Nikon D600’s Hands on Review and First Impressions and Sample Pictures @nikonusa

The Nikon D600 with the 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens.

It may have cost a few mortgage payments, but I finally had the Nikon D600 and the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens in my hands last night. The first impression I had when looking through the giant full frame viewfinder was “sh*t, now I have to sell my D90 because there is no going back to DX”. The second impression was that the Auto-focus points really are bunched in together in the center. I’m sure there will come times when it will bother me, but they’re not horrible and I can certainly work with them for portraits and other such photography. Rule of 3rds just shrunk a bit.

I do have a tendency to focus on the edges of the 1/3 of the screen, but I suppose it won’t hurt to leave a little cropping wiggle room in case I want to make prints or convert images to a 16:9 aspect ratio later. You see, it’s a feature! I do wish that they make an FX only auto-focus system some time in the future, but it seems like that’s hard to do because of the physics involved. Really the D800 and D4’s AF points are somewhat close to the center too though better than the D600.

Before heading out for a test shoot with a half charged battery, my first priority was to learn how to change the AF selection. On my D90, I would go through the menu and do it and pick Dynamic, 3 point tracking, single or Auto. For changing Continous vs. single servo, there was an AF button the LCD. Neither of those are the case on the D600. The manual was inadequate (actually, it was absolute crap) in explaining HOW to do it though on page 97 it does explain what every mode does. It turns out on the AF/MF lever on the lower left side of the camera, they have added a button on the lever it self…you can use the front and rear dials to change them. I like it, but it wouldn’t kill them to explain.

My first adventure was in the Houston’s Heights area in the historic 19th street full of vibrant shops which I assumed so near Halloween would be packed. Wrong. at 8:30 everything was closed and a gentleman started with the “The last two women I spoke with were scared of me because I was black, but……” so there was the song and dance about money etc. This is a different topic but I’m not sure if the camera makes me look like a tourist or a rich guy but whether I was in Dallas or Houston, street folk seem to be attracted to me. This is why we can’t have nice things, but I digress.

Before that, I got a couple of pictures @ ISO 1600 using 50mm f/1.4D lens @ f/2.5. Since the displays were lit decently enough, autofocus had no trouble locking in. Very low noise too for 1600 ISO. click on the pic and see bigger versions (1600px being the highest due to flickr). This is about a stop and a half better quality than the D90 i would assume.
Night Pictures with the D600

Night Pictures with the D600

The next step was to go Heights BLVD and Allen Parkway. Unfortunately as soon as I set up my work, I heard and accident and decided it was not a great area to be at. The people from the accident were ok by the way and were exchanging info. If I would have set up 2 minutes earlier, I might have captured them on video in full HD.

Instead, I went to River Oaks. Here unfortunately, the light was not as good and I was using the f/2.8 lens (2 stops less light than the f/1.4 lens I using earlier). This was disappointing because using any other points aside from the center and the cross point points around the center, the AF would not lock. I suppose it’s not that big of a deal because with night shots, I usually use a wider lens and focus at the hyperfocal distance or above so everything I want is in focus, but it could be troubling for concerts and other dark places.

ISO 800 f/4 using 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

Night Pictures with the D600

Night Pictures with the D600

I have to admit that it is nice to take night shots without a tripod and using a faster shutter speed. capturing cars and people walking is more natural than just having tail-light trails and blurs. Here in the point of 3 Starbuckses (the third one is at the Barnes and Noble not in the picture), the Autofocus again gave me trouble.

I don’t think the D600 is going to be a good camera for concerts or any other event where the subject isn’t close enough for the AF-Assist light to be helpful.
ISO 2500 f/5.6 @ 16mm
Night Pictures with the D600

Overall, I like the camera. Disappointed with the Autofocus system both because the location of the AF points are too clustered in the center and because it does a lot of hunting in dark spaces. I also hope the oil splattering problem hasn’t afflicted my camera but I will check after several hundred shots. On another note, the RAW files are HUGE…almost 30 megabytes per picture.

*quick update for anybody googling this page*
Pretty much all the other pictures on my blog will be with the D600 so keep on checking for sample pictures. I an’t post pictures of my friends at the bars and clubs I went to over the weekend but I can tell you that the AF is very disappointing even when I had my SB-800 Flash and using its AF-Assist light. Only the center point works…barely.

Would I get this camera again? yeah…there isn’t anything cheaper but to say that it’s a great camera is a lie.


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