Nikon has been quite active recently, having swiftly followed the D4 debut with the D800. But the business isn’t stopping just yet. Between the extremely competent and professional Nikon D800 and the entry-level Nikon D7000, the Nikon D600 is meant to bridge the gap.
The D600 is Nikon’s first full-frame DSLR that is “accessible.” While the Nikon D600’s size and weight are just slightly larger than the cropped-sensor Nikon D7000, it is comfortably cheaper than the full price of the Nikon D800 or Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
But in order to create its smallest and least expensive full-frame offering, has Nikon made any compromises?
It is very likely that the D600 will finally supplant the older DX-format model as the ‘upgrade of choice’ for users of the D3200, D5100, and D7000. The D600 has a list price at the launch of $2099, making it one of the most affordable full-frame cameras to date. Nikon maintains that there are still good reasons to purchase the D300S.
However, despite its comparatively low price, the D600 is by no means a “no frills” device in any sense of the term. Full HD video capture with the option to record uncompressed footage over HDMI, a fully customizable 39-point autofocus system, and shooting at 5.5 frames per second at the full resolution would be fairly astounding in a camera that cost significantly more.
Both of these groups will find that the D600 has an ergonomic design that, to some extent, is comfortable to use. The user interface of the D600 is extremely similar to that of the DX-format D7000; in fact, the two cameras even have the same 39-point autofocus array. However, in terms of functionality, the D600 has a lot in common with its older brother, the D800, particularly when it comes to the video specifications that the two cameras offer.
The capability of the D600 to record uncompressed video footage via HDMI output was something of a pleasant surprise when it was discovered on the camera. On paper, this, in addition to the fact that the D600 has a mic connector for an external microphone as well as a headphone jack, should make the camera very appealing to videographers.
The only significant difference in the technical specifications between the implementation of the video mode on the D600 and the D800 is that the new model does not allow you to alter the aperture while the camera is recording a movie (unless you use an older manual focus lens with a mechanical aperture ring).
Building and Handling Quality
The newest full-frame camera from Nikon will feel familiar to anyone who has used a Nikon D7000. The Nikon D600 and Nikon D7000 have nearly the same user interface, which was done on purpose to make them both as user-friendly as possible.
With the Nikon D600 being only 9mm wider, 8mm taller, and 5mm deeper than the other camera, there isn’t much of a difference between them in the hand. The Nikon D600 is a very pleasant DSLR to handle because the extra 10% weight difference is hardly apparent.
Thankfully, the build quality is not sacrificed in order to achieve this small weight. With a structure that includes some magnesium, the camera has a similar sense of toughness to the Nikon D800 and is equally weather-sealed against moisture and dust. The quality of the casing materials is on par with Nikon’s normal high standards, and tactile rubberized inserts improve grip.
The ergonomics of a full-frame body that has been shrunk to this amount with so many controls crammed in can suffer, but the Nikon D600 is still a nice camera to use. Larger hands may comfortably use the front and thumb grips, and all of the major buttons are within convenient reach.
The 3.2-inch, 921,000-dot LCD screen from the Nikon D800 dominates the Nikon D600’s rear panel. The same automatic brightness adjustment and great viewing angles are present, making it a monitor that is consistently accurate when reviewing in the field.
The primary menu button, and controls for altering the white balance, image quality, and sensitivity (ISO), with each button having an alternate function for examining photographs, are located to the left of the LCD screen.
The Nikon D600 is in line with other recent Nikon DSLRs in terms of performance. In terms of the crucial variables of dynamic range, color depth, and noise reduction, the new 24.3MP sensor compares favorably to the Nikon D800, Nikon D4, and Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Even at ISO 3200, there are barely any artifacts in images captured at ISO 1600. Only at ISO 6400 and above does image quality start to suffer considerably, but even at these settings, the Nikon D600 can still produce decent photos as long as you don’t focus on the individual pixels.
We shot our resolution chart as part of our image quality tests for the Nikon D600.
You can see that the Nikon D600 can resolve up to about 28 (line widths per image height x 100) in its highest quality JPEG files at ISO 100 by viewing our crops of the resolution chart’s center region at 100% (or Actual Pixels).
Nikon D600 Specifications
|Body type||Mid-size SLR|
|Body material||Magnesium alloy top and rear, polycarbonate front-plate|
|Max resolution||6016 x 4016|
|Other resolutions||4512 x 3008, 3936 x 2624, 3008 x 2008, 3008 x 1688, 2944 x 1968|
|Image ratio w:h||3:2|
|Effective pixels||24 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||25 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)|
|Color space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Color filter array||Primary Color Filter|
|ISO||100 – 6400 in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps (50 – 25600 with boost)|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||50|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||25600|
|White balance presets||12|
|Custom white balance||Yes (4)|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, Normal, Basic|
|File format||NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressedJPEG|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View|
|Number of focus points||39|
|Lens mount||Nikon F|
|Focal length multiplier||1×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD monitor|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (pentaprism)|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec|
|Exposure modes||Program (P)Shutter-priority (S)Aperture priority (A)Manual (M)|
|Built-in flash||Yes (Pop-up)|
|Flash Range||12.00 m (at ISO 100)|
|External flash||Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless)|
|Flash modes||Auto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear-curtain|
|Flash X sync speed||1/200 sec|
|Drive modes||Single-frame [S] mode continuous low-speed [CL]Continuous high-speed [CH]Mirror-up [Mup]Quiet Shutter ReleaseSelf-timer|
|Continuous drive||5.5 fps|
|Exposure compensation||±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||(2, 3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)|
|WB Bracketing||Yes (2 or 3 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3 mired)|
|Resolutions||1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps)|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC x 2 slots|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|HDMI||Yes (Mini Type C)|
|Wireless notes||Wu-1b mobile adapter|
|Remote control||Yes (Optional, wired or wireless )|
|Environmentally sealed||Yes (Water and dust resistant)|
|Battery description||Lithium-Ion EN-EL15 rechargeable battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||900|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||850 g (1.87 lb / 29.98 oz)|
|Dimensions||141 x 113 x 82 mm (5.55 x 4.45 x 3.23″)|
The Nikon D600 is a particularly user-friendly full-frame because of its excellent sensor, numerous but accessible features, and compact design.
Although the Nikon D600’s bigger sensor makes it more expensive than the Nikon D7000, if price cuts are made similar to those that the D800 has had, we’re in for a treat.
Nikon won’t have this market to itself for very long, though. The new full-frame EOS 6D from Canon will be more affordable, lighter, and larger than the Nikon D600. Let the conflict begin…