Sun 30-Dec-12 09:10 PM | edited Sun 30-Dec-12 09:17 PM by ericbowles
I've got both the D600 and D800E. They are both great cameras - and my older cameras are getting very little use.
My style does not require a high frame rate with any camera. Both are fine for my normal use.
The D800 body is like the D300,D200, and D700 with similar size, navigation, and feel. The D600 body is very much like the D7000 with a slightly smaller size, a different layout of controls, etc.
Image quality of the D800E is jaw dropping - noticeably different and sharper. It's so sharp that medium and small crops - and my laptop - don't even show the level of detail that exists. I can post a 50% crop here and you would never know it is a crop. But you have enough detail to see small issues with lens quality or sharpness. AF is excellent - near the level of the D4.
You are incorrect about noise. The large file size of the D800 makes it very difficult to see any noise until you get to high ISO levels. DxOMark rates the D800 and D600 as about the same in terms of noise. I would rate it slightly better than my D600 and it depends more on other factors such as lighting conditions, post processing technique, etc. The excellent dynamic range and color at low ISO levels are exceptional.
Part of the confusion on the impact of file size comes from viewing at 100%. Viewing a D800 image at 100% is looking at a much smaller crop than looking at a D700 at 100%. This sizing difference is worth about 1.5 stops on a D800 and 1 stop on the D600 - but the benefit in performance is more than that.
My D800 is a very early one with the left side AF issue. I will probably send it for service later, but it is not a factor in normal use. As you move from the center sensor to cross sensors and then to outer sensors, AF precision drops with all cameras. I use the back button to focus and normally use the central sensors when precise focus is needed. Stopped down it's not an issue.
The D600 is an excellent all purpose camera. Quality is still very good, and file size is bigger than almost every prior camera. But it strikes a nice balance of a little smaller file that is easier to handle.
I have had a little dust but nothing outside of normal. The D600 has much higher resolution than earlier cameras so a 100% view is much more magnified. The area of the FX sensor is nearly 2.5 time the area of a DX sensor, so there is a larger area to collect dust. You need to use a blower and clean any FX sensor. There is likely some dust in the mirror box that contributes to the issues, and a huge amount of misinformation. Many of these reports are from those who are new to FX cameras. I have 6000 frames on my D600 and have only needed to use a blower for dust. Since you are used to a D700, I don't expect you will see any problem with dust.
I never shoot in DX mode, but if I really needed to travel light might take a DX lens like the 16-85 and use it in DX mode. There is no normal advantage of starting out with DX mode when you can crop later if needed. Since you have a number of nice DX lenses, DX is an option for those lenses if needed.
If in doubt - you could just get the D600. It's a very good camera. If you want the best resolution possible, other better features, and want to use large files, the D800/E would be your choice. My guess is coming from a D700, you would be happier with a D800/E as image quality is truly stunning.