Nikon D800 versus Canon 6D
The Nikon D800 and the Canon EOS 6D are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2012 and September 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 36.2 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 20 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Nikon D800 vs Canon 6D
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D800 and the Canon 6D are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the D800 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 6D is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Nikon D800. Moreover, the 6D is markedly lighter (23 percent) than the D800. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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. Yet, since both cameras are based around a full frame sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D800) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (6D).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Nikon D800»||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999||-|
|Canon 6D«||5.7 in||4.4 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||-|
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||5.7 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||5.9 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||31.4 oz||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 7D II« »||5.9 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||32.1 oz||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Canon 70D« »||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199||-|
|Canon 5D Mark III« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499||-|
|Canon 1D X« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||-|
|Nikon D850« »||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D810« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||-|
|Nikon D610« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon Df« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.6 in||26.8 oz||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Nikon D4« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||-|
|Nikon D600« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||-|
|Nikon D800E« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299||-|
|Nikon D700« »||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||-|
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 6D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 percent) than the D800, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison: Nikon D800 vs Canon 6D
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Nikon D800 offers a higher resolution of 36.2 megapixel, compared with 20 MP of the Canon 6D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 6.57μm for the 6D). Moreover, it should be noted that the 6D is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the D800, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the D800 provides substantially higher image quality than the 6D, with an overall score that is 13 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Nikon D800»||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|Canon 6D«||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Canon 7D II« »||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|Canon 70D« »||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||22.5||11.6||926||68|
|Canon 5D Mark III« »||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 1D X« »||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|Nikon D850« »||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Nikon D810« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Nikon D610« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon Df« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||-||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|Nikon D4« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|Nikon D600« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|Nikon D800E« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|Nikon D700« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||-||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Feature comparison: Nikon D800 vs Canon 6D
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D800 and the 6D 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D800, the Canon 6D, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||4000||6.5||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||7.0||n||n|
|Canon 7D II« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||8000||10.0||Y||n|
|Canon 70D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||7.0||Y||n|
|Canon 5D Mark III« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||6.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D X« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||14.0||n||n|
|Nikon D850« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||8000||9.0||n||n|
|Nikon D810« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D610« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||4000||6.0||Y||n|
|Nikon Df« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||4000||5.5||n||n|
|Nikon D4« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n|
|Nikon D600« »||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||4000||5.5||Y||n|
|Nikon D800E« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||4.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D700« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||8.0||Y||n|
Both the D800 and the 6D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D800 was replaced by the Nikon D810, while the 6D was followed by the Canon 6D Mark II.
Review summary: Nikon D800 vs Canon 6D
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D800 better than the Canon 6D or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D800:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 20MP) with a 35% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2012).
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 6D:
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 230g or 23 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1090 versus 900) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (7 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D800 emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 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.
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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D800 or the 6D. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Nikon D800»||HiRec||82/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999||-|
|Canon 6D«||HiRec||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||-|
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||Rec||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 7D II« »||Rec||84/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Canon 70D« »||HiRec||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199||-|
|Canon 5D Mark III« »||HiRec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499||-|
|Canon 1D X« »||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799||-|
|Nikon D850« »||HiRec||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D810« »||-||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299||-|
|Nikon D610« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon Df« »||-||81/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Nikon D4« »||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||-|
|Nikon D600« »||HiRec||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||-|
|Nikon D800E« »||-||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299||-|
|Nikon D700« »||89/100||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||-|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
- Canon 200D vs Olympus TG-5
- Canon SX50 vs Canon G1 X Mark II
- Canon T6i vs Canon 6D Mark II
- Fujifilm X-A10 vs Canon G5 X
- Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D610
- Nikon D7000 vs Nikon W300
- Nikon D850 vs Leica S-E Typ 006
- Nikon P900 vs Sony RX100 V
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Panasonic ZS100
- Sony A58 vs Sony A77
- Sony A7R II vs Canon 77D
- Sony A7R III vs Canon M3