The team at DxO (who measure sensor performance for cameras across the industry) have published the scores for the Nikon D600, and the results look pretty darn good! (they use the term “enthusiast photographer(s)” many times during their writeup, which I thought was kind of fun, too… :)) Before we get to the benchmarks, you might want to see my post “Should I get a new camera?”.
The overall DxO score of the D600 was 94, just one point behind the $2999 D800 and two behind the $3299 D800e. Pretty amazing. Even more incredible is comparing the $2100 D600 to the former-flagship Nikon D3X that lists for $7,999. The D3x scores only an 88 and is bested in every category. Of course, the D3x was no low-ISO king, so what about the other flagship, the king-of-the-night D3s? 82 vs. 94. The D600 doesn’t measure up to the D3s in terms of ISO performance, but crushes the D3s in dynamic range and color to claim the crown. Even the much-loved, former entry-FX Nikon D700 scores an 80. Wow. If you’re a Canon shooter, the news is even worse. While they don’t have a new 6D to test, the current 5DMkIII priced at $3464 scores only 81 and we have little reason to think that Canon would embarrass the fairly-new 5DMkIII with a 6D.
One Important Note: These numbers aren’t the only measure of a camera by any stretch. In fact, I’d take the position they are very often used to place too much emphasis on the sensor when you really have to look at the entire system and make decisions based on handling, autofocus performance, lens compatibility, weather-sealing and other factors Iif you’re a regular reader, you know I hate the technology bullies who say you must have the latest sensor. I chose the D300s with pro handling and AF over the newer D7000 with the better sensor but prosumer AF and handling – I couldn’t be happier. For the record, the D600 has the same handling and (essentially) AF as the D7000. That is a good thing for a whole lot of people, just not my personal preference. I happily shot my similar-handling D70/D90 for years, though, so I’m not saying the D600 doesn’t handle very well – it handles great. It just doesn’t handle like the pro-handling D300s/D700/D800 – it is a tow-MAY-tow, tow-MAH-tow kind of thing.
The Bottom Line: These numbers absolutely say that the D600 represents an amazing value. Nikon is hitting the ball pretty hard these days. The price of FX isn’t for everyone, but this camera sure lowers the cost of entry. If you’re a Nikon-shooting Enthusiast Photographer, this gives you a terrific price point for an easy-shooting camera with great durability and stunning performance.
You can check out the full DxO write-up by clicking here.