Nikon’s smallest full frame DSLR woos professionals and enthusiasts.
The interesting thing about this particular model from Nikon was that it picked a time to announce their new offering just before Photokina 2012 stealing the thunder Canon had when it announced the 6D at the show. When you look at the specs, the D600 does have an edge in terms of its image sensor but the 6D undercuts that in terms of pricing and quality but at the end of it, you get what you pay for.
Design and Features
At first glance the D600 in some ways would be a cheaper combination that stands right between the D800 and the D7000. It’s got the look and feel of the D7000 but is built largely around the D800 with most of the controls having been shrunk to a smaller size. The 3.2 921-dot inch LCD screen adapted from the D800 is a welcome addition for reviewing while shooting on location.
The buttons for image control such as Picture Control, ISO, Quality, and ISO buttons have been moved to the left of the LCD and you can also assign bracketing to the function button but the annoyance here is that you’ll have to look at what button you may be pressing if there’s nothing showing on the LCD screen and this is problematic especially when you might have to shuffle from quick setting change to image reviewing.
Below the navigation controls there are individual switches for live view if you want to click still images or shoot video. The dial mode layout again has been adapted from the D7000 but has a locking button in place and beneath that the second ring gives you the shutter release types. It also comes with two SD-card slots which can be used for overflow or backup storage or for separate storage of copies created using NEF+JPEG; pictures can also be copied between cards
- 24.3 megapixel FX-format (full-frame) CMOS sensor
- Multi-CAM4800 39-point AF system
- ISO 100–6400: up to 25,600 (equivalent) and down to 50 (equivalent)
- Multi-area D-Movie
- EXPEED 3
- HDR (High Dynamic Range)
- Active D-Lighting
- Scene Recognition System
- 3.2 inch 921-dot VGA LCD monitor
- High-performance viewfinder with approx. 100%
- 5.5 fps continuous shooting
- Quiet shooting mode
- Mirror balancer
- Dual-axis electronic virtual horizon
- Twin SD card slots
Image and Video Quality
When you look at the body, the first thing you’ll notice is the new 24.3 million pixel, FX format CMOS sensor which has been reduced from the 36.3MP chip in the Nikon D800. Additionally, the ISO sensitivity range is from 100 to 6400 expandable to ISO 50 to ISO 25600 which allows for low lighting with a compromise for excessive image noise.
Here’s where it gets interesting, the D600 shares the same Expeed 3 engine as the Nikon D4 and Nikon D800, capable of shooting up to an fps of 5.5. I shot a couple of pictures under ISO speeds of 6400 and below and still got excellent detail barring image artefacts. The 24-85mm VR lens that’s provided does a swell job, I managed to get a zoomed up low-light shot during DIFF at the Madinat Theatre and the details remain sharp even after you crop. I took this camera to ISO level of HI-3.0 shooting the waterfront and it gave some ugly noise, when I took it to 6400, the results came out so much better.
Fortunately, most of the shots that fall within this range don’t give out as much noise as you’d expect and it still retains detail. I used a zoom lens for this particular shot of the taxi on the road and I still got as much detail of the light reflecting of the tar.
My only complaint is the way the autofocus sensors are placed in a single are and it leaves out a large space and sometimes it gets tricky to automatically focus on subjects that are off-centre.
Video quality from this camera is pretty impressive giving some clean results under rates of 24,25 and 30 fps and while I didn’t shoot at 60 fps since there wasn’t any need to, it is useful for shooting slow motion footage. The major downside to this and it’s probably a few reasons why canon has a slight notch above for video shooting is that cannot change the f-stop during video recording. However, given that it’s a full frame DSLR that’s been bought under AED 10,000 it outdoes the D7000 here.
Nikon really pulled a number here with this model. The D600 is a really great camera that’s got most of the options that a serious enthusiast would want, doesn’t weigh too much and gives spectacular image detail. Despite the lack of coverage, the autofocus points work really well and the sensor does an even better job especially when it comes to low-light shooting.
All the extensive features that would make an enthusiast purchase this camera are here, however the price can be a bit steep since it just goes slightly higher than the D7000, but assuming the price drops over time, the D600 is a definite pick up for anyone who wants to start shooting professionally.