Photography News 79 WEB

Big test


PERFORMANCE: ISO The D6 has an extensive ISO range, the widest around, from ISO 100 to 102,400, with expansion of ISO 50 to 3,280,000. Having a relatively low megapixel count in a full-frame sensor should, in theory, deliver a good ISO performance, and that is indeed the case with the D6. This image of a local church was shot in fading twilight with the camera fitted with a 24-120mm f/4 lens and tripod mounted. The exposure for the ISO 100 shot was 6secs at f/8. Raws and Fine JPEGs with no in-camera high ISO noise reduction were shot simultaneously, and these were processed in Capture One V20 (shown here) and Lightroom with no extra noise reduction. The results, you have to say, are remarkable and the detail and quality captured by the Raws at high ISOs was simply staggering. At its lower speeds, up to ISO 1600, you could say the D6 is just like other full-frame camera, with crisp, clean images with lovely colour fidelity and saturation, rich blacks and low levels of digital noise, so expanses of even tones are smooth and very clean. However, as you start to climb the ISO scale, the D6 shows off its skills. At ISO 3200, viewed at 100%, you can see grain in areas of smooth tone, but it’s probably only at ISO 6400 that noise is marginally more obvious and detail starts being affected. ISO 6400 is perfectly usable for high-quality shots, but if push came to shove and you needed a publishable shot, ISO 12,800 and even 25,600 can deliver shots with good detail. By ISO 51,200, noise is more significant, but I’d expect nothing less. The out-of-camera JPEGs were good, too, and even with no noise reduction used, the images looked smoother and more refined in terms of digital noise compared with the Raws processed basically. Above ISO 12,800, though, with the JPEGs viewed at 100%, areas of fine detail lacked definition and had a smoother, processed look and was more obvious from ISO 25,600. The D6 has five f/stops of expansion on from its top native ISO of 102,400, from H1 (which is equivalent to ISO 204,800) up to H5 (which is 3,280,000). To be honest, I don’t really see the point of H3 to 5 settings. The noise levels are so high and the images so lacking in detail and so noisy that I’m not sure they would be any use even for surveillance work. That’s a minor thing, though, because at the business end where a sports pro might need ISO 6400 or 12,800 for action-stopping shutter speeds, the quality possible is very good indeed. So in short, the D6 offers an awesome, very impressive ISO performance.



›  Price £6299 body only ›  In the box D6 body, body cap, strap, manual, MH-26a battery charger, EN-EL18c battery, USB cable and mains cable ›  Sensor 20.8 megapixels, CMOS with Expeed 6 processor ›  Sensor format 35.9x23.9mm Nikon FX full-frame format, 5568x3712 pixels. 3648x2432 in DX format – other aspect ratios available: 1:1, 5:4, 3:2 and 16:9 ›  Lensmount Nikon F ›  ISO range 100-102,400, expandable to 3,280,800 ›  Shutter range 30secs to 1/8000sec, 15mins in manual, B, flash sync 1/250sec ›  Drivemodes Single, CL, CH up to 14fps with full AF/AE tracking, self-timer, mirror up ›  Exposure system 3D Color Matrix III, centre weighted, spot, highlight weighted ›  Exposure compensation +/-5EV stills, +/-3EV movie ›  Monitor Fixed 3.2in, 2.36 million dot touchscreen ›  Viewfinder 100% approx coverage, 0.72x magnification ›  Focusing system Working range -4.5EV (central point) to 20EV. OVF: TTL phase detect. Options of single point, 9, 25, 49 or 105 dynamic area AF, 3D tracking, group area AF Live view contrast detect, face detect, wide area AF, normal area AF, subject tracking AF, touch AF shot ›  Focus points 105, all cross type, 15 of which support f/8 detection ›  Image stabiliser No ›  Video 4K 3840x2160 30p, 25p, 24p. 1920x1080, 1920x1080 crop ›  Movie format MOV, MP4 ›  Video formats/compression H.264/MPEG-4 ›  Connectivity USB-C, HDMI C, audio in and out, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi ›  Other key features Time-lapse video, silent live view shooting, focus bracketing ›  Storagemedia Two CFexpress (type B)/XQD slots ›  Dimensions (wxhxd) 160x163x92mm ›  Battery 3580 shots for charge ›  Weight 1450g with battery Contact:








H1 204,800

H2 409,600

H3 819,200

H4 1,638,400

H5 3,280,800

group area AF settings. In the latter, there are 17 options you call on to suit the subject. If the subject is a plane, for example, you can go for a 3x15 pattern or for a runner there’s the upright 7x5 or 7x3 options and the AF points that form the grid as well as those inside are active. The grid can also be moved around the 105 area. The Olympus OM-D E-M1X uses a similar concept, but you can design your own arrangement from the grid of 121 AF points, so it’s more flexible. The D6’s phase-detect viewfinder AF is certainly impressive with its speed, accuracy and responsiveness. I used several zooms and primes for

this test, including the Nikon 500mm f/5.6. The D6 coped well with the 500mm, being very good for subjects with contrast and slightly less good with high frequency subjects like bird’s feathers. I also tried this lens fitted with a 1.7x teleconverter, making a 850mm f/9.5 lens, so needed manual focusing. Its contrast-detect live view AF is pretty good, too, probably the best on a Nikon DSLR so far. Face detect was sensitive and latched on to subjects as they came into shot. The systemwas tenacious as they moved around the frame or turned their face sideways. The D6 has two CFexpress slots and these are compatible with XQD

cards. CFexpress cards have lightning- fast read/write speeds – around three times faster than XQD – but they are even more expensive. I found a 128GB CFexpress card for £250, and a slower 120GB XQD at £180, so if you are thinking of a D6, set aside some budget for memory cards. There’s no option to buy the D6 with CompactFlash slots as was possible on the D5. I did shooting speed tests using a Sony XQD G card with a 400MB/s write speed. With Raw only, I got 195 frames at 14fps before the camera paused for breath, so almost to the maximum continuous 200 frames burst rate anyway.

Issue 79 | Photography News 25

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