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.

41Mp compact – from Nokia!

Once, Nokia were the largest camera manufacturer in the world. Pioneering the combined camera and smartphone market with for the time, sophisticated Symbian-based phones with Zeiss lenses. Such a short time ago, relatively, is an epoch in the technology industry and Android, combined with the sales success of Apple’s iPhone, has eroded the early gains made by Nokia and Sony with their camera-focused models. As such, in recent years Nokia has struggled to find a clear identity and sales – losing the iconic Communicator ranges, seemingly sidelining their own Symbian OS, and diversifying to the point where selecting a clear Nokia device can be hard.

This is set to change, with a pioneering new cameraphone. The 808 PureView carries a digital-camera threatening 41Mp sensor.

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Pentax 645D Japan announced

Hasselblad has their Ferrari edition, Leica has the Ti and other special editions – and now Pentax, already making a veritable rainbow of K-r colours, are adorning their flagship 645D Medium Format system with a classical Japanese finish. The 645D is pretty much what happens when you approach medium format without any preconceptions and with a lot of experience in the consumer digital market; get a K DSLR and a medium-format digital sensor, and you get DSLR usability and medium-format images.

Produced to celebrate Pentax’s win of the 2011 Camera GP – with the 645D crowned “Camera of the Year” – the 645D has a hand finished lacquer body treatment and is available strictly to order for a two month period; delivery could take four months.

The release also confirms support for the O-GPS1 module, though the star tracking will not be applicable to this fixed sensor camera.

Official release after the break.

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Pentax Q's up mirrorless system…

With their 645D offering a revolutionary balance of cost, features and usability for the medium format world, and the K-5 16Mp DSLR offering a flexible blend of enthusiast and professional features, Pentax is already blurring the distinctions between the genres traditional camera manufacturers exploit. The new Q system announced today further moves the boundaries, by offering that rare package of a compact sensor with interchangeable lenses. The new Q mount is served by a range of five lenses at launch, and this initial camera sports a 1/2.33″ Backlit CMOS sensor delivering 12.4Mp resolution and specced for a maximum ISO 6400. At 200g it’s undoubtedly a light body, yet that small sensor could well be offputting in a camera that’s likely to exceed a £500 list price.

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Nikon's Consumer Range expands – D5100 & ME-1

Nikon D5100April 5th sees the announcement of the fourth Nikon “thousand” model, the D5100. Following on from the D7000 and D3100 launches last year – both excellent cameras that introduced new sensors to Nikon’s range and left the D5000 mid-ranger looking a bit orphaned, the D5100 takes the logical step of bringing the larger 16.2Mp sensor from the D7000 into a cheaper, more consumer-oriented camera. Nikon have sensibly retained the swivel screen of the 5000, albeit with a more conventional side-hinged layout rather than the quirky (and tripod-unfriendly) base hinge of the original, and introduced a new body design with a slightly aggressive edge to the top plate. All of this is very predictable – with an older 12Mp sensor the D5000 was looking increasingly uncompetitive (despite the fantastic results it’s capable of delivering) whilst the D3100 introduced 1080p video – 14.2Mp and 1080p in the model below the former consumer video star couldn’t last!

So with the D5100, priced at £669, rising to £779 for lens kits, Nikon have given the sensor of the D7000 and the size and flexibility of the D5000. It makes for a comprehensive lineup. What else has Nikon brought along to the party…

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Nikon D3s – evolution of the breed

D3S_14_24_front34r_lToday sees the announcement of Nikon’s most significant camera body this year so far – bringing the D3 in line with the resr of the Nikon range, and improving it with customer feedback and to continue competing in a rapidly developing sector of the market. With headline grabbing ISO performance and D-Movie, the D3s looks set to repeat the success of the original D3…

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Sigma’s DP2 – Camera less obscure


Sigma’s DP1 was launched in 2007 (with production models available in 2008) to great critical acclaim. occupying a unique spot in the marketplace by combining an APS-C format sensor with a compact “point and shoot” style body. There were a few controversial design choices, and the user and reviewer feedback varied greatly with the time and effort people were prepared to put in learning about the camera, yet the verdicts on the optical performance were united – the DP1 was astounding. Now the DP2 has arrived, with production-quality units available from UK retailers.
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Nikon D90 12.3Mp DSLR announced – a new market for Nikon?

August 26th, London, UK: report from Richard Kilpatrick

Today saw the launch of the newest member of Nikon’s growing range of successful DSLRs, with an ongoing increase in market share clearly resulting in growing confidence for the camera brand. Prefacing the D90’s announcement, Nikon revealed that 50% of professional photographers at the Olympics were using Nikon, and their market share reached 44% of the pro DSLR market in February (this is despite the range still having a 12Mp upper limit).

D90 at launch

D90 at launch

Having introduced the D3, D300, D60 and D700 within the last 12 months, the D80 was really looking like the last man standing; today’s announcement shows that the mid-range “enthusiast” market is going to be exceptionally well catered for with a ground-breaking new model, and leaves me as a recent D3 adopter wondering if it’s possible to justify a spare F-mount body.

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Nikon's new D700 FX camera

The Nikon D700Nikon announced and released their long awaited D700 camera today in London, bringing the D3’s FX sensor to a wider market. dPhotoexpert was at the launch event. The D700 is closer to the D300 in physical design yet retains many of the D3’s advantages – in fact, it’s easier to say what it loses, other than weight and bulk, rather than what it offers.

Compared to Nikon’s flagship camera, the D700 offers one CF card slot, a 95% viewfinder coverage for the 12.1Mp sensor which has a new dust reduction system similar to the D300, and a slower frame-rate still twice the speed of a Canon EOS 5D – with the optional battery grip, it can manage 8 fps, and with standard EL3a batteries it delivers a respectable 5fps. The weather sealing is slightly improved over the D300, and the viewfinder/prism design is similar to the D3 but incorporates a pop-up flash. (Report – Richard Kilpatrick).

The D700 goes on sale in July with a UK RRP of £1999 inc VAT – more details will be added soon.

More details added by David Kilpatrick –

* Capture NX2 is required to process the raw files, and there is no update for either View NX or Capture NX (1.3.x) on any Nikon website to allow these to process D700 files – yet. Capture NX2 is provided as a 60-day free trial with the D700, but the CD does not update registered, purchased copies of NX. I’ve installed NX2 but the experience is not helpful when it comes to assessing the quality of the images – for this, I almost have to have ACR and to be able to study larger output sizes rapidly in the raw conversion window.

ACR and Lightroom are now updated to work with the D700, and the same goes for an increasing number of other raw conversion utilities.

We have an D700 here, we are using it now – the high eyepoint type viewfinder is one radical difference between this and the D300 body, and the experience of using the D700 is very different.