6D, offering a  greater number of AF points, greater number of cross sensors to aid in focus acquisition, and better AF tracking ability. The D600 also provides a greater degree of auto focus control compared to the Canon 6D SLR camera.

The Nikon D600 AF system features 9 cross-type sensors; the center 33 points are available at apertures slower than f/5.6 and faster than f/8, while the center 7 points are available at f/8 meaning more precise autofocusing when longer lenses are used with a dedicated teleconverter (2.0x).

In comparison, the Canon EOS 6D features one cross-type sensor at f/5.6 located in the center, that is vertical line sensitive at f/2.8. The center AF point offers an AF working range from a low -3 EV to 18 EV, which should provide quite useful under very dim lighting conditions. The camera’s other sensors provide a working range from +0.5 to 18 EV. This means that the Canon EOS 6D should technically be able to provide autofocus under very low light conditions, although while limiting its use to the cross type center AF point.

The Nikon D600 provides an AF working range from -1 EV to 18 EV, with all the AF points being active. Apart from the single cross type center AF point in the Canon EOS 6D, the Nikon D600 offers an advantage in terms of low light focusing with all of its AF points responding down to -1EV. In comparison, the Canon EOS 6D remaining 10 AF points are only effective at 0.5 EV and above.

Enthusiast photographers with a passion for low light photography will undoubtably appreciate the Canon EOS 6D’s low light AF capability. AF lock can always be used to recompose after focusing using the camera’s -3 EV sensitive cross center AF point.

In terms of selectable AF points, the Nikon D600 offers much greater versatility compared to the Canon EOS 6D. AF area can be selected from single-point AF, dynamic-area AF (9 points, 21 points, 39 points), 3D-tracking and auto-area AF. The D600 offers high subject-tracking and subject-identification performance in combination with the camera’s ‘Scene Recognition System’ that uses the on-board 2,016-pixel RGB sensor to recognize smaller subjects. An 11-point AF option can also be set on the D600 by using custom settings. In comparison the Canon 6D features two AF point selection options, automatic or manual.

• The Nikon D600 features the advantage of Nikon’s Scene Recognition System Technology: the Nikon D600 incorporates Nikon’s Scene Recognition System (SRS) technology (like D800 and D4) that analyzes subject information from a database containing more than 30,000 images to optimize focus, exposure, i-TTL flash exposure and white balance.

Nikon D600 FX full format SLR camera Scene Recognition System

Nikon D600 SLR Scene Recognition System

The Scene Recognition System reads data from both the D600′s 2,016-pixel 3D Matrix II RGB metering sensor and the camera’s image sensor, and then optimizes autofocus, auto exposure, i-TTL balanced fill-flash and auto white balance control settings prior to the actual exposure.

• The Nikon D600 offers a more advanced metering system with its 2016-pixel 3D matrix II RGB metering sensor versus the Canon EOS 6D with multi-layer 63-zone iFCL metering: while the Canon EOS 6D SLR’s multi-layer 63-zone iFCL metering system is certainly quite capable, the 2016-pixel 3D Matrix II RGB metering system sensor in the Nikon D600 provides an advantage with enhanced accuracy and consistency.

Nikon D600 Metering Canon EOS 6D Metering
TTL metering with 2016-pixel RGB 3D Matrix II sensor with the following selectable modes:

  • Matrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses
  • Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 12-mm circle in center of frame; diameter of circle can be changed to 8, 15 or 20 mm, or weighting can be based on average of entire frame
  • Spot: Meters 4-mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point
TTL metering with 63-zone SPC with the following selectable modes:

  • Evaluative metering
  • Partial metering (center: approx. 8% of viewfinder)
  • Spot metering (center: approx. 3.5% of viewfinder)
  • Center-weighted average metering

• The Nikon D600 features Nikon’s Active D-Lighting Technology versus the Canon 6D with Auto Lighting Optimizer: both the Nikon D600 and the Canon 6D incorporate technologies that are designed to enhance the dynamic range (ability to preserve highlights and shadows) in the final image.

The Nikon D600 offers Nikon’s proprietary Active D-Lighting technology which has been available in Nikon digital SLR cameras for some time although enhanced and tweaked along the way. The Canon 6D provides Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimizer technology which likewise has been available in previous generations of Canon digital SLR cameras, including Rebel APS-C models.

Although neither of the below images were taken with the current Nikon D600 or Canon 6D, they are being included to illustrate the historical difference in the basic approaches taken by Nikon and Canon in providing these features in previous SLR models.

Nikon Active D-Lighting compared to Canon Auto Lighting Optimizer

The underlying approach taken by the companies differs in that the Nikon technology controls for highlight and shadow detail and then adjusts camera exposure according to the scene, while Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimizer adjusts for shadows and highlights using tone curves.

While both camera’s provide selectable degrees of dynamic range adjustment, the Nikon D600 also provides the option of shooting with Active D-Lighting bracketing, giving users choices in selecting the image with the level of D-Lighting application that looks the best.

According to Nikon the D600 employs a new Active D-Lighting image-processing system that delivers superior reproduction without shifting color phase even when the strength level is increased. It reproduces brightness as you see it even in high-contrast lighting scenes such as gradation of the sky.

Without access to a production Canon 6D camera, I have been unable to confirm if there have been any significant improvements in the implementation of Canon’s Active Lighting Optimizer technology in the Canon 6D.

• The Canon 6D provides the advantage of built-in Wi-Fi transfer and GPS geotagging functionality: the Canon EOS 6D offers the benefit of featuring integrated Wi-Fi transfer capabilities enabling Wi-Fi transfer of images to a tablet, smartphone or Wi-Fi enabled printer. With the Canon EOS Remote app for iOS or Android, you can turn your smartphone into a remote trigger control with Live View display and control over exposure settings.

The Canon 6D goes even further by also offering built-in GPS geotagging functionality, so that location data can be embedded in an image. There is also a log feature that allows you to trace the trip you have taken. GPS tagged images can be correlated to location using popular mapping software.

Nikon D600 optional WU-1b wireless adapter and Nikon GP-1 GPS unit accessory

Nikon D600 optional WU-1b wireless adapter and Nikon GP-1 GPS geotagging device

The Nikon D600 only offers similar Wi-Fi functionality to the Canon 6D when an optional Wi-Fi transfer adapter Wu-1b is attached and used in conjunction with the camera. The Nikon Wu-1b wireless adapter is very small and plugs into a dedicated socket on the side of the D600. The Nikon Wu-1b wireless adapter also allows for remote operation from a smartphone with Live View and select settings control when used with a dedicated smartphone app (Android app available, iOS due soon).

Nikon’s optional GP-1 GPS geotagging device is compatible with the Nikon D600 SLR. The Nikon GP-1 can be attached to the D600′s hotshoe and connects by a cord into a dedicated plug on the side of the camera.  Geotagging location information can be attached to images and viewed in supplied software or other map apps in a similar fashion to the Canon 6D SLR camera.

As of today it costs about $350 (MSRP) to purchase both the NIkon WU-1b wireless transfer adapter (approx. $60 in Canada) and the Nikon GP-1 GPS unit (approx. $280 in Canada), a couple of accessories that provide the Nikon D600 with similar functionality that in comparison are features that are already integrated in the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera at the time of purchase.

• The Nikon D600 features a larger 3.2-inch LCD monitor versus the Canon 6D SLR with a 3.0-inch LCD screen: The Nikon D600 offers an advantage with its larger 3.2-inch LCD monitor compared to the 3-inch LCD monitor found on the Canon EOS 6D. The Nikon D600 LCD screen features a 4:3 aspect ratio (suited for display of still images) compared to the Canon 6D SLR’s screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio (suited for display of movies).

Nikon D600 versus Canon EOS 6D SLR camera compared side by side back LCD view

Nikon D600 versus the Canon 6D LCD Monitor Comparison

Nikon D600 BM-14 protective clear rear LCD monitor cover

Nikon BM-14 LCD monitor cover supplied with the Nikon D600 SLR

The  Canon EOS 6D offers higher LCD screen resolution at 1,040,000 dots compared to the Nikon D600′s 921,000 dot resolution panel.

The monitors on the D600 and the EOS 6D provide anti-reflective properties and a wide viewing angle. (D600: 170 degrees, 6D: 160 degrees). Nikon has indicated that the LCD screen in the D600 features a new design with no air gap between the protective glass and the physical monitor, a solution that according to the company helps provide enhanced anti-reflective properties.

Both camera’s also offer automatic LCD brightness control that adjusts for viewing conditions based on readings from an ambient light sensor. LCD brightness can also be manually adjusted.

The Nikon D600 comes supplied with a clear monitor cover (BM-14) that adds an extra layer of protection to help prevent scratches or accidental damage to the LCD screen.

Both the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D provide users with the option of selecting to have composition guidelines superimposed over the monitor while in Live View mode. The Canon 6D provides three selectable grid types versus the D600 with two.

• The Canon EOS 6D offers the option of 11-point phase-detect AF or contrast-detect AF in Live View compared to the Nikon D600 SLR with contrast-detect AF: the Canon EOS 6D offers the option of using 11-point phase-detect AF or contrast-detect AF during Live View.  The Nikon D600 employs contrast-detect AF during Live View.

While the 11-point phase detect AF technology incorporated in the EOS 6D is a benefit, it should not be confused with the more advanced on-sensor phase detection technology found on the Canon Rebel T4i /EOS 650D (APS-C format sensor).

Although typically more precise, contrast detect AF employs multiple readings and adjustments, so it is not as quick as phase-detection AF to lock in focus on the subject. Contrast-detect AF lends itself well to shooting with a tripod in situations where speed is not as important, and unlike phase-detect AF, there is no Live View interruption during actual focusing.

Nikon D600 AF Area Modes: Live View Canon EOS 6D AF Area Modes: Live View
(1) AF Contrast Detect:-Face-priority AF: up to 35 faces can be detected

-Wide-area AF

-Normal-area AF

-Subject-tracking AF: Suitable for a moving subject. After focus is locked with the center button of the multi selector, the focus point tracks the subject’s movement.

(2) Manual: up to 19x magnified view to assist manual focus

(1) Auto Focus- Single
One-point, contrast AF. New point can be selected.

- Face Detection Live mode
Face detection, contrast AF. Face is selectable.

- Quick Mode AF
Phase-difference AF with 11 AF points.

(2) Manual Focus- Magnify the image by 5x or 10x and focus manually.

• The Nikon D600 offers more advanced HD movie recording functionality versus the Canon EOS 6D SLR: while both the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D offer up to full 1080p HD movie recording with stereo sound combined with professional features like selectable frame rates and a range of manual control options, and provide the creative benefits and high quality of recording that is possible with a full frame sensor, the Nikon D600 SLR stands out by incorporating more advanced movie recording functionality and features that will appeal to videographers.

Nikon D600 with optional Nikon ME-1 microphone and optional headphones

Nikon D600 SLR with optional Nikon ME-1 microphone and optional third party headphones

Nikon has been making great inroads with the HD movie recording capabilities of their newer digital SLR cameras. Nikon USA recently released a press release promoting the fact that the higher end Nikon D800 SLR camera has been used in the shooting of the television series “Wilfred” and “Dexter” by the TV networks FX and Showtime (D800 hits Hollywood PDF).

The only major difference between the Nikon D600 and the Nikon D800 HD movie video recording function is that the Nikon D600 does not allow you to adjust the aperture once you have started recording (with the exception of using Nikkor lenses with manual aperture control).

The Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D are both capable of producing excellent HD movies that will meet the needs of those who are looking for a high quality HD video recording digital SLR camera. The main difference between the Nikon D600 compared the Canon 6D with respect to HD movie recording ability, is that the Nikon D600 offers added features that are more suited towards meeting the needs of serious enthusiast and professional videographers.

The Nikon D600 SLR is equipped with a headphone jack allowing for the use of optional headphones to check sound. Movies and the movie live view display can be viewed simultaneously on the camera’s monitor and an external monitor. Uncompressed movie data recorded in the Nikon D600 SLR’s movie live view mode can also be output to an external recorder via the built-in HDMI interface.

The D600 offers a time-lapse photography function that can be used to automatically photograph relatively slow moving action, such as the blooming of a flower and the passing of clouds, at specified intervals. The camera then combines the photos and records them as a silent time-lapse movie.

These features are not available on the Canon EOS 6D SLR. Both cameras provide a jack for attaching an optional microphone.

Nikon D600 compared to the Canon 6D SLR interface connections

The Nikon D600 features five interface connections located on the side of the camera under three separate hinged weather resistant protective rubber doors. The top door protects the two jacks used to connect the camera with an external microphone and headphones. The USB and HDMI interface connectors for the Nikon D600 are located under the middle door. The bottom door protects the plug used to attach the optional Nikon GP-1 GPS unit or the Nikon MC-DC2 remote cord.

The Canon EOS 6D features four interface connections hidden under two hinged rubber doors. The door on the left protects the remote accessory plug, and the camera’s external microphone jack. Headphones can not be attached to the 6D. The door on the right serves to protect the USB / Audio & Video interface connection jack, and the camera’s HDMI interface right below.

• The Nikon D600 offers large ergonomically enhanced control buttons nestled in a column to the left of the camera’s LCD screen: since the 4:3 aspect ratio LCD screen is not as wide as the 3:2 aspect ratio screen on the Canon EOS 6D, Nikon has managed to locate most of the D600′s buttons in one convenient location in a column type alignment to the left of the camera’s monitor.

Nikon D600 compared to Canon 6D button and control layout

The large buttons are nestled inside a groove making for easy push operation (even when wearing gloves). The buttons located on the back of the Canon EOS 6D are more spread out, and as a result, not as readily accessible. The top buttons on the Canon EOS 6D are nestled in a straight row making those buttons and their settings more quickly accessible.

Personally, I prefer the placement of controls and buttons on the Nikon D600. Nikon has clearly put more thought into how a photographer actually uses the camera, compared to a more random placement of buttons and controls on the Canon 6D. The physical design of buttons on the Canon EOS 6D are also not as ergonomically enhanced as the buttons found on the Nikon D600.

Nikon D600 compared to Canon 6D digital SLR camera location of main control dials

The two main control dials on the Nikon D600 are located within easy reach of finger placement when holding the camera in a natural position. The D600 features a larger more sculpted grip compared to the Canon EOS 6D, and the top main control dial is located so that your index fingers wraps over it while holding and looking through the camera. The rear located sub-command dial is also placed in an ergonomically strategic position almost at the exact top just above the camera’s thumb rest, making it faster and easier to access the sub-command dial and to be able to scroll the wheel by using your thumb.

The two main command dials on the Canon EOS 6D are not as logically placed in relation to how a user naturally holds and handles the camera. The main control dial is located on the top of the camera towards the back of the sculpted shutter release index finger groove. Compared to the Nikon D600, when holding the camera in the normal shooting position your index finger does not fall within the same proximity to the control dial making for a more awkward and unnatural reach.

The sub-command rotary dial on the EOS 6D is located on the back of the camera, although unlike the Nikon D600 SLR, the dial is situated further down just to the right of the camera’s LCD monitor. To operate and scroll the sub-command dial with your thumb again requires a greater and more awkward reach compared to the placement of the similar functioning dial on the Nikon D600.

The ergonomics of the Nikon D600 make it possible to use one hand to adjust both the main and sub-command dials while looking through the camera’s viewfinder. With the way that the main and sub-command control dials are laid out on the Canon EOS 6D, users are more likely to step away from the viewfinder while making any necessary control dial adjustments.

• The Nikon D600 is capable of faster continuous shooting up to 5.5 frames per second versus the Canon 6D SLR at up to 4.5 fps: the Nikon D600 offers faster continuous shooting capability compared to the Canon 6D.

Nikon D600 SLR offers up to 5.5 frames per second continuous shooting versus the Canon EO S6D with up to 4.5 frames continuous shooting

The Nikon D600 offers up to 5.5 frames per second continuous shooting

Being able to add an extra frame or two in a short continuous burst of shooting could make the difference in terms of capturing the best moment. The Nikon D600 also provides a larger buffer capacity with the ability to capture up to 16 frames at RAW / NEF 14-bit image quality before the camera’s buffer memory fills.

The continuous shooting buffer capacity of the Canon EOS 6D is rated as providing up to 14 continuous shots at the same RAW 14-bit image quality before the buffer fills. Since the Nikon files are larger at 24.3 MP image size, this means that the amount of buffer memory in the Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D has to be even greater than accounted for by simply looking at the difference in the number of frames that can be recorded.

Nikon D600 features built-in i-TTL speedlight compared to the Canon EOS 6D with no built-in flash

The Nikon D600 incorporates a pop-up type i-TTL speedlight with Commander mode for wireless flash. The Canon EOS 6D SLR does not offer a built-in flash.

• The Nikon D600 incorporates a pop-up style flash with built-in Commander function for wireless i-TTL external flash control compared to the Canon EOS 6D without a built-in flash: the Nikon D600 features a built-in pop-up type flash that responds automatically in Auto modes, or can be manually raised by pushing a button when shooting in the manual override exposure modes.

The built-in flash is especially useful for fill-flash photography situations and offers the opportunity for users to travel lighter by not necessarily having to bring an external flash along. The Canon EOS 6D does not provide a built-in flash, although  like the Nikon D600 features a dedicated flash hotshoe for attaching an optional external flash unit to the camera.

The Nikon D600 SLR’s built-in flash features a guide number of 12, offers flash exposure compensation (-3 to +1 EV), flash sync up to 1/200 sec, and provides a number of flash modes including; Auto, Fill Flash, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Slow Sync with Red-Eye reduction and even rear-curtain sync. The Canon EOS 6D offers a slower 1/180 sec standard flash sync versus the Nikon D600 SLR (1/200 sec).

The the built-in flash on the Nikon D600 also supports Nikon’s Advanced Wireless Lighting system, and can be assigned to perform as a wireless Commander unit (using the camera’s Custom Functions Menu), providing on camera wireless creative control over the built-in flash in conjunction with one or multiple optional external dedicated speedlights, like the Nikon SB-910, SB-900, SB-800 or SB-700.

The Nikon D600 supports Auto FP high-speed sync and modeling illumination with all Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) compatible flash units except for the SB-400 Speedlight. Below are a few quick sample shots that I took to show the type of benefit that can be gained by simply using one optional external Nikon Speedlight off camera with wireless control being provided by the built-in pop-up flash set to ‘Commander’ mode.

Nikon D600 full format digital SLR camera with built-in wireless external flash support for creative lighting

Nikon D600 with the camera’s built-in pop-up flash set to commander mode providing automatic wireless control over one external speedlight flash unit

The first shot was taken using only the camera’s built-in pop-up flash. In the second image, an external Nikon speedlight was triggered wirelessly and used to bounce light of the ceiling with the built-in flash acting as a Commander. In the final shot, the subject was illuminated from the left side with an external Nikon SB-700 speedlight and the built-in flash firing from the front as a Commander unit.

The Nikon Advanced Wireless Lighting System is easy to set up and offers a wide range of applications. You can control flash exposure compensation on the built-in flash separately from the wireless external flash(s), and you can assign multiple external flashes to work in their own groups with independent output controlled directly from the camera.

The Canon EOS 6D does offer the opportunity for users to benefit from wireless flash photography. Since the camera does not offer a built-in wireless flash control feature however, you have to make an additional investment in acquiring either an optional Canon wireless flash transmitter or a wireless compatible Canon external Speedlite flash, that can then be assigned to perform as the “Master” wireless control unit while attached to the camera’s hotshoe. For users that do not already have a compatible Canon wireless flash accessory that can be used in this respect, the cost will add a few hundred dollars depending on the type of solution selected.

One other important note is that the Nikon D600 features a built-in AF Assist light for low light focusing, a feature that is only available with the Canon EOS 6D when an optional external flash is used with the camera.

The Nikon D600 features a Virtual horizon that can detect inclination in rolling and pitching directions versus the Canon EOS 6D which offers one-axis detection: the Nikon D600 SLR’s in-camera virtual horizon can detect both rolling (horizontal inclination) and pitching (forward or rear inclination) directions and display the inclination of the rolling and pitching directions on the LCD monitor and rolling direction in the viewfinder.

Nikon D600 SLR camera horizontal and vertical level gauge test in Live View mode

Nikon D600 SLR with horizontal and vertical electronic level gauge in Live View

This function is especially useful when shooting subjects such as still lifes, landscapes and architecture. While the Canon EOS 6D SLR also offers an electronic level, it is limited to one axis detection for horizontal inclination.

The Nikon D600 offers a Retouch menu allowing for in-camera editing, a feature that is not available on the Canon EOS 6D SLR: captured images and movies can be edited in the D600 without using a computer. The camera’s ‘Retouch Menu’ menu includes a number of options for retouching or adjusting the image in playback mode, including ‘NEF (RAW) processing’ that allows you to edit a RAW image in-camera and convert and save the edited image as a JPEG copy.

Nikon D600 SLR camera Retouch Menu options

The sample image comparison below shows the original NEF (RAW) image as captured with the camera’s settings deliberately set to the wrong positions. After capture I simply played back the image on the camera’s LCD monitor, and on the spot used the Nikon D600′s in-camera “Retouch Menu” to correct for White Balance, Picture Style, Exposure, Hue, Contrast, Sharpness and Saturation. The retouched copy was then saved and stored to the SD card as a new file (shown on right). Even if you mess up on location, as long as you shoot in NEF / RAW its hard to go wrong.

Nikon D600 Retouch Menu Options: In-camera NEF (RAW) Processing Test
• D-Lighting
• Red-eye correction
• Trim
• Monochrome
• Filter effects
• Color balance
• Image overlay
• NEF (RAW) processing
• Resize
• Quick retouch
• Straighten
• Distortion control
• Fisheye
• Color outline
• Color sketch
• Perspective control
• Miniature effect
• Selective color
• Edit movie
Nikon D600 SLR sample image before and after with in-camera NEF (RAW)  processing applied

Original RAW / NEF file (shown on the left) adjusted and corrected in-camera using the Nikon D600 SLR camera’s ‘NEF (RAW) processing’ retouch menu tool. Edited image saved as a new JPEG file (shown on right).

With the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera shooting in RAW provides the same image quality improvement benefits with post editing. The difference is that this has to wait until you can download the image to a computer and use software to achieve the same that can be accomplished with only the Nikon D600 in hand. For the professional this could be a useful benefit as a workflow tool depending on the degree of need. Shoot an event, do a few quick edit adjustments in camera and then beam the images into cyberspace using the optional Nikon WU-1b wireless adapter.

Using the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera in the same scenario you would need to bring an additional device like a laptop or tablet with you to allow for the image editing process.

• The Nikon D600 features the advantage of built-in technologies that serve to enhance Nikkor lens performance, including; Lateral Chromatic Aberration Reduction and Auto Distortion Control functions.

The lateral chromatic aberration reduction function built-in to the Nikon D600 SLR serves to reduce image distortion at the edges of a frame and to improve image quality throughout the entire frame by correcting for chromatic aberrations, regardless of the Nikkor lens used.

With the Nikon D600 SLR camera set to “On” for “Auto distortion control” when using Nikon G or D type Nikkor lenses, barrel distortion caused by a wide-angle lens or pin-cushion distortion caused by a telephoto lens can also be compensated.

The Nikon D600 also features a “perspective control tool” available in Playback mode and selectable from the camera’s ‘Retouch Menu’. By using this feature you can play back an original still image stored on the memory card in-camera and perform adjustments for horizontal and vertical perspective while viewing the effects live on the camera’s LCD monitor. When you are satisfied with the degree of correction you can save your edited image to the memory card as a new file with the original left intact. The idea behind the feature is to mirror the type of results that are typically provided by using a tilt / shift type of lens.

Nikon D600 SLR camera with perspective and distortion control test off and on

The Nikon D600 sample photo on the left was taken with default settings. In the sample photo on the right, D600 was set to Auto Distortion Control on for capture and then Perspective control tool applied in playback using the Retouch Menu
Click above to see larger image size in the Nikon D600 sample photos gallery

• Both the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D digital SLR cameras are compatible with optional vertical release battery grips: the Nikon MB-D14 vertical release battery grip for the Nikon D600 allows the camera to be powered by two Nikon EN-EL15 rechargeable batteries, one in the camera body and one in the MB-D14, effectively doubling the shooting capacity.

Nikon D600 compared to the Canon 6D SLR camera side by side with optional vertical battery grips attached

Nikon D600 versus Canon EOS 6D SLR cameras with optional vertical battery grips attached

The Nikon MB-D14 battery grip is equipped with a shutter-release button, AE/AF lock button, multi selector, and main- and sub-command dials for improved operation when taking photographs with the camera in a vertical position. With the included MS-D14 AA battery holder, users can also power the camera with 6 AA batteries.

The optional Canon BG-E13 vertical release battery grip for the Canon EOS 6D SLR offers similar functionality to the Nikon grip. It features an AF/FE lock, AF point selection, AF start button and can hold two Canon LP-E6 Li-Ion rechargeable batteries that likewise doubles the number of shots that can be captured.

The Canon BG-E13 vertical release battery grip is compatible with AA sized batteries, and AC power can also be supplied by using the optional Canon AC adapter kit ACK-E6.

• The Canon EOS 6D SLR camera offers a greater number of shots on a fully charged battery compared to the Nikon D600: the Canon EOS 6D and the Nikon D600 SLR both come supplied with a proprietary Li-Ion rechargeable battery pack and charger. Canon’s LP-E6 battery is rated as being able to provide up to 1090 shots per full charge compared to the Nikon D600 SLR’s EN-EL15 rechargeable battery that is rated about 20% less at 900 shots per charge. The important point to remember is that the Nikon D600′s battery life tests where performed using the built-in flash 50% of the time. Users who do not rely heavily on built-in flash will be able to expect a greater level of battery performance with the Nikon D600, surpassing the longevity of the charge in the Canon EOS 6D battery.

• The Nikon D600 provides the advantage of enhanced shutter durability versus the Canon 6D: with a shutter mechanism that is rated up to 150,000 exposures, the Nikon D600 incorporates a professional specification that is not matched by the lower 100,000 cycle shutter durability rating of the Canon EOS 6D.

Nikon D600 SLR camera features two SD memory card slots compared to the Canon EOS 6D with one memory card slot

The Nikon D600 SLR features two SD type memory card slots compared to the Canon EOS 6D camera with one SD card slot.

• The Nikon D600 offers the advantage of dual Secure Digital (SD) memory type card slots versus the Canon EOS 6D with one SD memory card slot: both the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D SLR camera are compatible with the more common Secure Digital SD memory card format. The Nikon D600 provides a benefit by incorporating two SD card slots, so users can use the cards in tandem so when one fills up the other is ready to go. Other options are that you can assign one card for storing RAW files and the other for JPEG’s, or set it up so that still images are recorded on one and your movies on the other. Users can even copy images from one card to another Great for backing up a file while in the field.

NIkon D600 versus Canon EOS 6D SLR camera side view compared

Nikon D600 compared to the Canon 6D interface connections side

Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Comparison: Conclusion

The Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D are both very intriguing full frame digital SLR cameras in their own right. Clearly Nikon and Canon have taken a different design approach to their new “entry-level” full frame digital SLR’s.

Nikon has adopted a top down approach with respect to the Nikon D600 FX format SLR, by electing to include many of the same technologies and advanced features found in the higher end Nikon D800 and D4 SLR cameras. With 24.3 megapixel resolution, the Nikon D600 FX format SLR features the highest resolution of any camera currently in its class. Designed as a serious tool for the photo enthusiast and as a working backup for professionals, the Nikon D600 is a very capable performer in all areas.

The Nikon D600 SLR camera’s DX crop format mode with its 1.5x cropped (FOV) focal multiplier effect will be welcomed by especially sports action and wildlife photographers, and others that have come to appreciate the benefits of shooting in the DX (APS-C) format.

Taking into account its product positioning in the Nikon digital SLR line-up, there is not much that can be said to be missing from the Nikon D600 SLR.

It is interesting to see that Canon has chosen to take a different approach and rather than delivering higher end features, speed and performance, has designed the full frame Canon EOS 6D to excel as a low light / high ISO performer, and to cater to bloggers and the active social networking type by incorporating practical features like built-in Wi-Fi transfer and GPS tagging functionality.

From an enthusiast point of view, the Nikon D600 has a lot to offer that the Canon EOS 6D does not. The Nikon D600 does not however offer built-in Wi-Fi or GPS geotagging, although these features can be added to the camera with dedicated optional accessories (bearing in mind the additional cost). In terms of low light photography the Nikon D600 is already a serious performer, and while the Canon EOS 6D may (and more than likely will) outperform and excel in this area, the relative advantage to most shooters is in comparison unlikely to outweigh the many other benefits offered by the D600. Die hard low light photographers will maybe disagree.

There is no doubt that Canon’s marketing team has their work cut out for them in the coming months. With the Nikon D600 already earning accolades from photographers, it seems like the Canon EOS 6D may be coming a little late to the party.

Which camera to buy is ultimately a personal choice and depends on a number of factors. Whether you choose to buy the Nikon D600 or the Canon EOS 6D full frame SLR, one thing I am sure off is that both camera’s will be able to produce excellent images.

While I have strived for accuracy and tripled checked the facts, if you notice anything that seems to require correction please let me know. Constructive feedback is appreciated and you are also welcome to ask questions in the comments section below.

Good luck with your final purchase decision and happy shooting.


Looking for a new lens for your digital SLR camera? You can see a list here from B&H Photo that features popular Nikon and Canon lenses that are designed for the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D respectively. Note: B&H Photo and Video will not ship Nikon products to Canada.

In the US? Buy the Nikon D600 with AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens from Amazon.com

The Canon 6D SLR is expected to be released by Dec 2012.

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Category: Popular Digital Cameras, Removable Lens Cameras, Top Stories, Uncategorized

Comments (15)

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  1. John Oulton says:

    Great article Sig!

    • Sig Hallgrimsson says:

      Thank you very much John. Remember the Nikon F100 35mm camera? The new D600 falls in the same category with respect to digital, and back in the good old Focus Center days we thought that film would be around forever. Times sure have changed.

  2. anon says:

    Thanks for the thorough side-by-side. One thing I didn’t see mentioned was a histogram in live view. I believe the 6D offers live brightness and RGB (as my T4i) while the D600 omits any type of live histogram. As an amateur who lacks the experience to eyeball perfect exposures, I rely on this feature to help me avoid blowing the red channel.

    • Sig Hallgrimsson says:

      Thank you. With respect to histogram in Live View you are correct in that the Nikon D600 does not offer this feature. The D600 does offer extensive histogram options in playback mode, including; RGB histogram for each channel, zoom in histogram, and blown highlight warning. With the Nikon D600 the workflow would be to take a quick test shot, playback and confirm. I personally tend to stick pretty exclusively with SLR viewfinder shooting, and then use the workflow as described if I need to check histograms. The Canon 6D also offers histogram in playback mode. Hope that helps

  3. rex says:

    thank you taking time to put together comparison of the two cameras. one error in the article is EOS 7D is not A full frame sensor it is APS-C sensor.

    • Sig Hallgrimsson says:

      Great catch Rex! Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you, and I mistakenly referred to the Canon EOS 7D as being the full frame upgrade to the Canon 6D, as opposed to the camera that I was intending to reference which is of course the EOS 5D Mark III. The article has been amended accordingly. Thanks!

  4. Sandy says:

    Good article. thanks for your work. One note, the D600 indeed has a plastic panel interface for the metal lens mount, as does the 6D and indeed the 5D3.

    • Sig Hallgrimsson says:

      Sandy, I tested the D600 with the AF-D 80-200mm F/2.8 telephoto zoom and it is a fairly heavy lens. Nothing felt amiss, nice balance overall. If the hit is strong enough, impact damage usually means a trip to the service center for evaluation, possible repair, testing and adjustments, even if you are shooting with a professional level SLR.
      Thank you for reading my article and commenting.

  5. sunil says:

    Great article thnx a lot.i am more like an experienced amature want to upgrade to fullframe from my nikon d5100(which i sold recently) thinking to buy one of these, before reading this article i was (d600)50%-50%(6d) now (d600)70%-30%(6d). still not fully convinced on D600 for its AF and low lighting, but seeing more +ves with the alignment of dials and familiar menu options. which one you personally suggests?? based on performance and cost of lens?? or is there any better FX body in this price range???

    • Sig Hallgrimsson says:

      Hi Sunil,

      Thank you. To answer your question I would say that the Nikon D600 and the Canon EOS 6D are cameras that are designed for different customers. The advantage of the Nikon D600 over the Canon 6D are many, although the Canon 6D certainly has its own strengths as shown in the comparison. The Nikon D600 in my opinion is the better camera for enthusiast photographers, better metering system, better AF system, better flash system, better dynamic range control, better control layout, and the fact that the camera is also compatible with the DX format is a practical feature. The Canon 6D is a camera that I think is more suited for low light, fine art type of photography and less action related photography. There are other models on the market, although Canon and Nikon pretty much own the full frame SLR market. Personally in terms of system compatibility and future model upgrade ability I would stick with either Nikon or Canon and choose the camera that meets your specific needs.

  6. sunil says:

    thanks again Sig. i am sticking to Nikon, eagerly waiting for thanksgiving to find any deals on D600 :)

  7. rhlpetrus says:

    Regarding your cooments about low-light abilities,

    “In terms of low light photography the Nikon D600 is already a serious performer, and while the Canon EOS 6D may (and more than likely will) outperform and excel in this area, the relative advantage to most shooters is in comparison unlikely to outweigh the many other benefits offered by the D600″,

    if recent trends are kept, the D600 will likely perform better than the 6D. The ISO ratings that Canon have used are not a good indicator of performance, you just need to compare the 5D3 to the D600, for example (of course, RAW, since canon applies very heavy NR to in-camera conversion). The D600′s files are cleaner right up to 25K ISO.

    • Sig Hallgrimsson says:

      Yes you are correct, the Canon 6D high ISO sample images that I have seen so far do not seem as good as the results from the Nikon D600. At the time of writing this article, there were no independent sample images available from the 6D. I am hoping to get a production 6D for testing soon. Thank you for your comment.

  8. Myles R Dresslove says:

    An excellant well written review. It would appear to me that the function behind a choice between the Nikon d600 and the Canon d6 would be significantly influenced by the lenses acquired over time. Thanks for the great article.

  9. Kent Lee says:

    What a great detail review for nikon d600, now i know my camera far more better. Thanks for the effort!

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