Operation & Controls
Top Left Controls
On the upper left of the D600's body (when the camera is viewed from behind) you'll find a D7000-style exposure mode dial and around its base, another dial for shooting modes. Both dials are lockable, which prevents accidental operation. The exposure mode dial provides quick access to the D600's various exposure modes, including two customizeable 'U' modes, which can be programmed to store two different sets of camera parameters. These could be useful, for example, if you're shooting a wedding and you want to be able to quickly switch from indoor exposure settings and outdoor. Or maybe you're shooting a sports event and you want to quickly switch from pre-saved settings appropriate for shooting moving subjects to a set of parameters better suited to capturing static scenes.
The 'Q' on the shooting mode dial stands for 'quiet' and in this mode, the D600 delays the action of the mirror, which makes image capture considerably quieter than the standard shutter release sound. Compared to the D800 and D4, the D600's quiet mode is genuinely quiet, too, with much less 'clack'.
Top Right Controls
On the upper-right of the D600's top-plate you'll find the now-standard (for Nikon) cluster of control points. On top of the grip there's the shutter release, with on/off and LCD illumination collar around its periphery. You pull this collar to turn the camera on, then pull further, against a spring, to illuminate the upper LCD screen. Behind this is the exposure compensation button, and to the left of that is the movie shooting button, which initiates movie recording in video live view mode. To the left of that control is the D600's metering mode button. To switch between spot, center-weighted and multi-segment metering, hold this button down and rotate the rear control dial.
The D600's rear control layout is extremely similar to that of the D7000 (note the same lonely AE-L/AF-L button, in contrast to the extra AF-ON and metering mode control on the D300S and D800), but there are a couple of minor differences. The D600 gains an extra button on the strip to the left of the LCD screen, for quick access to the camera's picture style color modes, and the live view control is the same as we've seen on the D800 and D4, and incorporates a mode switch (movie and still). The button which initiates movie recording is on the camera's top-plate. The D600's LCD screen is fractionally larger than the D7000's, too, but the difference between 3in and 3.2in is hardly stunning, and the resolution is the same, at 921k-dots.
Interestingly, Nikon has swapped the position of the + and - zoom buttons on the back of the D600 compared to the D7000, which could cause some confusion for people transitioning to the newer model, but the vertical arrangement is consistent with the newer D800. The ISO button is awkwardly placed, at the extreme lower-left of the button strip - something we've discussed in more detail in the handling page of this review.