Canon EOS 6D vs Nikon D600 – Battle of the Budget Full Frames

Yo Kerry, How come we never see any Nikon news on The Dojo? Well..its fairly simple…Nikon doesn’t have me on their press release list and since I don’t shoot with Nikon equipment, I don’t often go scrounging around for news bits. I am a Canon shooter but I am not some religious zealot about Canon, it’s just what I started with and have invested in. That disclaimer aside, The new Canon EOS 6D and Nikon D600 are the newest in full frame sensor cameras from both companies and have a lot in common, even the names are eerily similar. Let’s put these two rookies into the ring and see what the tale of the tape says.


Canon EOS 6D

 Nikon D600

Effective pixels 20.2
Sensor Type: CMOS
ISO: 100 – 25600 plus 50, 51200, 102400
Focus Points: 11

LCD: 3.2″ Fixed
Screen Resolution: 1,040,000 pixels
Viewfinder: 97%
Minimum Shutter Speed: 30 Sec
Maximum Shutter Speed: 1/4000th
Built In Flash: No
Continuous Rate: 4.5 fps

Video Features
Mic: Mono
Speaker: Mono
1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976fps)
1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps)
640 x 480 (25, 30 fps)
Storage: SD/SDHC/SDX
USB: 2.0
HDMI: HDMI Mini
WiFi: Yes
GPS: Yes
Weight: 1.70 lb
Weight: 5.71 x 4.37 x 2.8″
Price: $2,099
Effective pixels 24.3
Sensor Type: CMOS
ISO: 100-6400 plus 50, 12,800, 25,600
Focus Points: 39
LCD: 3.2″ Fixed
Screen Resolution: 921,000
Viewfinder: 100%
Minimum Shutter Speed: 30 Sec
Maximum Shutter Speed: 1/4000th
Built In Flash: Yes
Continuous Rate: 5.5 fps

Video Features
Mic: Mono
Speaker: Mono
1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24fps)
1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps)
Storage: 2 x SD/SDHC/SDX
USB: 2.0
HDMI: HDMI Mini
WiFi: No
GPS: Optional
Weight: 1.6 lb
Weight: 5.6 x 4.6 x 3.2″
Price: $2,096.95

Talk about some close specs here, there is really no clear winner right off the top so let’s break this down and see if we can narrow it down a little.

Sensor

The D600 squeezes out 4 megapixels more out of the sensor.  This is a minor win for the Nikon but not a significant advantage.  The Canon EOS 6D on paper has better ISO capabilities but really, once we get into those high numbers we all know they aren’t really usable so I am going with a tie on the ISO ability until we see some side by side comparisons of real images.

ViewFinder

The D600 scores another win with a 100% viewfinder. While 97% and 100% doesn’t seem like much, it is often the difference of having to crop a photo (or worse, a video) in post production versus getting it right in-camera. I love my 7D for it’s 100% viewfinder and this is a clear win for the D600.

Auto Focus Points

This is going to be a touchy point here. The D600 has 39 focus points compared to the 6D’s 11. On paper this is a significant win for the Nikon. Canon is making some pretty bold claims about the “all new auto focus system” in the 6D but until we have the camera in our hands, this round goes to the Nikon D600.

LCD Screen

The Canon 6D swings back with a higher resolution LCD which is really nice when checking focus. This is a minor win for the 6D.

Shutter Speed

Both cameras clock in at 1/4000th shutter speed making this part a dead heat. In the continuous shooting mode the D600 sprints ahead at 5.5 fps vs 4.5 fps on the 6D. One frame per second sure doesn’t sound like much but in sports photography, it can be a make it or break it deal so a minor win to the Nikon D600 on frame rate.

Pop-Up Flash

The D600 pulls out a Pop-Up flash while the 6D loses it just like the rest of the Canon full-frame cameras. While I harp on and on about off-camera flash, I will occasionally use the built-in flash for just a little amount of fill light. I’m giving this one to the Nikon.

Video Modes

For video shooting, the specs may be identical but the new touchscreen on the 6D allows for quick-touch focusing and focus pulling when recording. This is a minor win for the 6D.

Storage

And the D600 knocks one out of the park by having dual SD card slots where the 6D has a single slot. For professional shooters, this built-in redundancy is a big win for the Nikon.

WiFi & GPS

Canon retaliates with built-in WiFi and GPS functionality which have to be done via add-ons on the Nikon. Whether you think you will use these features or not, they do score one for the 6D.

Whose The Winner?

As far as I can tell, the clear winner here is the customer. The feature wars are going strong and bringing full frame cameras into striking distance of the $2,000 mark, which is pretty amazing. For some people the extra frame rate will be important, for others the WiFi and GPS will be game changers. Either way, consumers have two great cameras to choose from.

Canon EOS 6D: Amazon.com

Nikon D600: Amazon.com

KerryG

Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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23 Responses

  1. @JeffSipper says:

    Plus, in the Nikon, you get more than 3 times the focus points. Having used a 5dmk2 and mk3, and a D300, I can tell you more focus points makes a HUUUUGE difference.

  2. Ted King says:

    Kerry,

    You forgot the one item more people are commenting on the 6D, 11 af points with one cross type. That may be a deal breaker for some shooters. Nikon D600 has 39 af points.

    • kgarrison says:

      Until we have the camera in our hands to test, this is a win for the D600 on focus points. Canon, however, claims this is a breakthrough in AF technology so it isnt the disadvantage it appears to be. The reality remains to be seen.

      • This is doubtful. I believe the official specs state that the Canon 6D's only cross-type sensor reverts to non-cross sensor with lenses slower than F2.8. Meanwhile, Nikon has 9 cross-type sensors which focus with lenses as slow as F8. We're talking about a barebones AF system vs. a pretty speced out system.

        Also some of your other specs are wrong. Nikon has a 100% view finder, not 97%. Also Canon weights 1.7lbs with battery, nikon weights 1.8lbs with battery (not 1.6lbs). Go double check your list against the dpreview hands on previews.

  3. According to the specs, the Nikon has NINE TIMES better screen resolution than the Canon, yet you say the Canon is higher resolution. Am I reading this wrong?

  4. @iluvzphotos says:

    Karry you listed the Canon LCD resolution @ "Screen Resolution: 102,400 pixels". is it "1,040,000"? I think that's what they were referring to.

    Is the shutter 1/4000 or 1/8000. DPreview listing as 4000. http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/09/17/Canon-ann

  5. Trevis says:

    An important (to me) item that is missing here is the relative flash sync speed. I think that the canon is 1/180th and the nikon is 1/200th. Both are a bit of a let down but that number is important if you like to shoot wide open (or close to it) outdoors with strobes. I'm currently a pentax shooter and being stuck at 180th has been taxing.

  6. DaveA says:

    You really should double check your specs for the 6D against Canons website.
    6D shtter speed is 1/4000.. screen is 3.0 inches (3:2 aspect ratio) and NOT touchscreen..
    You also forgot to mention that the D600 has a shutter life of 150,000 and the 6D only has 100,000.
    And also the flash sync as Trevis said. Makes a huge difference being able to stop motion, and having a pop up flash makes taking photos of my son much easier.
    http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/c

    • kgarrison says:

      I used the specs that were sent originally to me. There obviously are some differences to the final released specs. Sync speed is only an issue with manual flash. With both Canon or Nikon you can use high speed sync and use the maximum shutter speeds.

  7. Mage says:

    Kerry,

    Sorry but you are wrong to give the Canon 6D a win for video. The D600's uncompressed video output via HDMI is a huge advantage that few cameras have. It allows live monitoring of video recording using a separate monitor or even recording of the streamed data on another video recorder for serious video work.

    Given the adjustments or new info regarding differences posted by readers so far, including the 1/4000 error, the flash sync speeds, the shutter activation numbers, and this uncompressed video output, shouldn't your opinion (suggesting a tie between these cameras) be adjusted?

    Thanks

    Mage

  8. Hope to see the battle of the REAL pictures at high ISOs soom. This will be the answer!
    Those cameras looks very similar in terms of specs.

  9. marmot says:

    Also the 6D doesn't have a headphone jack out and the D600 does. There are already sample images of high ISO performance from the D600 on Flickr, very impressive, rivals the D800. Not to mention the overall score from DXO mark of 94. On paper it doesn't look like the 6D stacks up to the D600. Once the 6D hits the market in December (I think), I'm sure there will be tons of comparisons between these two cameras. BUT the 11 auto focus points with one cross type?? REALLY?

  10. bb10b10 says:

    canon 6d is not a touch screen capable:)

  11. smodha82 says:

    Excellent post Kerry! I have been looking for a blog like this for some time. It's a tough one as both cameras are giants in the industry.

    But, if I hate to choose it would be the 6D because I have always been a Canon man although the new Nokon D800 is pretty awesome. Is it time to switch?

    Looking for the best DSLR for video?

  12. Meireles says:

    I wish the next nikon FF wiil have no auto- lub sensor, as the actual D600 has!

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