Canon EOS 6D Ken McMahon, March 2013

Canon EOS 6D vs Nikon D600 Quality RAW

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To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Canon EOS 6D and the Nikon D600, within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes.

The Canon EOS 6D was fitted with the Canon EF 24-105mm f4L lens and the Nikon D600 with the AF Zoom-Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF lens (the only one available to us at the time of testing). Both lenses were set to their maximum 24mm wide angle setting to provide an equal field of view.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Canon EOS 6D results
1 Canon EOS 6D Quality JPEG
2 Canon EOS 6D Quality RAW
3 Canon EOS 6D Noise JPEG
4 Canon EOS 6D Noise RAW
5 Canon EOS 6D Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon EOS 6D. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f8 and the sensitivity to 100 ISO. The camera metered an exposure of 1/160. As usual, for this test the camera was otherwise left on the default settings. Set to 100 ISO the Nikon D600 metered the same exposure - 1/160 at f8.

I processed both files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes.

I've spent quite a lot of time closely examining these crops which in itself tells you that there isn't much more than a cigarette paper between them in terms of the quality. In my view on the previous page, the Nikon D600 JPEGs look marginally better than those from the EOS D600, but if there's a difference between the RAW files it's even narrower. Pixel-peepers out there may spot fractionally higher detail from the D600, but it's certainly very close especially when you eliminate any differences in processing.

One interesting thing that arises from all this pixel peeping is that, in places, very fine detail in the EOS 6D raw file looks slightly pixellated and colour fringed. It's possible these are demosaicing artifacts, a result of the process of determining the colour value of pixels by reference to the value of neighbouring pixels.

You can see this in the fourth crop in the area of the second window from the right in the bottom row, notice also how the diagonal balcony rails look a little bit stepped. I've added a further crop showing another area from the shot where this is apparent. It's worth bearing in mind that as the detail from the lower resolution EOS 6D image is smaller, it might be more prone to demosaicing artifacts.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Canon EOS 6D Noise results.


Canon EOS 6D RAW
Nikon D600 RAW
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO

Canon EOS 6D
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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