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Nikon D600 In-Depth Review

November 2012 | By Barney Britton, Amadou Diallo
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Review based on a production Nikon D600 with firmware v1.0

Nikon officially announced the long-rumored and much-leaked D600 a week before the Photokina trade show in September. The D600 is a full-frame DSLR aimed at enthusiasts, with a price to match. At a body only price of $2099/£1955, the 24MP D600 is significantly cheaper than its big brother the D800, and on a par with Canon's recently announced 21MP full-frame EOS 6D.

The D600 - which offers similar build quality and operational ergonomics as the popular DX-format D7000 - is a significant camera, even with the Canon EOS 6D arriving hot on its heels. The D600 matches or exceeds the pixel count of every other full-frame DSLR bar one (the D800) at a pricepoint which puts it within the reach of many enthusiasts. For those of us who've been covering the industry for a while, it's sobering to remember that the first full-frame DSLR, the Canon EOS 1Ds, was announced almost a decade ago. It doesn't seem like so long ago that full-frame was the holy grail of consumer digital imaging, promising liberation from crop factors once and for all, and a return to a simpler time where a 24mm lens actually was a 24mm.

A lot has changed since the 1Ds went on sale though (at an eye-watering $7999) and these days, if you want a full-frame camera, you don't have to remortgage your home. Cameras like Sony's Alpha 850, Nikon's D700 and Canon's EOS 5D brought full-frame sensors within reach of enthusiasts, and the more recent D800, Canon's EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 6D have continued that trend, offering more and more advanced specifications at prices much lower than top-flight equipment like the Nikon D3X and Canon's flagship, the EOS-1D X, the former of which, at least, is looking increasingly anachronistic. It's interesting to note, too, that with the D600, Nikon significantly undercuts the price of Sony's recent full-frame offerings - the SLT-A99 and Cyber-shot RX1.

Nikon D600: Key Specifications

  • 24.3MP Full-frame CMOS sensor (10.5MP DX-format crop mode)
  • ISO 100-6400 (expandable to ISO 50-25,600 equivalent)
  • Maximum 5.5fps continuous shooting
  • 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type AF points
  • 3.2in 921k-dot LCD screen
  • 1080p30 full HD video
  • Headphone jack for audio monitoring in movie mode
  • Uncompressed video recording via HDMI
  • Single-axis electronic level in viewfinder, duel-axis (pitch and roll) in live view
  • Dimensions: 141mm x 113mm x 82mm (5.5 × 4.4 × 3.2 in).
  • Weight: 760 g (1.6 lbs) (camera body only, no battery)

Affordable full-frame

At its list price at launch of $2099 the D600 is one of the most affordable full-frame cameras yet, and although Nikon insists that there are still good reasons to buy the D300S, it seems 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. But despite its relatively low cost the D600 is very far from a 'no frills' model. Features like 5.5fps shooting at full-resolution, 100% viewfinder coverage, full HD video capture with an option to record uncompressed footage via HDMI and a customizeable 39-point AF system would be pretty impressive in a camera costing much more.

Ergonomically, the D600 will feel to some extent familiar to both of these constituencies. The D600's UI is very similar to the DX-format D7000; it even shares the same 39-point AF array. In terms of functionality though, the D600 also has a lot in common with its big brother the D800, particularly when it comes to video specification. Something that came as a surprise on the D600 was the ability to shoot uncompressed video footage via HDMI output. On paper, this, plus a mic socket for an external microphone and a headphone jack should make the D600 very appealing to videographers. The only real difference in specification between the implementation of the D600's video mode compared to the D800 is that you can't adjust aperture during movie recording on the new model (unless you use an older manual focus lens with a mechanical aperture ring).

D600 versus D7000: Specification highlights

  • 24.3MP Full-frame CMOS sensor (compared to 16.2MP DX-format CMOS)
  • Maximum 5.5fps continuous shooting (compared to 6fps)
  • 3.2in 921k-dot LCD screen (compared to 3in)
  • D800-style combined movie/still live view mode button
  • Headphone jack for audio monitoring in movie mode
  • Uncompressed video recording via HDMI

D600 versus D800: Specification highlights

  • 24.3MP Full-frame CMOS sensor (compared to 36.3MP CMOS)
  • 10.5MP DX-format crop mode (compared to 15.3MP)
  • 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type AF points (compared to 51-points, with 15 cross-type)
  • Autofocus sensitivity down to -1EV (compared to -2EV)
  • Maximum 5.5fps continuous shooting in FX mode (compared to 4fps in FX mode)
  • 2,016-pixel RGB TTL exposure metering sensor (compared to 91,000 pixels)
  • 2x SD slots (compared to CF+SD)
  • No 'Power Aperture' aperture control during movie shooting (offered by D800 using Fn + Preview buttons)
  • Shutter rated to 150,000 cycles (compared to 200,000 cycles)
  • Magnesium-alloy top and rear covers only (D800 has full mag-alloy chassis except flash housing)
  • USB 2.0 interface (compared to USB 3.0)


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 19
SxeHunKA77
By SxeHunKA77 (4 months ago)

What UI did Nikon install in this camera?

0 upvotes
carton dinis machado
By carton dinis machado (6 months ago)

how to compare Nikon D600 versus nikon D7100

1 upvote
Mike FL
By Mike FL (6 months ago)

The new D610 has the same problem that Dust spot issue continues.

0 upvotes
amestigon
By amestigon (6 months ago)

Today, D600 was ordered to be off sale by Government in China. 2014/03/16

0 upvotes
tallguy600
By tallguy600 (7 months ago)

Law Firms Lining Up to File Class Action Lawsuits Over the D600 Dust/Oil Issue:

http://petapixel.com/2014/02/25/law-firms-lining-file-class-action-lawuits-d600-dustoil-issue/

0 upvotes
tallguy600
By tallguy600 (7 months ago)

Great camera but the oil spots, sold all my Nikon equipment and got a Canon 6D instead.
Now much happier with great Wi-Fi implementation, made in Japan better camera body....

1 upvote
Scottelly
By Scottelly (9 months ago)

Something that amazes me is that the Sony A99 actually performs better at high ISO settings, like ISO 1600 and ISO 6400, than this camera and the D610. I didn't expect that. If you doubt me, just take a look at the photos here with the studio shot comparison tool. Be sure to set the ISO settings for both cameras and make sure you look at the playing card and the writing on the red square under the dime. Those areas REALLY show the noise. http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=nikon_d600&masterSample=dsc_4526_03&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=nikon_d600&slot0Sample=dsc_4526_03&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=sony_slta99&slot1Sample=dsc00049&x=-0.378464142966364&y=0.34409159041539195

0 upvotes
munro harrap
By munro harrap (9 months ago)

I am sure you , thinking a little about it, must realize they produce with profit in mind, not love for you, who are merely contributors to their profits for them.
That is all you are, and all even the greatest photographers are- a means of supporting their incomes and assuring the wealth and value of the yen against the euro, pound, and dollar.

Nikon knew pre-release, surely, that this problem existed, as they extensively test new machines. Therefore, it follows, surely, that this was all done on purpose, as was designing lenses that do not cover more than APS-C properly (24-70 NahNo!) because they delude themselves that we are all so pleased to own a Nikon that we will even buy plastic mount lenses for it!! Made of plastic, and according to one reviewer taped inside with sticky tape as iPhone lenses are with glue.

They think we are that jackdaw stupid. They are correct. We are so stupid we cannot make cameras at all!!!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Frank C.
By Frank C. (10 months ago)

No recall from Nikon because of their abysmal recent quarter(s), if this would have happened in 2010 I'm sure Nikon would have replaced the shutter mechanisms for free under guarantee but is it stands now Nikon is struggling, there's no money in the pot to recall and fix the d600

0 upvotes
tallguy600
By tallguy600 (11 months ago)

How do you explain the D610 and the lack of recall of the D600?

One doesn't need a PHD in damage control; the way Nikon handled this issue and it's customer base are a shame.
The D600 should have been fixed, full shutter issue disclosure should have been provided.
Is the D610 shutter mechanism the same as the one on the D600 where it was replaced?
Simple questions, there should be answers but of course no, nothing.

4 upvotes
Andrew770
By Andrew770 (11 months ago)

DP Review is a professional organization and their review of the Nikon D600 meets professional standards. It is impressive how much better the Nikon D600 camera performs than Canon and Sony's high end cameras. The D600 is clearly the winner in the DP Review comparison of these top end cameras. For me the D600's handling of ISO images sets it apart from the competition and is one reason why Nikon is the #1 camera brand.

Apparently the early production run of the Nikon D600 had some cameras whose shutter mechanism was faulty. Nikon gave an advisory in February 2013 for those affected to take their cameras to their service centers and many had their camera's shutter mechanism replaced.

Canon's top end camera also experienced a light leak issue from its early production run. Apparently providing a fix was much more involved because it was a structural problem. Apparently Canon's solution was to put a tape inside the camera to cover the light leak.

Finally, the D600 is awesome!

1 upvote
Segaman
By Segaman (11 months ago)

For some its awesome, for others its their worst nightmare.
As long as your happy everything is fine, if there is a 610 there is a big reason for that.....

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
WhiteBeard
By WhiteBeard (8 months ago)

You seem to trust DP Review's "professional standards" so much that you forget to use your own critical sense. Look closely at the studio shots, JPEG at 100 and 3200 ISO and tell me that the Nikon is not overly soft and lacking detail compared to the Sony or Canon, especially on the playing cards.

0 upvotes
Noogy
By Noogy (11 months ago)

http://www.dpreview.com/previews/nikon-d610/

Cheers to DPR for the gold rating of D600 - a clearly defective camera by design and component. The link above is the implied admission from Nikon. Next time raters from DPR, it is better that you state "we withhold any final rating on this camera at this time until we see a conclusive fix from Nikon" or something like that and save yourselves the embarrassment.

4 upvotes
gmortiz
By gmortiz (Aug 23, 2013)

D600 nightmare: After three weeks a few spots appeared. After four weeks a MASSIVE number of spots appeared and I sent it in to Nikon's New York repair facility. Two weeks later I received it, they had replaced the shutter mechanism and cleaned the low pass filter. I took some blue sky test shots which revealed spots still on the sensor. Back to Nikon for the second time. I received the D600 back from Nikon and the workorder shows all they did was re-clean the already cleaned sensor. Test shots show the exact same spots present as when they received it.

How ridiculous is it that an untrained consumer can see a serious problem in 5 minutes, and Nikon's service center has now twice sent out a camera with a damaged sensor.

One more thing: HEY NIKON - can we end the fantasy that the problem is dust? From the owner's manual: "Note, however, that the filter is extremely delicate and easily damaged." And apparently it is damaged when lubricant from the shutter mechanism hit it.

5 upvotes
nekrosoft13
By nekrosoft13 (Sep 5, 2013)

the "trained" technician is stuck in some poorly lit building. Is not like they can go outside and take shots of blue sky.

2 upvotes
hovirag
By hovirag (11 months ago)

Nikon comes clean over the dust and oil problem – meaning they fixed it. Nikon users also mentioned even before the Nikon announcement that these issues disappear after the camera has been run in.
Source: http://bubbajuju.com/get_nikon_d600_on_sale/
where there are two comparison grids of the most popular cameras to date.

0 upvotes
socaltrevor
By socaltrevor (2 months ago)

they didn't fix it

0 upvotes
jengord
By jengord (2 months ago)

No they havent fixed it. What they are doing in Australia is fitting a new D600 shutter, cleaning your sensor and sending it back, then surprise surprise after about 500-1000 shots the oil is splattered thickly again, not the normal one or two spots but multiple,this is not normal! after about 4 returns they send you another D600. So then your back on the round-about. I dont think I will buy NIKON again.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 19