Steven Brokaw Photography

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Indianapolis model Wendy Pund recently did a photo session with me at M10 Studio.  It was an enjoyable shoot and Wendy is top notch.  Tall with skills.  The goal of the shoot was to work with my new Nikon D600 for the first time in studio under controlled lighting.  As you know from previous posts I’ve used my “trusty” Nikon D300s for several years.  The primary difference is moving to a full frame sensor versus the D300s crop sensor.

Verdict, both Wendy and the D600 are great to work with.  Wendy, well, she’s fun to chat with and is good in front of the camera.  The Nikon D600 is a solid, well priced FX camera.  It has the form factor of the Nikon D7000 which means it’s smaller than the D300s.  It’s going to take time getting use to the button and menu configuration.  On the positive side all of my professional lenses now have the correct focal length in camera.  My AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II is now perfect in studio.  On the D300s the crop factor made the longer focal lengths unusable in studio.  My AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G prime is now a true “nifty fifty”.

The focus on the D600 is extremely fast and precise, and the low light capacity is uber.  This is a good feature for me as I still like to shoot after dark city scenes for fun.
Anyway, back to the shoot.  The session with Wendy was primarily portrait work.  No specific theme this time out.  Therefore, the lighting setup was straight forward.  I photographed Wendy against a fashion grey sweep background.  Two Elinchrom D-Lite 4it studio strobes triggered with my Elinchrom SkyPort triggers were the primary lights.  Normally, one D-Lite as a key light and the second as needed for fill.  I also used a Nikon SB-600 speedlight occasionly to add light to the background.  We also did several shots against a black background.

In post processing I’ve not yet taken advantage of the larger file size.  Initial testing did prove images can be cropped or magnified more aggressively while maintaining the image quality.  However, the focus of the shoot was not on the post processing, but the ergonomics of the camera and the ease of use.
The following are some key take-aways about the camera: 

·       I’m not use to the smaller camera size.  Understand, I have used a vertical battery grip on all of my Nikon DSLR’s in the past.  I’m going to need to get one for the D600 pronto.  With a long lens (i.e. Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED or Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8) the camera is not balanced.  It feels off front heavy in my hand,
·       The multi-selector dial on the back of the camera is too small, and is not as responsive.  This is a pain,
·       The burst rate is slower than the D300s.  However, for my photography style that really isn't a problem,
·       In manual mode I constantly and accidentally hit the Main Control Dial with my thumb and changed the shutter speed without knowing.  It always seemed I nudged it to a higher shutter speed.  Possibly when I add a vertical grip this will go away.  This was the most annoying issue so far with the D600,
·       I was use to the ISO &WB control being on the Mode Dial on the D300.  Now the buttons are secondary functions on the back buttons.  Strange.
·       I’m still trying to remember how to change the focus point settings,
·       I love FX.  I’ll use my D300s as a backup but, as they say, once you go FX you never go back.  They say that, right?
·       The monitor is big and bright, 
·       I like the modes on the Mode Dial versus the configuration on the D300s via a button / dial setup,
·       I like the larger file size.  The file size is in the Goldie Locks zone, “just right”?
·       The battery drain rate stinks.  The battery is different from my D300s, so I'll either need to get a vertical battery grip or a second battery,
·       I like the higher usable ISO.  I still do lots of low light photography so 6400 is my new best friend.  

Bottomline, I still need to develop my muscle memory with the D600, but so far I like what I see.  Oh yes, props to Wendy for working with me.  She will be hired again.

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