Sunday, September 23, 2012

Out with the D600

I've been out and about with the D600 this weekend; what a lovely camera this is. My yardstick for this comment is my old D80 which I also thought was 'lovely' when I got it. But the goal posts for 'lovely' have moved a lot in the six years since the D80 was introduced - partly because technology has moved on and partly because this photographer has also moved on.

Despite only being announced a week ago, this D600 purchase was not an impulse buy; I have been looking to upgrade since the beginning of the year and knew that the D600 would be the way to go since the rumours started around June time. Sample pictures started appearing as soon as it was announced so image quality was well known, but there is nothing like using a camera with your own lenses and technique - that's what this weekend was about. I am duly impressed.

High ISO performance is incredible; I never used the D80 above ISO800 but the D600 doesn't give similar amounts of noise until ISO6400! Finally I feel comfortable allowing the camera to choose ISO automatically for general shooting. As well as improved ISO performance, the auto focus is  also a huge improvement over the D80; using the same set of lenses I find that auto-focus is fast and accurate - no more fidling around while the shot gets away from you:
I wouldn't have got this shot with the D80 - on the D600, fast focus acquisition and an ISO of 1600 gave a usable shot (actually six in burst mode). 

The other huge improvement is in Dynamic range. There are high dynamic range boosting settings but I wasn't even using these. This shot of the river bed was a single exposure at ISO 200 and everything from the sunlit snow on the mountains to the shadows under the trees was well within the dynamic range of the sensor (shot in aperture priority mode). This would have needed a three-shot bracketed exposure on the D80, on the D600 I didn't even need a graduated ND filter. Wonderful.

A different picture but a similar situation. This one uses also used the D600's continuous shooting mode which, with the highest quality RAW setting shoots up to 10 frames at a selected rate up to 5.5 frames per second. I used 3fps on this shot to make sure I got just the right composition (longest train possible without obscuring the green track light).

I can see that the D600 and I are going to become firm friends; she's certainly delivering a much higher 'keeper' rate than I was getting with the D80.

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