Do not be fooled by DXOMARK: 6D versus D610

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dirkluchtman
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Do not be fooled by DXOMARK: 6D versus D610
5 months ago

Most people already know this, that DXOMARK reports are just numerical guidelines that show the sensor raw capabilities under certain controlled circumstances.

According to these reports, the Nikon D610 performs way better than the Canon 6D, especially in terms of dynamic range but also in low performance (a third of a stop better).

In reality, things are vastly different. I was lured strongly to the D610 because of the DXOMARK reports. I have been a Canon shooter for years, including the 5D Mark II, but had to sell all my gear for financial reasons. Because I could make fresh start now, I gave the D610 a try.

For starters, I love the body of the 610 more; it feels more robust, has more buttons for smoother operation and really hits the size mark in my view. The onboard flash is a great bonus. The 6D is a bit too small and feels unbalanced with large lenses like the 24-105 attached to it, although I love the grip. Furthermore, I absolutely hate the floppy doors of the 6D that give access to USB slot, HDMI, etc (I really hope Canon abandons this in their next generation cameras). This is all way better on the 610. The 610 overall is the better camera when it comes to functionality, operation and build I think. I do like the 6D for its simplicity and looks.

However, when it comes to image quality I strongly prefer the 6D. Images from the Nikon D610 look a bit gritty, with tons of detail, strong contrast (and great color), but very rough transitions to highlights, in RAW. In fact, highlight recovery is a major issue on the D610. I do not think it is user error, as this was also reported on CNET reviews and suggested here on DPREVIEW and in many forums online; the 610 tends to clip highlights easily. I noticed that I need to dial down exposure compensation up to 3 stops in order for highlights to be recovered at all, sometimes even with overcast skies. Sometimes, they are unrecoverable. This is also visible on bright surfaces, such as white shirts, white walls, etc. While shadow detail recovery is indeed second to none on the 610 when the lowest ISOs are used, at higher ISOs, noise creeps in quickly when lifting shadows, making negative exposure compensation in lower light situations tricky. Here, the 6D would be better, as it as higher dynamic range at higher ISOs.

I find tonality and highlight exposure better on the 6D (and my ex 5D MarkII). While the 6D tends to underexpose a bit compared to the 610, I never need to dial down the exposure so much to recover highlights. So the better dynamic range score for the 610 must be in shadow recovery mainly.

High ISO performance is great on both cameras, but I have found the 6D to be slightly better at really high ISOs such as 6400 and 12800, where images on the 6D, even in low light, are more usable.

Never thought I would say this, but I prefer what the Canon sensor does here compared to the Nikon one. But I wish it was in a Nikon style body.

I kept the 6D and thoroughly enjoying it!

Canon EOS 5D Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 6D Nikon D610
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