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10/02/12 Nikon creates bracketing differences between the D800 and D600

I have now taken out a D600 for a quick test spin.  I had hoped that Nikon would not disable too many of the “pro” features that they have with the D800.  Right from the start, I found that Nikon drastically changed the exposure bracketing between the D800 and D600.

Nikon-D600 view from the front

Nikon-D600 view from the front

With the D600, a photographer now only has the option of 3 brackets.  However you can use a larger exposure range between brackets, as much as +2ev.  It may be even a bit more, but I was in a hurry and when I noticed that you can only get 3 brackets per series, I was immediately turned away.  The main issue I have had since January 2009 when I first started shooting with a Canon 5D MKII was the fact that Canon only allowed for 3 brackets and to get 5 or more you had to have a “pro” body like the 1ds MKIII or 1d MKIiv, both of which I have briefly owned.  I figured out that the best solution for the 5D MKII was to just move the exposure manually, but you had to be very careful not to move the body of the camera since then you would get misaligned frames.

HDR software like Nik HDR efex pro 2 can handle some slight camera movement much better than earlier HDR software so this is not as big an issue for me.  I have been able to manually adjust the D800 exposure without causing any camera movement as long as I was using a wide angle lens like the 24-70 @ 24mm to 35mm.

The flip side is that the Nikon D800 can go to 9 brackets but the maximum exposure range between brackets was +1ev.  This is me is a classic mismatch since the D800 has a huge amount of dynamic range (DR) available at the base iso of 100.  Much more than the Canon 5D MKII or even earlier Nikon D700.  The issue is that Nikon does not offer a medium or small raw file so if you take 7 exposures, to get a +3ev and -3ev range (+3ev, center, -3ev) you have 7 huge 36mp files and you are not taking advantage of the DR of the new sensor in the D800.

Nikon D800 front view

Nikon D800 front view

So it seems you have two great new Nikon bodies, and neither one really is allow you to take full advantage of the new sensor and expeed 5 processor.   With one camera, the D800, have a great total number of brackets but you should only need at max 3 or 5 at +1.5ev to +2ev.  With the D600, you can get only 3 brackets but at least each bracket can have a great exposure range, up to +2ev per bracket.  Ideally again I feel this should be 4 to 5 total brackets.   In older cameras like the Canon 5D MKII this issue I feel was overlooked, but on the newer Nikon’s there is no way it was overlooked, it was done intentionally.  Same old same old turning off certain features so that only the “pro” bodies have everything.  I just don’t see the point in this.

It should be also noted that Nikon only gives you a DX crop factor on the D600 along with the base FX format, where as on the D800 you have the FX, DX and two other crops factors.  I also noticed for the first time today that the D600 will not take either of Nikon Cabled remote shutter releases, instead it only takes a IR remote.  This is a total surprise for me as I can’t stand IR remotes since they never seem to work well and more importantly you need to be to where you can see the IR port, which on the D600 is on the front.  I don’t know if there is one on the back of the camera.  If there isn’t then you will have to stand to the side or near front to fire the camera remotely.  To me it’s looking more and more like the price of 2,099.00 is bit too much to ask for the D600 considering that Nikon disabled many of the features that are in the D800, ones that to me should just be standard camera features in the modern age of digital.

  1. Exposure bracketing no greater than three
  2. No cabled remote available
  3. Loss of 2 FX crop sizes
  4. No ability to use Compact Flash only SD cards (this is bigger than most people realize, due to the speed of most SD cards compared to compact flash)

These all may seem minor, but in the field it’s the small things that seem to matter the most.  I have moved from a sure purchase on the D600 to moving back to waiting to somehow afford a D4.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. C B Arun Kumar says:

    1. I don’t think issue is so much of a problem given that it does +_2 ev
    2. This is a real big problem – totally stupid
    3. Again no real problem as one anyway crops raw files in a photo editing software
    4. Actually CF cards are a pain and SD cards are today fast enough for pro use (Sandisk extreme pro being a good example) So this is not a real gripe either
    So actually your only potential deal-breaker is if you need wired remotes.

  2. You can use the remote shutter control cable with the D600. It is the same cable used with the D90. Here is one on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Remote-Shutter-Control-Coiled-Cord-90cm-Nikon-D600-D3100-D5100-D7000-D90-MC-DC2-/160827161275.

    I have a D600 arriving today and will be using the Pocket Wizard III to fire the D600 remotely via the PocketWizard N-MCDC2-ACC Cord for Nikon D90,

    • Hello Jerry:

      Thanks for the info, I will make a note of this in the post, or create a new one.
      I was looking at it mainly as a night photography camera, and wanted to use the MC-36. I realize that the D600 has the built in intervoltmeter and time, but on the D800
      I had trouble with both of these working for long shoots, say 1 hour and wanting a exposure every 30 seconds. Many times the camera just locked up or after about 30 minutes it quit. I moved
      to the MC-36 and never had any more problems. I will also look into the MC-DC2 off the accessory port. The D800 is just too much for night work I don’t need that much resolution and was
      going to move over to the 600.

      Paul

    • If you are bracketing for HDR, I find the +/-2 3exposure array to be more than adequate for 95% of my shots. I used to shoot 5 (with a D2X) and was disappointed with my d7000 until I used it. It is fine, especially if combined with active d-lighting.

  3. While I can’t say anything for the crop factor and I agree with the bracketing. The Nikon D600 features an accessory port for use with the MC-DC2 1 m remote cord, the GP-1 GPS, and the WU-1b Wi-Fi mobile adapter. As for the SD flashcards I have been using the SanDisk extreme and I have yet to notice any problem with the record speed.

    WU-1b Wi-Fi mobile adapter
    Wi-Fi Shooting: Images can be taken remotely using a compatible smart device using the camera’s Live View preview on the smart device to frame and compose the subject. Note: Smart device is used to remotely fire the camera, maximum distance is up to 49 feet and the smart device can’t be used to adjust settings on the camera.

    • Hello Robert:

      Good points. I was looking at it mainly as a night photography camera, and wanted to use the MC-36. I realize that the D600 has the built in intervoltmeter and time, but on the D800
      I had trouble with both of these working for long shoots, say 1 hour and wanting a exposure every 30 seconds. Many times the camera just locked up or after about 30 minutes it quit. I moved
      to the MC-36 and never had any more problems. I will look into the MC-DC2 off the accessory port. The D800 is just too much for night work I don’t need that much resolution and was
      going to move over to the 600.

      The Compact flash vs SD was more selfish I guess, I just didn’t want to have to purchase yet another type of card. Glad to hear your experiences with the extreme’s is good.

      I have also possibly rethought my feelings on the bracketing. Since it seems that the D600 has the same excellent DR as the D800, then 3 brackets at +2ev may be a better solution. To
      get the same effect with the D800 would need 5 brackets, and I have found over and over that with the D800 you just don’t need that many exposures since the DR of the sensor can easily be
      pushed, unlike by Canons.

      Sincerely
      Paul

  4. Hi

    I just got my cable adapter with the post via ebay. Converting my MC-36 to be used with d7000 and d600.

    http://viewitem.eim.ebay.dk/NIKON-ML3-MC30-MC36-26-jack-to-MCDC2-plug-Adapter/120711331532/item?transId=954212008002

    best regards
    Anders

  5. I agree with you on the bracketing issue. I was unpleasantly surprised to find that my D600 can take only 3 bracketed shots. A camera of such quality should be able to take 9 shots in my opinion, especially since it has the range and ability to do so. Its just plain stupid that Nikon doesnt allow that. I wish they would release a firmware update that allows us to take 3,5 or 9 bracketed shots.

    • Hello:

      I may come back on my original statement as the D600/D800 family have so much dynamic range built in you might be able to get by with only 3 frames at +-1.5 to 2 ev. I am now wishing that the
      D800 would do more than +-1.0ev.

      Paul

  6. I use the MC-DC2 off the accessory port and it works wonderfully — as you say, much better than the infrared remote which I used with my D7000. Just yesterday I took bracketed interior shots of a house for a rental site and used 3 shots spaced at 2 ev. The results using HDR efex Pro 2 at the default setting and little or no adjustments were pretty frickin’ great, IMHO. I’m no HDR expert and I’m a fairly average hobbyist photographer, but so far I’m really pleased with the bracketing / HDR results in my landscape photography as well.

  7. Sergio Smiriglio says:

    I purchased and returned the d600 within two weeks. The camera had oil spots on the sensor and nikon would not acknowledge that it was a manufacturing problem.
    Then I purchased a canon 6d instead and found that it will bracket upto seven steps and uses a wifi control (iPhone, ipad) that is fairly complete. It seams much better suited for HDR work and it has better built in HDR than does the nikon. I’m happy that I returned the nikon.

  8. With the D800 can you just tone-map a single exposure in Nik HDR Efex and get the same range as a D7000 with 3-shots bracketed plus and minus one stop using the Merge option?

  9. Mike Olivieri says:

    Is it possible to add the # of bracketing from 3 to 5 in the Nikon D600? It is a naive question because I do not understand the innards of the D600. It works fine & luckily no oil on the sensor problem. Thanks.

    • Hello Mike

      As far as I know with the D600, you are limited to only 3 brackets, however you can change the amount of exposure to as much as +2 or -2 steps. The D800 limits you to +1/-1 steps but give a total of 9 brackets. I would prefer to have 5 brackets with at least 1.5 steps of exposure. Nikon is like Canon in this regard as they seem to only give certain cameras, certain features. They limited the D600 to the max of 3 brackets, but allow a greater amount of exposure in each step. Based on the vast amount of dynamic range that these new Nikon sensors have, I find the D800 to be very limited by the +1 max. The files are large and you have to spend a lot of card space to get a workable exposure bracket. I tend to still manually manage my bracketing. I am looking at purchasing the remote commander my for my D800 as that will allow me to manage the exposures without having to handle the camera.

    • I don’t believe you can have more than 3 currently. One of the issues that I considered when I was thinking about the D600. I still plan on getting one to back up my D800, but I am still waiting to see if the oil dust issue has been resolved on the D600.

      As far as I know with the D600, you are limited to only 3 brackets, however you can change the amount of exposure to as much as +2 or -2 steps. The D800 limits you to +1/-1 steps but give a total of 9 brackets. I would prefer to have 5 brackets with at least 1.5 steps of exposure. Nikon is like Canon in this regard as they seem to only give certain cameras, certain features. They limited the D600 to the max of 3 brackets, but allow a greater amount of exposure in each step. Based on the vast amount of dynamic range that these new Nikon sensors have, I find the D800 to be very limited by the +1 max. The files are large and you have to spend a lot of card space to get a workable exposure bracket. I tend to still manually manage my bracketing. I am looking at purchasing the remote commander my for my D800 as that will allow me to manage the exposures without having to handle the camera

      Sincerely
      Paul Caldwell

  10. Imagine my surprise when I found out that my shiny new D600 could only do 3 shots per bracket, whereas the D7100 I was about to return can do 5. Its 100% artificial restriction from Nikon – just to differentiate the D600 from the D800, and I am probably going to return this body and hang onto my 7100 for awhile.

    • Nikon and Canon both seem to do this. All it would take is a simple firmware fix. Both the D800 and D600 have issues. The 600 only has the 3 brackets but you can go +2 or -2 stops of exposure per bracket. With the DR of the D600, this should be enough in most cases. The D800 has up to 9 but only in +1 or -1 exposures stops and this is not enough range per bracket. With a huge 36mp raw file on each bracket.

      Thanks for taking the time to read.

      Paul Caldwell

  11. Muhammad Masood says:

    The Nikon d600 gives 3 bracketed JPEGs. Is it possible to get raw files?

    • Hello:

      Yes, you should be able bracket raw or jpg files. The limit of 3 frames will still hold true unless Nikon has changed this with a firmware update since I wrote the post.

      Paul Caldwell

  12. Hello nice article! You could use an Adroid or Apple tablet. There are many applications nowadays that allow for tethered shooting. You can set there way over 9 shoots and way over +1 steps!!!