Nikon's D600 – FX goes Prosumer

D600 with 24-85

Nikon announced the D600 at 5am today, confirming rumours which were beaten only by Apple’s iPhone 5 leaks for accuracy.

The 24Mp entrant seems to be part of ‘full-frame fever’ undoubtedly driven by Sony’s CMOS sensor development, pricing and more crucially, packaging the definitive 35mm format to appeal to mainstream consumers.

Despite a D3X matching resolution, the D600 is a very different sensor and package. Will this be the camera to push Nikon’s DSLR market share to over 50%?

The current DLSR line up at Nikon is quite striking, not only for capability but also the positioning, with a substantial gap between the highly-specified DX-crop D7000 and the 36Mp professional D800 bodies. The middle ground retains the D300s, almost identical in price to the D7000 but qualifying for Nikon Pro User status and now one of Nikon’s oldest DSLR bodies. The D600 fits at the upper end of that gap, with an SRP of £1955.99 in the UK for the body.

For that price, you get a tightly controlled feature set, a compact, lightweight body and sensor capabilities that exceed the state of the art just 2 years ago, when the D3X was in demand, in short supply, and retailing at over twice the D600’s figure. A quick launch-venue play suggests that the specified ISO range – peaking at 6400, rather than the D3X’s 1600 – is very usable. The body weighs only 760g, using a magnesium upper and rear body and offering similar weathersealing to the D800.

Advances in processing, video and OS make themselves felt instantly. FX and DX crop HD video recording with HDMI output for uncompressed streams and sophisticated audio monitoring, a base ISO range from 100 to 6400 extendable to 50 to 25,600, and in-body raw editing are all very compelling features regardless of resolution. The D600 manages 5.5-6fps in full-frame mode, and shoots to two UHS-1 SDHC cards.

The 100% viewfinder is bright and despite using the square, without blanking filter, window rather than the round type used on previous FX bodies seems very similar to the D800. The eyepoint may be a further slight reduction, but without detailed specifications that’s a hard one to call.

A true pentaprism is used – expected, perhaps, in a full-frame high-end body but fighting an increasing trend for electronic viewfinders.

A compact body presents a few ergonomic challenges, and Nikon have tackled the control interface with the experience you’d hope for after the clear new direction shown in the D4. Gentle slopes define the shutter release area, with joystick, function buttons and the standard buttons beside the 3.2″ screen (which features a clip-on protector). A mode wheel/drive wheel combination provides consumer-style selection of scene modes, with a drive wheel below including selection of the IR remote mode, which is supported by receivers on both the front and rear of the body as per the D7000.


Nevertheless the D600 is a consumer package. It’s a high-end one, but it carries a 1/4000th shutter, horizontal axis level only, consumer interface sockets (the compact remote/GPS port rather than the screw-in port of the pro bodies, and no PC-sync socket). Unlike the D800, the D600 has USB 2. At launch, it seemed that the WT4 wireless tethering solution was not supported, but some of the launch material suggests that it is supported, alongside the low cost WU-1b introduced specifically fort he D600.

The Android remote control application for the WU-1b (below) is already available; an iOS version will follow before the end of September 2012. It offers rather less control than Camera Control Pro, but does provide a live-view relay and release function.

That WU designation has been seen before, on the similar accessory for the determinedly consumer (and best-selling) D3200. It’s a wireless broadcast unit slightly more sophisticated than using an Eye-Fi card, and at £64 is almost a tenth of the SRP of the WT4. It sacrifices many of the camera control functions (though triggering is possible), and is mainly intended to transmit and share images via Android or iOS devices. It’s a shame that this split exists in Nikon’s line, as the WT4’s full-fat networking and storage solution is a lot for many studio photographers who would probably find the basic transfer/triggering of the WU-style units very useful on the pro bodies.

Cameracraft magazine

One year ago we took the difficult decision to end the publication of Photoworld, though Photoclubalpha continues as an active and well supported site. dPhotoexpert, though a quiet site by comparison, was originally intended to be the companion website for a magazine called dPhotoexpert for which we did designs and content plans. But then along came literally dozens of how-to-Photoshop titles sitting on the supermarket magazine shelves, and we realised it just wouldn’t be much fun.

I’ve been missing making magazines with true editorial freedom for some time. So, a new quarterly – like Photoworld in quality, starting out with 44 pages and no advertising – is about to appear. The name is Cameracraft, harking back to the West Coast American title  (written as two words) which was published in the first half of the 20th century. That was Ansel Adams’s favourite mag. Maybe we will find the next Ansel Adams!

Cameracraft is an international magazine. Gary Friedman in Los Angeles is our US Associate Editor with a regular feature article. We’re looking for work of international interest, we have a small open picture gallery in each issue, and we are printing portfolios in classic style as an 8-page central section on heavier silk paper.

The first issue is scheduled for mailing before September 14th and has now gone to press. We will have a subscriber card, we plan a passworded private forum, and we offer optional magazine binders (fitting three years each). We plan to develop exclusive benefits for our readers in future. The subscriber card will be issued late 2012 and sent out with Issue 2 in December, once we’ve worked out a good way to ensure the right cards go to the right people…

        

Please take a look at the subscription page here:

http://www.iconpublications.com/cameracraft

On this page you will find a link to a downloadable PDF application form if you are interesting in subscribing and prefer not to use the Paypal payment method. At present the 3-year, 12-issue Cordex bookshelf binder is only offered on the webpage, but the address carrier sheet for the first issue has a form on the reverse for ordering. We expect to ship the binders mid to late October.

I hope you can join me on this new journey.

We’ve had comments along the lines that a 44-page magazine is too slim for a quarterly. Photoworld/Image was 36 pages, and in the last year or two, only 28. I have counted the editorial pages in magazines with 76 or 84 overall and find that most only have 44 (or so) with all the rest being advertising. We think it’s good value and if the readership grows we will take it as far as the printing and postage costs allow.

Best wishes – 

David Kilpatrick
Publisher and Editor, Icon Publications Ltd and Photoclubalpha