Monday, April 15, 2013

Nikon D600: Hands on Review

As mentioned in my earlier post Santa Cruz Downtown  ,  I rented a Nikon D600 body in the USA and used it for a few days. I wanted to get a hands on experience with the camera before deciding whether to buy it.  I was especially interested in the D600 as it was a compact full frame FX DSLR of moderate weight and size. I had a gut feeling that this could be the camera I could use for all my treks and photo expeditions and best of all it would work with all the full frame lenses I had from my film days. I tested it with my Nikon 50 F1.8AFD and the 24 F2.8AF.

Here  is the one of the images in full frame:
Nikon D600, ISO 640, 1/125 sec  f 2.5, 50mm F1.8D, matrix maetering
And here is the 100% crop of the same image. Please do see how the f2.5 wide aperture has affected depth of field- the left eye is sharp but the right eye is not! What do you feel about the resolution at 100% crop?

  • Large big full frame viewfinder - a joy to use 
  • Good weight for a full frame body - the lightest in the Nikon stable so far!
  • Spot on exposure - no need to adjust the EV to -0.3 or + 0.3 using matrix metering for most situations 
  • At 24 mp you would expect excellent resolution at 100% crop and the camera did not disappoint!
  • High ISO performance was great - I would say that ISO upto 1600 is good and 3200 is also usable given the correct exposure. I regularly used 800 or so indoors without any noise issues.
  • No problems with Nikon's earlier lenses - I used the 50 F1.8 AFD and an old 24 F2.8 AF ( not D) and got great results from them. Neither of these lenses is VR but a low shutter speeds (1/30 sec etc) it was possible to get perfectly sharp images! I would imagine that the new VR lenses would also give some amazing results at low shutter speeds hand held provided the subject was not moving!
  • The built in flash is quite good especially in daylight to remove harsh shadows caused by the sun especially when shooting people! In most situations outdoors I did not have to compensate the flash and shot it on program mode with good results.
  • The camera accepts two SD cards in Slot 1 and Slot 2 so the second card can be used as a back up; or a combination like NEF(Raw) in Slot 1 and JPEG in Slot 2.
  • I sometimes had difficulty in using auto focus in very low light conditions - the camera was hunting for focus and then switching over to manual focus made things much easier. I am not sure if this is due to the 39 focus points bunched around the centre of the screen as opposed to the 51 points in the D800 and the new D7100! This issue has also been mentioned by other photographers
  • I would have liked to have an instant 100% zoom button to review the image as in the D300 series but Nikon has not given us this feature!
  • Sloppy technique wont work with this camera - if there is camera shake due to low shutter speeds etc this shows up very easily and you dont have to go for a big print either! None of the lenses I used for the test was VR with VR you should get a couple of stops advantage - I have been able to hand hold down to 1/10 sec with a Nikon 16-85 VR lens on a DX body!
  • One of the major "cons" is the dust issue on the sensor. On internet forums this has been hotly debated and many have stayed away from buying the camera until this issue is resolved by Nikon. The body I received fro m the rental company was clean and in the three days that I used it there was no dust problems. Some photographers report that cleaning the sensor after 2000-3000 shots helps in reducing further dust and spots. The issue also varies from body to body - some have not reported the problem at all!
If you are a DX body owner and are looking to migrate to a full frame sensor this could well be the camera for you.  If you are already using the full frame D700 or D3 or D4 series then perhaps this could be a second back up body for you. Many pros are contemplating the D600 as a light full frame back up body. If like me you have a full array of FX lenses and are looking for a light weight full frame body then this is the choice. When you have to  carry your own equipment up and down the mountainside every day of a trek then every ounce of weight becomes important - that's was what kept me away from the D700 all these years a fine camera that it is!


  1. Thanks Sujoy for the Valuable comments

    1. Thanks Madhu if you have any queries do write in!



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