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Nikon D600 – Specs and Thoughts on Nikon’s $2,100 FX DSLR

By Matthew Saville on September 12th 2012

The mythical sub-$2,000 full-frame DSLR from Nikon is finally here.  …For $2,100!  Aside from that slight mis-calculation / wishful thinking, the D600 is impressive considering the price.  Essentially, it appears to be a beginner / amateur version of the behemoth D800, AKA the predicted blend of D7000 and D700.

Pre-Order the Nikon D600 here from Amazon:

 

…Or here from B&H:

D600 – Body Only
D600 – Kit with 24-85mm
Nikon WU-1B wifi adapter for the D600

Features at a glance:

•  24 megapixel full-frame sensor
(“Newly developed”, but probably similar to the D3X, or the same as / better than the sensor in Sony’s new A99)

•  ISO 100-6400
(Expandable to ISO 50 and 12800 / 25600.  Probably usable up to 6400 at least!)

•  39 point AF
(Probably roughly the same as the Nikon D7000, or slightly better)

•  5.5 FPS
(Faster than the D800 by 1.5 FPS, wow!)

•  1080p video at 24/25/30 FPS, or 720p video at up to 60 FPS
(Unlike the Sony A99, which blazes at 60 FPS 1080p!)

•  DX crop mode instead of sRAW mode
(Nikon makes up for this by continuing to offer adjustable bit-rates and RAW compression, which high-volume shooters (sports, weddings) will appreciate if they need to shoot RAW instead of JPG…)

•  DX crop mode available for HD video capture
(This also helps make up for the lack of sRAW mode!)

•  Dual SD card slots!
(My opinion on this feature is below)

• Built-in AF motor
(Yes, Nikon is still not fully ready to say goodbye to the millions of AF-D lenses out there.  I am glad Nikon left this feature in.)

• AIS (manual focus) lens compatibility 
(Another smart move for Nikon!  Now hobbyist (and pro!) landscape photographers have a lightweight, high-resolution option  that will find quite a niche even in the shadow of the D800)

• 6EV bracketing!
(“Only” 3 shots total, but up to +/- 6 EVs!  That’s impressive and a delight, compared to the 1-stop increments that Nikon has been very strict about in the past…)

• Scene modes, instead of  menu-based memory banks
(This is a huge plus for some, and I think I could get used to it.)

 

 

So, what’s my take?  Here are a few of my thoughts:

•  One of the functionality items has not yet been specified-  Will the D600 have one-click image zooming during playback, like the D800 and all previous 3-digit and flagship bodies have had?  …Or will such a convenient feature be absent, like on the D7000 and D90?  It sounds like an insignificant feature, but it honestly makes a huge difference for me both as a professional and a hobbist.  I hope Nikon leaves this feature in.  Canon just recently added easy playback zooming to the 5D mk3, and Canon owners are loving it!

•  How many D700 owners will be able to call the D600 a “replacement”?  This will depend on a few things.  Firstly, for me at least, the above customization feature will be crucial.  So will the AF performance and image quality.  The dual card slots and HD video will be a huge attraction, for some.

• Who will love this camera, and not miss any features?  Go-light hobbyist landscape / adventure photographers, who are happy to have the lighter weight, smaller size, and yet the AF-D and AIS compatibility, the C1 / C2 etc. custom modes, and the base ISO image quality.  …Who will feel dissatisfied by the D600?  Possibly any action or portrait photographers, who could be disappointed with the 1/4000 shutter speed, 1/200 flash sync, and “mere” 39 point AF.  Not to mention the lack of a PC sync port.  :-(

•   Dual SD cards?  I’m okay with it.  I know some people hate SD cards and wish for dual CF, or at least CF+SD.   Personally, I have shot thousands of images on both types of cards, and don’t really think twice about it.  Some who shoot in high-speed conditions may appreciate the affordable, fast CF cards.  Some who shoot oodles of HD video may appreciate the cheap, space-saving SD cards.  The only reason I might prefer CF+SD would be because it helps you keep your cards separate when you’re using the slots for redundancy.  But the way I roll, (A single 64GB card in one slot and swapping 8/16 GB cards in the other slot) …it’s not really an issue because I leave the one high-capacity card in my camera for the entire shoot or trip.

•   How does it compare to Canon?  Well, Canon still has the 21 megapixel 5D mk2 for around $2,000, and it has 1080p video.  At face value, the two cameras are quite the same.  For the average user, they might be a completely even choice.  However depending on what you like to shoot, and of course what you already own, one or the other will be a better choice.  The real question is,  …what does Canon have up their sleeve, in this price range?  A full-frame 60D?  At this point, I don’t see any surprises or serious “upsets” coming from Canon.  The D600 and whatever Canon comes up with will be relatively similar.  The real competition will be with Sony, in my opinion.  Sony’s A99 has quite a few ground-breaking features, for those who are interested.  Also, a $2,700 A99 probably means that we’ll see another $1999 full-frame body from Sony within the next 12 months.  That will be the camera that gives both Nikon and Canon a run for their money in the “affordable full-frame department”…

 

So, there you have it folks!

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

8 Comments

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  1. Canon 6D vs Nikon D600 – What are Canon and Nikon thinking? tutorial

    […] * Note that I have omitted many of the general specifications, because they are the usual slight improvements over previous generations.  The best impression of the 6D would be, a cross between the Canon 60D, 7D, and 5D mk3. Next, you can read about the D600 specs and a few of my thoughts HERE. […]

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  2. Nico Socha

    I think the D600 is a good camera, but i will buy the A99. To 
    Matthew Saville, its true that the Nikon postprocessing ist mostly the better one. And the A99 have the SLT technology and because of that the HighIso performance is a little bit lower but overall the A99 is the better camera because the features are much greater. These cameras are not comparable because the A99 is on the D800 or 5D Mark III level and not an entry level full frame.

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  3. Anonymous

    Love my D700, BUT why cannot I have delayed action with live view, this would be great with a telescope.  ALSO the bundled lense, a AF-S 24-120 G lense is crap.  It has bad barrel distortion, greatly changes focus point when zooming, so you cannot zoom in, focus then zoom out again, AND just a little dust has knackered the autofocus so I use it in manual, and this only just works.  I would really like a digital back for an F2AS!  Come on Nikon.

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  4. Serge Neri

    I’m honestly more excited about the Sony A99 . I most likely won’t switch just bc it’s a pain in the ass to trade in all the glass but I probably will buy a NEX sometime this year. I feel like sony is actually trying to innovate. The AF system looks sick, the tilting screen is awesome, it’s light, other cool stuff i can’t remember… I’m really going to think about it. The A99 and a NEX6 as back up sounds pretty good.   

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yes, Serge, I think both Nikon and Canon are a little bit “stuck in their ways” compared to Sony.  And Sony knows that, as the newcomer, their only hope is to innovate like crazy.

      There are many reasons to consider Sony as a long-term solution and I hope they do well.  I don’t think I’ll ever give up my Nikon control buttons and functionality, but maybe some day I’ll add a Sony to my bag.  I’m liking their mirrorless solutions quite a bit.

      =Matt=

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    • Joe Gunawan

      I am also still considering the A99 as my entry into the full-frame arena. If the IQ holds up to the Nikons, then I’ll be a happy camper. Yes, 36MP on the D800 would be great, but I think 24MP is workable, too, considering the features I really love on the A99, like in-body stabilization, focus-peaking, EVF, articulating LCD, and that dual-phase-detect AF.

      And Zeiss lenses. More expensive, but oh, what glass!

      – Joe

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  5. Jason J. Hatfield

    Former Nikon shooter here.
    “•  24 megapixel full-frame sensor
    (“Newly developed”, but probably similar to the D3X, or the same as / better than the sensor in Sony’s new A99)”It’s been proven time and time again that the Nikon sensors are Sony’s.  It’s not better than the A99, it’s the same.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Jason,

      Yes, it is very well known that Sony supplies Nikon with sensors.  However, historically speaking I have found that Nikon is always able to pull out quite a bit more image quality out of the same exact sensor, especially at higher ISO’s.  Just compare the D3X to the A900 / A800, especially at high ISO’s.  Or compare the Nikon DX 16, 12, 10, and 6 megapixel DX sensors to the Sony equivalents.  Sometimes they’re equal, sometimes the Sony is better if it is a newer generation version of the same sensor, however for the most part Nikon squeezes out better image quality.  Nikon gets the physical sensor chips from Sony, but they convert the image data with their own recipe of “Expeed”…

      =Matt=

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