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:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hLxQom-5hIQ
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 Will Vazquez:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/49952287
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?