AF performance D600 vs. D800

Started Dec 10, 2012 | Questions
ZAnton
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AF performance D600 vs. D800
Dec 10, 2012

Hi everybody.

I am planning to switch from Canon to Nikon. The only question: D600 or D800?

I shoot landscapes, and portraits/family photos (including kids) in low light.

Why: I currently have 5DII. 5DIII has good AF, but has less DR then even 5DII. And it is much more expensive than both D800 and D600. I use Fill Light in LR often, also 5DII underexposes always as soon as ISO reaches 800 (usually by 1 stop). So Shadow noise is important.

Second, Canon’s latest pricing suggest, they are crazy, and I don’t expect it will change any time soon.

So my question is, how much better AF on D800 than on D600?

D800 has a wider AF field, but this alone could not justify price difference (for me). So the question is about speed and mostly precision in low light for central points and performance of outer (non-cross) points in bright to moderate light.

Thanks.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark III Nikon D600 Nikon D800
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gl2k
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to ZAnton, Dec 10, 2012

ZAnton wrote:

Hi everybody.

I am planning to switch from Canon to Nikon. The only question: D600 or D800?

I shoot landscapes, and portraits/family photos (including kids) in low light.

Why: I currently have 5DII. 5DIII has good AF, but has less DR then even 5DII. And it is much more expensive than both D800 and D600. I use Fill Light in LR often, also 5DII underexposes always as soon as ISO reaches 800 (usually by 1 stop). So Shadow noise is important.

Second, Canon’s latest pricing suggest, they are crazy, and I don’t expect it will change any time soon.

So my question is, how much better AF on D800 than on D600?

D800 has a wider AF field, but this alone could not justify price difference (for me). So the question is about speed and mostly precision in low light for central points and performance of outer (non-cross) points in bright to moderate light.

Thanks.

No scientific tests have been performed with regard to this feature. So all you'll get is hearsay with little to no substance.

I doubt that the D800 is far superior over the 5DIII in low light portrait photography. Considering that you probably own a bunch of lenses a transition to Nikon could become an expensive step. I agree though on the "ambitious" pricing model of Canon. Others might call it unreasonable or even shameless.

Also keep in mind that AF performance is not the only feature that makes a possible difference between D600 and D800. The D600 has a slightly denser AF point distribution making it even harder to place a face off center. D600 has no 1-click  100% preview.

Finally, if money doesn't object go for the D800. It's definitely more "pro-ish" than the D600.

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heptagon
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to ZAnton, Dec 10, 2012

I don't have a D600 so can't answer your question. However I have a D4 and a 5D3 side by side. In low light situations the non-cross type AF points on the D4 destroys the cross-type AF points on 5D3 as long as there are some horizontal texture on the subject. However if the subject has only vertical texture, the non-cross type AF points fails to grab focus no matter how good the light condition is.

In my opinion the 5D3 is doing better as it has a much better coverage of cross-type AF points. Yes according to my tests the 5D3 is focusing slower than the D4, but more consistently! I often miss my moments with the D4 when I use the non-cross type AF points, which is really annoying.

If coverage of cross-type AF points is not an issue for you then switching to Nikon for better DR seems reasonable.

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ZAnton
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Thanks for info n/t
In reply to heptagon, Dec 11, 2012

no text

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ZAnton
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to gl2k, Dec 11, 2012

gl2k wrote:

ZAnton wrote:

Hi everybody.

I am planning to switch from Canon to Nikon. The only question: D600 or D800?

I shoot landscapes, and portraits/family photos (including kids) in low light.

Why: I currently have 5DII. 5DIII has good AF, but has less DR then even 5DII. And it is much more expensive than both D800 and D600. I use Fill Light in LR often, also 5DII underexposes always as soon as ISO reaches 800 (usually by 1 stop). So Shadow noise is important.

Second, Canon’s latest pricing suggest, they are crazy, and I don’t expect it will change any time soon.

So my question is, how much better AF on D800 than on D600?

D800 has a wider AF field, but this alone could not justify price difference (for me). So the question is about speed and mostly precision in low light for central points and performance of outer (non-cross) points in bright to moderate light.

Thanks.

No scientific tests have been performed with regard to this feature. So all you'll get is hearsay with little to no substance.

I doubt that the D800 is far superior over the 5DIII in low light portrait photography. Considering that you probably own a bunch of lenses a transition to Nikon could become an expensive step. I agree though on the "ambitious" pricing model of Canon. Others might call it unreasonable or even shameless.

Also keep in mind that AF performance is not the only feature that makes a possible difference between D600 and D800. The D600 has a slightly denser AF point distribution making it even harder to place a face off center. D600 has no 1-click 100% preview.

Finally, if money doesn't object go for the D800. It's definitely more "pro-ish" than the D600.

I do not expect from D800 AF to be superiour than 5D3 AF. On the same level is good enough. Another reason to switch for me are lenses. Canon's 50mm, 28mm are very old. 35mm is okay, but Nikon's is better, 85mm - Nikon's is better, 70-200 - same good but cheaper (in germany at least). 14-24 - Canon doesn't have it. and so on.

I have Canon 50mm f/1.4, which is total crap. It focuses terribly. From thousands of photos with it I have 3-4 which are in focus (at f/1.8-2). At f/1,4 I have none in focus. I hope Nikon's 50G are better.

The second lens I have is 35L. It is good, after I paid 180 Euro for justage.

I also had 24-105, which had broken after 6 month of VERY moderate and accurate use (AF motor broken), and I sold it as soon as I got it from service center. But I didn't like it anyway.

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olyflyer
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to ZAnton, Dec 11, 2012

ZAnton wrote:

So my question is, how much better AF on D800 than on D600?

D800 has a wider AF field, but this alone could not justify price difference (for me). So the question is about speed and mostly precision in low light for central points and performance of outer (non-cross) points in bright to moderate light.

Compare the specs, go to a store to check out both and buy the one which feels best in your hands.

The D800 beats the D600 in resolution and high ISO and also DR. It has CF/SD cards instead of SD/SD. It has better and more sensitive AF module, 51 points vs. 39, and since the D800 AF area is larger, it is pointless to compare the outer AF points of the D800 with the outer points of the D600. AF accuracy is difficult to compare scientifically, I have the D800 and have no problems with the accuracy anywhere. The light level is not as important for AF as the type of target and contrast. I use the camera in fairly low light also and have zero problems with it. The D800 is a full mag alloy body, the D600 is not. The D800 is heavier, which is good if you plan to use heavier lenses because it provides better stability and less camera shake caused by the mirror slap. The D800 has PC sync and 10-pin remote contacts, the D600 has not. The D800 has more direct access buttons than the D600, and most of all, it has dedicated AE-L and AF-ON buttons, which I think is very important. The D600 has only AE-L, which you can program to be AF-ON but then you lose AEL. The D600 has PASM dial, which I am happy to be without, the ISO, WB and BKT buttons on the D800 are more important for me. I even use the QUAL button more often than I ever used on the D300s because I used the D300s with the highest quality all the time. The D600 has a quick selection to user settings U1 and U2, which can be useful. I'd like the D800 to have that feature as well, but it is not implemented.

The D800 provides excellent IQ even at reduced quality. The D600 will give you 10MP in DX crop mode, the D800 15.4MP, in 1.2x crop mode 25MP. The D600 has only two modes, FX and DX. The D800 has FX, DX, 1.2x and 5:4 modes. The D800 has a different RGB sensor, 91000 pixels while the D600 has a 2016 pixel sensor.

The highest shutter speed you can get with the D800 is 1/8000s, while the D600 stops at 1/4000s. Flash sync speed is 1/200s for the D600 and 1/250s for the D800.

There are plenty other differences, so having a look at the specs and compare them on your own is the right thing to do. Download the manuals and read them, only you can answer which features are important for you. Here is the D600 manual  and here is the D800 manual . There is also a Technical guide for the D800 . Download and read them.

Remember that both cameras are excellent, so it really depends on what you need, want or wish to pay for.

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olyflyer
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to ZAnton, Dec 11, 2012

ZAnton wrote:

I have Canon 50mm f/1.4, which is total crap. It focuses terribly. From thousands of photos with it I have 3-4 which are in focus (at f/1.8-2). At f/1,4 I have none in focus. I hope Nikon's 50G are better.

I don't know the Canon lens, but I have the Nikon 50/1.4G and is truly excellent. Maybe not a speed demon in terms of focus speed, but optically it is very nice.

I also had 24-105, which had broken after 6 month of VERY moderate and accurate use (AF motor broken), and I sold it as soon as I got it from service center. But I didn't like it anyway.

I have the 24-120/4 which is very fast in focusing, has VR and an nice IQ. It is not the lightest normal zoom, but truly useful with that range. The lens is not only nice for travel, but also for portraits, unless you really need something faster. The VR is very efficient as well, so the f/4 speed is not a big issue indoors unless your subjects are moving around too fast, in which case you must push the ISO up a bit, which isn't a problem with the D800.

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eNo
eNo
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to ZAnton, Dec 11, 2012

ZAnton wrote:

Hi everybody.

I am planning to switch from Canon to Nikon. The only question: D600 or D800?

I shoot landscapes, and portraits/family photos (including kids) in low light.

I'd say unless you're shooting sports, the D600 will AF just fine. I've had a couple of misses, but they were mostly my fault. I've had misses with the D700, too, so I know when it's my fault.

Why: I currently have 5DII. 5DIII has good AF, but has less DR then even 5DII.

Hmm. Are you sure? That would surprise me.

So my question is, how much better AF on D800 than on D600?

By all accounts, substantially better... unless you happen to get one with bad left AF sensors and need them to track motion, etc. Nothing's perfect.

Again, my experience, which doesn't necessarily match with others, but for family and landscapes, the D600 should be plenty of camera -- and then some.

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sandy b
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to olyflyer, Dec 11, 2012
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gobiassumcoffee
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to olyflyer, Dec 11, 2012

The D800 beats the D600 in resolution and high ISO and also DR.

I don't think it's fair to say it beats it in DR:

The .2EV advantage of the D800 at iso100 is within DXO's error margins (you can see some jitteryness to the lines as the D600 jumps slightly ahead at iso 200).  For all practical purposes the cameras are equivalent in DR.  It's much the same case for iso as well (D600 actually pulls a little ahead in terms of DR) but the D800 does retain details a little better due to its higher resolution.

There are plenty of reasons to choose a D800 over a D600 (which you did a good job listing) but I think plainly saying "better DR and high iso" isn't really one of them.

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rhlpetrus
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A test of action performance
In reply to ZAnton, Dec 11, 2012

Pretty good, shows they are close but D4/D800 are better. But that's basically for action only, there may be some other aspects:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50275454

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olyflyer
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to gobiassumcoffee, Dec 12, 2012

gobiassumcoffee wrote:

It's much the same case for iso as well (D600 actually pulls a little ahead in terms of DR) but the D800 does retain details a little better due to its higher resolution.

That's not really true if you comapre images of the same size. The D800 is better in high ISO, no doubt about that.

There are plenty of reasons to choose a D800 over a D600 (which you did a good job listing) but I think plainly saying "better DR and high iso" isn't really one of them.

Yes it is. The D800 is indeed better at high ISO and DR, but you should not look at JPEG results. Use CNX2 to get the best results and you will see the differences.

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gobiassumcoffee
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to olyflyer, Dec 12, 2012

olyflyer wrote:

gobiassumcoffee wrote:

It's much the same case for iso as well (D600 actually pulls a little ahead in terms of DR) but the D800 does retain details a little better due to its higher resolution.

That's not really true if you comapre images of the same size. The D800 is better in high ISO, no doubt about that.

There are plenty of reasons to choose a D800 over a D600 (which you did a good job listing) but I think plainly saying "better DR and high iso" isn't really one of them.

Yes it is. The D800 is indeed better at high ISO and DR, but you should not look at JPEG results. Use CNX2 to get the best results and you will see the differences.

The chart I already pasted from DXO does compare RAW files at the same size (there's also a separate chart for per pixel DR where the D600 is well above the D800 but I wouldn't reference that for obvious reasons). Dynamic range is practically the same. I'd welcome some evidence for your claim if you have any.

No ones arguing the D800 doesn't has better resolution and thus details, but I see no evidence showing it has greater DR.

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olyflyer
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to sandy b, Dec 12, 2012

sandy b wrote:

Some testing info per sensors, I have no doubt the build and AF are superior on the D800, other than resolution, I prefer the D600 sensor

Well, that's fine for me. Personally I prefer the opposite, in my opinion the D800 has a better sensor.

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/834%7C0/(brand)/Nikon/(appareil2)/792%7C0/(brand2)/Nikon

http://home.comcast.net/~nikond70/Charts/PDR.htm

http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/Charts/RN_ADU.htm#EOS%201D%20X_14

http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/Charts/PDR_Shadow.htm

Those links don't seem to work but thanks anyway. I am sure there are tests on the Internet which could prove anything. Never the less, I am also sure that the D600 is also a nice camera, just that the D800 is better. Whatever you or I prefer is a different question.

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gobiassumcoffee
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to olyflyer, Dec 12, 2012

I am sure there are tests on the Internet which could prove anything. Never the less, I am also sure that the D600 is also a nice camera, just that the D800 is better. Whatever you or I prefer is a different question.

That's fine, but by all objective measures the dynamic range is the same.  We don't really need to rely on opinions for a technical measurement.

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chlamchowder
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The D600 is fine for sports too
In reply to eNo, Dec 12, 2012

I'd say unless you're shooting sports, the D600 will AF just fine. I've had a couple of misses, but they were mostly my fault. I've had misses with the D700, too, so I know when it's my fault.

When the subject isn't moving, I get close to a 100% hit rate with my D600. Pretty much every frame comes out tack sharp, even with my 50/1.4 wide open.

For sports, predictive autofocus performance is very good. Of course, if you're in a dark room, trying to track a black subject against a black background, it's going to have some trouble. But for the vast majority of situations, I find it pretty hard to complain about the D600's tracking performance.



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J Mankila
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'Better' is an opinion...
In reply to olyflyer, Dec 12, 2012

olyflyer wrote:

..... Never the less, I am also sure that the D600 is also a nice camera, just that the D800 is better. Whatever you or I prefer is a different question.

I agree that mostly, the D800 is the better of the two. However, the D600 has pluses over the D800, also. First, critical manual focusing in liveview is easier due to better image quality at high magnifications. Second, controlling external flashes with the integrated flash is easier due to the commander mode, which the D800 curiously lacks while the D4 also has it. From the reports it sounds like the shutter vibration is smaller with the D600 - mirror vibration is less of an issue due to techniques provided to sidestep it (and in any case, the effects of these two vibration sources probably won't reduce the resolution below that of the 24MP sensor). The D600 quiet mode is noticeably quieter than that of D800. And finally, the D600 is noticeably lighter and smaller, which is a bonus that can be claimed through the choice of the camera bag.

All these characteristics and features can be important for different uses. Conversely, I could come up with a similar list for the D800 pluses. The objective differences are there only to guide our true, subjective opinion.

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illy586
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to ZAnton, Dec 12, 2012

First, understand this is probably the worst forum to ask Nikon users on advice. The fanboy is strong here and every D800 owner is going to praise the thing like it's the camera of God.

The D800 has a few more bells and whistles, more MP obviously, and slightly better AF(If you can even get one that properly AF, I went through three), but in the end unless you need massive prints, the D600 is a better option for the price. Its end result, short of large prints, is the exact same as the D800, and it's $1,000 cheaper.

Now if we're talking D800E, different ball game. If you do decide to go D800, go E or don't go D800 at all IMO. Either way both are great cameras.

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DeputyPhoto
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Re: 'Better' is an opinion...
In reply to J Mankila, Dec 12, 2012

You state D800 does not have wireless CLS flash function.  It Does.

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Leonard Shepherd
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Re: AF performance D600 vs. D800
In reply to illy586, Dec 12, 2012

illy586 wrote: The D800 has a few more bells and whistles, more MP obviously, and slightly better AF(If you can even get one that properly AF, I went through three),

The D800 has the better AF specification, especially using the central AF points. Whether together with the other D800 differences, the price difference is worthwhile is for each photographer to decide.

On D800 AF "issues" so far I make it 95 posting images at dpreview complaining about D800 AF - with images showing they did not test sensibly  - and no images posted using a test target likely to reasonably confirm an AF fault.

Eight months after launch Nikon have not issued any formal guidance. Either, as some proclaim, Nikon have abandoned good customer service, - or maybe - sensibly tested - there is a lot more talk about D800 AF faults than there are D800's with an AF issue to talk about.

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