To tell you the truth, I had a few apprehensions on buying Nikon’s newest FX format DSLR. You see, I’m used to the build of Nikon’s D200 and D300 cameras and when the D600 came out, I was so excited. And then I read the first reviews.
Reviewers said that it was the smallest and lightest FX camera in Nikon’s lineup and the size of the body was more on par with the D7000, Nikon’s DX format enthusiast camera. I’m used to a medium to heavy weighted camera. What I was reading was that D600 is not a heavy camera. For me the weight of the camera is critical in steadying myself in low light situations. Light cameras tend to be easily shaken. If I pair it wth my 80-200 mm f/2.8 lens, its gonna be nose heavy. Not to mention also that it used SD cards and all my cards were CompactFlash cards.
But I needed to buy a new camera. My old D200 was getting pretty beat up.
My supplier told me that he does not have the D600 in stock yet but would gladly take a 20% downpayment. He even tempted me into buying a brand new Nikon D700, the predecessor to Nikon’s D800. I’ve held the D800 and I liked its build and weight. But would I really buy a four year-old technology just for the build? So on the first opportunity that I had, I bought the Nikon D600.
Opening The Box
…was like Christmas in September! There wasn’t a lot in the box. The battery, charger, USB cable, strap, manual and CD (which I have not opened up yet) were in their usual position. And then there’s the body.
I was really concerned about the weight. So held it out which by the way is happening in a camera store in Hidalgo, Quiapo that I had to do so that I can test it and make sure that it is functioning before I pay completely. So everything looking fine, I paid and slid the box into my backpack and nondescriptly walked away, it was still Quiapo and a Friday.
So on the way home, we (my wife was with me when I picked up the camera) stopped by a mall to get something to eat. I was excited to shoot with the camera and I had a SD card with me which I was not able to test while at the store. So I shot the food we ate, at high ISO, which is supposed to be one of the highlights of the camera. Check out the shot below and click it for a larger image.
The shot was at ISO 1600 and I tell you, its like ISO 400 in the Nikon D300 I handled. I shot in medium size but at fine compression. Medium is like 13+ megapixels. It was also auto Focus Point Selection and Auto White Balance.
It was dark when we got home and my wife was not feeling well so I had to postpone my giddiness with the camera and had to take care of more important things.
The next day, even with the events of the following night (for that you would have to check out this post) I was able to shoot the parenting seminar in our church. It was a fairly standard photo coverage but I really noticed that the exposures coming from the camera are dead on. I posted over 60 photos in our church’s Facebook fan page here and the only post-processing I did was to open the file, resized to 800 pixels wide, sharpen and the save into a new file. Normally, I would have to do a few tonal and color correction to the image but for this coverage I did not have to. Ok, I will admit that there are a few that needs brightening up but the they may be just a couple but the majority did not need it. The Nikon D600 will surely improve my workflow.
So How About the Handling?
I thought it was great. Yes, its a bit lighter than the D200 and the D300 I usually carry but it is really not so much. So I get more confident with the camera and discovering its features. The body feels nice and solid not unlike the Nikon D70 that I thought this would feel. The grip was a teeny bit short for my liking but I can tolerate that since I plan to buy a battery grip that will extend the grip of the D600.
Now my main concern is how the controls are laid out. The controls are really more like the Nikon D70 and probably the Nikon D7000. Changing ISOs, image quality and white balance would now be different from what I am used to. Is that something bad? I really don’t think so. But then again, I’d be using the D600 along side the D200/300. I would be switching from camera to camera and from control to control. I hope I don’t mess up.
Nikon also changed the way how you control AF. Changing from single focus point to 9, 21, or 39 points to 3D and auto can now be accomplished by pressing a button in the AF/M toggle switch at the side of the camera. I don’t think its an intuitive way of controlling it. I think this is the first Nikon DSLR that did that.
Did it Perform Well?
Yes it did! Using the D600 with a fast and sharp Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 lens, it only took me a few minutes of shooting to get familiarized with the controls. I shot at Continuous High Speed mode so I can check out the claimed 5.5 frames per second (FPS) shooting speed. I really don’t shoot five straight frames and was not able to do it in the first time I used it but what really do is shoot to frames everytime I take posed shots and the shutter sound to me in the range of 5FPS. 😎
As I mentioned above, image quality was great and exposure was dead on. I will have to get back to you on the video quality since I haven’t tested as one should. Overall, I don’t regret buying this camera. Its going to be a great investment and one that will be with me for a long time.