Displays

The rear LCD of the D600 is identical to that found on the Nikon D800 and at 3.2 inches offers slightly more real estate than that of the D7000 but at the same resolution. The screen offers good visibility when shooting outdoors, though glare can be an issue in direct sunlight. Of course, with a large, bright optical viewfinder that offers 100% coverage, we suspect that in the field, many stills shooters will use the LCD primarily for reviewing images.

Information display

Press the info button while in shooting mode (except in live view) to show a full screen 'information display'. Introduced by Nikon as far back as the D40, having a single screen with comprehensive shooting information logically arranged can be very useful. By default, the information screen automatically switches between the two contrast modes shown below, based on ambient light levels; though you can manually configure it to use one or the other. The monitor will turn off with a half-press of the shutter button or after a user-specified period of inactivity (the default is 10 seconds).

'Dark on light' setting (bright ambient light) 'Light on dark' setting (low ambient light)

Changing settings

With the information display active, press the info button a second time to adjust the parameters represented in the two rows of icons along the bottom of the screen. Using the multi controller, you can cycle through 10 available items. Changing a setting, however, requires you to first press the OK button to access the submenu where the options live. We'd prefer a faster method of cycling through these options once the top level category is selected, eliminating the need to press the OK button first. Among the options here you can adjust high ISO and long exposure noise reduction as well as enable Active D-Lighting. You can also define the behavior of the Preview and Fn buttons.

Navigate the two rows of icons using the multi controller. Pressing its center button... ...takes you to a menu screen where you can adjust the chosen parameter either with the multi selector or the front and rear camera dials if they've been so configured in the custom menu.

Virtual horizon

The D600 features a 'Virtual horizon' with distinct iterations in the viewfinder and rear LCD. An aircraft-cockpit type virtual horizon on the rear LCD (shown below) updates in real time indicating the current orientation of the camera. A level horizontal or vertical camera position results in green - versus yellow - reference lines. By default, the Virtual horizon is displayed with a press of the Info button while in live view. It can also be shown on the rear LCD via an option in the Setup menu.

When activated via the Setup menu, a dual axis Virtual horizon appears onscreen over a black background. It measures both roll (left/right) and pitch (up/down) of the camera. When the camera is perfectly level along an axis, the reference line turns green. The Virtual horizon disappears with a half-press of the shutter button.

A more simplified virtual horizon can also be displayed inside the viewfinder if it is assigned to the Fn button. As in the Nikon D700, this provides a single axis tilt indicator in the black border below the image area where it is always easy to distinguish. We do miss, however, the quite useful ability to view this horizon indicator in the top LCD panel, as was the case in the D700.

In live view, a Virtual horizon viewing mode can be accessed by pressing the Info button in either still image or movie record mode. The Virtual horizon is superimposed over the image area, as shown below.

The live view Virtual horizon offers the same dual axis icon as seen in non-live view mode. This view is also available with the camera set to movie record mode.

Image review

Press the playback button to review images stored on the SD card(s). You can cycle through several different photo information screens (shown below) by pressing the up or down arrows on the multi selector. In the playback menu you can enable/disable several bits of photo information, pruning the number of information screens down to the single default info view if you wish. By default, you browse images using the multi selector's left/right arrows. The command dials can also be configured to perform this function, as well as browsing through images, via custom menu f5.

The default screen in image playback is a 'file information' view which displays frame number, folder name, filename, date & time, image quality and size. Optionally, you can also choose to display the AF frame and selected focus point (shown above) as well. A 'highlights' view overlays blinkies where data is clipped. You can cycle between a composite RGB or single channel clipping views.
The 'RGB histogram' view provides highlight blinkies for composite and single channel histogram data. You can cycle through each channel in turn. There are a minimum of three 'shooting data' screens in which you can review exposure settings and image adjustments.
An 'overview' screen provides a comprehensive amount of image and shooting information along with a small image thumbnail. An image-only view omits all shooting data.

In addition to the examples shown above, additional screens are available if you add copyright data or shoot with an optional GPS device attached to the camera.

Playback magnification and thumbnails

In playback mode you can press the zoom in button to move step-wise through the D600's magnification levels and then use the arrows on the multi selector to move around the magnified image. There are 11 zoom levels. The last two of which show pixelization, presumably exceeding a 1:1 pixel view, making them of questionable use in evaluating focus. Unlike on the D800, there is no option to quickly jump to a particular magnification mode by configuring the OK button; a regrettable omission.

By pressing the zoom in button you can cycle through 10 additional levels of magnification (shown here). The last two views show pixelated results, which would suggest a greater than 1:1 magnification.

The D600 has three levels of thumbnail view plus a calendar view. Press the thumbnail button to switch to the initial 2x2 (4 image) view, press again for the 3x3 (9 image) view, and once more for a 9x8 (72 image) view. A fourth press takes you to a calendar view. Use the multi selector to move around the index. Note that if you have the 'Rotate Tall' option enabled, images taken in the portrait orientation are displayed vertically. As on the D800, the thumbnail views are sticky, meaning that even after powering off the camera, pressing the playback button will return to the last selected thumbnail grid.

Pressing the thumbnail button lets you cycle through three different thumbnail views and a calendar view. You can also choose to display images from the second storage card or another image folder.

You can switch between storage cards and image folders but you'll have to hold the 'BKT' button while pressing the up arrow key on the multi selector; a more convoluted and much less discoverable approach than the single button-press operation on the D800.