Canon 6D vs Nikon D600 Comparison / Differences

October 5, 2012

Canon 6D and Nikn D600 cameras side by side

In this article I want to take you to the guts of the Canon EOS 6D and compare it against the Nikon D600. Both cameras are designed to appeal t both enthusiasts and professionals, and setup a new low entrance price so more photographers can afford getting it. Until now, photographers on a tight budget would have to go with a second-hand full frame or settle for an APS-C camera instead.  Buying a Full Frame DSLR is not something that you do every day. It’s an investment and you want to make sure that you are making the right choice.

There are lots of opinions out there against and in favor of each camera, and it an get very confusing to make a choice. If you already have Canon or Nikon lenses and/or camera, the decision might be easier, jut update you camera to the same vendor of the gear you have. Even then, some people might think of making a switch to a new vendors, others start from zero and buy into a new system, either Nikon or Canon.
This comparison is going to be really interesting, and hopefully I will try to stay away from a Nikon vs Canon debate, try to focus only on the differences between the two cameras. OK, let’s start out comparison and see if we are going to reveal anything that will make you change your mind and pick the Canon 6D over the Nikon D600 or vice versa. We’ll start with a short introduction on each camera and continue to the comparison, where you can see the differences between the two.


Canon EOS 6D

Announced on September 17, 2012, the Canon EOS 6D is an affordable Full Frame format DSLR camera. Before the 6D announced, your only option to get the ‘cheapest’ 35mm dSLR is to get the 5D, 5D Mark II or 5D Mark III. Of course the 5D and 5DMKII are now cheaper after the 5DMKIII announced, but this is the first time that a new FF camera costs at the sub $3000. More than that, the 6D costs around $2100, only $700 more than the current price of the EOS 7D. This is unbelievably low price for a full frame camera, and that’s what Canon wanted to do exactly, offer 7D an option to upgrade to full frame,  and in general, offer a relatively cheap ff camera to anyone who wants or needs one.

The 6D features a brand new 20.2-megapixel Full Frame CMOS sensor in a compact and lightweight camera design.  It features Canon Digic 5+ powerful  image processor, 63 dual-layer metering, 11-point AF, 3-inch LCD, large optical viewfinder, 4.5 fps burst and Full HD video recording.  Furthermore, the cameras is equipped with Wi-Fi and GPS. On paper, the 6D doesn’t revolutionize anything, but it certainly a host of great features that most of us will be happy to have. I personally think that the 6D as well as the Nikon D600 are evolutionary cameras. I expected that when the lower segment of consumer and entry-level DSLR cameras be shrinking, we’ll find full frame cameras at a lower price point.  This will attract more people, especially enthusiasts, to upgrade to more expensive cameras, Canon makes more money and everyone is happy.

Canon EOS 6D, 5D Mark III size copmarison

Canon EOS 6D vs 5D Mark III size copmarison (via

So how small the 6D really is?

Canon EOS 6D is 5% (7.5 mm) narrower and 5% (5.9 mm) shorter than Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Canon EOS 6D is 7% (5.2 mm) thinner than Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Canon EOS 6D [770 g] weights 19% (180 grams) less than Canon EOS 5D Mark III [950 g] (*inc. batteries and memory card).

Canon EOS 6D dimensions: 144.5×110.5×71.2 mm (camera body only, excluding protrusion)
Canon EOS 5D Mark III dimensions: 152×116.4×76.4 mm (camera body only, excluding protrusion)

So the 6D is indeed small, even smaller than the 7D, but not by much (same height ~4mm shorter).

Travelers and outdoor photographers in general will enjoy the fact that this camera has a built-in GPS ,so geotagging is easy as doing nothing, however it eats power quite a lot. The 6D provides full manual control over exposure and audio levels while you record a video. You can select to record in either Al-I or IPB compressions, so no doubt that the 6D will also be favorite among videographers.

All in all, the 6D is a very interesting camera, one that might convince many people to skip the 7D but at the same time offer a very good upgrade path toe 60D / 7D owners who always wanted to have a full frame camera for all its advantages of APS-C. Shooting videos with 12800 ISO will help you get amazing looking videos, something that you couldn’t get with good quality on an APS-C sensor.

To get you really excited about this camera and what can be achieved with its video functionality, just watch the following video. It shows various scenes shot with the 6D with various lenses. After you watch this I’m pretty sure that you’ll say oh wow!

Battery grip for the Canon EOS 6D:  BG-E13


Nikon D600

OK, the 6D is impressive but of course it has its competition, and the most direct competitor to the 6D is the Nikon D600, an affordable Full Frame DSLR from Nikon. If you want to know the differences between the D600, D700 and the D800, I recommend reading the article Nikon D600 vs D800, D700 which I wrote previously.

The Nikon D600 features a 24.3 megapixel FX CMOS Senor and EXPEED 3 image processor. I’ve read that many people are disappointed with the fact that Nikon have decided to go with 24MP resolution, some prefer much less and better high ISO performance. Even if the D600 performs well at high ISO, it just makes you wonder what if it had 12MP…mmm. Leaving dreams aside, the Nikon D600 is really an exciting release.  It costs the same as the 6D, around $2100 (on Amazon as for the time of writing this comparison – body only).


Nikon D800, D600 side by side

Nikon D600 (left) and D800 (right) - Size Comparison (via

The Nikon D600 features 39-point AF system, 1080p movie recording, ISO up to 25600, 100% coverage optical viewfinder, 3.2-inch LCD and all in a compact and durable camera body. The D600 is a bit taller (3mm) but a bit shorter than the 6D. The   D600 is larger than the D7000, but not my much, but it’s 1cm shorter and half a centimeter narrower than the D800.

The D600 doesn’t offer any Wi-Fi, PC Sync socket or GPS as the 6D, but it’s compatible with the WU-1b Wireless mobile adapter and the GP-1A GPS Adapter for automatic geotagging of images. The Wireless WU-1B mobile adapter allows you to automatically send images to your smartphone and also use your smartphone to control the camera (using a dedicated app). The D600 allows you to record uncompressed video footage directly to an external storage device like the ATOMOS Ninja 2 Video Recorder, via HDMI cable.

Of course this is just the tip of the ice, but the D600 as the 6D, both take advantage of a 35mm sensor and offers great features that will appeal to bot enthusiasts and professional alike.

Before we continue, let get you excited about the D600 with this useful hands-on field test video made by Chris Niccolls from TheCameraStoreTV (Thanks Chris).


Battery grip for the Nikon D600: MB-D14


Canon 6D vs Nikon D600 – Side by Side Comparison

OK, now that you’ve been introduces to the two cameras, it’s time to take a closer look at the specs to see the differences between the two cameras. I will continue the discussion afterwards.

[table "60" not found /]


After viewing the specs it seems that apart from the GPS, Wi-Fi and low-light capabilities capabilities, the Nikon D600 top the Canon in many ways, including better AF systems, faster flash sync, 100% optical viewfinder, faster burst, Clean uncompressed video, Headphone connector, dual slot SD and shutter durability. Some of those features are certainly important for both enthusiasts and pros. The Canon EOS 6D features better battery life, high ISO range, Wi-Fi, GPS and two video compression methods.


AF System

The Canon EOS 6D features 11 focus points compare to the 61 point of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, that’s a big difference, and that’s even lower than the Canon EOD 7D 19 point AF system. On the other hand the Canon EOS 6D has a new technology that enables the camera to focus down to -3EV, which can give the 6D and edge when shooting in low light.


 Low Light Performance

The combination of The -3EV (center point) focusing ability with  top ISO10400 capability and less pixels, should give the EOS 6D an edge when shooting in low light, but that needs to be put to a test and we’ll talk about image quality larger on.


Video Shooting

Both the Nikon D600 and Canon EOS 6D support Full HD video recording but certainly have their differences.  The Nikon D600 offers Clean HDMI output to record video directly to external storage device, (e.g. Atomos Ninja 2) a feature that will appeal to professionals for sure. You have the option to display the setting information  that appears on the LCD or disable it. Another advantage that the D600 has is that it has ports for connecting both mic jack (as the 6D) and headphone jack which the 6D doesn’t have The headphone jack is used to monitor the sound when recording videos, so you can hear exactly what is being recorded by the microphone in real time, again, another feature the many video shooters will love.


Nikon D600 Sample Video Footage:

Nikon D600 video sample from Still Light Productions on Vimeo.

What do you think?

Canon 6D sample videos can be downloaded from Canon’s website


I know that there are many videographers who hope that the 6D will be a winner in the video category, but given the fact, it seems that the Nikon D600 is a real contender, even better for some applications.

The Nikon D600 really shows its strength against the Canon EOS 6D, it just look like the 6D is a model that should have been released a year ago, and not an updated model that can compete well against what Nikon has to offer. Outdoor photographers will admire the built quality, weather-sealing, GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities of the 6D, and this camera is certainly is a well-worthy upgrade from the 7D. The Nikon D600 really exhales when it comes to feature. Still those cameras will mostly find its way to customers that already own either Nikon or Canon DSLRs, those who want to upgrade to a full frame camera and couldn’t afford it before.  So for them the choice might not be so hard, although I already predict that their will be some people who will make the switch as always.


High ISO Performance + Sample Images

One of the main categories that the D600 and the 6D will be tested is the ‘High ISO Performance’ category. Many people will be comparing the 6D vs D600 side by side to see which one provides the better low light performance. Both cameras have full frame sensors, so that’s a great start compare to high ISO performance versus APS-C DSLRs.  People who buy Full Frame cameras do it for various reasons, but one of them is ow noise in high ISO, so they can shoot low light photos with confidence.

Nikon D600 Sample images:

Toy museum - 23rd of September 2012 The Jacks, Burgerweeshuis Deventer 29-Sep-2012 Make a Wish DSC_0253-Griffith_Observatory_ISO_6400 Coffee Table w/ Rolex & Kindle
ISO 1600
(post processed
from RAW)
ISO 4500 ISO 100 ISO 6400 ISO 6400


The Initial impressions are very very good!!


Nikon D600 vs the D700 you can see that the D600 already outperforms the D700 when we cross the ISO1600 barrier. D600 image looks sharp with lots of details. As you go up the ISO scale you can see that the D600 is able to maintain good contrast, details and noise is speckled but not smudgy so it can better be removed using noise reduction software when necessary.  The D700 suffers from much more chroma noise patterns.

Nikon D600 vs D800, the D600 has a bit better performance than the D800, but considering the 36.15MP resolution of the D800 sensor, the difference is quite understandable.

Nikon D600 vs Canon 5D Mark III – the 5DMKIII image looks much smoother at ISO6400 and above, which suggests that Canon applies stronger NR.  Below that ISO, the 5D Mark III image look amazing with less noise than the D600

Nikon D600 vs D7000 – I think that the D600 has a roughly 1.5EV advantage over the D7000, that just shows us how good the high ISO performance of the D7000 really is.
So to put things into perspective, don’t expect a D3s / D3X high ISO performance with the Nikon D600, it won’t happen, but high ISO performance is very good, although it still leaves something to be desired if you know what I mean.

You are probably aware that some photographers didn’t really like the noise patterns on the Canon 5D Mark III  (example here), but the 5D Mark III overall low light performance is very good, but it just lack the good performance in the shadow areas. There is also some talks about the Moiré pattern and sharpness regarding the 5D MK III (here). The second article also talks about the shadows which are not clean even at base ISO 100.

So I guess that people have some expectation from the Canon EOS 6D, they probably won’t those ‘issues’ solved in some way or another. There aren’t many high ISO images from the 6D on the web as for the time of writing this article, but for those I’ve observed, high ISO performance is very good, although images looks a bit soft to me, but just a bit. When I compared two portrait photos from both the 6D and the D600 via the official sites, it appears that the Canon image is a bit soft and the D600 image just looks sharper. It might sound strange but it’s nothing new to me. I had several Canon DSLR cameras and all of them produce a bit soft image. I always wanted to get that sharp shiny look when I zoom in to view the person’s eyes, but I just couldn’t get it perfect as I got them with my Nikon DSLRs (and with both I used high quality prime lenses). SO in general I am not surprised and about people mentioning a bit softness in Canon photos.

Of course in order to really comprehend the differences, we need to wait for a side by side comparison from dpreview.



Both the Nikon D600 and Canon EOS 6D are probably among the most awaited cameras for 2012. Both costs the same and both are affordable Full Frame DSLR cameras.  Photographers on a tight budget will certainly will be given the chance to dive into the Full Frame world, taking full advantage of those high quality 35mm lenses out there. However, we can’t ignore the differences between the two cameras. The Canon 6D just seems to be shadowed by the Nikon D600 features. I liked the GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities, I liked more the ability of the 6D to focus in very dim lights, but no doubt that Nikon put a very strong contender here, something that will make people think twice before they jump and grab the 6D.

Although not officially tested, the Nikon D600 should offer better AF performance,it offers faster burst, clean HDMI output, 100% coverage OVF, both mic jack and headphone jack, built-in flash, dual-card slot and more durable shutter. So the D600 just looks like a better all-around package. After examining some sample images and high ISO photos, even if the 6D has better high ISO performance in some degree (I don’t expect it to be significant), still the D600 looks more attractive.

The thing is that I know most of you already got either Nikon or Canon lenses. If it was me, I would probably stay with the brand I already bought lenses and gear to. Who knows, two years from now things might change in favor of Canon.  It doesn’t mean that the 6D is not a good camera, it’s an excellent camera, but it seems like it missed the train. We expect more from Canon, especially after looking at what the Nikon D600 has to offer. It just not enough 🙁

I am pretty sure that people who want to buy a full frame will get the 6D and enjoy its high capabilities both as a stills cameras and HDSLR cameras. Comparisons makes things tough because the emphasize the weaknesses of every model that is being compared and we just can’t get it all in one package, can’t we?

So my recommendation is to upgrade to either of those excellent bodies if you really want to enjoy the advantages of a Full Frame camera. Image quality will be better including high ISO performance.  You get to enjoy a large bright optical viewfinder and great build quality. At the same time we can not ignore the fact that those two cameras are kind of a mix between ASP-C and the FF cameras above those models. It’s not a bad thing at all, it just a compromise that you need to consider when buying an affordable Full Frame camera. For most of you this will be a dream come true and you’ll not even need more than that, others might think of looking at the Nikon 800/D800E or the Canon 5D Mark III .

Click here to Buy the Canon EOS 6D from B&H Photo

Click here to buy the Nikon D600 from B&H Photo