D600 or refurbished D800 considering my lenses and other issues?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by s._katz, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. Need help deciding on D600 or refurbished D800 body considering the following:
    Current lenses (all old AI, not auto-focus) 28 2.8, 55 3.5 micro, 85 2.0, 180 2.8, 35 PC. I will also buy an AF zoom for "casual shooting" such as a 24-70 2.8.
    Is a new D600 now less likely to have the dust/spot problem than earlier ones, or would a refurbished D800 (close to same price as new D600, but less warranty) be safer? I'm not afraid to clean the sensor but would prefer to not do it frequently and I know I am too picky to ignore any spots. And, per above, I'll be changing lenses often.
    Can either camera accommodate an old 21mm that requires shooting in mirror lock-up mode? I know that finding a place for the accessory finder will be tough. Or do I trade in the old F bodies and lens for a new super wide? Will my PB-4 bellows work with either the D600 or D800 bodies?
  2. Hi, just some thoughts as I think you mix up things and frankly make your choice more complicated than it needs to be....
    The D600 oil-spots problem is reported a lot on the internet, but it is impossible to know what % of sold cameras actually show it - most people who have no problem do not report back on the internet. So, always use a large grain of salt when reading these reports - the real world issue could well be a lot smaller. From those who suffered the problem and sent the camera in, Nikon seems to be doing a repair, which means they have an updated assembly to avoid frequent re-occurance of the problem (nothing, though, can 100% avoid it). Big point about this issue is: the spots are oil, not dust.
    Dust coming in happens to any SLR. It is partially a myth that it is caused by changing lenses only. Zoom lenses push and pull air around as well, and none of them is dust-sealed. I shoot 90% with primes, in more than a year with a D700 have had no dust. A friend with a D7000/18-105VR (as only lens, so it hardly ever comes off) had some 15 dust particles recently. It is all about considering when and where to change a lens, consider that if you use a zoom in a very dirty, dusty area that you'll probably may need to do some sensor cleaning soon just as well. For this aspect, there is no difference between a D600 and D800.
    When choosing between a D600 and D800, check the handling. The D800 is larger, heavier - some prefer that, some don't. The choice between these two bodies really shouldn't be because of the amount of sensor cleaning you end up doing - you end up doing it, period.
    As for the 21mm - if I recall well, the 21mm lenses that require MUP are all non-AI lenses? You should only use AI/AI-S or AI converted lenses on either D600 or D800 - non-AI lenses are not compatible and may cause damage.
    I will also buy an AF zoom for "casual shooting" such as a 24-70 2.8.​
    Just a word of warning, for casual shooting a 24-70 f/2.8 is excessively large and heavy. Before getting it, go to a store and have a look. Since you're used to faily small primes, you might be quite shocked how big this lens is - it is heavier than the 180 f/2.8 for instance. For casual shooting, lenses as the 24-120 f/4VR and 24-85VR make quite a bit more sense.
  3. Respectfully, S, you're asking how to spend $2000+ on a camera body based on some lenses that appear to be worth a lot less than that. I'm not suggesting that cheap lenses are bad lenses, or even that your cheap lenses are bad lenses, but I would suggest that picking between those cameras primarily based on your existing lens collection is like choosing a car based on whether you have a tank of petrol or diesel in the garage. I'd pick the camera, and worry about your lenses later.

    After insulting you, I'll try to answer the question. Firstly the easy one - I don't believe any Nikon DSLR body can support mirror lock up - as opposed to raising the mirror separately from the shutter release (and neither does the F6). The last body that does is an F5.

    If you want 36MP, handling in the D300/D700 class, CF card support, PC sync, the 51-point AF sensor, get the D800. If you want the best from the sensor, you will find yourself treating it like a medium format system; if you don't mind some of the pixels being "wasted" in some of your shots, it's fine for general purpose. If you just want "a good camera", the D600 is lighter and slightly faster, and very very good. I would generally argue that the D800 is the better camera spec-for-spec, but if all it gives you is worse per-pixel quality and larger files to deal with, it may not be your friend.

    If you possibly can, I'd suggest handling them in a shop. As for reliability, both have now been on the market for long enough that I'd expect issues (either with AF points or oil) to be rare.

    What camera have you been using up to now? That may help us get a feel for what you're used to.

    On the "casual lens" front, I agree with Wouter - the 24-70 is very good (though I don't personally feel the need for one), but it's big and expensive, maybe disproportionately so given your existing lens collection unless you plan a serious change in your shooting style.

    I hope that's vaguely helpful. Good luck.
  4. When I upgraded to a D800, two things I had to upgrade - my lenses, and my hard drive and base on your lens listing, you may have to do the same. You need to define "casual shooting" because if you meant the 24-70 f/2.8 as "your walk" around lens, you may have to rethink that idea. The 24-70 is slightly heavier than your current 180 2.8 AI lens.
  5. Refurb D800 if you want better ergonomics and a few more useful features (if you can use them).
  6. Well, either the D600 or D800 will show lens imperfections when images examined at 100%, but that is generally a pretty good group of older lenses. The 28/2.8 would likely need to be stopped down some for good results. I use a 55/3.5 regularly for close ups with great results. You will likely see some color fringing in out of focus areas with the teles at more open settings. Though newer lenses would be a little better, certainly you could start with what you have.
    If possible, try out both cameras in a store somewhere as Wouter mentioned. I have a D600 and access to a D800. Generally, the D800 is a little better in most respects, except for shooting speed, which is important to me. Not much real world difference in the image quality.
    If your 21mm is the older Nikon, it is somewhat collectible. You should be able to find a trading partner to swap it for a 20/2.8AF or maybe a wide zoom, but I would avoid the early 18-35AF on hi resolution bodies.
    I am thinking that a PB4 would work OK with the camera in manual mode. Have to find mine to verify. If so, you would probably like working in live view with the bellows.
  7. My first priority would be to upgrade those lenses. Just as cameras have changed over the past 40 years, lenses have too just as much. Spending $2,000 on a camera and then crippling it doesn't seem logical.
    Kent in SD
  8. Ok and now a reality check.
    First off the 21is not safe to use on a DSLR. Unless you want to replace the mirror very quickly.
    Other then the 21 I own and use all of the lenses you have. I see no problems with any of them. The 28 may be the weakest in the bunch but for the price of a new 28 I would think long and hard before replacing it.
    I do not find the 24-70 f/2.8 to all that large or all that heavy it has fine image quality for a zoom.
    The PB-4 will work just fine with both cameras
    I would go with the D800 and shoot what you have. See how they work for you and then start thinking about different lenses.
  9. If you can afford either and you're planning to get a 24-70 to go with it, D800. 24 mp vs 36 isn't a big deal but the D800 is
    a higher grade body with a better AF system.

    I was going to suggest Adorama and the VIP warranty but it looks like that's discontinued... can anybody confirm that?
    Helen Oster?
  10. For what it's worth, having insulted the lens collection, I do agree with Michael... and Kent. Just because a lens doesn't make the most of a sensor and a more recent one might (and, if it means anything, DxO don't claim any lens gets to 36MP on a D800 - I'll be interested in seeing them test a Coastal Optics) doesn't mean it's useless. But you will see more softness than you would on a lower-pixel-count body, especially at larger apertures. That's no big deal - I have to stop down my 70-200 VR2 and my 14-24 for the best results, but they're still very good wide open. Newer lenses mostly give you better results at larger apertures than old ones, but they'll all take a good photo. But I wouldn't look at your current lenses, decide they won't do a D800 justice, and get a D600 on that basis. You'll probably want to update some of them sooner or later, and even on a D600 some won't be perfect.
  11. Andrew--
    For me, the big advantage of newer lenses is they are more flare resistant, have much better coatings, better saturation, better contrast, better better better. This isn't even mentioning the AFS focus etc. I don't see the point of buying an expensive camera just to use lenses from three or four generations back. It might make more sense to buy the new Sigma or Nikon f1.4G lenses and use them on a Nikon F3HP ;-)
    as for the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8, no doubt it's a outstanding lens, but I'll go to my mantra of "pick gear that best suits your needs." A 24-70mm is great if you are shooting weddings etc., but it's the opposite of what I would buy for a "walk around" lens. Combined with a d800 the thing would be bulky, heavy, and attract unwanted attention. To me, "best" lens means best suited to the use.
    Kent in SD
  12. @Andy, i just ordered a refurb D600 w
    vip. Still active!
  13. Kent
    Again I have to say reality check. Have you done like I have and shot with a variety of the same lenses to test them for this?I can show you tests of 50mm lenses ranging in age from 40 years to six months and if I didn't tell you which one was which you would have no clue. I get really tired of the whole if it is new it has to be better. It's not always that way.Every lens no matter how new or how expensive is a compromise.
  14. Reality check - recent lens updates such as the 50mm, 85mm, 70-200mm, 70-300mm, 80-400mm, all show significant improvements over their predecessors. Kent is right on the money IMHO.
    With these lenses, newer is without a doubt better.
  15. For me, the next question is ... " Are those new lenses so MUCH better that it's worth the big cost to replace all the lenses a person already has ? "
    I'm in the old lenses in a digital world boat as well.
  16. Lots of reality checks here. Here are my fantasy musings.
    You are going to spend $4000+ on a body and one lens. Then you are concerned whether your old lenses will work on it.
    Well. The Nikon 24-70 AFS F/2.8 is NOT a casual lens. It is a wonderful professional lens. It automatically replaces the 28mm lens so take that one off the table. It at 28mm will provide superior results. Only when shooting macro will you use the 55. The 24-70 is superior to it for anything except macro. And vastly more convenient. The 85 F/2.0 is a wonderful lens. It will be great on the D800 (for that is what you should buy hands down. It is a much better camera than the D600 in just about every way.) You will not use it often but when you do it will be a winner. It will also be inconvenient and it will not be a common occasion when you will take the superb 24-70 off of the camera to use the 85. The 180 F/2.8 is a great lens but again inconvenient compared to an autofocus lens. The PC lens........right?
    So given what you have here is my recommendation.
    Buy a D800 refurb. Get the 24-120 F4 and leave the rest of that stuff in the trunk of your car until the blue moon when you need it.
  17. Are newer lenses better than older ones? Generally, a replacement for an older lens is going to be an improvement in some way. With very few exceptions, unless the new lens is just an attempt to make a lens cheaper, the replacement will make something better, or the design wouldn't have been changed. Sometimes (e.g. 70-300 VR vs its predecessor, 80-400 AF-S vs its predecessor) the difference is substantial; sometimes (200 f/2, 200-400 f/4 - as I understand, not having had different versions to compare) the difference is minor, but present. Some new lenses with different specifications from older ones may not behave very well (24-120 VR variable aperture, I'm looking at you); some new lenses improve in some areas but not in others (if you want distortion-free images at f/6.3, the 50 f/1.8 AF-S is not an improvement over the AF-D, but it's much better for bokeh if you want to shoot it at f/1.8). Every lens design has a trade-off, and there have always been advantages to each choice (e.g. the 85 f/1.8 AF-D is much sharper at f/1.8 than the 85 f/1.4 AF-D).

    No lens is perfect; honestly, the 24-70 certainly isn't, though it is very good (and the best available in that range for Nikon). Do you need perfect lenses to take good photos? Of course not. Will the OP's lens collection perform as well as a picked selection of modern lenses? (21mm f/2.8 Zeiss, 28mm f/1.8 AF-S, 60mm f/2.8 AF-S micro, 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 AF-S, 180mm f/2.8 Sigma macro or 70-200 f/2.8 VR 2 or 200 f/2 VR2, 24mm or 45mm PC-E or - I suspect - the Schneider 28mm PC.) By most measures, no. Kent is quite right about some of the improvements you might see.

    Does that mean they all need to be replaced? Not at all. If they're good enough that you're happy with them, and you use them in their comfort zone, they'll serve you well. But at some point you might want to make more of the camera by upgrading the weak point in your image capture, meaning some lens upgrades, so picking a camera assuming that this won't happen doesn't seem to make sense. If this is all the money you ever plan to spend, you'd do better putting more money into lenses and buying a refurb D600 or a D7100. If you're buying the camera with the plan of having it with you for a few years, get the body you want (by handling) and assume that even if your lenses don't do it justice under all the conditions where you like to shoot, you might at some point spend more on glass and want to ensure that you don't have to upgrade the body again.

    Which is no help whatsoever for the original question, because the D600 and D800 are both fine cameras and probably won't need an update any time soon no matter what you put on them. Good luck.
  18. I don't believe there was a complete answer about the bellows or maybe I missed it. You should be able to use just about any Nikon fit bellows on either camera but you will need to space the bellows away from the camera with a PK-12 or PK-13 extension tube to prevent the bellows from striking the front of the pentaprism (the bit with 'Nikon' on it). I don't have either of the cameras or even a PB4 but I find I can use a non-Nikon 1960's bellows on both a D40 and a D7000 with a PK-12 as spacer. My D7000 manual mentions using a PB6 with PK-12 or PK-13 but not a PB4 and I expect the D600 and D800 manuals will be the same.
  19. the big advantage of newer lenses is they are more flare resistant, have much better coatings, better saturation, better contrast, better better better​
    My most flare resistant lens is a 1980s simple AiS 20mm f/3.5, it's got pretty good saturated colours too. Contrast is lower indeed, corners aren't great. But all in all, for me, it performs better better better than a Tokina 12-24 DX it replaced - and that's among those modern optics with better coatings and all. Costed 1/3rd of the Tokina too.
    Better saturation to me is a disadavantage going to B&W (too much black, too little subtleties in the mid-grey). Plus, I prefer often a bit more muted colours anyway. Better contrast - yes, new lenses do that better, and again it makes B&W images easily look too harsh. The contrasty saturated look is not by definition better (if you prefer it, fine, I do not). So what's better better better?
    Reality is that generalisations are useless. Some modern lenses are much, much better. Some are not. Some of the older lenses are incredible quality, and keep delivering today. Making sweeping statements without considering that a lens as a 180 f/2.8 still is a remarkably sharp, nice rendering lens today is just more in need of a reality check than stating that you want to use old primes on a D600 or D800. That 55mm macro will still make any camera sing.
    Reality check - use the tools that you find fit for the job you're doing. Some people prefer all modern lenses for the punchy saturated look and VR and silent AF and so on; others prefer old primes without any AF and solid metal construction, with their muted colours and lower contrast. Reality is that neither is inherently superior over the other.
  20. Thanks to one and all for interesting responses. I'll fill in some details that the responses seemed to need so we can wrap this up. As my lens collection suggests, it has been a while since I've done any serious photography. I started out paying for art school doing commercial/industrial photography in medium and large format and my personal work (mostly B&W) was all medium format. The Nikon lenses came later when I traded in a medium format kit for an FE-2, motor, etc. for family photos as I acquired a family. That's what I was used to hauling around, and why the point-and-shoot digital camera I have now is frustrating, even for the candids I am asked to do at community events. So now I want to try digital for the type of photos I used to do. I will definitely need a new computer, and perhaps a large format printer (I do digital color management at work) if necessary. I tried both camera bodies and the 24-70 in a camera store and liked the feel of them, although the D600 felt less substantial by comparison. Unfortunately the store isn't close enough for me to try my lenses, take some pictures and really evaluate the results, and the local store doesn't stock higher end items. Using the old lenses would be an experiment and I may need to replace some. When I sold camera equipment (also long ago) zoom lenses were a convenient but lesser choice (except perhaps the 80-200) so I will also be experimenting with a new zoom lens, but wanted to get the sharpest one available, and I know I will like the auto-focus for the events. I am aware of the newer coatings, lens designs, in-camera correction, etc. but I still have a prime lens bias. Another alternative would be to dust off the old 8 x 10 and clean up my darkroom, but that seems like a step backwards.
  21. I opted for the D600 not for the lower price but for the lower weight and faster shooting speed. And because I didn't want to deal with the AF problems on the D800. I figured the D600 would have better battery life as well.
    I also like to shoot small manual focus primes and weight and size wise the D600 is a lot closer to the older cameras that these lenses were made for.
    It's easy to be fooled by megapixels. 36 sound a lot more than 24 but the maximum theoretical resolution increase going from 24 to 36 is 22%. When dxomark tested the best performing lenses on the D800 and then on the D600 they found that the best lenses would provide 12% increased sharpness on the D800.
    If you made a large print it would be very hard to pick the image with the 12% higher sharpness. Post processing ability would have a larger impact than 12% higher sharpness. I have a 24" roll printer so I have seen this first hand many times.
    Anyway, either D600 or D800 would be good from an image quality point of view, the D800 being better. So I would pick based on other factors that would make a larger difference. For instance AF capability, weight, budget, flash sync speed or whatever is important to you.
    For me the D600 was the better camera but it was still a compromise of factors.

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