Leica M8 vs Nikon D600
The Leica M8 and the Nikon D600 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2012. The M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the D600 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and a full frame (D600) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M8 and the Nikon D600? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica M8 and the Nikon D600 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D600 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D600 is considerably larger (43 percent) than the Leica M8. Moreover, the D600 is substantially heavier (44 percent) than the M8. It is noteworthy in this context that the D600 is splash and dust-proof, while the M8 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M8) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D600).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|2.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|3.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|4.||Canon 400D||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|5.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|7.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|8.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|9.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|10.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|11.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|12.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|14.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|15.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|16.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|17.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D600 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 62 percent) than the M8, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M8 features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D600 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D600 is 77 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.2MP, the D600 offers a higher resolution than the M8 (10.4MP), but the D600 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). Yet, the D600 is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the M8, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D600 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D600 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20.1 inches or 76.4 x 51 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16.1 inches or 61.1 x 40.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.4 inches or 50.9 x 34 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica M8 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 2500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D600 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D600 offers substantially better image quality than the M8 (overall score 35 points higher). The advantage is based on 4 bits higher color depth, 2.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|5.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|9.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|11.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|12.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|17.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D600 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the D600 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M8 and the D600 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M8 and Nikon D600 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the D600, but is missing on the M8 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The Nikon D600 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M8 and the D600 write their files to SDXC cards. The D600 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M8 only has one slot. The D600 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the M8 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Leica M8 and Nikon D600 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the M8 and the D600 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the D600 was followed by the Nikon D610. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M8 or the Nikon D600 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Leica M8:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 141x113mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 259g or 30 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D600:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.2 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 53%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (35 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (62 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the M8 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D600 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M8 or the D600. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Leica M8||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|2.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|3.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|4.||Canon 400D||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|5.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|7.||Leica M9||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|8.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|9.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|10.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|11.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|12.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|14.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|15.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|16.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|17.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Leica M8 vs Nikon D600
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Leica M8||Nikon D600|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 2,099|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Nikon D600|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||24.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||6016 x 4016 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||5.97 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||2.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 2,500 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||94|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||25.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||14.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||2980|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Nikon D600|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Nikon D600|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Nikon D600|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Nikon D600|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
141 x 113 x 82 mm
(5.6 x 4.4 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||850 g (30.0 oz)|
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