I'm planning to pick up a second FX body early next year and I'm trying to decide between these two. I'm currently using a D700 which I plan to keep. I like the interface and controls of the D800 which is the same or similar to my other camera bodies and that could be a factor. I also like cf cards and being able to change apertures in LV. On the other hand, saving $900 means I could pick up a 24-120 VRII to replace the 24-120 VR kit lens. So I'm interested in hearing from users that choose between the two. BTW, I enjoy macro, scenics and landscaspes and sports. I'd use the D700 for the higher fps for sports so that isn't a concern.
First, I bought my D800 before the D600 existed. So there was really no choice.
Now that there is, the body style/form/quality would still push me to the D800. The D800 is a pro-style body with a larger form factor and more hard buttons. The D600 is a prosumer body style (think D90 vs D300). It's smaller in hand, has fewer hard buttons, and is less ruggedly built. Those differences alone push me to the D800. The extra resolution of the D800 suits me more than faster FPS. Also, the D800 high ISO performance is very very good, so I'm more than satisfied with my choice.
If you're looking to get into FX, have used prosumer bodies rather than pro bodies, and don't need the extra resolution, the D600 is a nice way to move up to FX.
I still use a D700 which I plan to keep because of the higher fps with MB-D10. It's tough choice, I like that the D800 is closer to the D700 but smaller, lighter and cheaper is something to think about in the D600. But in the end I always buy a PRO body so that more than anything may sway my opinion.
I have a D700 that I use for horse show photos. It has worked really well for what can be the worst of conditions - fast moving subjects in poorly-lit indoor arenas. Shooting from the center of the ring I mostly use a 70-200 f2.8 VR lens at 100mm or so. An MB-D10 gives me more battery time and is not to allow a fast sequence of shots. I learned how to get the desired image (proper horse and rider position) using a single shot instead of the "shotgun approach". I think my technique improved after I quit trying to shoot so many shots so fast.
That said, I have only had my D800 for a few weeks and have not tried to do a similar gig with it. But I am hoping to be able to work in a similar way as I did with the D700. To me, one very valuable thing is that the D800 controls are mostly an extended set of the D700 controls. I do not have to think so much about which camera I am using and the proper action for what I want to do for most things. If I pick up my wife's D7000 I have to think a lot about what I want to do.
For me, familiarity with the D700 would make it a better backup body to the D800 than the D600 would.
I recommend to go to a store, even something like Best Buy, and hold either camera in your hands for a minute. I did, and strongly preferred the D800. Others may come to the opposite conclusion, or be ambivalent about it, but handling matters, at least in my opinion.
>I recommend to go to a store, even something like Best Buy, >and hold either camera in your hands for a minute. I did, and strongly preferred the D800. Others may come to the opposite conclusion, or be ambivalent about it, but handling matters, >at least in my opinion. <Quote<<<
The D600 is lighter and fits my wife's hands better. For me the handling of the D800 is so much better that I can hand hold it much longer at an Event before getting tired. The narrow groove in the D600 grip pinches my fat fingers. I also like the button layout better.
I have not noticed the High ISO being any better on the D600 and I have the frame rate set for 3fps so my wife does not take double shots. So, for me everything is better about the D800.
Since you already have the D700 and will keep it, the D800 offers more in addition than D600. Lots of little things, like bigger brighter viewfinder image, compatibility with 10pin devices that you may have for your D700, similar (but extended) menu and control layouts. the additional Mp in combination with a sharp lens allows for agressive cropping when necessary - there is just no end to the detail in D800 images, compared to a 12mp camera
On the other hand, I am very impressed with the image quality of my 24-120 f4 compared to the 18-200 that I was using before (on D200/D300)
Although I bought the D800 before the D600 became available I would still stick with that choice. My reason? I need and use high pixel density in a full frame camera. That's because I always enjoyed the image quality obtained from medium format film. While the D800 is not a complete replacement for medium format film it easily equals and sometime surpasses m/f up to about 30 inches on a side for prints, providing you have the best lenses. It's a lot lighter than the film gear and much more versatile. To be honest, I seldom use the film gear anymore. I have several DSLR bodies but this is the first one that really opens a big gap in image quality between digital and film, with digital the winner. For the most avid sports action shooters the D800 might lack somewhat in frame rate and buffering speed so that's the caveat.
I just picked up a D800E over a D600 due to several reasons. First it was the flash sync was not up to 1/250.
Second was the bracketing. I am an Architectural photographer and I bracket 5 shots. It makes it much easier to dial 2 over and 2 under and just click away. thus avoiding me messing up. I want to focus on the photo I am taking, and not worry about spinning dials.
Lastly it give me the ability to produce large prints for my clients.
I bought a second D800 rather than a D600 for the following reasons: - I didn't want to deal with the "dust" issue of the D600 - I wanted all of the controls to be in the same place for both bodies (main reason) - At my age this may be the last body I buy so I wanted the best I could afford.