Look What Showed Up - A Nikon D600
So, I accidentally bought another camera body. No lenses this time, I have plenty of lenses that fit. While I was shooting camera porn the other day with my X-Pro-1 I was thinking of what a great camera it was for that purpose. That led me to thinking that while I can shoot my film gear and my Fuji X100 with the X-Pro-1 I really have nothing digital to shoot camera porn of my X-Pro gear. I figured the best way to have myself covered at the cheapest price was to just go ahead and get a D600 since I already have plenty of Nikon glass. Now I am set, I have enough cameras to shoot every other camera with equal quality and convenience.
Actually that wasn’t my thought process at all if you don’t get my sarcasm here. I love my Fuji gear. Really really love it and can see myself using it for 80% of what I shoot. It’s what I will carry around all the time. Yea I really don’t buy into the notion that since cell phones can take pictures that you really should leave real cameras at home. The issue is that at the moment SLR cameras are really good at some things and the D600 happens to hit on a lot of things I care about. First off - with the glass I own and the glass I am likely to ever own from Nikon ‘s current offerings FX is the only way to go for me.
I am not an FX bigot but the 35mm film frame size is sort of a sweet spot for normal focal length/aperture/lens size image rendering characteristics that I can comfortably live with. I sold my D3 cameras awhile ago and aborted my plan to down size”- actually normal-size my camera gear to D700. I don’t want an F5/D1/D2/D3/D4 size camera and 24-70 AFS sized lens to make pictures that I like. It’s nuts. I put up with it while waiting for digital to “mature” and give me normal sized cameras again.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. Nothin’ so I decided to do an experiment with a small kit D7000. I did it for a year and quickly rediscovered how Nikon had betrayed me as a customer. When I bought into Nikon digital with the D2 the story was that DX was gonna be great because of how wonderful, cheap, fast, and small the upcoming DX glass could be. Fast forward almost a decade and what do we have in DX glass? Hmmmmm, a 17-55mm f2.8 that is expensive, large, heavy and only equal in aperture to the FX sized thing like it that has been around since the paleozoic era. Not better - worse. The 12-24 that was expensive large, and had a crummy f4, ummmmmm. This sucks. Oh we did get one gem but not until recently, the 35mm AFS f1.8 that was good, light, and cheap. In fact that is the lens that made me do the D7000 experiment in the first place. The rest of it I don’t even want to talk about because for the most part we got 17 slight variations on crappy slow zooms that I never wanted. Where the hell are my stand-by equivalents? Where? WTF? Oh I get it I can now buy them - again recently but they are not DX lenses - they are things like the 24mm 1.4 and stuff that are $2000 a shot, have the same aperture I could get before, are huge, and are most definitely not what I was promised on DX.
Let’s contrast that to expectations on the original DX story. I expected a standard zoom that was maybe the same size as the 17-55 AFS but had a constant F2. A 35mm f1.0 that was great, a 24mm 1.4 DX, a 60mm 1.4. You see that would pretty much get me to what I liked and used on “FX” film bodies in terms of image rendering only smaller lighter better - yea right. I have no issue with APS-C as long as it looks like I want it to look and handles/carries well. I would have been very happy if Nikon gave me an FM sized APS-C and what Fuji has given me with the X series lenses that we have now and especially the 54 1.4 that is promised.
Fast forward to the D600. While not exactly what I want it’s small enough and allows me to use the very meager glass I like at a price I can stomach brand spanking new. Don’t let anyone fool you it’s plenty fast, durable, controllable, etc. for any kind of work that normal pros do - and even not normal. Build quality will be fine - I have held one. It may even be fine for abuse. I will bet you it’s probably more durable than my F5 and F3 and F2 cameras. I am serious here. I don’t shoot sports and anything north of 5fps is fine for me. I don’t even use continuous shooting - I only care if it’s not going to hold me up. It won’t if it’s better than the D7000, and it is. Etc, etc.
In fact all of the “criticism” of this camera are bullshit for most pro shooters. It’s as if cameras are some kind of sport where we compare stats and whatever happens not to be the best stat ever is somehow a giant show stopper. That’s rediculous most of the things that are “epic fails” for the D600 are idiotic edge cases. Unless you absolutely depend on exactly what ever that edge case is it’s bullshit. Let’s see…
- Ummm 1/200 vs. 1/250 flash sync - yea. Argued to death for Nikon people. If all of your shots using SB’s to over power the sun absolutely depend on that third of a stop you are already seriously underpowered in the flash department and have no business booking paying clients with the gear you currently own. Oh gee all of your shooting doesn’t actually take you that close to the limit of your power/sync and if it does you do something else anyway? Oh it’s theoretical shots that you might not be able to do that you don’t do anyway? WTF?
- Only 3 shot bracketing - hmmmm. How many shots do you use for HDR? How much HDR do you do? Oh none like me - who cares a mere convenience/laziness issue for those that do but go for it pay $1000 more for more bracketing shots per burst. Whatever. Oh shit that gets you less shots and a cloggy-prone buffer as well with the D800 - GFY you armchair nit wit.
- Oh but it’s not all metal. Ha ha ha ha - I dare you to break it. Actually I dare you to come up with a consistent case were a D800 or D4 will survive and a D600 won’t. Then I dare you to be in that situation. Then I dare you to make that situation occur at your next wedding, portrait shoot, whatever. Oh we are talking about accidental dropping and stuff? Ummm okay I would say that it’s entirely situational and for the most part both cameras would be fine and both cameras wouldn’t based purely on amount of force applied and luck.
- Buttons - this is a tough one but for most people I know the D600 buttons w/ customization options are absolutely workable with no caveats. Really really - you actually do an auto exposure lock, use the af-on/lock, flash exposure lock, and a override to spot meter in the same shooting situation. Nope won’t happen. Want two setups for buttons combos that you actually use regularly? Okay that is the whole U1/U2 thing on a DEDICATED DIAL that the “better” cameras don’t have. Up yours.
- AF area coverage - actually this makes sense but is extremely personal. I find that the AF coverage for the kind of things I shoot has gotten worse with every iteration and especially bad with th whole 51 point thing. Without fail I need a point just outside and just left/right where you can get one top or bottom of the frame when held in landscape mode. The pattern may be great for sports shooters but hasn’t been for me since the D3 so I have to deal with it anyway in many cases. It could be a make or break deal but if you are Nikon shooter you will know and decide for yourself since you have been dealing with the AF pattern for a while - this one is just sucked in a bit more. Not terribly so but a bit. I actually liked the pattern with way less points on my D2’s for what I shoot. Then again I never used “tracking” and probably will not on more than a few occasions. Not a show stopper for me but could be for you.
I could go on and on and I am not directing my sarcastic and inflammatory remarks to anyone that actually knows exactly what they need to do their job on a daily basis - they are directed to the theorists that propagate nonsense about absolute requirements and their goodness/badness as if they matter for everyone. I also direct it to anyone that is listening to the theorists and actually taking the bullshit into account in the context of theoretical requirements that they don’t see a clear and present danger of not having at this very moment right now. If you did - you would know it and don’t need any of the armchair quarterbacking.
Truth be told - this is probably the first actual digital product that Nikon has shipped that I had in my head for a long long time. The envisioned products never came to be. The D600 is one hell of a camera that is absolutely capable of dealing with just about any real world pro need in the most pleasant package ever delivered by Nikon. I would still like it to be more in line with my F3 sized camera sans motor-drive but I can live with it - especially considering that I get D3s class noise performance and far far more importantly D800 class dynamic range that will allow me to shoot far better images at ISO 100-200 in light that I like to use that happens every day. The only thing I was excited about on the D800 was the freaking dynamic range and I am not even a landscape guy.
Food for thought - amazing camera that I will absolutely get more than $2000 worth of film shot through which will make it free. Great viewfinder as well. I can actually see what is going on. The only thing besides the lens choices I had that I miss from my D3’s.
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