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12-01-2012, 05:26 PM   #1
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first day with the D600 - sold - D800 cometh

Edit:
Page 4 and 6 have some sample shots with the D600. Page 4 includes a series shot with both the K5 and D600.
Page 7 has some more "scientific" comparison shots.
Page 12 compares the FA 77mm limited on the D600 and K5 using the Fotdiox lens adapter
Page 12 has a few comparison shots of the bodies of the K5 and D600
Page 12 also has a collection of images taken with the D600
Page 13 has more photos, and a revelation.

update: D600 has been sold as of 6.7.13, I will post final findings soon. I am now awaiting the arrival of the D800

I love my Pentax, and I love my K5. I had a plan, yesterday I was going to complete my FA limited collection with the 43mm and the 31mm lenses. Then I was looking through my photos and found spots on all photos taken from my #1 K5 body. I did some tests, found out its on the sensor, and sent it in for repair. Warranties up now... funny thing is I just got it back from Pentax last month after it fell and they replaced the LCD screen. It did not have spots before that drop, or after when I was shooting with the cracked screen. The spots just showed up when it came back from Pentax repair depot. I have a second K5 and have been putting it to good use.

So why the change of plans? Well... it changed three times. first off, I decided I would buy a new guitar instead. I haven't expanded my guitar collection in a long time, and the guitar I've been searching for for a long time showed up at a local store. A late 1970's Gibson RD. They make three models, and this was the mid range model. Not exactly what I wanted... (I wanted the top end model of course), but it's a unique guitar and there were not very many made, so I went to check it out. Guitar was over priced, needed new frets, and the electronics could use a good clean. Big play ability issues, probably worth $500 to fix it. Price is already $400 over the ebay and other internet sellers for a top end model, let alone a mid range one. I told them I'd buy it at asking price if they fixed all the issues. They said they will contact the owner monday and get back to me.

So on the way home, I saw a digital banner of a D600. I decided to go in and check if my K5 was back from repair anyways, so I decided to check out the D600. Checked my bank account...checked the pricing, and pulled the trigger. I'm a lil choked that they gave me a free copy of Lightroom 4. I don't need Lightroom 4, I got that already. But no substitutions. I may take it back and goto a competitor that is offering 2 free 32gb class 10 cards instead. Or see if I can talk them into giving me the wireless adapter. I also picked up the 85 1.8G lens, coming out cheaper than the standard kit lens which I wouldn't like anyways due to the slowness and variable aperture.

I had a family portrait session today, and almost exclusively used the D600. After spending an hour setting up the camera I find that it's very easy to transition from Pentax. Some things bug the crap out of me, like the zoom buttons instead of zoom wheel for example, or the fact I can't figure out how to get the AF beep to come on (might be something wrong as the manual states I have it setup right). I also can't figure out one push bracketing...

I'm confused on how I feel about the build quality. Don't get me wrong, it feels like a quality product. But it's not build like the K5. The lens feels incredibly cheap (but it was only $500), and I think thats because they spent all the money on the glass, because it's really sharp and has great color rendition and contrast. The body doors and movable parts don't have the satisfying feel or click of durable long lasting materials like the K5. The shutter is a lil plasticky slappy sounding, and all in all it's not much heavier than the K5 with DA*16-50 f2.8 loaded up. The big thing I found funny was, that even thought he D600 is a larger camera, its harder to hold. During the studio shots I found my pinky kept falling off the grip, something that just doesn't happen with the K5. and I do have smaller hands. Wearing gloves (winter) I found once again the K5 was easier to control... Both are easy to use, even with the gloves I wear, but the K5 was just easier to hold and shoot with.

However, once I had it setup for basic manual shooting just like my K5, I felt at home. It really does feel good to shoot with, and very satisfying. It has a habit of over exposing I feel, but only by half a stop or so. I only use center weighted metering and focusing, and I found it handled very well for my needs. I love this viewfinder, it's very bright and lets you see everything thats going on. Very easy to confirm focus and compose with. No complaints there at all. and I really really love the menu system. It's so easy to get around and while not as customization a camera as Pentax, it does look good. No hit against Pentax here, the menu systems on Pentax's are fantastic as well. There is no better or worse here, jsut different. The screen though... thats amazing.





This is one of the photos from the shoot. Not a lot of touch ups needed. But I did find I don't have as much room to pull shadows or highlights like I do on the K5... which could be an issue because I am so used to the wide dynamic range of the K5 that allows me to pull details from the shadows without screwing things up. But I didn't have to do any color corrections, and I love how sharp and vibrant everything is. Fantastic combo this D600 and 85G lens.

So lets do the pro's and cons: (updated June 02, 2013)

D600 pros'
full frame finder
wonderful screen
lots of customizable buttons
similar ergonomics to Pentax
quite light for the size
big buffer
beautiful accurate colors when using LR4 camera profiles
accurate auto white balance
dual memory card slots
fast and accurate auto focus
larger resolution - larger print size
low light iso performance
drive modes on its own dial
almost every image has the "3D" effect seen with the FA Limited lens series
Battery life is as good as the K5
adapter for wireless tethering to iphone/ipad/andorid device is cool
flash system is just fantastic
ability to zoom in while using live view is fantastic for manual focus
auto focus is quick and accurate.
auto focus system tracks well
diopter adjustment has a good range
"My menu" function is fantastic.
dynamic range is better in the highlights than expected
on the fly metering for lenses without an auto aperture mode
manual focus indicators

D600 cons
grip is too small or odly shaped compared to K5
dyanmic range is not as wide (or so it seems)
plasticy feeling and sounding
some menu options are complicated
no folder naming by date
some controls just don't make sense
not as much customization options as Pentax
dedicated ISO button is in a crappy spot, and cannot be assigned to a more accessible function button
manual focus through view finder is surprisingly difficult.
G series lenses feel very very cheap compared to comparative lenses by Pentax
some custom button settings are redundant due to dedicated buttons.
some features that should be customized to these buttons are not available
auto focus system hunts in low light. maybe even more so than my K5
focus points are too spread out (and there could be more of them)
no aperture control in movie mode is really irritating
"weather sealing" and build quality do not give me confidence for shooting in Alberta winters/extreme cold, or heavy rain
shutter is very loud compared to K5, even in "quiet mode"
have to menu dive for certain common features (like interval shooting mode. AF release/focus priority)
need to setup "my menu" to a custom function button to access it quickly without menu diving for your custom menu
dynamic range in the shadows isn't as "natural" as it is on the K5. have to pull more from the shadows in D600 exposures
added depth of field can be a disadvantage in certain situations
no stability control unless used with certain lenses.

So far the honey moon is going about as expected. Part of me feels that running two systems is not going to work out in the long run and one of them will be left behind. I'm already so deep with Pentax it's hard to see me leaving it behind. The Pro's are not outweighing my Pentax system enough for me to do a full swap...yet. I still have yet to decide if the larger print abilities and IQ are enough to warrant keeping it. The FA limiteds and DA* lenses offer pretty amazing photo quality already, and they are considerably smaller/lighter. I still got a few days before I run out of a returns window. If the guitar shop calls me back and accepts my offer, I think the D600 will be returned and I'll go with that plan. vintage instruments are harder to find again than a brand new digital camera...and it will give me longer years of service.


edit: guitar shop did call back. I got the camera and the guitar because I like to be broke like that.


edit: 6 months later

The honey moon is far from over, we are now in month 6. The first six months were full of "this is awesome", "why did I ever buy this", "why can't I find a buyer to take this off my hands". "maybe better glass would help get the most out of this camera". "I'm really not that good of a photographer if I can't get a keeper from this so called amazing camera", "wow thats sharp". "wow thats a big image", "why are all the colors so bland", "I love this autofocus".

Well now, I can honestly say I love this camera and I will be sticking with the Nikon system for a while, won't need to do much more expansion. For sure a fast "normal zoom" with image stabilization, another flash gun or two. The rest is on the "want list"

Some tips on how to get to D600 bliss faster:

1) When shooting in RAW, and using Lightroom 4 to develop your photos, make sure the first thing you do is select a "camera profile" at the bottom of the develop module. Set this to whatever you had the camera set at when you captured the image. Since I love vivid high contrast images...I always throw this on the vivid setting

2) Understand very quickly that while shooting in low light at 1.8 seems like a good idea as it worked all the time on your Pentax... its not a good idea here. The depth of field is way too thin for you to get the same amount of sharpness. Sure, having that option to get what seems like an ultra slim slice of focus...really you should be looking at f2.8 for most of your shots where you shot 1.4 on your Pentax system. 2.8, go for f4. I find I sit in the F4-F8 a lot more than I ever did on my Pentax kit now.

3) Right tool for the right job. If I'm going out to do some street photography, maybe a some concerts, telephoto, or places with low light... I'm taking the K5, especially if I need a walk around camera for the day. If it's bright, sunny, or I'm doing work with strobes, portraiture, long exposure landscapes...D600. This is just to use the best of each system to its advantages

4) because of the thinner depth of field, if your shooting center spot focus all the time and do the focus and compose trick, and your shooting f2.8 or faster...chances are your image is going to be out of focus. Use the focus points and move them around.


Last edited by Wired; 06-07-2013 at 01:36 PM.
12-01-2012, 06:20 PM   #2
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Thanks for the review.
your remarks about the DR are a surprise, I've always assumed that the FF will have a substantial advantage in that area.
Will there be an option for you to take photos of the same area with both cameras, try to expand the DR and upload the results?
12-01-2012, 06:32 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I've had the D600 for a few days and disagree on the DR...it's performance is on par or slightly better than the K5. Not hugely so, but it's great.

Beach shot with D600: Will post more about my experience with the two cameras later.
Original:


LR 4:
12-01-2012, 08:33 PM   #4
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The BEEP doesn't work in Manual mode on my D800E's so I assume it is the same with the D600. A bummer for sure...

12-01-2012, 08:42 PM   #5
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I don't understand your remark re' DR as the D600 has more DR than the K-5.

DxOMark - Compare cameras side by side
12-01-2012, 09:13 PM   #6
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.1 in DR, difference, should be about the same...
To bad you didn't put a K-5 on there and do a comparison shot....
I've had a bit of trouble understanding why people want this camera... since you've got both I guess it's your job to keep us informed (should you choose to accept the assignment.) My question is going to be , will it really give you larger prints....and where is the point at which you can print a decent print with a D600 and not with a K-5 or if there is even any difference? That to me is the magic question.
12-01-2012, 09:59 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
.1 in DR, difference, should be about the same...
To bad you didn't put a K-5 on there and do a comparison shot....
I've had a bit of trouble understanding why people want this camera... since you've got both I guess it's your job to keep us informed (should you choose to accept the assignment.) My question is going to be , will it really give you larger prints....and where is the point at which you can print a decent print with a D600 and not with a K-5 or if there is even any difference? That to me is the magic question.
Yeah, I should have brought the K5 along. I think the D600 would definitely come out noticeably better though.

I got the D600 to take the pluses of K5 image quality (namely DR) and 5D Mark II (namely the resolution) into the same camera, and the D600 gives me that. Build is definitely a notch below the K5 however, but the D600 is pretty dang light for a FF (great for hiking). To me there is a difference at least on screen.

BTW---I seem to have the "red streak" issue with my new Nikkor 16-35....take a look in the upper left quadrant and there is a red streak. I was out shooting some longer exposure shots tonight and that issues was even worse.

12-01-2012, 11:15 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
.1 in DR, difference, should be about the same...
The difference appears small because the K-5 offers ISO 80, while the D600 starts at 100. But as soon as you bump the ISO the difference gets closer to 2/3 Ev:

ISO 80: 14.12 (K-5)
ISO 100: 13.7 (K-5) vs 14.24 (D600)
ISO 200: 12.82 vs 13.7
ISO 400: 12.05 vs 12.77
and so on...

See DR graphs at dxomark. The gap is constant from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. The K-5 gets closer outside that range.
12-01-2012, 11:16 PM   #9
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I feel like I can recover more highlights from the K5 than the D600. I'd have to run some "scientific" tests to actually get some proof on the matter. When trying to recover highlight detail on one photo, I found the D600 wasn't able to pull some of the finer details that the K5 was able to do. But I havent' played around with it a whole lot.

As for print size. I printed off the below image, 16x24 @ 300dpi (the shop I uses prints @ 300 dpi by default) when viewed at about 2 feet away the image was not at the quality I wanted to present. There was a noticeable pixilation starting to creep in, and I just wasn't happy. This was the most recent picture I've printed too. I actually took the time and money to print it at three competing shops to see if maybe it was just the shop. London Drugs had it the cleanest, while the two actual photography stores were giving me the pixilation. Now, at 5 feet away the image looks great. but I'm picky. I would like to comfortably create 24" prints that can be viewed inches away and show amazing detail. I would love to make 36" prints and get similar results. 48" prints and be able to view them from 5 feet away and not notice any artifacting or pixilization. Thats what I would like. Now, the other thing I could do is learn how to do this in post production instead of relying on the output of the camera... this is possible in Photoshop yes?


12-02-2012, 12:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
I feel like I can recover more highlights from the K5 than the D600. I'd have to run some "scientific" tests to actually get some proof on the matter. When trying to recover highlight detail on one photo, I found the D600 wasn't able to pull some of the finer details that the K5 was able to do. But I havent' played around with it a whole lot.

As for print size. I printed off the below image, 16x24 @ 300dpi (the shop I uses prints @ 300 dpi by default) when viewed at about 2 feet away the image was not at the quality I wanted to present. There was a noticeable pixilation starting to creep in, and I just wasn't happy. This was the most recent picture I've printed too. I actually took the time and money to print it at three competing shops to see if maybe it was just the shop. London Drugs had it the cleanest, while the two actual photography stores were giving me the pixilation. Now, at 5 feet away the image looks great. but I'm picky. I would like to comfortably create 24" prints that can be viewed inches away and show amazing detail. I would love to make 36" prints and get similar results. 48" prints and be able to view them from 5 feet away and not notice any artifacting or pixilization. Thats what I would like. Now, the other thing I could do is learn how to do this in post production instead of relying on the output of the camera... this is possible in Photoshop yes?


Have you activated D-Lighting on the D600? That brightens shadows and may allow you to expose for the highlights and retain more detail.
12-02-2012, 02:01 AM   #11
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Well, now that I have a few minutes, I'll comment a bit on how the D600 and K5 compare after a few days of use with the former. I didn't get the D600 to replace my K5; (but I did think that if the D600 covered enough bases I could simplify to one system) rather as a replacement for my FF Canon gear.

First of all, I have to say I'm quite disappointed with Nikon's quality control. I've got dust issues with the D600 and my Nikkor 16-35 gives me red streaks when shooting long exposures (with eyepiece cover in place). Both are likely getting swapped out. A real bummer and IMO unacceptable, especially considering the price. I went to shoot some stars tonight with the D600/16-35 and it was totally botched due to the red streaking issue. Still a nice outing, but pretty frustrating.

The D600 really delivers the goods IQ-wise. When paired with a good lens, the results are stellar and the post-processing headroom is immense. I haven't really done any head to head tests with the K5, but it certainly creams the 5DII in DR.

The D600 is a pretty light FF body. It's got a lot of plastic but doesn't really feel "cheap" like some of the digital rebels and lower end cameras. However, I am a little concerned with how well it would perform in rough outdoor conditions. The K5 is really at an entirely different level here, with a fully metal body and fantastic weather sealing. Case in point: the locking battery door with rubber gaskets. You're not finding anything remotely close to that on the D600.

The D600 is not that great ergonomically. My big hands typically favor these FFs but the K5 has a better feel, even with my pinky falling off the bottom. The 5DII has a really nice curved grip and seems like it's almost made for my hands. I also like the button positions better on the K5. Putting the ISO button on the bottom of the camera doesn't make much sense to me, for example. A little Alaska perspective here: the D600, despite being larger, is more difficult to control with thick gloves than the K5 (The 5DII being the best here).

The D600 live view sucks. Both my K5 and 5DII allow for exposure simulation on the fly while changing aperture, shutter speed & ISO. This is useful for some of my landscape work, especially when working with filters. The D600 doesn't allow for this...while my brother's $300 Digital Rebel does (I guess Canons have an extra mechanism in the lens). There are workarounds, so it's not a big deal, but a pain. I hear that while the D800 does allow for this, it's a little quirky.

Here's what it boils down to. The D600 IQ is just plain spectacular. For my landscape work, Nikon is a much better place to be at the moment than Canon due to the massive PP headroom, so I'm willing to overlook a few downsides. However, I can't see selling off my K5 at this point. The K5 is simply much better for outdoor work, especially when paired with the WR lenses. However, Pentax is still far from perfect as I have a hard time shelling out the money for the problem-prone SDM lineup, especially considering the lack of a FF upgrade path. Alas, there is no perfect camera.

Last edited by sb in ak; 12-02-2012 at 02:09 AM.
12-02-2012, 02:54 AM   #12
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Are the D600's made in Japan like the D700/800 ?
Or is it China or Thailand, dust issues could be linked to the quaility control at the plant.....
12-02-2012, 03:37 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by sb in ak Quote
Alas, there is no perfect camera.
Yet. Perhaps Pentax in 2013 will do something awesome.
12-02-2012, 03:38 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TOUGEFC Quote
the D600's made in Japan like the D700/800 ?
Or is it China or Thailand,
Thailand, judging by the D600 undersides I've seen.
12-02-2012, 09:07 AM   #15
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D600's live view will be fixed in the upcoming firmware update. I'm looking forward to that for sure.


While I don't like the grip with the K5. I think ill try the d600 grip for the simple fact it can be awkward to hold. Its weird that a camera that is larger requires smaller hands?
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