6D vs D600 vs ... E-M5

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by carpandean, Jun 28, 2013.

  1. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Disclaimer: this is not a "which is the best camera" thread. I have both hands-on experience with and time spent researching each of these, and I can say unequivocally that there is not clear ranking. Each has advantages over the other two and several categories (e.g., ergonomics) are purely subjective. This is in "Other Systems" for a reason and the only reason that the E-M5 is in the discussion is that I own it and I can't afford two cameras/systems. I'm simply looking for a little input from posters who own or have owned these cameras, as to how the two FF models compare with each other and, to a lesser extent, to the E-M5. I don't know if I could/would actually make a change, so this is mostly hypothetical for the moment.


    I mentioned in another thread that there is a set of conditions that I shoot in that make the E-M5 just short of everything that I need. It's truly an amazing camera and I will likely stick with it, but these conditions keep me thinking. What are they? I shoot people (candids) in generally poor light under conditions where a flash (or often even a focus assist lamp) would not be appreciated. Add to that my preference for using zooms, since I can't always "zoom with my feet," and I find myself trying to shoot a moving target at f/2.8 and ISO3200 with shutter speeds slower than 1/30 of a second. I try to time my shots with those little pauses in the action, but I've lost a lot of shots to the presence of just a little motion blur (look OK on rear LCD, but zoom in just a little and the details go fuzzy) or not being able to focus track well. Oh, and also I do like shallow DOF in many (not all) cases.

    If I stay with my E-M5, my preferred kit would be (well, today ... it keeps changing) P12-35, PL25/1.4, P35-100 and O75-300. Basically, the classic 20-70, fast 50, 70-200 set, plus a long tele for fun. Adding that to the E-M5 w/ HLD-6, even without the 75-300, that's over $3500. I don't consider APS-C's to be enough of an advantage to justify the disadvantages, so that led me to ponder a 6D or D600. I spent some time handling them (the guy at my local camera store directed me to a small dark room with the two and left me to play with them.) Between that, watching reviews with actual comparison tests and looking at DPReview's RAW comparison tool, here are my findings:

    Canon 6D
    (+) Best high ISO performance (two stops over E-M5: 12,800 looks like 3,200; a third or more of a stop over D600 and higher native range)
    (+) Best grip of the three (subjective)
    (+) Easiest menus/controls of the three
    (+) Center focusing point in low light (-3 EV rated)
    (+) Largest selection of top glass (new and used)
    (+) While I don't care much, GPS and Wifi are built-in for free
    (-) Rest of focus system is limited in # points and coverage
    (-) Biggest body (though D600 is thicker)

    Nikon D600
    (+) Better high ISO than E-M5 (more than a stop; probably 1-2/3)
    (+) Dual card slots
    (+) Built-in flash (not a big deal, but the other two don't have it)
    (+) Grip is better than E-M5/HLD-6, mostly due to being taller
    (+) Best tracking focus of the three, but ..
    (-) Limited coverage of focus system (it basically has a D7000 focus system)
    (-) Limited native high ISO (wish it went to 12,800 without going into extended range)

    Olympus E-M5 w/ HLD-6
    (+) Size! Size! Size! Size! Size!
    (+) Ability to go very small w/o grip and with 14/17/20
    (+) Cost (body and "comparable" 2.8 zooms)
    (+) Other than the slight lag, I like using an EVF
    (+) Full coverage focusing system
    (+) Full magnesium body (vs magnesium/poly mix)
    (-) Noise control is very good for the sensor size... but still well behind the other two
    (-) Tracking is poor
    (-) Hanging pinky grip (I have long fingers)
    (-) Significantly wider depth of field (f/2.8 is still a stop deeper than FF f/4 zooms)

    On paper, I preferred the D600, but when factoring actual use, my preference was slightly toward the 6D for its low-light performance, ergonomics and "kit lens" (24-105/4L IS). For that same $3500, I could get (close to) a 6D w/ 24-105/4L IS (or 24-70/4 IS kit from Canada for $400 more), 50,1.8 and 70-200/4L IS (or replace the f/4's with older f/2.8 non-IS zooms; maybe even a "magic drainpipe"), which would give me roughly a stop faster shutter speed (for ISO's with the same acceptable noise level) and a stop shallower DOF versus the E-M5 (two if I go with the f/2.8's, but I'd lose IS for those other times when I'm not shooting moving subjects.) I'm still relatively young, so my back is strong, but I do realize how much bigger that system is.

    I'm trying to figure if there are enough times that I bring my E-M5 kit, but wouldn't bring the 6D. A few, but mostly if I would go with the E-M5/20 combo, which is still only jacket-pocketable. The 20mm is about halfway to a 1"-sensor compact, which is truly pocketable.

    Again, these points are all specific to my uses. I love :43: and the E-M5; they have given me many great shots. I'm just trying to decide if it's right for me at this time. Any thoughts?
  2. slothead

    slothead Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 14, 2012
    Frederick, MD
    I'm not completely sure I understand the point of your post, but if you are just comparing characteristics I think you left out the fact that the OM-D has a higher pixel density than the D600, which to me is a considerable significance.

    I can't speak of Canon - if it isn't a Parrot, a Napoleon, or a Whitworth, I know nothing of them.
  3. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Tough call for only one.

    Some things don't make sense to me, though. You want to shoot indoors with dim light, shots of people with no flash, and long zooms? With C-AF? I don't think these are very compatible. If those are truly your use cases, then go DSLR with IS, but even then, that is a tough, tough, tough nut to crack.

    Also, regardless of the camera, in such low light, colors will always be muddy.

    If that is truly your need, then it's the 6D, but your camera will be far more noticeable. Also, LV with the tilty LCD is very helpful for people shots.

    An added negative to the Nikon D600 is the dust and oil on the sensor issue. An added negative to the 6D is that it's really mostly a center point AF camera. I know you said the D600's AF is limited, but the outerpoints on the 6D, especially in low light, are not really even useable.

    I went with a 6D over a D600 for two main reasons: 1) the oil and dust issue on the sensor, and 2) I know the Canon lenses, and didn't know the Nikon's and so just went with what I know.

    Right now 6Ds are getting around $1500-1600 and I'm getting a $300 (used)Tamron 28-75/2.8. The reviews on it are pretty good, so I'm going to give it a whirl, given it's low price point
  4. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I am going through a similar thought process. I boil it down to "what is the right tool vs what camera do you want to use". Sounds like you are in the same boat carpandean. FF would do more of what you need, but you prefer the E-M5.

    Not an easy choice. Sorry I can't help you. But I know that since I've shot with a FF camera (old Canon 5D that I've had for only a week) I'm not real sure I'll be able to step away from it.
  5. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Yeah, if you shot with a 5Dc, you are TOAST. Even if you sell it, it will haunt you in your dreams.

    What lenses are you using? (PM if you don't want to hijack the thread)
  6. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Without seeing example of what you are trying to achieve, its difficult to comment on whether your dissatisfaction with what you are getting with your images is down to equipment/technique or unrealistic expectations.

    Also difficult to see that gaining 2 stops ISO with Canon and throwing one away with a slower f4 lens really offers a enough of a net gain to make that much of a difference.

    Personally I find the OMD very good at low light photography, though I do shoot sub f2 primes

    De Wolven van La Mancha May - a set on Flickr

    Hotsy Totsy May - a set on Flickr

    I suspect your dissatisfaction has more to do with technique and expectations rather than equipment... but thats just my opinion... without images its difficult to offer more definitive comments

  7. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    That's probably because I wasn't 100% sure what to ask. I appreciate the knowledge and civility of poster here, so I'm just looking for input (like below) without breaking down into fights.

    As for the pixel density point, doesn't that largely translate into the better low-light performance from the similar generation sensors? I.e., bigger pixels. A :43: sensor would have to be about a third the resolution to have similar pixel density (e.g., 36 MP D800 vs. most first-generation 12 MP :43: cameras.) Or am I missing an advantage?

    The long zooms (70-200mm equiv.) are for other types of shooting (outdoor sports, etc), mostly the low light stuff is done with my 12-35mm.

    Thanks for the rest of the input (saving room by not quoting it all.) It definitely helps. I also have considered the older 28-75mm, but since it would more likely be my only system, I might put the money into the newer 24-70/2.8 VC that is getting rave reviews and hold off of spending too much on the long zoom.

    Figured that I wasn't alone. The two systems are great complements, but expensive to own both. I knew that I couldn't be the only one trying to choose between them.

    There are several reasons why I can't post most of them here (e.g., parents, including my wife, not wanting their kids posted, and/or they are law enforcement types who would prefer their personal lives not be shown on the web - not bad things, just normal life, but still not stuff they want out there.) Let's just say that it's like wedding reception photography without a flash. And it's not every time that I need more, but just often enough to make me think.

    That's definitely part of my internal debate. One reason that I'd prefer the 24-70 f/4L IS over the 24-105 f/4L IS is that its newer glass actually gives 1/2 (give or take) of a T-stop more light at f/4 (based on DxOMark's measurements, it's rated a true 4 - though, with some rounding, I'm sure - while the 24-105 is over 5.) It's not nearly a full T-stop slower than the 24-70 f/2.8L (version 1.)

    That's the kicker: I own (am selling off some) fast primes, but I end up keeping the 12-35mm on most of the time, as I am more comfortable with having the ability to zoom. I actually know the FOV of 12mm and 35mm (and about halfway between) well enough to treat it like two (or three) primes without having to change lenses. Right now, it definitely seems that :43:'s strength is in its primes, but I'm not sure I can be a prime shooter.
  8. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    I agree it's expensive to own both, and I struggle with that. I try to keep them from not overlapping. For instance, my kit is:
    OMD, 9-18, 17/1.8, 50mm macro and 100-300
    6d, 50/1.4, 85/1.8, 70-210 (I also have a 28/1.8 that I may sell)

    You can see my "portrait" work is left to the 6D.

    My in-close, wide-angle travel, macro and super zoom (for wildlife) go to the OMD.

    Basically, if I am OK with a bag (indoor events, around the house, etc.) I usually grab the 6D. If I want to move, I go OMD. To my thinking, I'm only carrying 1 extra body, because the lenses don't overlap (mostly).

    Works for me to justify it in my head :)
  9. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    I forgot to mention that the local camera shop offers free sensor cleaning for life when purchasing a body there. He mentioned that specifically in reference to the D600. Obviously, I couldn't get the $1600 refurbs that are flooding the market (at Adorama, for example), but would gain local service, a full (vs. 90-day) warranty and free sensor cleanings.
  10. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    I do wonder how long the oil/dust issue on the D600 will last. Will it get better after maybe just 2-3 cleanings? If that cleared up, the camera would be a lot more attractive, IMO.
  11. rnagoda

    rnagoda Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Real Name:
    I like m4/3 cameras and all (obviously, since I'm posting on this forum), but if I had to pick one camera and one camera only it would be full frame. I haven't shot the 6D but I own and remain desperately in love with the 5D Mark III and my understanding is that the essential guts are the same or so very nearly the same so as to be negligible. Also that 24-105 kit lens is spectacular ... f/4, sure, but bump your ISO into the high heavens and don't even worry about it!

    I also actually like the lack of an on-camera flash, but for reasons which may not apply to you. For me I hate the look of on-camera flash and not having it has trained me to get around the perceived need to ever use it. Now I find myself never using the on-camera flash on my other cameras and for that I'm grateful!

    All of that said, any of these cameras would be an excellent choice, obviously.
  12. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Perhaps you could swing a dual system approach and try and not overlap.

    As you mentioned, you could go barebones to the E-M5 and 20 combo. When you don't want to carry a protruding lens, you have this little powerful combo.

    As you also mentioned, tracking and not zooming with your feet is important. Perhaps you could swing enough funds for either DSLR, a 70-200 f/4, and a fast prime?

    Also, is there a preference towards a newer generation FF DSLR? If tracking and low light performance is paramount, have you ever considered a D700? That thing is a better tracker than the 6D or D600 and has almost as good high ISO performance.
  13. eekim

    eekim New to Mu-43

    Jun 10, 2013
    San Francisco
    Real Name:
    Eugene Eric Kim
    I think you raise two very good points. Because you can shoot higher ISO with the 6D and other full-frame DSLRs, that also means you can use slower lenses. That also means you can use cheaper lenses, which offsets the cost advantage you might have with m43 and a pro-style body, like the OM-D.

    However, that also means that you're negating some of the DOF advantages of FF. As you point out, f/2.8 (the equivalent DOF of the 25mm f/1.4) is shallower than f/4.0. However, if you want to get the sublime Canon 50mm f/1.2 (for which there will probably never be a m43 equivalent), you have to shell out $1,500. In other words, if you want to leverage some of the superior DSLR lenses, your cost equation changes.

    What it seems to boil down to for you, then, is focus system, availability of zoom lenses, and size. Cost is only a wash if you're okay with the DSLR f/4.0 zoom lenses.

    For me, size is a huge one. The OM-D is not a pocketable camera, even with a pancake lens (in my opinion). But it's still many times smaller than even a mid-sized DSLR, and that advantage multiplies when you take into account the lenses.

    I shot an event with some friends the other day, both of whom were using full-frame DSLRs. I was using my OM-D. We all had multiple lenses. I had my camera on my shoulder with a BlackRapid strap, and a tiny fanny pack strapped to my waist holding two additional lenses. My friends were all carrying much larger, heavier camera bags, and that doesn't even account for how much heavier their cameras were. You really feel that weight when you're on your feet for eight hours.

    They definitely got some DOF that I couldn't get with my OMD. But DOF isn't everything. They are both fantastic photographers, and they would have taken amazing pictures even if they were using OM-Ds instead of their FFs.
  14. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    There's seems to be mixed evidence. Some says it goes away, some says that it comes back and some says that newer ones don't even start. I'd be more willing to take the chance with the free cleanings.

    Yeah, the 6D's high ISO is insane. I am soooo tempted.

    It's a good idea, but my wife wouldn't quite understand it. I "don't need another system." Additional lenses are less noticeable than additional cameras. :wink:

    Hmmm ... I'll have to look at that option.

    No doubt that the E-M5 is very capable of taking excellent pictures (heck, an IPhone 5 is, too), but every camera has limits that you have to work around. Here, it's a question of that extra size/weight (side note: I'm curious if your friends actually used all of the lenses in their bags) vs. having slightly further out limits in a direction that I tend to push the E-M5 too far. I tried ISO6400 as an easy nudge, but the noise drop off in noise control is pretty steep there (similar to the D600 above ISO6400 or the 6D above ... ISO12800 :eek:)
  15. pcnyc

    pcnyc Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 15, 2010
    Last I read was that it goes away after 3000 or so clicks. On my D600 I noticed quite a bit of dusts around the 4000 mark, no oil. I cleaned it myself simply with rocket blower and it's been fine since, I am at about 8000 now.

    I sort of migrated to Nikon FF from om-d because I wanted better AF tracking to take pictures of my kids playing sports, and also DOF for portraits. in those aspects I am pleased with the switch. I am using an older 70-210mm f/4 for sports, Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 for general purpose, and a sigma 85mm 1.4 for portraits.

    I used the 24-70 VC briefly but ended up with the 28-75 - smaller and lighter and cheaper. However I did go through 3 copies before finding a good sharp copy of the 28-75.

    I also have a nikon 50mm 1.4g. I loved the PL25 and I thought I needed to get a 50mm... but I found I use the 28-75 much more frequently.

    One nagging thing about DSLR is the need sometimes to fine-tune AF. not as much an issue with Nikon lenses, but the tamron and sigma lenes I got all require some tuning. and sometimes the adjustment doesn't work for the entire range, like maybe at the wide end it needs -5, then at the tele end -12.

    besides that the obvious thing I miss the most about m4/3 is portability. D600 is one of the lighter and smaller FF bodies but it still weights a ton. Lenses all weight as much as the body. 24-70 VC uses 82mm filters (compare to 58mm for 12-35 and 67mm for 28-75). Going out on a day trip with family and the camera takes up 1/2 of the backpack, and if you want to add another lens (like the sigma 85mm 1.4), then you are left with very little room for snacks and toys and other supplies. so you bring another bag...

    As a result, I am now actively looking to get back a m4/3 body for an upcoming long vacation, and also really looking forward to the new 14-140.
  16. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2012
    You need to keep two cameras. The best bet is the OMD and the 6D. I must plead ignorance concerning Nikon. I shoot all the time with my Canon MkII. I only use it for telephoto,carrying the 70-300 F 4-.5,6L. For everything else I use Oly Epl5 with one or two lenses such as 20/45 mm fast lenses.This covers all travel needs. I shoot mostly candids.Time does not permit explaining my complete reasoning process here.
  17. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Real Name:
    I couldn't help but laugh when I read this. There was a time when I was really unhappy with Micro 4/3. I borrowed Canon 60D with 18-135, 35/2 and 50/1.4 lenses to see if this kit was suitable for me. I used it extensively for about a week, after that I discovered that I almost never took it out with me because of increased weight and bulk.

    BTW, I regularly try other camera systems, but they all come and go and my Micro 4/3 kit is here to stay.
  18. abepak

    abepak Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 21, 2013
    SFV, CA
    I owned the E-M5 and switched over to the D600. I did seriously consider the 6D as well. Here are some of my thoughts.

    Some things to consider:
    PDAF vs CDAF. E-M5 doesn't have PDAF, but the CDAF is blazing fast when shooting still objects. It's faster than the D600's PDAF system. The D600's CDAF is pathetic. Still, each focusing system has their own advantages, but I prefer a PDAF system. Also, note that the 6D only has one cross type point in the center.

    Weight and size. As mentioned, both the D600 and 6D are significantly heavier and larger, particularly when you add the weight of the larger glass. Side by side with the 6D, the D600 seemed bigger. Might be an important point for some. I thought it was important for me, but after having the D600, I found out that I take it out with me everywhere that I took the E-M5, so it turned out to not be too much of an issue. Weight can be an issue. Wearing the D600 all day is a huge difference compared to the E-M5. Depending on your personality, it might or might not be an issue.

    Control layout. The D600 wins this one. I much prefer the control layout of the D600. The 6D felt like Canon took too much cost cutting measures. The E-M5 is, in a word, minimal... but the SCP helps to make up for a lot of it.

    Dynamic range: The D600 blows the E-M5 out of the water, and from what I've seen, beats the 6D as well. Don't get me wrong, the E-M5 is a trooper and stacks well against APS-C cameras, but not so well against the FFs.

    Skin tone: I like shooting people. I preferred the skin tones produced by the E-M5 and the Canon 6D more than the Nikon's D600.

    High ISO: The 6D is king in this category. The noise management is stunning at high ISO. The D600 comes in second and the E-M5 last.

    Low light: The 6D is impressive. The high ISO performance is great and the -3ev center focus point works miracles. The E-M5 is also impressive. The best-in-the-market IBIS allows you to shoot insanely slow shutter speeds (although this has its own downsides). The D600 is last in my book on this point. While it has better high ISO performance than the E-M5, with a non-stabilized lens, it doesn't quite make the mustard against the IBIS of E-M5.

    Cost: No real advantage here for any of the bodies... While the body of the FFs are more expensive, I feel that µ4/3 lens are pricey. For example, PL25/1.4 vs Nikkor 50/1.4 is currently $569 vs $479 respectively. The µ4/3 lens is almost a $100 more expensive and from my experience has more chromatic aberrations, wider DOF, plus a significantly earlier diffraction. Another example is the Olympus 45/1.8 vs Nikkor 85/1.8 is $399 vs $496 respectively. This time, the Nikkor is a $100 more expensive, but again the Nikkor has the advantages that I stated before. The price difference is minimal IMO at the semi-premium range, which is where I shop at.

    Battery life: The FFs easily doubles the E-M5. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone and is expected.

    EVF vs OVF: To everyone's taste. After having used the E-M5 solely for a while, it took me a bit to get used to not seeing the exposure change in the viewfinder. It's also a bit annoying that I can't see the smaller DOF once I hit around f2 with my D600.

    Issues: The D600 DOES have a dust and oil problem. Some Nikon ******s might try to play it down, but it exists and it's an annoyance to anyone that shoots f16 and above. The internal sensor cleaning system of the D600 is a joke compared to the E-M5's dust management system. I've changed the E-M5's lenses at the beach with the wind blowing and didn't have any issues. The D600 with only one lens attached to it has more dust. To be fair, it does seem that the newer models have a less of a problem.

    Bling blings: The 6D comes with wifi and gps. The E-M5 with IBIS, weather sealing, and a movable screen. The D600 with more buttons and a dual card slot. The FF's also has a top info screen which is pretty useful.

    With all that said, I have no regrets buying the D600. I went into it knowing about the dust and oil issue. After using a FF, I became a believer.
  19. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    These kind of comparisons always strike me as apples and oranges. Are you intending to use either camera to their particular strengths, or use them in the exact same manner? For example, if you regularly make use of the live view facilities of the E-M5 then I would forget about the two DSLRs entirely.
  20. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I'm surprised to read a couple of you saying 6D beats D600 at high ISO. In my experience they are a close match for one another with the D600 a touch ahead. In terms of dynamic range at base ISO, the Canon is similar to the Olympus, and the Nikon is far superior to both. In terms of overall sensor image quality, I'd rate the Nikon significantly higher than the Canon.

    In terms of usability, I find Canon and Nikon to each have their advantages. Same with the lens lineups - some wins for Canon, others for Nikon. For me the Nikon sensor advantage is enough that I would buy a D600 over a 6D if considering those choices. I did in fact choose the D600, but it didn't last very long with me as the DSLRs really aren't my preferred way to do photography these days.

    I feel as a few others have indicated - for me, Micro 4/3 is apples and oranges with those DSLRs. Way smaller overall and lots of features I enjoy, like face detection, automatic metering for detected faces, touch AF, etc. I also find the AF on current MFT cameras to be flat out superior to both the 6D and D600 AF for my purposes, not only in coverage but also speed, accuracy, and for current Panasonic bodies, low light locking as well.