Nikon D600 Digital Camera Review
Nikon's D600 is just a strong as the D800, minus the extra resolution.
The D800's maximum dynamic range is 7.21 stops at ISO 100. The "Low 1.0" ISO setting (ISO 50 equivalent) sometimes produces dynamic range in excess of 7.5 stops, but not consistently. Dynamic range does not fall off dramatically until ISO 800, at which point the camera is only capable of 5.41 stops, then 4.62 stops at ISO 1600, 3.88 stops at ISO 3200, and so on smoothly from there. At maximum native ISO, 6400, the D800's range is 3.16, and further boosting sensitivity up to "Hi 1.0" or "Hi 2.0" reduces dynamic range to 2.55 stops and 1.94 stops respectively.
It's important to note that our dynamic range score has a much higher threshold for quality than the industry standard. Dynamic range is the range of tones in which the camera can capture and distinguish between light levels. The industry standard involves including any tones that are captured with a signal to noise ratio (SNR) of at least 1:1. This makes sense from an engineering standpoint; those tones are at least 50% the signal you want. Of course, any part of the photo with 50% noise is going to be completely unusable. We use a much higher threshold, cutting off dynamic range measurements at a SNR of 10:1, which results in a better indicator of photographic quality but results in lower numbers than you may see published elsewhere. More on how we test dynamic range.
This is a strong result. The D800 offers slightly better low-ISO performance, and slightly worse high-ISO performance, resulting in scores between the two that are, coincidentally, separated by only one thousandth of a point in our scoring system. Both cameras lag behind the Sony A77 and the expensive Canon 5D Mark III, and of course this entire comparison group is easily trounced by the ultra high-end D4.
Get Our Newsletter
Real advice from real experts. Sign up for our newsletter
Thanks for signing up!