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D600 - Questions and Answers

d600 review

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#1 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 00:14

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As some of you already may know, I have had a production D600 for some time. However, Nikon wouldn't let me publish anything on the camera, or show its output, before 18th September, 2012, which was the Sales Launch Date. This time around, Nikon had ensured that volume delivery of their new model occurred world wide within a week of the Press Release (13 Sept.). Nikon even ordered full-page adverts to occur at the Sales Launch stating the camera would be available for purchase from that day on.

My testing of the D600 has been a little delayed because processing of its RAW files requires the latest version of Capture NX2 (2.3.4). For NX2, suffice it to say it wins the "Turtle Award" for being the slowest program I ever have had the bad luck to use. Even on my high-end Win7/64 bit machine with 32 GB memory and 600 GB SSD disk, it fumbles along in a glacial pace. Just getting past the splash screen takes 3-5 minutes (!). Showing thumbnails of a folder with 100-200 images takes up to 5 minutes during which the entire machine is locked up completely. How on Earth is it possibly to write such crappy software ? There is no memory shortage as NX2 happily gorges itself with 10-20 GB RAM and refuses to let it go. (to illustrate the speed difference, my Linux box with ASP reads a D800 NEF, converts it, and writes the 206 MB TIF to disk in 0.6 secs ...).

Oh well, hopefully the alternate RAW converters soon are capable to enter the scene and mitigate the NX2 headache.

Over to the D600 itself. Initially I had just lukewarm feelings towards yet another middle-of-the-road newcomer from the Mothership, but after using the camera for some time my attitude has changed significantly. In fact, the camera is in many aspects better than the D800, at least for my usage of these models. You do get 24 MPix instead of 36 MPix (D800/800E), but are rewarded with a camera that handles very well, allows for hand-held shooting much more consistently than its siblings of the D800 class, and has almost all the bells and whistles one could ask for in a neat, well-made package. Even the viewfinder is an improvement on the D800 because eye-point has been increased to allow a better overview of the groundglass and finder information panels. Manual focusing poses no problems and as far as I have been able to ascertain, there are no AF skeletons in the closet.

Images are delivered crisp and clear, with an excellent clarity to them. However, Nikon has decided to calibrate the light meter to deliver quite bright pictures for some reason I don't understand, so you run a real risk of wasting much of the excellent dynamic range due to onset of highlight clipping. To some (limited) extent, blown highlights can be restored by the RAW conversion, but it's better to avoid blowing them in the first place. I usually set the matrix metering fine-tune of my Nikons to -1/6 EV, but this will not suffice for the D600 bodies I've used so I now run at -1 EV adjustment. Do note this entails an overall shifting of the zero point for the light metering by the same amount, and thus some subjects might need further adjustments.

NG members can ask any relevant question on the camera and I'll do my best to answer. I also will put up sample images to show what the camera is capable of. That is, if NX2 allows me to go through the files I've already acquired, as this takes forever.
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Bjørn

#2 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 00:18

A quick example of how D600 handles scenes with high contrast. While on my recent London visit, I intentionally sought out such scenes which usually makes even the best camera cringe.

Shot with the D600 and 24 mm f/2 Nikkor, a superb sample of which I recently got from Grays of Westminster. It now is CPU-modified of course, but I hadn't had the opportunity to perform this at the time this shot was captured.

_NG_D600_Q1209170105.jpg
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#3 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 00:27

This is a snapshot taken on the London Tube, showing how the camera deals with very troublesome light situations (fluorescent).

Straight off the camera, Auto white balance, no later adjustments.

D600 with Nikkor 24/2.

_NG_D600_Q1209170107.jpg
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#4 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 00:45

Here is a Church for sale, if you're interested :)

(D600, 24/2 Nikkor)

_NG_D600_Q1209170143.jpg
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#5 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 00:56

Some nature subjects to show the smooth manner in which D600 "draws" the image.


D600, Nikkor ED-IF 200/3.5

_NG_D600_B1209190167.jpg


_NG_D600_B1209190179.jpg
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#6 Andrea B.

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 01:00

Have you played with the in-camera ADL ?? I've found it quite useful for dealing with high contrast scenes to prevent blowout. I can't read your exif here on my Mac, so I don't know if you had it turned on or not.

What do you think of the D600 shutter ?? Doesn't it have nice feel ?? I wrote about it a bit in the other thread - called it "crisp" for lack of a better word.

I'm not sure what you mean by "increased the eye point" when you wrote about the viewfinder ??

Did you do any kind of formal (or semi-formal) auto-focus testing of the left and right sides ?? I played around with it informally and could discover no immediate abnormalities a la the D800 problem.

Andrea B.
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#7 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 01:07

The "Picture Control" or whatever those thingies are called are all set to none/neutral. No idea what "ADL" is - I got the camera(s) with no manual/paperwork and so far have had no need to download and peruse them anyway.

The nice and smooth shutter operation certainly has its share of why the camera is so easy to hand-hold. Sound is crisp yet reduced in volume and to the point as well, rather unlike the "machine guns" we're accustomed to.

Eye point is raised from 19.6 to 21 approx. (figures off my head a late night, but they are in the ballpark) so makes viewing the finder with glasses on much easier.

I've done a standard AF test series and couldn't detect problems, but the last word isn't written as I will expand testing in the near future.
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#8 dslater

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 02:40

I think ADL is Active D-Lighting

#9 boyboytse

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:00

Nfoto: you wrote "I usually set the matrix metering fine-tune of my Nikons to -1/6 EV, but this will not suffice for the D600 bodies I've used so I now run at -1 EV adjustment. Do note this entails an overall shifting of the zero point for the light metering by the same amount, and thus some subjects might need further adjustments." Can you please explain more for amateurs like us to understand more?

#10 stenrasmussen

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 07:17

First: Good to see that the 24/2 works well. I happen to like that lens too.
Your D600 impressions mimic the ones I got after trying the camera out yesterday.
The shutter action impressed me with its less clunky operation. The LCD is much better suited for manual focus (less interlacing artifacts).
Will follow your post here with eagle...earger eyes and compare with my experiences over the weekend.
This is your thread Bjørn so I will of course refrain from adding more of my impressions until you've finished :)

Edited by stenrasmussen, 20 September 2012 - 07:19 .

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#11 Colin-M

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 10:28

Any of you missing the AF-On button?
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#12 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 10:32

Sten: this is the NG Community thread on the D600. Feel free to add your own impressions (of course).

Boyboytse: A light meter should have a "zero" or reference point. All metering is done in reference to this setting. So when you override the factory-set reference point by availing yourself of the "Meter fine-tune", you shift the reference for all subsequent metering. Do note that unlike the ordinary +- adjustments done with its own control on the camera, this fine-tune factor is never shown other than in Nikon software later. Nikon allows you to set the fine-tune separately for matrix, centre-weighted, and spot metering modes. I find it utterly confusing to consider a hidden correction for centre-weighted and spot modes, since you typically should operate with these modes based on your shooting experience and the exposure effect you look for, and that obviously entails making further +- adjustments if necessary. For the matrix metering, which is a black-box magical algorithm, one never really knows what the camera is up to, so it's more prudent to shift the zero point for the matrix meter up or down to make the general response brighter or darker, respectively. Usually a setting of -1/6 EV suffices for the Matrix, but D600 demands much more than so in order to keep highlights from blowing out. I currently test out if -1 EV suffices for general use.
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#13 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 10:33

Colin: The AF-On functionality can be programmed on the AF/AE button instead, and these functions shifted over to the Func button instead. So it is a no-brainer.
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#14 Anthony

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 10:45

Very interesting, even though I will not be in the market for a new camera for some time.

The church is not for sale - instead, it sold out some time ago by developing some flats on part of its premises, while still remaining an active church. Several very high value motors (eg Ferrari, Aston Martin) are now parked in the area in front of the church, making a provocative juxtaposition.

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#15 Bjørn J

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 11:05

Colin: The AF-On functionality can be programmed on the AF/AE button instead, and these functions shifted over to the Func button instead. So it is a no-brainer.


Even though you do not specifically mention it, I take it for granted that you can disable focusing from the shutter button.
But is it possible to program the shutter button to function as an AE-L (exposure lock) when half-pressed?

Edited by Bjørn J, 20 September 2012 - 11:05 .

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#16 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 11:06

Shutter release as AE_L: I thought that was the standard implemented by default? Will have to check menu settings to learn whether the D600 behaves differently.

You can move AF off the shutter release by using AF-On.
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#17 Bjørn J

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 11:14

All my Nikons came with AF on the shutter release as default. The first thing I do with any new camera is to reprogram it so focus is disabled on the shutter release, and instead functions as AE-L.
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#18 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 11:18

We are in agreement re AF controlled by the shutter release (a fail-safe method to get "back-" or "front-"focus). So yes, the first adjustment to any new camera for me is moving AF over to AF-On.
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#19 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 11:26

BJ: There is a menu setting for disabling/enabling AE-L on the release button.
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#20 nfoto

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 13:15

Did another more in-depth AF test and the AF functions perfect. No gremlins.

However, I haven't yet found the setting that turns off 3D. Must be somewhere unless Nikon really disappoints this time.

Edit: found it - same approach as on the D800 by the way. I must go do something else; my brain doesn't work anymore :(
Bjørn





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