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First Impressions: Nikon D600

by Gevon Servo on 10/02/2012

When I heard I was going to review the new Nikon D600 I was in shock, but I smiled. I did, however, have my hesitations . I read everything about the camera, from my co-writers, and various other sources on the net. The Nikon D600 has been a highly debated subject here on the Phoblographer. I realized I had to make my own judgments though. I had been waiting for this camera for a long time. Mother Nature unfortunately delayed things and I lost patience. Having recently bought a Nikon D700, I was wondering if I would have buyer’s remorse.

Again, Something New

Like the Nikon D800, the D600 is not a successor to anything. After using it for the first time, I was pleasantly amazed. The Nikon D600 is familiar, yet foreign at the same time, while being extremely functional. It seems to be the light-beer of the Nikon D800. There was a bit of a learning curve, having the Nikon manual on my phone was a necessity. I took the camera out to a Watchung reservation in NJ after a bit of breakfast with the family. It was a nice and quiet morning for testing. With the Nikon 50mm 1.8G mounted I used the time and relaxing environment to get a feel for the camera.

Gear Used

Product Highlights

Specs taken from B&H

  • 24.3MP FX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 3 Processor
  • 3.2″ LCD Monitor
  • 1080p HD Video Capture
  • 100-6400 ISO – Expandable to 50-25600
  • 5.5 fps Continuous Shooting
  • 39 Wide-Area AF Focus Points
  • Stereo Mic & Headphone Inputs
  • i-TTL Flash
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity with Optional Adapter

Ergonomics

I will go into more detail in the full review, but the ergonomics of this camera are interesting. The build quality seems much better than the Nikon D7000. The D600 feels more solid, even though it does not have a full magnesium body, but despite this, it had a likable weight. The D600’s buttons are interestingly placed. With practice, they seem like they can make mode changes exceptionally fast. The Nikon D600 does seem to be the love child of the D800 and the D7000, as it takes a great deal of physical queues from both cameras. One of the most striking things about this camera was how quite it was.

Image Quality

Lightroom 4, at the time I started this review, could not read the Raw files of the Nikon D600, but hopefully it will soon.  Most of the images in this post, all the non-product shots, are jpegs straight off the camera. The only thing I added was my tags and my watermark using Lightroom 4. D-lighting was also not enabled which would optimize high contrast images to restore the shadow and highlight details which is helpful when strong lighting increases the contrast between the bright and dark areas of an image. I found that shooting at higher ISO’s was not a problem.  I found very little noise when I shot at ISO 800 inside of a café.

Autofocus

The autofocusing is quick. There is an issue though. The 39 autofocus points are packed close together. If you are shooting in crop mode, it may make sense. It may help if you want to use your older DX lenses. I will cover this more in the full review.

1/8000?

There has been a lot of discussion over the various features not available with the D600. An important thing to note on the Nikon D600 is that the shutter speed stops at 1/4000. I actually had to do some thinking about this. On my D90 I never cared, I just worked it out. I kept in mind how ISO, shutter speed, and aperture all related to one another. With the D700, I have the shutter speed option of 1/8000, and I have used it. 1/8000 is the fastest speed offered in production SLR cameras (as of 2012), as well the fastest speed offered in any full-frame DSLR (as of 2011). However, after a day of using the D600, it really did not matter. Shooting at 1/8000 is nice and if you really need it, you will invest in a D800 or D4.

Why I Think Nikon Built the D600 The Way It Is

If Nikon released the D600 with D700 features, it could have destroyed the market for the D800. The D600 features cannot be too close to those of the D800. If the features were too close, people would definitely spend less. I appreciate Nikon for creating an enthusiast full frame camera. For me, I was actually wondering if this is how they were replacing the D300s.

Nikon Changing Its Line Up?

Nikon is radically shifting their camera offerings. Their marketing department is not keeping up. I said this with the D3200.They need a re-branding of their cameras. The D800 and the D600 are not successors to Nikon’s old lineup at all.

Gripes?

If I had to complain about one thing, it would be the viewfinder on the D600. I am more comfortable with the round eyepiece of the D700 and D800. With a little extra cost, I can replace the rubber eye cup on the D600 and put on a Round Eyepiece. Conversely, I also love the eyepiece of the D700 and the D800 because it has an internal shutter lever. This is great for low light long exposures. I do not have to put an easily lost cover on. The round eyepiece is just something I expected on a full frame camera. I do realize it is something Nikon puts on what they consider their professional cameras.

So Far

I like the D600 more than I thought. It is everything I wanted the D7000 to be. I actually enjoyed shooting with it. The layout of the camera has changed a bit, and does take some getting used to. Overall, though, the Nikon D600 is a solid camera. I am going to enjoy putting it through its paces.

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