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Nikon D600 – ISO performance

Posted by Florian – October 10, 2012

So the Nikon D600 is in stores and one or the other photographer has already picked up their won body. But I have been getting many requests from people out there to talk a bit more about my experience with the camera. So let me give you a bit of an insight to what I have found:

Wolves at night in Yellowstone National Park.
IMAGE INFO: NIKON D600 and the Nikon 600mm VR-II lens @ f4; 1/6 sec and ISO 6400

REVIEW OF ABOVE IMAGE @ 100% – without adjustments and NO noise reduction. Shot with ISO 6400

What I very much like about the way Nikon has handled noise. Noise in the files looks more like film grain that those of us know from the old days of shooting film. The way noise shows up in images really depends also on the overall lighting conditions. If you shoot a scene during regular daylight noise will show up less or it is easier to remove. To shoot these wolves in the middle of the light with a slight light source was a real eyeopener for me. Photography today makes things possible that simply were not in the age of film. Keep in mind this, too that this is a 24mp file. You can put a bit of noise reduction over this and the image will look even more stunning. Shot with 1/6 sec and a 600mm VR-II lens.

Now I want to present you another shot of a snowy owl at dusk. This image was also shot with ISO 6400 and I am really fascinated how well it turns out even at such high ISO settings. ALSO – Lightroom shows the noise a lot stronger as the Nikon Capture software, but again it has the look and feel of film grain. I chose to use LR 4.2 as I assume most people will be using this software for their archive.

Snowy Owl at dusk photographed with the Nikon D600 at ISO 6400 with the Nikon 200-400mm lens at f8 bringing it to 800mm using the 2x TC 20 III tele-converter at 1/100 sec

REVIEW OF IMAGE AT 100%  completely raw, as seen in the beta Lightroom 4.2

For comparison a shot I took of the owl during warm morning light at ISO 400

Snowy owl photographed with the Nikon D600 and the Nikon 600mm VR-II with 1.4 telconverter bringing it to 850mm at ISO 400


IMAGE REVIEW AT 100% of shot above at 400 ISO


No the other questions is the shooting of night skies with the stars. For timelaps we have often used the in-camera timelaps function. But of course the images get downsized to an HD Video, which is smaller then a 24mp file. When shooting stills at night I often used the 24mm f1.4 and the 14-24mm f 2.8 lens wide open. I very much liked the results I got, especially how the camera still rendered color as well.

Nikon D600 with 14-24mm f2.8 lens shot at ISO 3200 with an exposure of 15 sec. at f2.8

Same image above rendered with the NEW Lightroom 4.2 Nikon D600 support. I see how we are missing a lot of the shades of yellow in the tent area, that the Nikon software was able to show.

When you compare the two images above you realize that the Lightroom 4.2 software still needs to be updated a bit on how LR renders the Nikon D600 raw files.



With the family of the new Nikon DSLRs Nikon has pushed the bar yet again so much higher. All us out there can shoot images of a quality that is unprecedented. For today the Nikon D600 is up there with all the high end cameras and in my opinion sticks out in its versatility and the incredible golden mean between high resolution, ISO performance and frame rate. Like I have said over and over again: a great all-round camera for any nature photographer.


Posted in: Equipment, Experience, Nikon D600, Photography, Test | Tagged: , , ,


  • donna

    on October 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    GREAT SHOTS! also love you shots of the Artic & Book

  • Karl

    on October 11, 2012 at 4:48 am

    Thanks for doing this Florian. I saw your video and really want to get the D600 now!

  • Florian

    on October 11, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Hey Karl,
    I think one cannot go wrong with this camera. I feel one will always get the cost back in the value of the images :)

  • abhishek

    on December 21, 2012 at 6:25 am

    i was really amazed to see your video on youtube….nikon d600 .3 cameras 2brother… was superbbb…..

    can you give a brief review of canon 6d if you have used it so far


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    on July 13, 2013 at 10:27 pm

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    on September 15, 2013 at 9:52 am

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  • Cathy Hart

    on November 29, 2013 at 11:17 am

    I just bought the D600 and love it with the 200-400 lens. I used it in Africa with Cheetahs at very low light shooting at 2500 ISO and was shocked at the noise level. Using Lightroom 5 I could just adjust the noise ever so slightly and you wouldn’t even know it was shot at that high an ISO. Just an amazing camera and with that lens it is so dang Sharp. I recommend it for everyone shooting Nikons. I actually like it better than the D800 for shooting wildlife. Thanks Florian for posting this. I loved the pictures too. It is so nice to follow your posts now.


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  • Sindre Engelstad

    on January 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Hello from Norway!

    I really loved your film, and I really love the D600.

    I am very interested in whether you used stills or the in-built timelapse video function for the – night time – star timelapses?

    I have some experience in editing timelapses from stills, but if your amazing results are from the timelapse function, that would be so much easier!


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Sharing the natural world through stories, images and experiences out in the field from conservation photographer Florian Schulz and Emil Herrera-Schulz. Here you will find conversations on environmental topics, conservation, photographing nature and wildlife subjects and professional tips to achieve striking images or managing your image archive. If you have a question, send it to us via our contact form and it might get answered on a post!

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