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Test

Nikon D600

Field test

Here comes Nikon D600 too! This year we tested Nikon D4-et and few weeks later Nikon D800, and now Nikon’s newest FX format DSLR camera, Nikon D600 has arrived. All the three cameras have FX full frame sensors but each of them serve different photographers’ different needs. Nikon designed D600 for those who have not invested in a full-frame camera so far. Here we go.
Photo: © Tamás Imre

Nikon D600, AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR 1/60sec f/10 ISO 400
I have been holding a Nikon D600 for a month now, I have been to Italy and Croatia with it and I took it to the Pilis Mountains and several other places. I have tested its ISO sensitivity not just in nature but in the studio as well. Thus I trust that I have enough experience to write this article. I received a NIKKOR 300mm f/4D ED-IF AF-S telephoto lens and an AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens for the testing.

Appearance

I have heard from many photographer friends that the D600 is too small - that’s not true, for those who like the size of the D7000 body it is not a small one, although it is smaller than Nikon D4 but it is not the same category. The body is robust, the nonslip coating of the grip is very useful and provides a comfortable and safe grasp. The control system is exactly the same like of the D7000, except of the FX sensor.

Menu system

The camera arrived with a Hungarian menu. It is a fényképezőgép magyar menüvel érkezett. That is positive as this way Hungarian Nikon users can exploit the hidden possibilities of the machine too.

Technological novelties

The soul of Nikon D600 is a 24.3-megapixel FX (full frame) format CMOS-sensor. In this price range it is currently the highest resolution FX camera. The camera is able to record our photo themes in poorer even light conditions in outstanding quality thanks to Nikon’s Multi-CAM 4800 39-point AF system. The AF system provides great freedom, it can be 5, 9, 21 or 39-point and the photographer can set it depending on his theme or customs. Nikon guarantees 150,000 exposures for the shutter but it, of course, can be even more. High dynamic range photography (HDR) function is also available here, just like at its bigger brothers and multi-exposure is also an opportunity. Although it is possible only up to 3 files but that is sufficient for lots of things. I was very glad for these extra functions specifically as they are very needed for creative photography.
Photo: © Tamás Imre

Nikon D600, AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR 1/125sec f/11 ISO 100

The test

Upon the arrival of Nikon D600 we took it to Italy for landscape photography. The body received both hot and cold, it worked in humid and foggy weather too. It did not resent, just did its job. Since I have used D7000 several times I had no problems with the camera settings, I found all the functions in their usual place. The Hungarian menu was a pleasant surprise but at first it was strange to me, but after one or two days I could use it easily.
I could playback the pictures on the 8 cm (3.2 inch), 921,000-pixel wide viewing angle LCD monitor. I was fully surprised when I magnified the pictures as I could see sharp images even at full size. I thought that it was because of the monitor as Nikon’s body has a monitor brightness control which automatically adaptive to changing circumstances and provides clear and sharp picture in playback. Then the test came. I uploaded the images and watched them on my computer screen, they were sharp like a razor. Why? The 24-megapixel resolution of the FX sensor is already given at D600 which is just ideal enough to transmit sufficient data for the high-quality sensor. Another great advantage is the 16 bit image processor which offers richer than ever colours and tones. It provides a rich, smooth transition up to the clean white.
I have already written about the HDR function in the D800 test, so I would not explain that this time. You can read that in our 2012/2 Summer issue - you have to do everything exactly the same way as I explained there.
We had another test scene in Croatia where we captured waterfalls and atmospheres by the D600 machine. I could not always use tripod there due to the extreme conditions but I thought it comes handy for a thorough study of the camera’s ISO sensitivity. After my return I tested the camera on a nude shooting between ISO 400 and ISO 3200 as well. (Of course, I cannot publish photos here as it does not meet the profile of our magazine.

Results as follows

Between ISO 100 and ISO 400, it did not matter which I used, it did not make any difference regarding the pictures. At ISO 800 a tiny little noise came in but after software filtering it has gone. At ISO 1600 there is some noise but not too much, moreover, the older cameras produced this quality at ISO 200. Oh my God, what a fast technological development, not long ago ISO 1600 was almost useless for digital cameras and now images are quite good. Let’s go on. At ISO 2000 the noise came but it could be remedied. ISO 3200 was OK for nude photography, I worked only in natural lights or one-lamp lighting, that’s why I needed this high ISO sensitivity. I did not test the camera at ISO 6400 as I did not need it.
Photo: © Tamás Imre

Nikon D600, Nikkor 300mm f/4D ED-IF AF-S 1/1000sec f/4.5 ISO 400

Flash control in FX frame

Nikon D600 is the only full frame camera which has a little built-in flash which can be used as a master flash and a control unit as well. It was a good idea from Nikon as those who have flatter wallets can also build a wireless flash system through the camera.

It is sufficient in DX size as well

I mentioned before that it is possible to use DX lenses too, in this case the camera makes smaller 12-megapixel files.

Summary

Nikon D600 is a pioneer among the entry-level FX cameras. The time has come to exploit the advantages of full-frame cameras, either at work or on an exciting trip. It can be used in nature, studio or for family albums equally well. It is recommended for almost everybody, especially for advanced amateurs who want professionalism at a yet affordable price.
I processed the ready pictures with Nikon Capture NX software and I only adjusted the contrast, sharpness and saturation during the processing, nothing else.
I would like to say thank you to Nikon Ltd for long and thorough test possibility.
Tester: Tamás Imre
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