First D600 Images – Images Under the Stadium Lights

Started Oct 1, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Steve Friedman
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First D600 Images – Images Under the Stadium Lights
Oct 1, 2012

I've had my D600 for about a week now, but I really hadn't had time to check it out until last Friday night at a local football game. I frequently shoot pictures of the marching band in performance, and I really wanted to see how well the D600 would compare to my old standard, a D300, with two Nikon zoom lenses: 24-70mm f/2.8G and 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR. This is not such a good place to pay around with all the controls, as I really was trying to get useful shots for album archival purposes.

General Impressions:

I'm fairly happy for a first time out. Overall, I prefer the controls on the D300. They seem logically arrayed, and it's easy to switch focus modes, metering, and ISO. Certainly, part of this is just learning curve, and I'm sure I can get behind the new layout fairly easily, but I am not sure it's as well designed. I did notice that the mode selection dial is rather ratchety and rough in operation. I expected it would be much smoother. Other than that, one time my ISO button got turned on as the camera bumped me somewhere. I didn't expect that.

My biggest problem was probably with the focus area controls. Since the focus area controls are so different on the D600 when compared to the D300, I had some problems. I'm not so sure I had the settings correct at all times. But, it basically seemed to work well. Oh well, I really loved the toggle switches on the D300.

Memory Lock-up?

On three or four occasions, I had the camera lock up for several seconds. I didn't time it, but I think it could have been 10-20 seconds. The green recording to memory light was on, and no other controls would respond including the on/off switch. So, either there is a problem with the camera, or I may have a bad SD card. It's a SanDisk Extreme Pro, and I wouldn't expect problems with it, but it's a possibility. I'll have to watch that carefully for a while and try to understand the situation. Eventually, the camera became responsive again, and seemed to take pictures with no problem.

I think this is my biggest concern right now.

Battery Life:

It's good! I shot 534 images with image preview on, and I reviewed many images in the stands using the view function, and at the end of the night the battery level was still 69%.

Image quality:

At lower ISO, there is no problem, of course. But, when I shoot in the stadium, trying to freeze active movement, I push the ISO a bit. Again, since I was shooting for a purpose, I didn't really push the ISO. The shots of the band on the field were taken with the 70-200 f2.8, using a shutter speed of 1/250 at ISO 3200. While there was noise in some darker portions of the image, overall the picture quality was really quite good. In comparison, when I shoot with the D300, I typically set the ISO to 2000, and I would have to set luminance noise reduction between 25 and 50 in Lightroom in order to get a good flat background. While there is noise at ISO3200, it's more fine-grained, and it will be easily manageable.

All images were produced via the following process: Converted original nef via exiftool ( http://owl.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/ ) using D4 setting. This worked fine except the image area was cropped to 4928x3280. Imported to Lightroom 4.1. Created jpeg images without any other processing.

A typical image under filtered light is great:

Typically, when I shoot at night under the stadium lights, I use shutter speed controls with a setting of 1/250 per second. This allows me to capture movements and still keep noise to a minimum. With the D300 ISO2000, the images were often underexposed and quite noisy. I'm happy to say, that even at ISO320, the exposure seems good and nose has been minimized.

Taking photos of the band is less challenging, but sometimes they come right up on you:

Flash shots at close quarters worked well too. The following was set to -1EV (probably should have been only -2/3 EV):

As stated earlier, not everything worked well. The following image captured movements well, but the night sky seems washed out, and overall the image looks kind of lifeless:

Again, my apologies for the cropped images, but the best I could do so far was to use exiftool to reset the exif so Lightroom would accept the images. (Using ViewNX2 to convert to tiff produced impossibly large image files.)

Full-size jpeg versions of these images are at:
http://photos.tohsband.org/Professional/First-D600-Test-Under-Stadium

Like everyone else, I'm anxiously awaiting an update to Adobe Camera Raw.

If you've gotten this far, then thank you for reading!

Steve

 Steve Friedman's gear list:Steve Friedman's gear list
Nikon D600
Nikon D300 Nikon D4 Nikon D600
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