Nikon D600 vs. Canon 5D Mark III: High ISO Comparison, and Some Issues with the D600

Nikon has been steadily improving video quality in their DSLRs, but they have mostly lagged behind their competitors until the release of the D800, which had more resolution than the Canon 5D Mark III as well as the ability to record the HDMI output. The one area where the D800 was not as stellar as the Mark III (thanks to the 36 megapixel sensor in the Nikon), was low-light performance. With the release of the Nikon D600, Nikon is hoping to at least match Canon's offerings (the 5D Mark III and the brand new Canon 6D) not only in video quality, but in low-light performance. CheesyCam, a gear review site we have featured here before, takes a look at the Nikon D600 vs. the Canon 5D Mark III:

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Even watching in 1080p, it's a little hard to see fine details through the compression on YouTube, but it definitely seems like the Mark III has the edge over the D600 with less noise. This is hardly surprising, as the Mark III is one of the better DSLRs in terms of noise performance -- not to mention that it is more expensive and has less megapixels than the D600. The Nikon should definitely be an interesting video choice at only $2,100 for the camera body, but there are other factors that may make people think twice about this being a cheaper D800: the aperture cannot be changed in live view (so you must set it before entering or use manual aperture lenses), and the HDMI does not fill the entire frame. The HDMI issue has been recreated by numerous D600 owners, and it makes the ability to record the HDMI much less useful since you have to enlarge in post for 1080. Here is a video of the problem, thanks to :

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We'll see if Nikon addresses these issues in a firmware update (which hopefully is possible), but for the moment, if you were looking to record the HDMI, you won't be able to get a native frame when recording to an external device. It would be very unfortunate if Nikon was doing this on purpose to differentiate the products, as I can't image this being a hardware limitation (since the camera uses the same processor as the Nikon D800). If you wondering why this is a big deal and if there is any real difference between recording the HDMI or recording internally with Nikon, this video from Ron Adair should help:

The Nikon D600 should compare a bit more favorably to the Canon 6D, but we won't know until the camera is released to the public later this year. It's also possible that even if the 6D doesn't have as much hardware noise reduction, the slight reduction in megapixels may actually help with video noise. It will be interesting to see the true video quality of the Canon 6D, especially if they've improved aliasing and moire -- which all Nikon cameras do suffer from (though in my testing, it wasn't that noticeable in the Nikon D800 footage).

What do you guys think? Which options are you looking at and do the issues with the D600 make you think twice?

Link: Out of Box ISO Noise Samples Nikon D600 vs Canon 5D Mark III -- CheesyCam

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Your Comment


Still no full manual control, this was the reason I sold my brand new D300s for my 7D... Fail yet again Nikon!

I had quite a lengthy email chat with the South African NPS head back in 2010 about this issue and his comment was basically that Nikon are a Stills Camera Company and the Video development is not their primary focus.

Dont get me wrong, I love the Images that come out of Nikon cameras, but dont play the video game with a half baked cake... thats just flirting to get a drink out me, only to leave me at the bar empty handed.

September 30, 2012 at 10:13PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


If you want full manual control then buy a manual focus and manual aperture 35mm film lens.

October 4, 2012 at 5:22AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

T man

Grading 8 bit compressed footage is laghable. Does anyone actually think this looks good? be honest. I love full frame but this mush and crap skin tone from both brands needs to stop.

Bmc for the win. And I own 2 d800e cameras for studio work. .. but way.

September 30, 2012 at 10:25PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The mushy skin tone is a Nikon problems. Canon has always been great with skin tones.

October 3, 2012 at 5:39AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

mikko löppönen

From the test footage I've seen on Youtube, the D600 also has nasty moire/aliasing as well. Sad, since Nikon really had a good chance to challenge Canon this round. Oh, well...

October 1, 2012 at 5:09AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I've written both camera companies off for video.

Blackmagics tag line should be: 12bit 444 Raw video, for those who are tired of fucking around.

October 1, 2012 at 7:56AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I would agree with you if only they could cram a full frame in there. I don't care if it's $6,000, just make it happen. The 2.6 crop is a total deal breaker. You can only zoom out so much before you're just better off scrapping the wide shot all together.

The video it produces is amazing, though. The future looks promising!!!

October 1, 2012 at 11:04AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I used to feel the same way. My needs don't exceedu angles wider than 24mm. Which can be achieved with s Tokina 11-16mm lens. Throw an nd filter on it and you will have plenty of filmic depth of field.

October 1, 2012 at 12:48PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Pretty much. I'm not a fan of using shitty wide angle zooms that were meant for stills. The day blackmagic sells me a camera is the day when they offer a camera that has a normal sensor size- either super35 or full frame.

October 2, 2012 at 7:21PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

john jeffreys

Sony EX3 with DOF Adapter...nuff said XD

Oh, forgot to add the uber expensive external recorder so that we can avoid that 8-bit shenanigans.

At least you'll look pro.

October 1, 2012 at 10:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I bought the D600 last week and haven't used it too too much yet for video. I haven't seen any moire yet in my everyday, real-world use. I don't yet use hdmi out, so I'm not too worried about the weird black frame at the moment, but I do hope they fix it. The inability to change aperture is annoying in theory, but I have some manual aperture lenses. Again, it would be nice if they fixed it.

Low light ability? A lot better than my 7d. Not in the same league as my FS100 obviously.

The live audio levels on the d600 are nice. And I am excited about the ability to switch to "cropped sensor" mode (quite quick but not without stopping recording). Still trying to determine if there's a loss of quality in crop (dx) mode in video and don't have much to report yet.

I would be tempted to make the claim that for the price it's a better choice than the 5diii, but I think I saw a rumour that 5diii prices are going to be dropping a lot.

I love the photos I've been getting with it. My videos clients often say, "Hey, can you take some pictures too?" This happened Friday and I took one of my most 'pro' looking photos ever. I felt like I was cheating.

Take this with a grain of salt since I'm still a little giddy about my new full-frame toy.

October 1, 2012 at 5:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Whoops ... it's the 5dii that's supposed to drop in price. Just went to check my 'facts'.

October 1, 2012 at 5:48PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


the Nikon Standard picture style maybe is a better comparison to Canon's so called "Neutral" style. but maybe even the saturated Vivid picture style should've been be used.

even when comparing RAW files from Nikon and Canon (I used to shoot a 5Dmk2, but switched back to Nikon), the Canon almost feels like you are looking at a processed JPG file instead of true RAW. it is so much harder to regain detail from a Canon, than it is to saturate and add contrast to the Nikon file.

and why does it look like all the Nikon shots in this video were just simply out of focus?

October 1, 2012 at 6:14PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Very surprised at your comment that moire hasn't been that visible on the D800 for your own testing - that's very interesting as I understood this to be a deal breaker for many (w.r.t video). Do you happen to know whether Moire and Aliasing are expected to be better or worse on the D600 versus the D800.

I still can't get my head around how Nikon are allowed to have marketing in the public domain that states the D600 has clean uncompressed1080x1920 output via HDMI if that output comes with a black border around the image.... Doesn't that come under not being 'fit for purpose' in terms of trading standards? I'm really hoping that the black borders problem is a usage / settings thing, or Nikon will provide a 'fix' PDQ.

When the 5d3 came out I was bitterly disappointed with the examples being posted, but in many respects despite the huge glut of cameras recently it's managed to stay in the running for video...

October 2, 2012 at 1:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Domonic White

It's definitely there on the D800, it's just not that noticeable, I personally found it a little better than on a camera like the Canon 7D. I'm not sure about Nikon's marketing, but I agree with you, it's not appropriate to be advertising a feature that is crippled in this way - it just looks bad.

Honestly don't know about the D600 moire, it will probably be the same or worse, but I don't believe it will be better.

October 2, 2012 at 1:35AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

The image of the Nikon is much more pleasent and defined to my eyes at least.

October 2, 2012 at 1:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Álex Montoya

The image of the 5dmkIII did not look flat but pretty harsh and contrasty. Other than that, it is cleaner (slightly). Again, after seeing Arri Alexa footage and working with that and the BMCC and even RED cameras, the DSLR's look so video-y. Best bet is to get a flat profile and light with less contrast and grade in the contrast in post.

October 2, 2012 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


What are all these Nikon lovers supposed to be? I had both and the 5dmkIII was slightly better for video. First of all, it actually has usable 720p. The 720p on the D800 is so full of aliasing that it's a no go. Pretty much like the first gen Canon stuff.

Secondly, the image is just much more gradeable on 5dmkIII. Especially on the All-i mode.

Thidly. Finally no aliasing in 1080p mode. This is excellent.

Fourth. It still looks better than many better spec'ed cameras. I just shot a video with the FS700 and the 5dmkIII as a b-cam and the 5d regularly had more "cinematic" quality than the FS700. Yes, it was a bit smoother but otherwise, the colors and highlight handling were excellent compared. The fs700 was also an ergonomic nightmare but I guess you could get used to it.

October 3, 2012 at 5:43AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

mikko löppönen

"What are all these Nikon lovers supposed to be?" Here is a possible answer:

Nikon D4 & D800 - first DSLR cameras fit for broadcast

October 5, 2012 at 4:52AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Dan Varga

d600 live view video auto focus is completely useless

October 5, 2012 at 1:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

You voted '+1'.

auto focus in live view video mode is unusable. not only does it not function well, when it does, the sound is on the audio track.

this ain't no 5d mkiii competitor, sadly.

October 28, 2012 at 12:43AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


D600 has more exposed picture. So, using the same exposure you will get less noise than 5D M3. DXOmark confirms my thought.

November 25, 2012 at 5:11AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Would be interesting to know if the 610 still has the the same problem with the aperture in live modus.

October 8, 2013 at 10:13PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM