Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Have you ordered your Nikon D600 DSLR yet?

It seems the hottest topic of discussion in photography right now, is todays' arrival of the Nikon D600 digital SLR.
 The Nikon D600 is the smallest, least expensive full frame DSLR on the market, aimed directly at enthusiast photographers. It is built around a 24MP, 36x24mm, CMOS sensor and crams many of the features of the more expensive D800 into a distinctly D7000-esque body. It features a 100% coverage viewfinder and 39-point autofocus system, nine of which are cross-type points. It can capture 1080p HD video at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second and can stream uncompressed footage out over its HDMI port.
 The D600 is the least expensive of all currently manufactured full-frame cameras, undercutting Nikon’s own D800 (and Sony’s brand new A99) by as much as 20-30%, depending on the market. It is also the lightest full-frame digital camera ever made.
 In a preview published on Photographyblog.com the reviewers had this to say:
 During the short time we have spent with the camera, we found little to criticise. The afore-mentioned top sync speed of 1/200 second is a wee bit too slow, as is the camera’s maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 second, especially in light of the D7000’s corresponding figures of 1/250 and 1/8000 second. Also, there’s no talk (or indeed evidence) of the camera featuring on-sensor PDAF a la Sony A99 and RX1 – Live View auto focus uses contrast detection only; though we were pleasantly surprised at the speed improvement over the D7000. The Nikon D600’s mirror is surprisingly quiet for a full-frame SLR camera and in normal use – with fast shutter speeds of course – it produces only minimal viewfinder blackout.
 In summary, if you’ve expected the Nikon D600 to be something like a digital F65 – i.e. an extremely lightweight and affordable entry-level (or just-above-entry-level) full-framer, you might feel a little disappointed, as the camera is not quite as light and definitely not as cheap as many would have liked it to be. On the plus side, it’s a highly capable tool with many professional features – and it’s still lighter and cheaper than any other full-frame digital SLR camera that’s currently in production. All in all, a well put-together and highly competitive product which we will be keen to test in depth once review units become available.

Film makers

 Priced at around $2100, I can see the new D600 filling filling the role of either primary or back-up camera for professionals. It will also probably be popular with film-makers, as its video specifications are indeed impressive.
 From all accounts, the new entrant is not as sturdily built as Nikon's flagship pro cameras but, as someone who has previously lugged cameras through war-zones, I think the whole toughness thing is greatly over-emphasised. For over 15 years I used a Nikon F301, an entry-level camera that could by no stretch of the imagination be considered "a nail-beater", when I worked as a war correspondent. My reasoning was, if it was lost, stolen or broken, I'd merely shrug my shoulders and buy another. I took thousands of photographs with that camera, used it in deserts, dust-storms, rain and blistering heat and it never once let me down. I still have it and should probably take it out and use it again.


 I have no doubt, many enthusiastic amateurs will trade-in their existing crop-framed-sensor cameras and buy a new D600, in the belief they will be upgrading and, on paper, they probably are. But the fact is, I doubt they will see much difference in the quality of their photographs at typical enlargement sizes and it must also be kept in mind that you may also need to upgrade your computing power to be able to work with the 24 mega pixel files.
 Unless you are still sitting with an old D70, D40 or something of that era, I would think carefully before dumping your D7000, D300 or even D90. But, on the other hand, if you are making an entry into the Nikon DSLR digital arena, then a D600 will be a splendid, good-value purchase.
 Will I be getting one? I am tempted. I'd love to have a full-frame digital camera, just so I can use my ancient prime-lenses for the purpose they were designed -- where a 24mm wide angle is really a 24 and a 50 is not a 35!
 But the truth is, I can't justify it so I guess, for the meantime I'll just keep using what I've got.

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