The Full Picture

Nandagopal Rajan        Print Edition: November 2012

NIKON D600
Price: Rs 1, 35, 950
(body only)
Specs: 24.3 MP CMOS; 1/4000 sec; ISO 100-6400 (50-25600 with boost), 1080p at 30 fps, SD/SDHC/SDXC x 2 slots, GPS

Holding the world's smallest full-frame camera - that is, one with an image sensor the same size as the 35mm film frame - we were expecting to be a bit intimidated. In fact, we were a bit taken aback by the familiarity factor that the Nikon D600 brings to the table. In fact, it feels like holding and using any mid-level Nikon DSLR. And that we think is the USP of this device.

DESIGN
The D600, as we said, is build like any other mid-level Nikon DSLR. It is not much heavier than these models, but had enough extra grooves and grips to make it easier to handle the 760 gm body weight plus that of the lens. The mode dial is on the left of the view finder and the release mode dial around it selects shooting speeds. The camera uses a 35.9 X 24.0 mm Fx format CMOS sensor with 24.3 effective mega pixels and hence there is a Fn button under the lens to shift to the 24X16 mm DX format when needed. The 3.2-inch LCD is flanked by buttons on the left and the Live View dial on the right.

USER EXPERIENCE
Despite being a full-frame camera, the D600 can be super fast when needed. You will notice its speed when you use the CH mode for continuous shooting. However, the Q (quiet) mode is not as quiet as we expected it to be. And we noticed a latency after the click at lower shutter speeds which felt as if the shutter had a double click or recoil. The camera is easy to use, though there are so many functions in the menu that Nikon should soon be thinking of adding a search button for the same. We liked the fact that you can do some basic editing in the camera itself and this will be helpful for photographers who are in a hurry. The video mode is also easy to use as we were impressed by the speed of the auto-focus. Also, the camera has two card slots which you can customise to maybe save RAW and JPEG separately, thus improving your productivity.

RESULTS
We thought the best way to test a full-frame camera would be in low light and at high ISOs. The ISO can go two stops above 6400 for an equivalent of 25400. At this range the images are bright even without any strong light sources, though we noticed noise when the light was halogen based. Yes, the low light performance is impressive compared to other DSLRs, but we have seen better performance with a compact mirorless, the Olympus OM-D EM-5. We also felt that under certain conditions the images were not as vibrant as we would expect from a Nikon. But these are all small glitches when you consider the performance in normal circumstances, which is top notch.

BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Best bet if you need full frame on a budget.


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