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Nikon D600 Ken McMahon & Gordon Laing, Nov 2012
 
 

Nikon D600 vs Nikon D800 noise

Results here using in-camera JPEG files. If you prefer, check out my D600 vs D800 RAW noise results.

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  Nikon D600 results
1 Nikon D600 vs DX Quality JPEG
2 Nikon D600 vs DX Quality RAW
3 Nikon D600 vs DX Noise JPEG
4 Nikon D600 vs DX Noise RAW
5 Nikon D600 vs D800 Noise JPEG
6 Nikon D600 vs D800 (down-sampled)
7 Nikon D600 vs D800 Noise RAW
8 Nikon D600 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions I shot this scene with the Nikon D600 and D800 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Each camera was fitted with the same Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.4 lens, set to f8 in Aperture Priority mode. Both were using their standard processing styles and White Balance was set manually to 3130K. Active D-Lighting was disabled.

I shot this sequence in RAW+JPEG mode, so if you prefer, check out my D600 vs D800 RAW noise comparison.

The image above was taken with the Nikon D600 with the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f1.4G set to f8 in Aperture Priority mode. At its expanded Low sensitivity of 50 ISO, the D600 metered an exposure of 1 second for this composition. The Nikon D800 metered an identical exposure, so you're comparing like-with-like below. As always, the red square in the image above shows the cropped area, which is shown below at 1:1. The D800 crops for this page were also made at 1:1 so show a smaller area due to the higher pixel pitch.

At first glance, it's clear the crops from the D600 and D800 share a very similar style of processing. The colour, tone, sharpening and general look of their images is essentially the same. This is great news for the D600 as the D800 delivers very satisfying JPEGs direct from the camera.

Where they differ of course is the level of detail when viewed at 1:1 as in the crops below. The 36 Megapixel D800 is genuinely capturing greater real-life detail which is most apparent in the pollen on the flower's stamen. The D600 crops contain plenty of fine detail, but as you'd expect, the D800 when equipped with a decent lens can simply resolve more still.

Since both cameras share the same sized sensor though, the lower resolution D600 should enjoy an advantage when it comes to noise levels. This is most easily seen in RAW comparisons with noise reduction turned off, and you can see it in my Nikon D600 vs D800 RAW noise results. But wait, there's more...

Judging from the crops below, I'd say the D800 does indeed display fractionally more visible noise at 400 ISO, a difference which becomes more apparent at 800 ISO and especially 1600 ISO. This continues throughout the rest of the sensitivity range with the D600 enjoying slightly cleaner looking images when both are viewed at 1:1.

This is what you'd expect, although from the results below I certainly wouldn't recommend the D600 over the D800 if you wanted lower noise images. There's certainly a small difference, but not a huge one when comparing in-camera JPEGs. Once again the real test is to process RAW files without noise reduction applied to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes, and I'll do that as soon as the D600 is supported in ACR.

There is however one more comparison I can make right now. On this page you can see the D600 compared to the D800 when both are capturing their native resolutions and viewed at 1:1. While this is my preferred means of testing as it shows the detail benefit of a higher resolution sensor, there are those who'd argue a fairer comparison would be to down-sample the higher-resolution model to the same pixel dimensions as the lower model. This approach lets us compare noise levels when images from both are effectively output at the same size, such as on a same-sized print. So in the spirit of fairness that's exactly what I've done in my Nikon D600 vs D800 downsampled noise page!


Nikon D600 (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
Using AF-S 35mm f1.4 at f8
 
Nikon D800 (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
Using AF-S 35mm f1.4 at f8

L (50 ISO)
L (50 ISO)
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
H1 (12800 ISO)
H1 (12800 ISO)
     
H2 (25600 ISO)
H2 (25600 ISO)


Nikon D600
results : Quality / RAW / Noise / D600 vs D800


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