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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nikon D600; Initial Thoughts

So I decided to upgrade from my Nikon D7000 to a Nikon D600. I blogged previously while I was thinking about getting an Olympus OM-D. As my obsessive personality requires, I did a good amount of research regarding the D600 before making my purchase. I'll go through what I've seen so far and what led to my decision. It should be noted that just because I decided to upgrade from the D7000 to the D600 doesn't mean that it's the correct decision for everybody.

On the surface the camera's look pretty similar. Even when you dig into some of the specs you find a lot of similarities. They both look and feel pretty similar with similar button functions and placement. Although I immediately noticed that the [Zoom - / Qual] button and [Zoom + / ISO] button were inexplicably reversed. So every time I was reviewing an image and wanted to zoom in or out I was always pressing the wrong button. And if I tried to change the ISO, yep, always pressed the wrong button. I'm sure I'll get over it.

On with other specs.. They both have dual card slots and share the 39 pt AF system. But the real reason you buy the D600 is for the sensor. My first trek out with the D600 was our local zoo which was a dark and cloudy day. It was actually a trip with my wife and son, but I just couldn't resist testing out the new camera. I have to say I'm speechless at the high ISO capability. I've gone from the D50 to the D40x then D90, D7000 and now D600 and I've never been so impressed. (The jump from the D40x to the D90 was very impressive). In the past there was a scale on when you'd be willing to use your higher ISO. So like if you were shooting a common species you'd be willing to go to maybe 800 ISO, beyond that, you'd probably just be better off waiting for better light. But if it was it was a rare species then you didn't care, anything to get a shot for the archive... crank that thing up to 6400 ISO... Never post it online and make sure you view it with the door closed so nobody else will ever see it.

But this is different. I shot a few at 3200 ISO and then 6400. I even accidentally shot at Hi + 0.3 which is ISO 8063. I couldn't believe it, color and detail looked very good. The D600 slides up the ISO chart smoothly with very impressive results. Here is the full image and a couple of crops @ 100% (Forgive the shot... it was through a mesh net..)
Nikon D600 w/ 70-300VR @ 180mm, f/5.6, 1/50 sec (handheld) ISO 8063
ISO 8063 @ 100%
ISO 8063 @ 100%
I'll have a chance to give the camera a real workout with a couple of months when I travel to Yosemite National Park in April. So you can be sure that I'll share my experiences here.

I think I'll just leave it at that for now. People might be thinking about switching to FX from the D7000. But now with the announcement of the D7100, there are going to be even more comparisons to come. Hopefully I'll get my hands on a D7100 for a direct comparison.

Stay tuned!