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Raw and raw conversion

Supplied software

The D600 comes with a software CD which contains:

  • Nikon ViewNX2 (Windows / Mac OS X) - An image browser / file editor featuring Raw to JPEG conversion with adjustment of exposure compensation, white balance, Picture Control, sharpening and tonal adjustments.
      
  • Nikon Transfer (Windows / Mac OS X) - Automated transfer of images from camera or card reader.

Nikon's ViewNX2, while not as sophisticated as the company's Capture NX 2 (available separately at a list price of £160/$180) offers basic editing functions including the ability to crop and straighten images, and change white balance, exposure and Picture Control options in NEF files. More advanced tools include D-Lighting and highlight/shadow recovery sliders, plus lateral and axial chromatic aberration correction. Basic video editing functionality is also available. In a nice touch, many of these parameters can be built into presets using the Picture Control Utility, meaning that presets you find yourself regularly applying can be uploaded to the camera. Absent, unfortunately are any noise reduction options.

ViewNX2 also allows you to geotag photographs using Google Maps (automatically if you use the optional GP-1 GPS unit), and to rate and label images with stars or colors for ease of organization. You can even modify the names of the color tags so that they show up as 'Work,' 'Holiday,' 'Portraits' or whatever best suits your needs.

Although it lacks much of the functionality offered by Nikon's Capture NX 2, the bundled ViewNX2 software makes it easy to make basic adjustments to both raw and JPEG files from the D600. The thumbnail view does exactly what it says on the tin - it arranges all of the images in a particular folder as thumbnails, for easy navigation.
When adjusting raw files, you can either apply an existing Picture Control preset (Standard, Vivid, etc.) or create and modify your own, which can be uploaded to the camera and applied to JPEG captures. ViewNX2 allows you to geotag your images by using Google Maps to find and record where you took your your photos. If you use Nikon's GP-1 external GPS unit with the D600, geotagging is automatic.
Creating video projects is a simple matter of opening the new video editor program, and importing clips into a playlist. From here you can add transitions between clips, and audio files. When you're ready to export your video project you can name it and specify your desired output settings.

Raw file conversion

In the sections below we'll compare the same raw file as processed by Nikon's supplied ViewNX2, pre-release versions of DxO Optics Pro 7 and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) 7.3 beta, alongside the associated in-camera JPEG file.

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, default settings
  • VNX - ViewNX2.5, default settings
  • ACR - Adobe Camera Raw 7.3 beta, at default settings using 'Adobe Standard' profile
  • DxO - DxO Optics Pro 7.5.5, default settings

Sharpness and Detail

As you can see below, converting a raw file has the potential to bring out a more natural, pleasing rendition of ultra-fine detail in comparison to the more aggressive sharpening applied by the camera's JPEG engine. While the default Nikon View NX 2 output is only marginally more crisp than the in-camera JPEG, both ACR 7.3 and DxO Optics Pro 7.5 produce more natural, less processed results. DxO Optics Pro 7.5 renders fine details with more distinction than any of the raw converters in this example, with a bit more contrast than ACR. Note that these differences could certainly be minimized with subtle adjustments to sharpening in the other raw converters. And keep in mind that to actually see these 100% screen view differences would require viewing extremely large prints at very close distances.

Adobe ACR 7.3 beta Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
DxO Optics Pro 7.5.5 Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
Nikon ViewNX2 Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera, High quality setting, manual WB (all other settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop

Resolution

The resolution differences between the ACR and DxO conversions are fairly slight, as you can see below. And both of these raw converters display more noticeable color artifacts between the resolution lines than both the in-camera JPEG and the Nikon ViewNX2 rendering. In both the ViewNX2 conversion and default JPEG files, however, you can see minor sharpening halos along the resolution numbers. While this increased contrast can lead to the perception of improved separation between lines, this does not represent an increase in actual resolution.

Adobe Camera RAW 7.3 beta DxO Optics Pro 7.5.5
ViewNX2.5 JPEG Large/Fine

Real-world advantages

The examples below illustrate the kind of real-world advantages you can get from shooting in raw mode. At low ISO sensitivity settings the D600 gives generally pleasing color and contrast in 'straight from camera' JPEGs. Viewed at 100%, however, there can be a lack of fine detail at the default sharpening settings. With a little careful adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw, more detail can be drawn out of the image.

Camera JPEG - ISO 100 RAW + ACR 7.3 with exposure tweaked, white balance shifted and sharpness/contrast and noise reduction settings performed 'to taste'.
100% crops

In the scene above, the default JPEG rendering is absolutely fine, and both exposure and sharpness are perfectly acceptable for all but the most critical use. But pixel-level sharpness isn't as high as I'd want for a large glossy print, so I've processed the Raw file in ACR to get the most detail possible out of the file. I've also lifted the brightness a little and dialed up the 'vibrance' a touch to make the entire image a little more colorful and, well, vibrant. This matches my memory of what the scene actually looked like, and now, the original JPEG looks rather flat, soft and unexciting by comparison.

Camera JPEG - ISO 6400 RAW + ACR 7.3 with exposure lifted, white balance shifted and sharpness/contrast and noise reduction settings performed 'to taste'.
100% crops

Shooting in raw mode also allows you to take control over white balance and noise reduction and provides the ability to retain highlight details that can be lost in a JPEG. The scene above, which shows a highly reflective target under very low artificial light, is really tricky, and one that I use a lot when shooting for camera reviews. The D600 has done a good job of white balance, but the exposure is much muddier than I want - hardly a surprise given the highly polished subject matter, and all the point highlights from lights and reflections.

Using the controls in ACR, I increased 'exposure' of this ISO 6400 image by around 1.5EV, and shifted the white balance slightly towards the cool end of the spectrum. This gets rid of the slightly urinous yellow cast in the original JPEG. A minor tweak to the vibrance slider to add some of the 'pop' back into the reds and yellows is the penultimate step, and finally, I increased luminance noise reduction to +25 and dialed down color noise reduction a touch, for smoother tones and to protect color saturation.

Raw files for download

Here we provide Raw files from the sample shots we've taken, so you can apply your own workflow techniques and judge the results for yourself.

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Comments

Total comments: 19
SxeHunKA77

What UI did Nikon install in this camera?

0 upvotes
carton dinis machado

how to compare Nikon D600 versus nikon D7100

1 upvote
Mike FL

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

0 upvotes
amestigon

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

0 upvotes
tallguy600

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

they didn't fix it

0 upvotes
jengord

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