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Hands-On with the Nikon D6: 11 Small Improvements You May Not Have Heard About

Since the announcement of the new Nikon D6, it’s been a long wait till the camera was available in the market. Here in Singapore, we finally received the first batch, and I was very fortunate to be invited by Nikon Singapore to have a hand-on experience with the new camera.

Like its predecessor the D5, the D6 is built to a high standard of “ruggedness” that professionals expect, and there’s no doubt that the D6 will continue the legacy of producing high-quality images in challenging situations.

Compared to the D5, the D6 has mainly improved its AF system: pairing a new, higher-density of 105-points sensor (the D5’s has 153 points) with a brand new EXPEED 6 image-processing engine. But new DSLR is also equipped with faster image output and workflow enhancements, as well as some better customization options.

In this hands-on, I wanted to cover some of the lesser-known and less flashy improvements that could have an impact on a professional’s workflow.

Connectivity

Wired ethernet connection is an important tool for professional sports photographers working under tight timeline who need a fast and reliable way to upload images. Although the new D6 is using the same 1000 Base-T standard as the D5, it features a 15% improvement in speed.

Another piece of good news is that the D6 has upgraded its micro B USB port to a USB Type-C port. With the faster USB-C connection, you can expected faster transfer speeds if, say, you’re using Camera Control Pro 2.0, shooting with live view mode, and transferring images at the same time to your computer.

Previously on the D5, in order to use the WiFi function you needed a wireless transmitter like WT-6, which was sold separately. With the new built-in WiFi, transferring images wirelessly is far easier.

For close range transfer, the built-in WiFi performed flawlessly and the speed was almost on-par with the D5’s transfer rate over an ethernet connection. From further away, I’d still recommend picking up a transmitter like the WT-6, since it offers a much greater range (up to 200m).

The D6 now also features built-in bluetooth like the D780 and the new Z-series cameras. This allows you to connect the D6 to a smart devices like an iPhone, android phone, tablets, etc. and download images or control your camera remotely via the SnapBridge app.

GPS

Just like with wireless data transmission, the D5 required an external GPS module if you wanted to do geotagging. Now with the D6, a GPS module has been integrated into the system, making it much easier to geotag images on-the-go.

I was really impressed with the camera’s GPS performance: it locked on to my geographical location even when the camera was sitting near a window. If you own a Garmin watch or even a smartphone with GPS, you will know that it’s not easy for smart devices to detect GPS location when you are partially indoors. On top of that, I also checked the accuracy of the location using the Adobe Lightroom map function, and found that the geotagging location was pretty accurate every time.

This might not seem like a huge perk, but GPS can come in really handy for a photo agency when they have multiple photographers deployed at an outdoor venue. Their backend photo editor will be able to pick up key images fast by filtering them by geographical location instead of going through all the mixed images sorted by time or filename.

Using Card Slot #2

Having two card slots obviously isn’t new. What is new is an enhancement that Nikon made to the second slot. The D6 has added a new mode called [JPEG Slot 1 – JPEG Slot 2], which lets you record two different quality settings for each slot. Slot 1 will record the image quality set via QUAL button, while Slot 2 records [JPEG Basic] in either the medium or small file size.

Again, this is very beneficial for photographers working with photo agencies where they mostly shoot JPEG images and need to send their work to a photo editor as fast as possible. Photographers now will be able to send out the medium or small JPEG first from Slot 2 for publication; then, if they need the higher quality image, they still have the high resolution image in Slot 1.

Another improvement is the ability to delete image copies when using both card slots. Previously in D5, deleting images only happened for the selected card slot, and the backup image on the other card slot remained. For the D6, you can choose to delete either both copies or only the image on the current card slot.

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