Videographers: Understand the D600 Live View Aperture Problem

If you’re thinking about upgrading to the newest and cheapest full-frame camera, and you shoot video either professionally, amatuerely, or somewhere in between, it’s important to know about the D600 live view aperture problem.

Nikon wouldn’t call it a problem, since they designed it to work this way – but to many videographers it is a problem.

The problem is while using the D600’s live view for video, the user is unable to change the aperture value while still in live view. You have to exit live view, change the aperture, and then re-enter live view. The biggest problem is if your situation requires you to change aperture values while you’re recording – which you have to stop, then follow the aforementioned steps.

Say you’re filming an outdoor wedding, and the sun isn’t out. You’ve got your aperture at 2.8, and 5 minutes into recording the sun comes out, forcing you to stop recording, exit live view, change the aperture, re-enter live view, and start filming again. Even if you’ve had practice at this, it still takes a minimum of 5-10 seconds – which during a wedding ceremony – could be important parts.

(New Related Article: Six Reasons to Upgrade your Nikon D7000 to the Nikon D800)

There are some ways of dealing with this which we will mention below, but considering this is the newest release from Nikon – we’re surprised it’s designed this way. The D800 offers the ability to change the aperture while in live view, why not the D600? The D600 is a logical step up from those shooting stills or even video with a D7000, and that was a major flaw in the D7000 that didn’t get addressed in this model.

Workarounds to the D600 (or D7000) Live View problem with Apertures:

1) Set a high aperture value, then use ISO to control your brightness.  The downfall with this method is you introduce unneeded noise to your video when a lower aperture would do.

2) Run a 2nd camera.  In the example above, the 10-second changeover could be covered up by the other camera rolling.  The downfall with this method is the light typically changes for both cameras, and adjustments may need to be simultaneous.

If you’re shooting events that require continuous coverage with changing light conditions (e.g. an outdoor wedding), you may think twice with the D600 or D7000 – or at least plan to use one of the suggestions above if the budget doesn’t allow a D800 or D4.

6 comments

  1. I’m afraid that Nikon’s designers made a mistake. I cannot buy D800; and won’t buy D600 because of unavailability of aperture changing in live mode. I’m sure there must be a number of others in my situation. What a palava. Not good for D600 sale, is it?

    • Thanks for your comment, Tas! Well, even the D800 (like the D600) seems to be geared more towards photography than videography. I think it will be a great ‘first full frame’ purchase for a lot of folks – probably those looking to upgrade from something like the D7000. From a video standpoint, though – the software/capability side offers little more than the D7000 – aside from the additional frame rates (30fps at 1080, 60fps at 720), full frame depth of field and possibly a little better higher ISO performance. I’m just not sure if those differences are worth the extra $1000 (maybe they are to some). There are some folks who do fine making videos using the D7000 which is less capable than the D600, but it does require a little more planning and maneuvering – normally at the expense of another camera body to perform a mult-cam edit to smoothly transition the necessary break points in filming to adjust the aperture.

  2. IMO – varying the ISO is never a good idea.
    A much better solution, if you have enough light, is to use a variable ND filter. In some situations this is actually better than the cameras aperture control because you can adjust video exposure smoothly (no jumps between F Stops) and the depth of field remains constant (which wouldn’t be the case with changing the aperture.
    I’ve done this with the D7000 on many video shoots and it works well. Just make sure you don’t miss the filter ring and put your fingers in front of the lens 😉
    BTW- since the D7000 has the same issue it is obviously NOT a bug or even a mistake. I t was a conscious decision to artificially limit the capabilities of the cheaper camera to encourage Pros to buy the D800

    • Thanks for your comment and suggestion, Jeff. I would tend to agree and emphasize your caveat, “if you have enough light.” That and of course the cost of a quality Variable ND Filter can be quite high relative to a body like the D7000.

  3. There is aperture control available very easily. All you do is 1 use a modern lens with an aperture ring and go into your settings and change your aperture settings to aperture ring. It is as easy as that. My Sigma suddenly became very usable during video with the D7100. And of course using older vintage nikkor lenses with the manual aperture ring is easy. Set your camera to M and throw it on there. Really that is my favorite combination. The only thing Nikon needs to do now is give us more bitrate options.

    • Good thought, TJ. While I don’t have any glass that has manual aperture control, for those working in video exclusively, that’s a solid setup idea. Thanks for commenting –

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