Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nikon D600 Officially Announced for $2099

DPReview preview: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/nikon-d600/
NikonRumors.com preview: http://nikonrumors.com/2012/09/13/nikon-d600-nikkor-18-5mm-f1-8-lens-ut-1-communication-unit-announcements.aspx/
Price: $2099
See how well the specs stacked up to our speculation (o = correct; x = wrong; ? = TBD)


o EXPEED 3 processor (D3200)
o ISO up to 6400, expandable to 25600 (D7000).  Additional info: base ISO is 100.
o 2016-pixel RGB sensor D7000)
o Image sensor cleaning (D7000 and D3200)
o 39 focus points with option of using 9 or 21 focus points (D7000).
x 3D Color Matrix Metering III (D3200).  Correct info: 3D Color Matrix Metering II
o warm lighting option under AWB (D7000)
o Magnesium-alloy body (D7000)
o Double SD card slots, SDXC compatible (D7000)  Additional info: UHS-1 compatible
o 150,000 shutter life (D7000)
o Quiet shutter mode (D7000 and D3200)
o Mode dial with U1 and U2 modes (D7000)
o Virtual horizon (like D7000)
o Continuous AF during movie recording (D7000 and D3200)
x Sync speed: 1/250 with 1/320 option (D7000).  Correct info: 1/200, with 1/250 option.
o Face priority AF (D7000 and D3200)
o You can view the histogram of a magnified area (D7000)
o Zoom on a face automatically during playback (D7000, D3200)
o Optional adapter with Wireless capability (D3200)
o GPS option (D7000 and D3200)
o Video at 1080p/30 (24fps optional) with manual setting of shutter speed and ISO (D3200)
o 720p @ 60fps for slow motion (d3200)
o External microphone option (D7000 and D3200)
o In-camera movie editing (D7000 and D3200)
o Built-in popup commander (D7000)
o Retouch menu (D7000)
o Eye-Fi compatible (D3200)

Disappointments:
- I'm very surprised by the sync speed of 1/200* and shutter speed of 1/4000.  This is the first time a higher-end and newer model has a lower spec than an older and lower-end model.  Oh well.
*The D600 is the first Nikon camera that has a natural sync speed of 1/200 but allows 1/250 with a reduction in flash range.  Some previous high-end Nikons (D700, D300, D300S, D7000) allowed a sync speed of 1/250 with a 1/320 option with a reduction in flash range.
- Auto exposure bracketing is only 2 or 3 frames.  Argh.
- Picture control button.  WTH was Nikon thinking...
- Multi-Cam 4800 focus system.  This is not a surprise - it's the same as the D7000, but I've heard that the D7000 focusing isn't very good.  I had the chance to handle a D7000 briefly and found nothing wrong with it.  I hope it's ok.
- No AF-ON button.  You can assign the Fn button or AE-L button as the AF-ON button but still it would have been nice to have it.
- No PC Sync.  This was not a surprise but should be noted by you hardcore strobists.
- Remote control is infrared.  However see below re wireless adapter.

Features that I think are cool:
- Smarter Auto ISO.  The D4 and D800 included a new auto ISO feature that took into account the focal length in adjusting the ISO.  The D600 has this feature.
- 100% viewfinder.  When I saw the leaked pics of a square viewfinder I was very nervous, because all prior Nikon full frames had a round viewfinder.  I was worried that the rectangular shape meant somehow that it wasn't a 100% viewfinder.  Fortunately the D600 is 100%.
- 100 Base ISO.  Having a low ISO makes it more likely that I can use a wide aperture for shallow DOF.
- Built-in HDR mode.  Takes 2 shots, combines them.  Some people may think it's for amateurs but I think it's useful.
- Switch between FX or DX in movie mode.  This is interesting.  I can get access to two sets of focal range without changing lenses, while maintaining full HD resolution.
- Time lapse movie mode.  Introduced in the D4 and D800, and adopted in the D600.  Not sure I'll use it often but it will be fun to play with.
- Wireless adapter.  I'd love to have remote liveview with my phone.
- 720p 60fps for slow motion.
- Fast Contrast-detect AF.  The D600 has the same contrast detect AF system for live view found in the D4 and D800.
- Uncompressed HDMI.  I'm not a video guy but those of you who are might appreciate this.
- Autofocus fine-tuning (aka micro AF adjust).  This is not a cutting edge feature but after seeing non-pro specs I was worried about it.  If the D600 didn't have it, it would have been a deal-breaker for me.  Fortunately, the brochure says the D600 does have AF fine-tuning.

I'm not disappointed at the price.  I thought it would be $2200.  I never believed it would be $1500.  If you're looking for a $1500 full frame Nikon, you can always get a used D700, which is still a fine camera if you don't need video.  And if you think $2100 is expensive, consider that the 24mp Nikon D3X came out just 3 years ago at $8000 and is still on sale at Amazon for $7000 (I am guessing that the D600 will meet or exceed the D3x in image quality, though of course the D3x is better built, etc. etc.).  Also, if it makes you feel better, the D600 is being sold in Japan for ¥215,000, which is around $2769 at current exchange rates.  So you're getting almost 25% off the Japanese price.

As for me, I will push through with my preorder.  The D800 is not worth the extra $900, and I don't need the extra 12mp to bloat my images.
Amazon D600 Preorder page (appears and disappears): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0099XGZXA/ref=amb_link_365315942_3?ie=UTF8&me=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=top-1&pf_rd_r=75593538587A4ADB8992&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=1397184062&pf_rd_i=nikon%20d600


High ISO sample (ISO 3200): http://chsvimg.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d600/img/sample01/img_07_l.jpg Hard to tell the quality.  Looks too dark to critique, and looks like a lot of noise reduction was used.
ISO 800 sample: http://chsvimg.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d600/img/sample01/img_04_l.jpg  Looks good but I didn't expect anything less.