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JPEG Tone Curves / dynamic range

Our Dynamic Range measurement system involves shooting a calibrated Stouffer Step Wedge (13 stops total range) which is backlit using a daylight balanced lamp (98 CRI). A single shot of this produces a gray scale wedge from the camera's clipped white point down to black (example below). Each step of the scale is equivalent to 1/3 EV (a third of a stop), we select one step as 'middle gray' (defined as 50% luminance) and measure outwards to define the dynamic range. Hence there are 'two sides' to our results, the amount of shadow range (below middle gray) and the amount of highlight range (above middle gray).

To most people highlight range is the first thing they think about when talking about dynamic range, that is the amount of highlight detail above middle gray the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated; in our test the line on the graph stops as soon as the luminance value drops below our defined 'black point' (about 2% luminance) or the signal-to-noise ratio drops below a predefined value (where shadow detail would be swamped by noise), whichever comes first.

Note: this page features our new interactive dynamic range comparison widget. The wedges below the graph are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range (the dotted line indicating middle gray).

Cameras Compared

At its default Active D-Lighting setting of 'ADL Off', the D600 exhibits a tone curve that is extremely similar to previous Nikon DSLRs like the Nikon D7000 and the more recent D800. This is entirely to be expected and simply shows that Nikon's engineers have 'designed-in' a tone curve for JPEGs that is consistent across its range of DSLRs. What this means in practise is that at identical exposure settings, presented with the same scene, a D600 will give you basically the same picture as a D3200, or a D7000, or a D4. Total JPEG dynamic range is roughly 8.5EV, with about 3.5EV in the highlights, with a relatively smooth 'roll-out' at the top end. Shooting in Raw mode will give you more 'headroom', allowing you to recover those really bright tones that might be clipped in the D600's default JPEG mode.

Color Modes

The D600 offers six different 'Picture Controls', which are essentially color response presets applied to in-camera JPEGs. They all offer the same highlight range but vary image contrast by adjusting the shadow tones to provide either richer blacks or maintain more shadow detail.

The default mode is 'Standard', which yields almost four stops of highlight range from middle gray to clipped white. The 'Vivid' and 'Landscape' options boost image contrast and give deeper shadows, which results in earlier clipping to black. 'Portrait' mode, on the other hand, protects shadows by maintaining detail at the darker end of the tonal range.

ADL modes

The D600 offers five discrete settings for Active D-Lighting (ADL) in addition to an 'Auto' option. Nikon's ADL modes seek to retain highlight and shadow detail in high contrast scenes by combining under-exposure (via a shutter speed adjustment) with manipulation of the image's tone curve.

Comparing the effects of ADL at its extremes - Off and Extra High - you can see that in our studio test scene the highlights are extended by as much as 1 stop EV, albeit with a very abrupt transition between clipped whites and highlight detail. Overall scene brightness is reduced by perhaps 1/3 stop EV in 'Normal', 'High' and 'Extra High' ADL modes in order to expand the highlight range.

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Comments

Total comments: 19
SxeHunKA77
By SxeHunKA77 (2 months ago)

What UI did Nikon install in this camera?

0 upvotes
carton dinis machado
By carton dinis machado (4 months ago)

how to compare Nikon D600 versus nikon D7100

1 upvote
Mike FL
By Mike FL (4 months ago)

The new D610 has the same problem that Dust spot issue continues.

0 upvotes
amestigon
By amestigon (4 months ago)

Today, D600 was ordered to be off sale by Government in China. 2014/03/16

0 upvotes
tallguy600
By tallguy600 (5 months ago)

Law Firms Lining Up to File Class Action Lawsuits Over the D600 Dust/Oil Issue:

http://petapixel.com/2014/02/25/law-firms-lining-file-class-action-lawuits-d600-dustoil-issue/

0 upvotes
tallguy600
By tallguy600 (5 months ago)

Great camera but the oil spots, sold all my Nikon equipment and got a Canon 6D instead.
Now much happier with great Wi-Fi implementation, made in Japan better camera body....

1 upvote
Scottelly
By Scottelly (7 months ago)

Something that amazes me is that the Sony A99 actually performs better at high ISO settings, like ISO 1600 and ISO 6400, than this camera and the D610. I didn't expect that. If you doubt me, just take a look at the photos here with the studio shot comparison tool. Be sure to set the ISO settings for both cameras and make sure you look at the playing card and the writing on the red square under the dime. Those areas REALLY show the noise. http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=nikon_d600&masterSample=dsc_4526_03&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=nikon_d600&slot0Sample=dsc_4526_03&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=sony_slta99&slot1Sample=dsc00049&x=-0.378464142966364&y=0.34409159041539195

0 upvotes
munro harrap
By munro harrap (7 months ago)

I am sure you , thinking a little about it, must realize they produce with profit in mind, not love for you, who are merely contributors to their profits for them.
That is all you are, and all even the greatest photographers are- a means of supporting their incomes and assuring the wealth and value of the yen against the euro, pound, and dollar.

Nikon knew pre-release, surely, that this problem existed, as they extensively test new machines. Therefore, it follows, surely, that this was all done on purpose, as was designing lenses that do not cover more than APS-C properly (24-70 NahNo!) because they delude themselves that we are all so pleased to own a Nikon that we will even buy plastic mount lenses for it!! Made of plastic, and according to one reviewer taped inside with sticky tape as iPhone lenses are with glue.

They think we are that jackdaw stupid. They are correct. We are so stupid we cannot make cameras at all!!!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Frank C.
By Frank C. (8 months ago)

No recall from Nikon because of their abysmal recent quarter(s), if this would have happened in 2010 I'm sure Nikon would have replaced the shutter mechanisms for free under guarantee but is it stands now Nikon is struggling, there's no money in the pot to recall and fix the d600

0 upvotes
tallguy600
By tallguy600 (9 months ago)

How do you explain the D610 and the lack of recall of the D600?

One doesn't need a PHD in damage control; the way Nikon handled this issue and it's customer base are a shame.
The D600 should have been fixed, full shutter issue disclosure should have been provided.
Is the D610 shutter mechanism the same as the one on the D600 where it was replaced?
Simple questions, there should be answers but of course no, nothing.

4 upvotes
Andrew770
By Andrew770 (9 months ago)

DP Review is a professional organization and their review of the Nikon D600 meets professional standards. It is impressive how much better the Nikon D600 camera performs than Canon and Sony's high end cameras. The D600 is clearly the winner in the DP Review comparison of these top end cameras. For me the D600's handling of ISO images sets it apart from the competition and is one reason why Nikon is the #1 camera brand.

Apparently the early production run of the Nikon D600 had some cameras whose shutter mechanism was faulty. Nikon gave an advisory in February 2013 for those affected to take their cameras to their service centers and many had their camera's shutter mechanism replaced.

Canon's top end camera also experienced a light leak issue from its early production run. Apparently providing a fix was much more involved because it was a structural problem. Apparently Canon's solution was to put a tape inside the camera to cover the light leak.

Finally, the D600 is awesome!

1 upvote
Segaman
By Segaman (9 months ago)

For some its awesome, for others its their worst nightmare.
As long as your happy everything is fine, if there is a 610 there is a big reason for that.....

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
WhiteBeard
By WhiteBeard (6 months ago)

You seem to trust DP Review's "professional standards" so much that you forget to use your own critical sense. Look closely at the studio shots, JPEG at 100 and 3200 ISO and tell me that the Nikon is not overly soft and lacking detail compared to the Sony or Canon, especially on the playing cards.

0 upvotes
Noogy
By Noogy (9 months ago)

http://www.dpreview.com/previews/nikon-d610/

Cheers to DPR for the gold rating of D600 - a clearly defective camera by design and component. The link above is the implied admission from Nikon. Next time raters from DPR, it is better that you state "we withhold any final rating on this camera at this time until we see a conclusive fix from Nikon" or something like that and save yourselves the embarrassment.

4 upvotes
gmortiz
By gmortiz (11 months ago)

D600 nightmare: After three weeks a few spots appeared. After four weeks a MASSIVE number of spots appeared and I sent it in to Nikon's New York repair facility. Two weeks later I received it, they had replaced the shutter mechanism and cleaned the low pass filter. I took some blue sky test shots which revealed spots still on the sensor. Back to Nikon for the second time. I received the D600 back from Nikon and the workorder shows all they did was re-clean the already cleaned sensor. Test shots show the exact same spots present as when they received it.

How ridiculous is it that an untrained consumer can see a serious problem in 5 minutes, and Nikon's service center has now twice sent out a camera with a damaged sensor.

One more thing: HEY NIKON - can we end the fantasy that the problem is dust? From the owner's manual: "Note, however, that the filter is extremely delicate and easily damaged." And apparently it is damaged when lubricant from the shutter mechanism hit it.

5 upvotes
nekrosoft13
By nekrosoft13 (10 months ago)

the "trained" technician is stuck in some poorly lit building. Is not like they can go outside and take shots of blue sky.

2 upvotes
hovirag
By hovirag (9 months ago)

Nikon comes clean over the dust and oil problem – meaning they fixed it. Nikon users also mentioned even before the Nikon announcement that these issues disappear after the camera has been run in.
Source: http://bubbajuju.com/get_nikon_d600_on_sale/
where there are two comparison grids of the most popular cameras to date.

0 upvotes
socaltrevor
By socaltrevor (1 week ago)

they didn't fix it

0 upvotes
jengord
By jengord (1 day ago)

No they havent fixed it. What they are doing in Australia is fitting a new D600 shutter, cleaning your sensor and sending it back, then surprise surprise after about 500-1000 shots the oil is splattered thickly again, not the normal one or two spots but multiple,this is not normal! after about 4 returns they send you another D600. So then your back on the round-about. I dont think I will buy NIKON again.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 19