D600/800 Camera and Lens advice, please?

Started Jan 11, 2013 | Questions thread
Christopher Holland New Member • Posts: 17
Re: D600/800 Camera and Lens advice, please?

Wow, I feel like I can answer this one with a bit of authority. You see, I once did the exact same thing that you are doing. I worked in Israel and Cyprus doing archaeological field photography and museum artifact photography for nearly 10 years. Tel Halif in Israel, Polis in Cyprus, a bit of the Cyprus National Museum, I photographed the entire collection of the Pierides Museum in Cyprus (8,000+ objects..I forget), and did a bit of photography and laser scanning for the Smithsonian back in the dark ages. Most of my work was concentrated around Bronze age terracotta figurines.

At any rate...

I used various setups during the years, including a Sigma SD10, but I finished up on a Nikon D2X.

If I were going in the field today I'd probably go with a D800 due to the higher resolution. Then again  the D600 has nearly the same imaging abilities, albeit with slightly lower resolution, and would be a solid choice because it's lighter for travel. You really can't go wrong with either one. You certainly won't be feeling the pain from any of the things that Nikon "left off" of the D600 (flash sync speed, upper-end shutter speed, HDMI video cropping, etc.). None of those things will matter for your work so the D600 is just as capable as the D800 for you.

The "dust" issue on the D600 is more correctly an oil issue. Dusty conditions won't cause it to be any better or worse than any other DSLR. On the other hand the hot environment might cause more oil spotting because of a lowering of the viscosity of the oil inside the camera. It's minor anyway. If you can wet-clean a sensor it's a non issue. I own a D600 with spotting and I live in a hot, humid climate. I'm on 4,000 shots and I've had to clean it twice, but if I were shooting more small aperture shots like you will be with artifacts then I might have had to clean it a couple more times. Then again, most of your artifact shots will be with an artifact in the center of the image so a few blurry spots in the upper left corner aren't going to be noticed.

As for lenses: if I were heading out today I'd probably go with the 105 Micro for the artifact shots (I have the Sigma equivalent) and then a good wide-normal zoom for the field shots. The 18-70mm that you have is a DX lens so it's not going to use the full sensor on either of the cameras, so I'd relegate it to backup duty (hey, you can count on things failing in the field). The Nikon 24-120 is a good candidate because it is basically the FX equivalent to the 18-70 in terms of FOV so you'll already be comfortable with it. Plus, it makes a nice carry-around lens when you are off for the day. I'd probably also take a Nikon 50/1.8G prime as a backup lens because it's so small and light you won't even notice it. It might save the day and it also makes a great walk-around lens for documenting people on the dig, etc.

I really miss the work and the travel of archaeology. I'd love to hear about your work some time (and see some images).

 Christopher Holland's gear list:Christopher Holland's gear list
Canon PowerShot S100 Nikon D300 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Nikon D600 +17 more
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