A segue into something a bit bigger…

My D600 bit the dust. It was unfortunate, because I liked it, but the bracket mode fault I reported in my mini-review didn’t go away and in the end it was almost permanently stuck in bracket mode. I decided it was time to send it back to the shop and at the same time consider if it was was I really wanted or needed.

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D600 and Zeiss 25mm

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D600 and Zeiss 50mm Makro-Planar

I confess I almost sent it back and asked for a refund. I wanted to, in many ways because of the almost stellar results I managed to achieve from my X-Pro1 and X100S via Aperture processing. Then I recalled the investment in F-mount lenses I had made. In the end I decided to go for broke and ordered a D800E to replace my D600.

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D600 and Zeiss 50mm Makro-Planar

Why? The D800/E is heavier, more expensive and has less high ISO performance. What was I doing?

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D600 and Zeiss 50mm Makro-Planar

Well, despite its many megapixels, the sensor in the D800/E is actually a technological derivative of the 16mp APS-C sensor in the D7000, K-5, NEX-5N and A55 amongst others. That 16mp sensor is very, very good when paired with a decent lens.

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D800E and Zeiss 25mm

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D800E and Zeiss 21mm

Another thing stuck in my mind, which is that I said I was buying a FF DSLR for landscape work. At the time, a chap on an internet forum told me to get the D800 instead and I dismissed it because “how could I need more megapixels than my old A900?” Well there is no doubt that more megapixels equals better resolution, and better resolution generally means better landscapes.

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D800E and Zeiss 21mm

All of that said, I’m still not sure I shouldn’t have had my D600 replaced. The D600 is a very good camera and it isn’t as demanding on lenses as the D800/E is. By way of example, the wide open results on my Sigma 35mm have gone from absolutely stellar to very good. It’s still an excellent lens, but 36mp does accentuate things like relative softness wide open. I’m dreading trying the camera with my 50mm F1.4 G lens.

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D800E and Sigma 35mm

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D800E and Sigma 35mm

That said, just occasionally, I look at the shots and say to myself, “blimey that looks like medium format output”. So my initial assessment would be that the camera is less forgiving of poor technique, but when you get it right it pays you back in spades. It also seems similar to my Fuji camera in terms of noise – it isn’t that there’s no noise at high ISO, more that it ends up as an attractive film like grain, More on the D800E to follow….

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D800E and Sigma 35mm

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D800E and Sigma 35mm

Taken with my D600 and D800 with Zeiss 21, 25mm and 50mm Makro-planar, Sigma 35mm and Nikon 105mm Micro-NIKKOR.

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D800E and Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro-NIKKOR

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D800E and Zeiss 21mm

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