A small camera with a BIG sensor
When the first rumors about the D600 started to circulate on the Internet, I wondered about what kind of sensor technology Nikon would put into it. This question became even more intriguing when I found out that the D600 would have similar build and features as the D7000. At two-thirds of the cost of the highly-regarded Nikon D800, I was afraid that Nikon would use an older inferior sensor with unimpressive noise characteristics on the D600. Deep inside, I kept on thinking that Nikon would not risk to have something that would compete head to head with the D800. After testing the D600 extensively, I was surprised to see that Nikon did exactly that – it performs about the same as the D800, only with less pixels. As you can see from the Camera Comparisons page of this review, the Nikon D600 shows very impressive performance at all ISO levels that match those of the D800/D800E! The only camera that retains a little better shadow detail and more dynamic range at very high ISOs is the Nikon D3s. However, keep in mind that the latter has much less resolution in comparison and hence serves different needs (such as sports and wildlife photography). Hence, the biggest strength of the Nikon D600 is its phenomenal sensor.
What about other features, is sensor the only good thing about the D600? While it has similar features as the D7000, it has a far better and larger viewfinder, faster processor, better AF system (see the first page), better movie recording features and some new firmware features such as in-camera HDR, better Auto ISO and Exposure Delay mode implementations. These key differences make the D600 a worthy upgrade from not only the D7000, D300s and other older Nikon DX DSLRs, but also from the discontinued D700 (the sensor alone is worth the upgrade in my opinion). The Nikon D600 would also serve as a great backup for the D800/D800E, because you can share the batteries and only carry one charger when traveling. As an owner of the superb Nikon D800E, I already purchased the D600 for myself, which I am planning to use as a backup camera for my everyday and commercial photography needs. As for its limitations such as 1/4000 max shutter speed, 1/200 flash sync speed, see my Nikon D600 Limitations article, where I covered the topic in a lot of detail.
While the Nikon D600 seemed like a great camera when we initially reviewed it, we were quite disappointed with its mechanical issue involving a faulty shutter mechanism that led to a major service advisory by Nikon. The company ended up silently killing off the D600 and replacing it with the D610.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Quality
- High ISO Performance
- Size and Weight
- Metering and Exposure
- Movie Recording Features
- Dynamic Range
Photography Life Overall Rating
Table of Contents