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  • Nikon D600 First Impressions, Discoveries...

    Nikon D600 - I've recently upgraded from my crop sensor (DX) Nikon D7000 to a full frame (FX) Nikon D600 D-SLR. Now that I've had a chance to go through all the menus and play with the camera for a bit and set it up for my shooting style, I can give some first impressions, list some neat things I've discovered and compare it to my D7000.

    As I have only taken it out for one serious real world shooting session (and havn't yet looked at any images) I won't comment about things like image quality, ISO or low light performance, long term in the field real world handling and use and so on until I have. I'll post a follow up review covering those sorts of things when I've had enough time with the camera.

    Given that until now I've only shot with DX cameras (D90 and D7000) my view is going to be somewhat skewed and compared to what I know. I will talk briefly about some things I'm aware of relative to existing Nikon FX cameras however most of the detail here will be for a Nikon DX (and mostly a D7000) user upgrading to a D600.

    Things to know from a DX (D7000) users perspective:

    The overall user experience and handling is very familiar - D7000 users especially will have absolutely no problem adjusting

    The viewfinder is big - I guess it's stating the obvious that being an FX sensor the image area is more than twice as large but... nice...

    The QUAL/Zoom-In and ISO/Zoom-Out hard buttons on the bottom left of the back LCD have been swapped around - presumably to make the more frequently used ISO button easier to get to whilst looking through the viewfinder - I think overall this is a good thing but I'll have to get used to hitting the second button up instead of the bottom one when zooming in on Image review

    The Fn and DoF Preview buttons on the front are swapped around (Fn at bottom and Preview at top) - I assume this is actually the norm on Pro bodies and is the other way around on consumer bodies (D7000 and below) - the buttons are fully programmable on the D7000 & D600 so I just made the D7000 the same as the D600 now. It took no time at all to get used to the new positions

    It's only slightly larger and heavier than the D7000 but it feels more solid and beefy in the hand, the right side in particular around the grip is larger and deeper on both the front and back (much more like the D800) and of course the mirror box portion at the top of the camera is larger to accomodate the larger viewfinder prism, etc

    The Virtual horizon function is now two axis compared to the D7000 which only did left/right horizon tilt (which was still fantastic). The D600 now does forward/back as well (like the D800). It also has an option for an in viewfinder display as well (left/right axis only) which I havn't and probably wouldn't use. It's also not quite as good as the D800 (on the D600 you loose the shooting data when you enable this and it's only one axis)

    The mode dials on the top left of the camera are basically identical to the D7000 so are instantly familiar - the dials are actually slightly larger and the biggest difference is that the top mode dial has a central push button lock to stop accidental rotation (which has happened to me with the D7000, but still time will tell whether this becomes an annoyance or not). This may be one of the biggest areas of contention for existing pro body users (e.g. D200/300/700/800 or D3/4 users). Personally I'm totally familiar and comfortable with the consumer mode dial and much prefer the rotating dial to select these functions and being able to eyeball the top of the camera to know what it's setup as rather than the push button and rotate a dial, however it's likely down to what you're used to. One definite plus however is the use of the fully customisable user settings mode slots (U1 and U2) which first appeared on the D7000 and are retained here. These are significantly more useful than the useless custom banks on the pro bodies, Nikon should ditch the flash off and P spots and make U3 and U4

    It uses the same batteries as the D7000 (and D800, J1) and also has the same GPS/remote socket as the D7000/D90 (so I can continue using all my existing accessories) - excellent (for me at least)

    Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) is limited to 3 frames but you can choose +/- up to 3 stops (the D7000 is only +/- 2 stops) - HDR aficionados take note

    The buffer depth on the D600 is at least 50% greater than that of the D7000 so if you ever have the need to use lots of high speed continuous shooting it will last longer before choking. With both cameras setup in the same way with 14 bit lossless compressed RAW I got 10 RAWs on the D7000 and 15 RAWs on the D600 (and you'll obviously get many more if you use 12 bit compressed RAW or JPEG)

    Seven (7) of the AF points can now AF down to f/8 which could be useful for people with very slow lenses or using TC's

    The movie functions have changed with the move of both the liveview/movie selector (which has moved from above the multi selector to below) and the movie start/stop (which has moved from the centre of the liveview selector to the top of the camera) and also the way the liveview selector works with the selector now having separate liveview and movie mode positions. I think the move of the buttons/switches are good (the movie button on the top makes more sense because it's in a better position for use and it's actually the move of the multi selector to a higher position I like which makes it much easier to use with your eye up to the viewfinder)
    As mentioned above the D600 (like D800) has two liveview options - one for photos and one for videos. You can switch between the modes by moving the liveview lever on the back of the camera. In photo mode you can't record video or audio, but you can zoom in and out, track objects/faces and acquire focus using contrast detect. The movie mode is used for recording movies, so you will see microphone record levels and an actual HD video crop. Unlike the D800, the D600 has a good 1:1 pixel zoom in live view allowing critical manual focus when zoomed

    It has a 24.3MP sensor vs the 16.1MP in the D7000 - which should mean image files are likely to be around 50% larger (than the D7000) (approx 30MB 14-bit lossless compressed RAW)

    It also supports Nikons Auto DX crop (for detected DX lenses) for a roughly 10.5MP image. You can also manually choose not to crop and use the full FX image circle for potentially vignetted images with crop lenses. I tried my Tokina 12-24/4 crop lens and it stopped vignetting from around 18-19mm onwards whereas my Sigma 8-16 was only good from 14-15mm on, lastly and perhaps somewhat surprisingly my Tamron 17-50/2.8 wasn't usable at any focal length. Note also that all three of these third party lenses was auto detected as a DX lens by my D600. I shot a number of landscape images this afternoon/evening with my Tokina 12-24 in FX mode so it will be interesting to see how they turn out (e.g. what the sharpness is like around the edges in the areas not normally seen on a DX camera)

    Awesome neat little extra's:

    I'm sure most people already know that like the D4 and D800 the AutoISO function has been improved; in that instead of only being able to set a fixed min shutter speed you can now set it to be focal length dependant (e.g. 1/focal length as min shutter speed) - however what you can also do is you can set Auto to be 1/2 or 1/4 the focal length of the lens (you've got steady hands, you've got VR, etc) or if you need extra stopping power (shooting moving subjects, sports, wildlife, etc) you can set it to 2x or 4x the focal length of the lens - awesome

    On the D7000 you could hold down the ISO button and rotate the back dial to change the ISO (but you couldn't select any of the extended LO settings). On the D600 you can now select the LO settings and even better if you rotate the front dial you can switch between Auto ISO On or Off - something you previously needed to go into the menus for

    Like the D4/D800 it has the advanced Exposure delay function (Custom Setting d10) with an up to 3 second delay used in conjunction with the self timer. e.g. if you have a 2 sec self timer plus a 2 sec exposure delay - then hit the shutter and the camera will wait for two seconds, raise the mirror, wait for another two seconds, then open and close the shutter, then put the mirror back down. Basically an auto MUP mode without the remote release

    It has the same larger 3.2" LCD screen on the back of the camera as the D800/D4 - it doesn't sound like much compared to the 3" on the D7000 but it is noticeably larger

    It's only a little thing but there is a smaller dedicated door on the side of the camera just for the GPS/remote cable socket that only comes across to halfway across the front side of the camera instead of being under a full width door along with other plugs like on the D90/D7000. This should be awesome if I ever get an L Bracket because I should still be able to easily open that door and use a wired remote release with the bracket on

    Potential Cons:

    The most talked about potential issue is the AF area spread of the AF sensors in the MultiCAM 4800FX AF. Moving from DX it's definitely noticeable - basically all the points seem clustered more around the middle and as a "compose and move focus point" type shooter this is going to be my biggest hurdle - I'm going to need to learn to "focus and recompose" more. Compared to say a D7000 or D300s the difference will be obvious, compared to most other FX cameras however (D700/800 say) the difference is much less obvious

    The center button on the multi-selector dial cannot be programmed to for instance do a quick 100% zoom view in playback like on the Pro bodies - I've never had this before anyway but if you're coming from a D300/700/800 this would be a con

    Max shutter speed of 1/4000 sec (the D7000 and all the other pro bodies can do 1/8000) - whether this actually becomes and issue in real life (strangely it almost became an issue today trying to shoot at f/2 in full sun)...

    Max flash sync speed of 1/200 (the D7000 had 1/250)

    No PC Port - I've never had or used one so... you can get a hotshoe adaptor which gives you one if you really need it

    No Separate AF-ON button (although of course you can program this feature to one of three other buttons including the AE-L/AF-L button) - again I've never had this before

    You can't change the Aperture in Liveview - some video shooters are most likely to be affected

    Other notes:

    The shutter/mirror is very quiet (similar to the D7000 although it does sound different) - much quieter than the other pro bodies (even without using the Quiet mode)

  • #2
    Nice review thanks.

    One option for HDR bracketing is to use U1 and U2. set U1 to -2,-1,0 and set U2 to 0,+1, +2. By doing a bracket set with each in turn you effectively get a 5 shot bracket from-2 to +2.
    .

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    • #3
      nice review Rod..thanks for taking the time to get it all down for us. Now I wait to see more of your
      results in the real world
      cheers
      tim
      flickr

      on the web, www.timmography.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for posting your impressions Rodney.

        It does take a little while to get used to new bodies, but you'll find you'll soon be able to switch between them without much thought.

        I'm glad you're enjoying the D600, and look forward to viewing some of the images.
        Cheers Richard !

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        • #5
          Originally posted by K1W1 View Post
          Nice review thanks. One option for HDR bracketing is to use U1 and U2. set U1 to -2,-1,0 and set U2 to 0,+1, +2. By doing a bracket set with each in turn you effectively get a 5 shot bracket from-2 to +2.
          Thanks Richard - a neat idea but personally I wouldn't want to waste my U1/2 slots just for HDR since I totally use them for other things - I have effectively manually done something like that a couple times before (using exp compensation (only works on a tripod)).
          When I did I used: -2, 0, +2 as normal and then did -3 EXP comp so I get -5, -3, -1 and then +3 EXP comp to get +1, +3, +5 - that way I get no overlapping/repeated shots in the middle and you get -5, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3 and +5 for a 9 shot bracket with a very wide spread.

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          • #6
            I'd actually try the 3 shot range first anyway. From what I can see the DR of the D600 is really good and -2,0,+2 may well work fine anyway.
            .

            Comment


            • #7
              Wow - congrats! I think you'll have a lot of fun with this, excellent review, it'll be invaluable to Nikon users (and even interesting to Canon users!)

              Look forward to seeing some pics!!
              Life is short, smile while you still have teeth .....
              Art-ography

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              • #8
                Originally posted by K1W1 View Post
                I'd actually try the 3 shot range first anyway. From what I can see the DR of the D600 is really good and -2,0,+2 may well work fine anyway.
                More on that in my first images thread I'm about to post...

                Originally posted by twistednoodle View Post
                Wow - congrats! I think you'll have a lot of fun with this, excellent review, it'll be invaluable to Nikon users (and even interesting to Canon users!) Look forward to seeing some pics!!
                Thanks Kath - some pics are coming real soon now

                Comment


                • #9
                  Rodney I have been thinking about upgrading from the D3100 entry camera to the D7000 but not quiet yet but soon. Do you think from the D3100 to the D7000 is a wise move. Or do you think it might be too much in one jump I don't want to go into a pro cam yet but just leaping out of the entry to mid cam now.
                  All Experts at anything were once beginners





                  MWAH Sandy

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                  • #10
                    My brother (a pro) has just bought one and will be visiting from Hobart on the weekend. Looking forward to seeing it work.
                    Terry
                    An Olympus E620 user

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nikkie View Post
                      Rodney I have been thinking about upgrading from the D3100 entry camera to the D7000 but not quiet yet but soon.
                      The D5200 will be released in a couple of weeks. I think that will be a very suitable camera for you from what I have seen.
                      .

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                      • #12
                        Thanks Kiwi can I ask why that is like I said I don't want to jump into to deep water just yet do you have any feelings on what the cost will be ? please and one more thing do you have a date yet also asking too darn much I know Kiwi thanks again in the mean time ill do a google search as well though
                        All Experts at anything were once beginners





                        MWAH Sandy

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                        • #13
                          Hi Sandy - one of the main reasons for me moving from my D90 to the D7000 was the better user controls on the camera. Basically things I always used/changed with my particular shooting style being available on hard buttons rather than buried in menus. An example was the new method for changing the Focus Modes and AF-Area Modes - on the D90 this required me to go into the menu system to change but is a button press and dial rotation on the D7000 (and D600). Because I shoot a lot of school events and candid childrens portraits, group shots, etc I'm often changing between the modes quickly (e.g. AF-S and AF-A/C and Single Point focus vs auto area vs dynamic area) and the D90 was severely hampering my ability to do so. The U1 and U2 custom mode dial slots are also a boon for me (because I also love landscape photography and have my U1 position (on both my D7000 and D600) setup specifically for what I need for that). Sure it had a little more MP as well and better ISO performance but really IQ wasn't what was holding me back with the D90. Some of the main things you get when moving up the body chain are more "pro" controls both as hard buttons, dials and wheels, etc plus more advanced features in the menus and in the camera itself - if you never use these things then it probably doesn't matter because the sensors these days are so extraordinarily good.

                          So what I guess I'm saying is - are you feeling limited by your current camera in specific ways - if you are define what those are and see if there's a specific camera model which resolves them - if not - invest in good glass instead.

                          For example maybe you have or would like to use some specific lenses (some older ones (even very old non chipped) or some new ones without built in focus motors - e.g. non AF-S lenses) - if this is the case then the 3X00 and 5X00 models will be a limitation because you can't use these lenses (because these models don't have an in body focus motor nor do they have the ability to program non-CPU lens data) - in this case a D90/D7X00 or above could be the go

                          Maybe you want to do video and could do with the articulated screen on the D5X00's

                          It could just be because the camera body is too small and feels uncomfortable in the hand (I've tried a D3X00 and I have small girly hands and I found it far too little - my little finger just dangles off the bottom of the grip - likewise I've tried a 5D MkII and found it too large/chunky and cumbersome in my hands)

                          Don't get me wrong the D7000 was/is a freakin awesome camera - practically every advanced feature that 99.99% of people could need along with fantastic IQ - but make sure you've learn't most of the nooks and crannys of what you've got so you know why you're upgrading - not just because it's a newer/better model

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                          • #14
                            I already have DX AF lens so I want to stick to that for now. I have been reading a bit about the D3100 My Camera And have seen it dose not preform very well at all in low light Conditions even using Studio lights take the Camera under a roof and you have to bump up the ISO the other night I was shooting some friends in low light but not dark conditions not even darker enough to turn the light on this was a outdoor enclosed area so still lots of daylight coming in. It was either push up my ISO or use the flash as when I gave it a few test shots in Auto the flash would pop up I gave in changing settings put my speedlight SS-400 and tried to bounce it but I did not want to use the flash at all and even then still ISO 800 had to be used.


                            I also like to shoot fast and also do a lot of Continues shoots this is my main style of shooting fast and from the hip. I had since read that the D3100 does perform very badly in low light conditions noise I hate noise. I will be keeping my D3100 for a 2nd body even on cloudy days out side it does not perform as well my p/s does I don't know why this is but not very often I can keep the ISO down to 100 or even 400 I had read the D7000 is good in low light and is good for shooters like me fast

                            Thanks for your reply Rodney its all good information and reading about my options is always good I just feel I have now outgrown the D3100 and feel I am ready to try something newer and if I can't get my head around it I can always go back to the D3100 wont know until I try I guess.
                            All Experts at anything were once beginners





                            MWAH Sandy

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                            • #15
                              The best low noise DX sensor Nikon currently offer is the 24 mp sensor in the D3200. A new version of the sensor will be fitted to the upcoming D5200 and both the D3200 and D5200 will at that point out resolve and outperform the D7000 in the noise stakes.
                              The D7000 should be replaced with a D7200 some time next year with the same 24 mp sensor. Hopefully the D400 will be out with that sensor early in the new year.

                              In situations like you described above where your friends were and you had to use iso 800 you will still have to use iso 800 with any camera given the same aperture and shutter speed settings. I'm surprised about your comments about iso 800 I just looked at the DPReview noise tests on the D3100 and to be it looks pretty good at iso 800 in fact way, way better than my D300 when I included that in the sample mix. Are you sure that you are not confusing noise with something else?

                              Check this page out
                              .

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Nikon D600 First Impressions, Discoveries...

                                Great review. Thanks for that

                                Can you tell me if you only have dx lenses and how it handles that ?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Cookster670 View Post
                                  Great review. Thanks for that. Can you tell me if you only have dx lenses and how it handles that ?
                                  I'll assume you're talking about the D600 (and not the D3200) so my reply with that in mind...

                                  When I bought the D600 I owned 4 DX lenses (8-16, 12-24/4, 17-50/2.8 and 18-200) and a number of (6) FX lenses

                                  All of the DX lenses are usable in (auto) DX crop mode on the D600 of course (basically you get a red square inside the viewfinder showing the area of the DX crop and when you take a picture you get a 10.5MP image - basically you're using the centre portion of the sensor only), if you run the camera in FX mode with the DX lenses your mileage will vary as to if and how much vignetting you'll get at various focal lengths (and how bad the lenses are at the periphery where they probably weren't designed to be used)

                                  The 17-50 is unusable at any focal length (in FX mode) - It's up for sale if anyone wants it ($200)
                                  The 8-16 is only usable from about 15mm up so not really (in FX mode) - I'll probably sell this ($500)
                                  I've since sold the 12-24/4 (although it was the most usable in FX mode - from about 18mm up and still quite sharp) - I'm guessing I'll pick up something like a 16-35/4 to replace this (and sort of the 8-16)
                                  I've not tried the 18-200 yet but plan to keep this for my D7000 anyway

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Nikon D600 First Impressions, Discoveries...

                                    Thanks for that. Very interesting but not the greatest news. I'd be keen to get the D600 as an upgrade from my d7000, but upgrading lenses too makes it cost prohibitive. I have a 28-75/2.8, 10-24, 70-200/2.8, 50/1.8 and 85/1.4. To replace them gets really expensive...

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Cookster670 View Post
                                      I have a 28-75/2.8, 10-24, 70-200/2.8, 50/1.8 and 85/1.4. To replace them gets really expensive...
                                      I'd imagine that all of these except for the 10-24 are FX lenses and fully usable (in FX mode) on the D600. I'd expect the only lens you'd need to replace is the Ultrawide.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by K1W1 View Post
                                        The best low noise DX sensor Nikon currently offer is the 24 mp sensor in the D3200. A new version of the sensor will be fitted to the upcoming D5200 and both the D3200 and D5200 will at that point out resolve and outperform the D7000 in the noise stakes.
                                        The D7000 should be replaced with a D7200 some time next year with the same 24 mp sensor. Hopefully the D400 will be out with that sensor early in the new year.

                                        In situations like you described above where your friends were and you had to use iso 800 you will still have to use iso 800 with any camera given the same aperture and shutter speed settings. I'm surprised about your comments about iso 800 I just looked at the DPReview noise tests on the D3100 and to be it looks pretty good at iso 800 in fact way, way better than my D300 when I included that in the sample mix. Are you sure that you are not confusing noise with something else?

                                        Check this page out
                                        Yes but ISO 800 and still need to use the flash but I am also wondering I did say in GC my sensor was dirty in most photos I took there was large dust bunnies on the photos I guess smaller dust would or could show up as noise these photos I was talking about with my friends did not have noise or dust bunnies but still had to use the flash to get enough light using my 105 mm lens but there have been other times when I was able to use ISO 400 with my 35 mm inside and not even consider the flash. As I don't know much about these things Kiwi could/can/ would a really dirty sensor give you limits on this type of thing. I can remember when I first got the camera it seemed to work good in low light so none of any think I am saying makes any sense to me just from what I see in my live view after the photo has been shoot just black and nothing more. I have decided to wait for the D5200 as the D5100 was also my consideration as well. I almost got the D3200 a little while back but thought what is the use of going from entry level to entry level but I don't want to dive in too deep yet either
                                        All Experts at anything were once beginners





                                        MWAH Sandy

                                        Comment


                                        • #21
                                          Rodney I had forgotten you had bought your D600, I bought one a couple of weeks ago and am going through its capabilities now. I also have the D7000 (and am about to sell all my other cameras - D90, D60, G12 and associated lenses). Whilst I still have DX lenses which I will keep for my D7000 I read somewhere that it is possible to use old film lenses which suit full frame, well I had two old tamron adaptall lenses (18mm and a 80-200mm) so I found a Nikon mount adapter on Ebay and bought two @ $14.00 each so while I am saving up for a new lens hopefully I can get by with these old lenses and I have a film Nikon 18-80 lens in the meantime as well. Still waiting for my mounts to arrive.

                                          I'm pretty amazed with the shots I took last weekend with this camera, I want to set it up to focus the same as my D7000 but haven't figured out how to do that yet, it will come I'm sure.
                                          Thanks for your review.
                                          Jenne

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