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Gadgets Photography Reviews

Review: Mastering the Nikon D600 by Darrell Young

Mastering-the-Nikon-D600_250pxIf you follow our website, you may remember that I really liked Darrell’s book on the D800. I have now purchased a D600, and read the new Mastering the Nikon D600 with a certain sense of déjà vu. the  D600 book is also a real winner! 

One of the things most people do when they get a new camera is… run out and take photos. Darrell is careful to point out that the first thing you should do is setup the camera to make sure it is going to function they way you want. Chapter 1 covers basic camera setup, and is a few minutes well spent going over the chapter with your camera in hand. Darrell then launches into all the menus of the camera… the playback menu, shooting menu, custom setting menu, and setup menu.

There is some real substance in every chapter, but I particularly like the explanations and depth in the shooting menu. Nikon has created user setting with U1 and U2 settings on the mode dial, and they can be tailored to your particular shooting needs. Also, a discussion of the D600’s ability to shoot smaller images than the native 24.2 megapixels… FX settings for shooting at 13.6 megapixels, or even 6.0 megapixels. This is something the D800 doesn’t do, and I’m happy that my D600 does. Are you shooting some images for eBay? You might well want to choose the small DX setting of a 2.6 megapixel image. Darrell points out that you’ll get the best images from the native sensor setting, but for special applications, you have the tools in your belt to shoot smaller images.

camera menusEver wanted to do time-lapse photography because you didn’t have an expensive intervalometer? Well, just flip to page 144 in the book and read all about how to do it with the D600 with no accessories required.

The retouch menu is geared for folks who want to create as much as possible “in camera” and minimize computer editing. There are a number of pretty cool editing effects available in the D600, and I still am a fan for certain images of the miniature effect. Follow the directions and you can make a cool image. Did you know you can even compare frames side by side to see the retouch filter effects? Yep. 

The “my menu” is something that is a boon to photographers – different from user settings, it allows you to store frequently used settings in a special menu section so you don’t have to wade through page after page of items – the shooting menu is vast! Darrell talks about using the my menu to the fullest in chapter 7. On my D600 in my menu, I have set up the top two items to be clean image sensor and virtual horizon. Have you ever tried the virtual horizon? It is most usable when the camera is mounted on a tripod, and the virtual horizon shows you which directions to move the camera to make it level. I loved my old Nikon F5 – great film camera, but Nikon decided to make the hot shoe tilt down 15 degrees, thus foiling any attempts to use a bubble level with it. So you can imagine how much I use this feature when shooting architecture.

Yes, there are more chapters covering metering, histograms, white balance, and autofocus modes and use. There are brief discussions on live view and a little more in depth discussion of the movie modes of the D600. Finally, one of the all-time greatest assets to a photographer is covered, in the chapter on using Nikon speedlights. Indeed, as Darrell says, “Light is a Photographer’s Friend!”…

The age of digital has made our tool sets so much greater than ever they were in film days. With the introduction of the Nikon D600, pros and amateurs alike have a tool that simply begs to make images. The perfect compliment for the D600 is Mastering the Nikon D600 by Darrell Young. Once again, Darrell has hit a home run. For a list price of $40, although quite a bit less on Amazon, you can have the ultimate reference work for your new camera. I highly recommend this book to you, Nikon D600 owner!

Mastering the Nikon D600
by Darrell Young
Rocky Nook / Nikonians Press
ISBN 978-1937538194 (pbk.)
Available on Amazon.comfor about $23,Kindle edition about $17.

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Books Photography Reviews

Review: Mastering the Nikon D800 by Darrell Young

Darrell Young has written the definitive book on the Nikon D800. If it isn’t covered in this book, you probably don’t need it. Seriously, this book is a long look inside the digital candy box for Nikon geeks and other photographers who actually (gasp!) read the manual. Unfortunately for me, reading the manual sometimes leaves a little to be desired. Darrell explains what the manual really is trying to say… and even provides the page numbers for the content in the Nikon manual. That’s what I call thorough.  I only wish the Nikon manual provided the page numbers for Mastering the Nikon D800. 

Heard of the Nikonians? I quote: “Nikonians® (www.nikonians.org) is a user community and reference site for Nikon photographers. Found in April 2000 it helps digital and film photographers to shorten their learning curve. The members and visitors improve their photography skills and results while making long lasting friendships across borders and often continents.” The page before the foreword has a 50% discount voucher for a Nikonians Gold Membership. That makes Darrell’s book actually cost nothing with the savings in membership cost.

Mastering the Nikon D800 is over 500 pages of reference. The layout is easy to understand, and it’s easy to find the chapter you are looking for, with chapter markings on the edge of pages – nice visual reference. There are many, many illustrations of menus, illustrative real-world images, and technical notes on where to find that overview in the Nikon manual. The back of the book has a… you guessed it… a nicely fleshed out index. Thoughtful suggestions are included in almost every section, including the great resource of setting up your new Nikon D800 – first chapter. Included in this chapter is a broad overview of all the Nikon D800 menus… whetting your appetite for the full chapter covering that particular area. Darrell ends each chapter with his conclusions on what he takes away from the section – and primes you for the next chapter.

Subsequent chapters cover all the menus – playback, shooting, custom settings, setup, retouch, and the powerful my menu and recent settings. I was already using my menu to house just a couple of items, but that list has grown now that I’m aware of more of the powerful back-features you might not find in the menus, or might not understand. 

Darrell then launches into the meaty chapters on metering and exposure modes, histogram use (which one and why), and the demon of digital photography, white balance. How and why white balance behaves the way it does is nicely explained, and should help a shooter who might usually shoot auto white balance be more comfortable creating a custom white balance to lessen post-processing. Also, if you shoot with a consistent light setup, like strobes in a portrait setup, you can create and fine tune a custom white balance just for that setup, and use it over and over. How to do it is all here. Final chapters cover autofocus, how the autofocus areas are determined, and release modes, plus a short section on the live view feature.

How do you setup the D800 to include your copyright statement and embed it in every image? Chapter 5. How do you accomplish in-camera perspective control (like having a PC or TS/E lens)? Chapter 6. How do you control and correct in-camera the vignetting caused by some very wide angle lenses? Chapter 3.

But wait, doesn’t the D800 shoot video? That is covered briefly along with a short chapter on speedlight usage, including the Nikon Creative Lighting System technology. Read about setting up the D800 pop-up flash as a commander for wireless TTL photography with Nikon speedlights… I read a few derisive comments on the web about having a pop-up flash on a pro camera, but it makes perfect sense to me, as I occasionally use wireless TTL, and having a built-in commander just makes that even easier.

I’m more and more impressed with the image and handling qualities of my Nikon D800’s, and Darrell’s book Mastering the Nikon D800 has granted me huge new insights on what the engineers at Nikon have created. Keep up the good work, Darrell.

Mastering the Nikon D800
by Darrell Young
Rocky Nook / Nikonians Press
ISBN 978-1-937538-05-7 (pbk.)
Available on Amazon.comfor about $23,Kindle edition about $17.