The arrival of any new Nikon is special, but when it comes to its pro flagship, excitement levels ramp up exponentially. The D6 is here, and Nikon claims it offers the most powerful autofocus in the brand’s history with an unparalleled performance. We got the chance to see if it lives up to all the hype
IF YOU’RE A pro photographer at a breaking news story or pitchside of a major event, your job is take the pictures and get them to the right people as soon as you possibly can. That sounds simple, but the logistics can be challenging and you need every aspect of your workflow to be faultless, time after time, regardless of the conditions – starting with the camera. Enter the Nikon D6, a DSLR with an impeccable pro pedigree that includes a lens system that’s second to none. The D6 is a 20.8-megapixel weather- sealed DSLR with speed ingrained into its DNA. It can shoot up 14fps with full AE/AF tracking, has an ISO range up to 102,400 and two CFexpress card slots, so buffering is a thing of the past. Add connectivity options, JPEG save options, swipe image rating, 4K video, GPS and great usability, and the D6 is a camera to be reckoned with. And all for a body price of £6299. Picking up the D6, you won’t be surprised to hear that it has a substantial feel. With my average 7.6- inch right hand, the handgrip is nigh on perfect, with no need to readjust grip when using AF-ON, altering ISO or trying to get to the custom function buttons on the body front. Whatever your hand size, though, a strong wrist is definitely a benefit. Control layout is very good. Existing Nikon DSLR users will find the D6 familiar territory, and if you’re a D5 user, the external changes are very minor indeed. The on/off switch, exposure compensation and ISO buttons fall to the right finger, as does the front input dial, while the rear input dial is perfect for my thumb and there are mode/ drive dials on the body left. On the rear, menu and play buttons are top left, multi-controller, i button and focus lever for the right thumb. Towards the base, there’s a small LCD info panel with two viewing options and a 3.2-inch touchscreen, which is fixed, so Nikon took no risks introducing any body weaknesses by installing a flip screen.
WORDS AND IMAGES BY WILL CHEUNG
Dig into the menu and you will find plenty of custom and set-up options, so configuring the camera to your taste is not an issue. This, together with the D6’s long feature list, means the menus are deeper than most Nikon cameras – but that’s not to say they are difficult to navigate, because they’re not. The key changes compared with the D5 are under the camera’s skin. Faster processor, faster continuous shooting, GPS, better connectivity, electronic shutter option… but the biggest is the D6’s AF system. The D6 actually has fewer focus points at 105 compared with the D5’s 153, but all of them are cross type with a triple- sensor arrangement and the centre point works down to -4.5EV, with the rest rated at -4EV. Nikon says the D6’s configuration of its 105 selectable points gives 1.6x more AF point density compared with the D5, allowing for faster subject acquisition. There are also more options when it comes to set-up, including face detect and customisable groups. Actual AF area coverage as a percentage of the frame through the optical viewfinder is not at mirrorless camera level though. The AF points can be configured in a multitude of ways. In single point and dynamic area, there is the option of a ‘wide’ option and the AF detect works slightly beyond the usual single-point boundary. Then you can select groups of dynamic AF points so you can have nine, 25, 49 or the full complement of 105 working, Next, there is 3D, auto area and custom
IMAGES The new Nikon D6 has a substantial build with a similar control layout to its predecessor, the D5. It has a fixed touchscreen, to avoid introducing any points of weakness to the body
24 Photography News | Issue 79
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