D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography

Started Feb 14, 2013 | Discussions
joeblow1984
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D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
Feb 14, 2013

I know this subject has been beat to death (6d vs d600) but I haven't seen anything specific to Wide Field Astrophotography (will not be using a tracking mount so need to keep exposures short via iso\aperture).  You can see examples of the type of stuff I'm trying to do on my 500px link in my signature.

I've compared the two extensively but am having trouble understanding which has better high ISO performance (raw) at 3200\6400 and better shadow performance for something like Astrophotography.

At the same time I'd likely be using it 50% traditional landscape\50% nighttime wide field astro stuff...so I don't want to give up anything either way.

I have no lenses from either Nikon or Canon so I'll be starting fresh, I've played with both shortly and I have to say I like the handling of the 6d a bit better. AF is irrelevant for me as this will be mostly for Landscape and because I'm coming from a X100 (so both will feel amazingly fast  ).  I've made a similar inquiry on the Canon side...sell me!

Thanks for any input.

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ultimitsu
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to joeblow1984, Feb 14, 2013

joeblow1984 wrote:

Wide Field Astrophotography (will not be using a tracking mount so need to keep exposures short via iso\aperture).

In that case you will probably have to take lens capability into account. 14-24 is the sharpest of all ultra wide angle lens at F2.8. it is significantly sharper than canon 16-35 and tokina 16-28 at F2.8 around the corners and edges. I think it is also sharper than most ultra wide primes at F2.8.

I've compared the two extensively but am having trouble understanding which has better high ISO performance (raw) at 3200\6400 and better shadow performance for something like Astrophotography.

at iso 3200, 6D takes a small lead in all aspect compared to D600. Based my observation if you use D600 and RAW, there is no point in using iso 12800 and 25600. it is better to just shoot 6400 and do the push yourself in post. that way the gap against 6d does not widen.

AF is irrelevant for me as this will be mostly for Landscape and because I'm coming from a X100 (so both will feel amazingly fast ). I've made a similar inquiry on the Canon side...sell me!

AF speed is similar on the two but that is not the end of the story, D600 has much better coverage and much better at tracking moving subjects with erratic movement. you may not have had use for it in the past but do not block yourself of this path for the future. When I bought my first DSLR sports and wild life was not in my mind, but situations did come up where I needed a camera that could do them.

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Astrophotographer 10
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to ultimitsu, Feb 14, 2013

I do this type of photography as well. I am interested to some degree about this.

I currently use D800E and wonder sometimes what a 5D3 or 6D would fare in comparison. I post often at an astrophotography site where most use Canon 5D2. That camera is limited to ISO3200 and banding can be significant in shadows when pushed but kept within its limits its a fantastic nigthscape camera. I have seen sample 6D shots but they are hard to evaluate as the imager took shots too basic to tell.

What I can say is the D800E is amazing I shoot routinely at ISO6400 and use a Nikon 14-24mm F2.8ED lens which many consider to be the finest lens in its category. The Samyang 14mm F2.8 is also a popular choice in this category.

The D800E has a slight yellow/green bias in its images compared to Canon which has a slight bluish bias in its images. I shoot at white balance 4200k and knock down green/magenta -1 and I get a pleasing colour. Shot at aut white balance and you'll get too much green from night glow in the atmosphere. The Nikon's (seen a D4 image as well) do seem very sensitive to green.

If you do time lapse, then Nikon's internal time lapse and interval timer functions are fantastic. I use them a lot as well to do nightsky time lapses. The camera makes a movie file of the time lapse so its ready to go straight out of the camera. Canon does not have that. D600 has that.

I followed the D600/6D and 5D3 very closely. Canon seems to be lagging in sensor development compared to Nikon who uses cutting edge Sony sensors which as the best on the market. But Canon has adopted an approach to make up for a slight lack in sensor performance with cutting edge jpeg engine and the power of its Digic 5. So its using computer power to process its jpegs. 6D appears to have implemented that better than 5D3 where jpeg output was smeared too much from the noise control which is essentially blurring.

Also 6D has lower read noise, slightly higher QE than 5D3 and noticeably lower high ISO noise in JPEG. The gain in RAW is probably less but still there. So for this reason I would chose a 6D over a 5D3 for astro work. I have yet to see a decent 60D astrophoto so at the risk of making too broad a pronunciamento I would only consider a 5D3 or 6D in the Canon range or 1DX (probably the best but expensive).

Between 6D and D600, not withstanding reported dust/oil on sensor issues of D600 I would probably still lean towards D600 due to the basically superior processor, the better lens selection for widefield (Novoflex makes an adapter for $200 to fit Nikon lenses on Canon EOS and it works well) and the internal time lapse and interval timer functions (time lapse only shoots jpeg, doesn't save individual images but outputs them in a .mov file, interval timer does shoot RAW if you want to do a time lapse in RAW).

QE on the D600 is higher than 6D as well. Not a lot though, 53% versus 50% for 6D but read noise is much lower in 6D, full well depth is much the same for either and much larger than for D800.

http://www.sensorgen.info/

I notice my D800E picks up the subtle and hard to record night glows of ionised gases in the atmosphere which are subtle reds, magentas and greens very well that I don't see in many Canon images. Again I haven't seen virtually 1 well done 6D image so hard to conclude but the D600 is likely to be a bit more sensitive to light than 6D.

Dynamic Range should be similar at the higher ISOs you'll be using but better in the D600 at lower ISOs.

Its a close thing but I think D600 is ahead by a whisker and it may come down to which makers overall image look you prefer. Canon dominates in the astro world but more and more are using Nikons since D800 came out.

In conclusion I would go for D800 if you can but if that is not in the budget then I would go for D600 over 6D at this stage until I see more proof the Canon is more than a sophisticated jpeg engine and shows high end RAW performance in low light like I know for a fact the D800E does (D600 seems to be very very similar).

Put it this way, there is no way I would swap my D800E for a 5D3 and 6D/D600 are a similar model choice.

Sample D800E night images:

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/146073997

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/148297666

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/148519875

Another choice you could consider is an astro modified Sony Nex 5r or Nex 6 (Spencers have them).

Greg.

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joeblow1984
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to ultimitsu, Feb 14, 2013

ultimitsu wrote:

joeblow1984 wrote:

Wide Field Astrophotography (will not be using a tracking mount so need to keep exposures short via iso\aperture).

In that case you will probably have to take lens capability into account. 14-24 is the sharpest of all ultra wide angle lens at F2.8. it is significantly sharper than canon 16-35 and tokina 16-28 at F2.8 around the corners and edges. I think it is also sharper than most ultra wide primes at F2.8.

I've compared the two extensively but am having trouble understanding which has better high ISO performance (raw) at 3200\6400 and better shadow performance for something like Astrophotography.

at iso 3200, 6D takes a small lead in all aspect compared to D600. Based my observation if you use D600 and RAW, there is no point in using iso 12800 and 25600. it is better to just shoot 6400 and do the push yourself in post. that way the gap against 6d does not widen.

AF is irrelevant for me as this will be mostly for Landscape and because I'm coming from a X100 (so both will feel amazingly fast ). I've made a similar inquiry on the Canon side...sell me!

AF speed is similar on the two but that is not the end of the story, D600 has much better coverage and much better at tracking moving subjects with erratic movement. you may not have had use for it in the past but do not block yourself of this path for the future. When I bought my first DSLR sports and wild life was not in my mind, but situations did come up where I needed a camera that could do them.

Good points, thanks for the perspective on AF.

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joeblow1984
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to Astrophotographer 10, Feb 14, 2013

Astrophotographer 10 wrote:

I do this type of photography as well. I am interested to some degree about this.

I currently use D800E and wonder sometimes what a 5D3 or 6D would fare in comparison. I post often at an astrophotography site where most use Canon 5D2. That camera is limited to ISO3200 and banding can be significant in shadows when pushed but kept within its limits its a fantastic nigthscape camera. I have seen sample 6D shots but they are hard to evaluate as the imager took shots too basic to tell.

What I can say is the D800E is amazing I shoot routinely at ISO6400 and use a Nikon 14-24mm F2.8ED lens which many consider to be the finest lens in its category. The Samyang 14mm F2.8 is also a popular choice in this category.

The D800E has a slight yellow/green bias in its images compared to Canon which has a slight bluish bias in its images. I shoot at white balance 4200k and knock down green/magenta -1 and I get a pleasing colour. Shot at aut white balance and you'll get too much green from night glow in the atmosphere. The Nikon's (seen a D4 image as well) do seem very sensitive to green.

If you do time lapse, then Nikon's internal time lapse and interval timer functions are fantastic. I use them a lot as well to do nightsky time lapses. The camera makes a movie file of the time lapse so its ready to go straight out of the camera. Canon does not have that. D600 has that.

I followed the D600/6D and 5D3 very closely. Canon seems to be lagging in sensor development compared to Nikon who uses cutting edge Sony sensors which as the best on the market. But Canon has adopted an approach to make up for a slight lack in sensor performance with cutting edge jpeg engine and the power of its Digic 5. So its using computer power to process its jpegs. 6D appears to have implemented that better than 5D3 where jpeg output was smeared too much from the noise control which is essentially blurring.

Also 6D has lower read noise, slightly higher QE than 5D3 and noticeably lower high ISO noise in JPEG. The gain in RAW is probably less but still there. So for this reason I would chose a 6D over a 5D3 for astro work. I have yet to see a decent 60D astrophoto so at the risk of making too broad a pronunciamento I would only consider a 5D3 or 6D in the Canon range or 1DX (probably the best but expensive).

Between 6D and D600, not withstanding reported dust/oil on sensor issues of D600 I would probably still lean towards D600 due to the basically superior processor, the better lens selection for widefield (Novoflex makes an adapter for $200 to fit Nikon lenses on Canon EOS and it works well) and the internal time lapse and interval timer functions (time lapse only shoots jpeg, doesn't save individual images but outputs them in a .mov file, interval timer does shoot RAW if you want to do a time lapse in RAW).

QE on the D600 is higher than 6D as well. Not a lot though, 53% versus 50% for 6D but read noise is much lower in 6D, full well depth is much the same for either and much larger than for D800.

http://www.sensorgen.info/

I notice my D800E picks up the subtle and hard to record night glows of ionised gases in the atmosphere which are subtle reds, magentas and greens very well that I don't see in many Canon images. Again I haven't seen virtually 1 well done 6D image so hard to conclude but the D600 is likely to be a bit more sensitive to light than 6D.

Dynamic Range should be similar at the higher ISOs you'll be using but better in the D600 at lower ISOs.

Its a close thing but I think D600 is ahead by a whisker and it may come down to which makers overall image look you prefer. Canon dominates in the astro world but more and more are using Nikons since D800 came out.

In conclusion I would go for D800 if you can but if that is not in the budget then I would go for D600 over 6D at this stage until I see more proof the Canon is more than a sophisticated jpeg engine and shows high end RAW performance in low light like I know for a fact the D800E does (D600 seems to be very very similar).

Put it this way, there is no way I would swap my D800E for a 5D3 and 6D/D600 are a similar model choice.

Sample D800E night images:

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/146073997

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/148297666

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/148519875

Another choice you could consider is an astro modified Sony Nex 5r or Nex 6 (Spencers have them).

Greg.

Great response, really appreciated.  I'd seen a few of your images in another thread, they are amazing!  Mind pointing me to a good Astrophotography forum?

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Astrophotographer 10
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to joeblow1984, Feb 14, 2013

iceinspace.com.au is one of the best.

Greg.

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Stevequad
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to Astrophotographer 10, Feb 15, 2013

Astrophotographer 10 wrote:

I do this type of photography as well. I am interested to some degree about this.

Sample D800E night images:

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/146073997

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/148297666

http://www.pbase.com/gregbradley/image/148519875

Greg.

Greg...WOW! Great images.

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Marianne Oelund
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Be careful with those read noise numbers
In reply to Astrophotographer 10, Feb 15, 2013

Astrophotographer 10 wrote:

QE on the D600 is higher than 6D as well. Not a lot though, 53% versus 50% for 6D but read noise is much lower in 6D,

Read noise cannot be fully characterized by a single number, as it varies across the ISO range. If you simply take the values from sensorgen.info and compare them directly, it likely will not give you the comparison that you seek, because the numbers often correspond to different ISO settings.

It is best to go back to the source of their data, DxOmark, and look at the dynamic-range plots. These give a good basis for read-noise comparison between cameras which have similar QE (i.e., within 10% or so), same sensor size and similar pixel count. For the 6D and D600 comparison, it's clear that a strong ISO-dependence exists. Below ISO 1600, the D600 has lower read noise, and substantially so near base ISO. They are essentially tied at ISO 1600, and above that, the 6D continues to show some advantage of optimization in its analog signal chain, whereas the D600 is simply using numerical scaling of the digital data.

As a side note, because of the D600's ISO implementation above ISO 1600 (it is purely numerical scaling of the ISO 1600 raw data), I do not recommend use of ISO settings above 1600 when shooting RAW with the D600; this also applies to the D800/E. There is nothing to gain but missing codes in the RAW data, and you are reducing your dynamic range.

Another important noise source for long exposures, which unfortunately is not often tested and reported, is dark current noise. This can easily be more significant than the read noise measured at short exposure times. It is strongly dependent on temperature, and also can vary significantly between production batches of the same sensor design; it is even sometimes seen to vary across an individual sensor.

full well depth is much the same for either and much larger than for D800.

http://www.sensorgen.info/

The FWC and QE figures from sensorgen appear to be accurate, but keep in mind that the FWC figure is per sensel. It is also important to consider full-well capacity on an equal-image-area basis; in that case, the D800 and 6D/D600 only differ by about 10%.

I notice my D800E picks up the subtle and hard to record night glows of ionised gases in the atmosphere which are subtle reds, magentas and greens very well that I don't see in many Canon images. Again I haven't seen virtually 1 well done 6D image so hard to conclude but the D600 is likely to be a bit more sensitive to light than 6D.

It is worth considering that the various types of sky glow, be they from artificial sources or natural ionization, are also noise sources. Often, the noise that they contribute to the image is more significant than the camera's read noise and dark-current noise.

Dynamic Range should be similar at the higher ISOs you'll be using but better in the D600 at lower ISOs.

As noted above, this also infers read noise.

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mpe
mpe
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to joeblow1984, Feb 15, 2013

Is the well known problem with RAW median cut noise suppression that can't be disabled finally solved in recent Nikon DSLRs? If not Canon is better choice.

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sandy b
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Marrianne would know
In reply to mpe, Feb 16, 2013

I believe she authored the fix, if I'm not mistaken, not sure about the most current dslr's

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Marianne Oelund
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A brief history of Nikon hot-pixel suppression
In reply to mpe, Feb 16, 2013

mpe wrote:

Is the well known problem with RAW median cut noise suppression that can't be disabled finally solved in recent Nikon DSLRs? If not Canon is better choice.

Depends on what you mean by "solved."  It is still there, but is now in its third generation, which is a considerable improvement over the first.

The purpose and function is to remove hot pixels; it isn't a median or averaging noise filter.  In the D3 generation, since it was applied indiscriminately to all data in the raw file, it did have some noise-reduction effect, even though that wasn't its purpose.  It also had a very narrow span of action, resulting in deletion or distortion of star images.

For the D7000, Nikon improved the algorithm by using adjacent other-channel values when deciding on what level to reassign a "hot" pixel to.  This avoided the "donut star" problem and reduced the probability of unintentionally removing star images.

In the D4/D800 generation, it has become more sophisticated and is applied selectively rather than generally.  I have more detail in some old emails which I could look up; Bernard Delley and I collaborated in studying the latest algorithm, and he came up with a good simulation of it.

All versions of the algorithm, however, are limited in that they cannot remove hot pixels that are in close proximity to each other.  Thus you may still find pairs or clusters of hot pixels remaining in the image.  The Capture NX 'astro' filter apparently deals with these.

In the D4, HPS is only applied for exposure times exceeding 1 second.  In other cameras such as the D800/E, the threshold is 1/4 sec or longer.

There are some sample image files available from my website at http://actionphotosbymarianne.com/Tech if you would like to see how the different generations of HPS work.

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Astrophotographer 10
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Re: Be careful with those read noise numbers
In reply to Marianne Oelund, Feb 16, 2013

Thanks for that explanation Marianne. Very helpful.

Greg.

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Rbrt
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Re: Be careful with those read noise numbers
In reply to Marianne Oelund, Feb 16, 2013

Wow. Marianne, this is why I come to this forum! Thank you!

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Rbrt
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to Astrophotographer 10, Feb 16, 2013

OMG Greg. That panorama is amazing!

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Bernard Delley
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hot-pixel suppression D800 and D4
In reply to Marianne Oelund, Feb 17, 2013

Just started a thread on this topic

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50874784

...finally

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joeblow1984
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to joeblow1984, Feb 20, 2013

A sincere thanks to everyone that contributed to the thread.  I ended up ordering a D600 but appreciated everyone's input, this was a great discussion without a lot of the vitriol that tends to "crop" up on the web (crop up...get it!!??).

Thanks Again.

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Astrophotographer 10
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to joeblow1984, Feb 24, 2013

Joe I'd like it if you posted some images soon.

I am tossing up what type of camera to get modified for widefield astro shots. I have a D800E and its fantastic for widefield shots. But Milky Way season is coming up soon here in Australia and I would also like to be able to get a bit more Ha and colour plus some extra sensitivity for shots and time lapses.

I am leaning towards a D600 or a Sony Nex 6. I'd go for a Fuji XE1 but it appears noone has modded one. XE1 has the lowest noise of all these cameras at ISO6400 but Fuji does overstate their ISOs.

Greg.

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manel
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And D600 .vs D700 for astrophoto ?
In reply to joeblow1984, Mar 11, 2013

Thanks for the interesting discussion, specially to Marianne. It is always a pleasure to read your comments !

I have a D700 that right now I use mainly for wide field astrophoto, I wrote this:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/techniques/landscape_astrophotography.shtml

I'm considering to buy a D600. I don't like D800 sensor and D4, that I like, is too expensive.  Last weekend I tested a D600 at ISO6400 in a couple of 30" wide field shots. My first impression is that it performs better that D700. What do you think, would you buy it for astrophoto, having a D700 ?

Thanks !

Manel

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joeblow1984
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Re: D600 Vs 6d...Wide-Field Astrophotography
In reply to Astrophotographer 10, Mar 12, 2013

Astrophotographer 10 wrote:

Joe I'd like it if you posted some images soon.

I am tossing up what type of camera to get modified for widefield astro shots. I have a D800E and its fantastic for widefield shots. But Milky Way season is coming up soon here in Australia and I would also like to be able to get a bit more Ha and colour plus some extra sensitivity for shots and time lapses.

I am leaning towards a D600 or a Sony Nex 6. I'd go for a Fuji XE1 but it appears noone has modded one. XE1 has the lowest noise of all these cameras at ISO6400 but Fuji does overstate their ISOs.

Greg.

Sorry Greg it will take some time, I purchased a Rokinon 14mm but ended up having to return it in as it was the wrong model.  I purchased the 50mm 1.8g in the meantime and think I'm leaning towards the 16-35 instead.

Regards,

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GregF
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Thanks Manel, and great thread all-around
In reply to manel, Mar 12, 2013

manel wrote:

Thanks for the interesting discussion, specially to Marianne. It is always a pleasure to read your comments !

I have a D700 that right now I use mainly for wide field astrophoto, I wrote this:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/techniques/landscape_astrophotography.shtml

I'm considering to buy a D600. I don't like D800 sensor and D4, that I like, is too expensive. Last weekend I tested a D600 at ISO6400 in a couple of 30" wide field shots. My first impression is that it performs better that D700. What do you think, would you buy it for astrophoto, having a D700 ?

Thanks !

Manel

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Manel,

I enjoyed your article as well as the beautiful astro-images.  Well done.

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