Photography News 79 WEB

Big test

PERFORMANCE: EXPOSURELATITUDE A variety of scenes were shot to check the exposure latitude of the D6’s 14-bit Raws, bracketed +/-4EV and exposure corrected in Lightroom. This sunset was metered at 1/125sec at f/11 and ISO 100, shot with a Nikon 70-300mm lens using live view.




Exposure abuse was well handled by the D6’s Raws. In this scene, where contrast and brightness levels were very high, even the +3EV shot recovered to show highlight detail, although there was a colour cast that would need correcting for a more accurate result. Nevertheless, an impressive start. It was a similar showing at +2EV, again with a colour cast, but highlights and midtones looked fine. The +1EV frame looked identical to the correctly exposed shot once corrected. Underexposed frames corrected nicely in terms of contrast, colour and tones, but there was digital noise, which was very evident, along with some banding, at -4EV. Noise levels dropped appreciably at -3EV to a point where noise reduction would be worth the effort to get high-quality results, which applies even more to the -2EV shot, while the -1EV shot was almost identical to the correctly exposed frame.





Final word

Verdict The Nikon D6 is an extraordinary camera, and step on from the D5. Is the D6 worth moving to from the D5? Well, it has, among other things, a more advanced and better AF system, wireless connectivity and faster continuous shooting, so the changes aren’t massive, but they are significant. A tough call. It’s a pity that the D6 will be enjoyed by relatively few. It is a top model aimed at pros, especially action, photojournalists and press, who have to deliver in all weathers and sorts of light, and get their images to picture editors and clients quickly. In that context, the D6 is an incredible, hugely capable and reliable picture-taking machine. If you’re a Nikon user and want the ultimate camera for all seasons and reasons, your wait is over. 23 /25 FEATURES Fast shooting, advanced AF, Nikon build and so much more. 24 /25 HANDLING Big buttons, intuitive layout, very customisable. 24 /25 PERFORMANCE There’s no doubting the D6’s overall capabilities. 22 /25 VALUE FOR MONEY It’s top camera at a top price, but you do get what you pay for. 93 /25 OVERALL The D6 is an imposing, very capable and highly featured pro camera.


Speed-wise, my sample gave 14fps in continuous high shooting through the optical viewfinder, 15fps in live view and 11fps with the silent shutter in live view, in line with Nikon’s claims. Shooting stills at 30fps and 60fps is possible with AE tracking at 8 megapixels and 2 megapixels respectively via movie live viewmode. Just on the dual card slots, you get the usual backup and overflow options, but there’s a new one to enhance JPEG workflow. In slot one, JPEGs are saved to whatever is selected in the menu (extra fine JPEGs, for example) and slot two can record basic-quality small/ medium JPEGs. The smaller files are ideal for immediate use and the larger JPEGs retained for editing later. To speed up editing, you can star rate, protect, send or add voice memos

to shots with an up or down swipe on the touch monitor. Rated shots can then be viewed on their own. It’s a great idea, really practical when you have loads of images to go though and it’s simple to use. During my test, the D6 proved a pleasure to use and I consistently got perfectly sharp, well-exposed images, although I didn’t get to try it on any real action. The closest I got was swans on the local lake, but the white feathers actually proved a good challenge for the camera’s AF and mostly it coped pretty well, with the occasional missed

shot. What the swans did show is how crucial AF set-up is and the D6 has plenty of options, but via the optical finder you are limited to the central portion of the frame. The systemwas more reliable and consistent with more defined subjects, like passing traffic. There is no doubting that the D6 is a fabulous camera to use. I own Nikons, so I found the D6 pretty easy to work with. I did miss having a flip monitor though, which makes low-level or tripod shooting easier, but I understand why Nikon didn’t want to compromise the integrity of a solid body. WC

PROS Speed, build, usability, ISO performance CONS Price, bulk, no flip monitor, no in-body image stabiliser

26 Photography News | Issue 79

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