Canon EOS 6D Ken McMahon, March 2013

Canon EOS 6D vs Nikon D600 Quality JPEG

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

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.

Conditions on the day were cloudy but bright and the test scene wasn't as demanding in terms of tonal range as it can be in bright sunlight. The tonal range nonetheless proved a challenge for the EOS 6D which, despite accurately metering the exposure has clipped the highlights very slightly with minor loss of detail in the sky. This could be easily recovered from the RAW file though.

What about the crops? The 6D gets off to an excellent start with the first crop showing a good level of detail. The crosses at either end of the chapel roof are well defined as are the door and windows. The horizontal edge of the perimeter wall are nice and clean and so is the horizon, though I can make out the merest hint of a halo running its length - it's most visible on the right side of the crop. There's also a good level of detail in the grass and rocks in the foreground.

In the second crop the edges aren't quite so crisp, but the overall level of detail is still pretty good. The third crop from close to the edge of the frame also holds up very well with no evidence of softening, distortion or chromatic aberration (which will have been corrected in-camera). The final crop from back in the middle of the frame once again shows an excellent level of detail with clean edges everwhere from the window frames to the balcony dividers.

Compared with the crops from the 24 Megapixel Nikon D600 those from the 20 Megapixel Canon EOS 6D show a larger area with smaller details. At first, it looks like the D600 might have the edge on the 6D, the first crop from the D600 looks to be a little sharper with a little more detail. The same could be said of the second crop, the chimneys and window frames look a little cleaner and there's a little more detail in the lighthouse. The third crop from the D600 softens up considerably, but that's most likely due to the lens we had to use, rather than sensor limitations. In the fourth crop from the centre of the frame there's little if anything between them, though.

So it's looking like the Nikon D600 has a marginal JPEG quality advantage. My Canon EOS 6D RAW quality results on the next page will provide evidence of how much, if any, of the difference is due to processing. Alternatively, see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Canon EOS 6D Noise results.


Nikon D600 JPEG
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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