Christmas is coming and you’re wondering what fantastical gift you want to buy yourself this year, right? Last year it was the killer Ugg boots or iDevice of some sort and this year your ready to really spoil yourself. And why not, you worked
hard for your money right? If your reading this post then you most likely have some interest in cameras and/or photography and want to improve your already awesome skills. I’m sure you’ve heard people say it’s not the camera that makes the photographer… I agree, but this camera makes me second guess that old adage. The photos that this camera is able to produce are a step above anything I have ever been able to squeeze out of any other camera. Before purchasing this camera for testing I had read that the image quality it was able to produce bested professional DSLRs so I was intrigued.
The following review is very much a real world review and has no scientific basis whatsoever. I have had a chance to put the camera through about 700 shots in about three weeks with the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens and have no major complaints. The camera will not be sent back to Nikon because it is now my primary camera. Read on to find out why.
- FX format (35mm full frame)
- 24.3 megapixels
- 5.5 FPS
- 100-6400 ISO (expandable to 25,600)
- Full HD (1080p at 30/25/24p)
- 39 point auto focus system
- $1996.95 (Body Plus 24-85mm Lens)
When you first pick up the camera you will notice one of two things… If you have primarily shot with micro four thirds like myself or an entry-level DSLR you will notice a heavier, easier to hang onto, and sturdier camera. If you come from the professional camp and your slumming it with us amateur photographers you will be pleasantly surprised that something this light (yes, noticeably lighter than the D800) can pack this many features. The grip is nice and deep so you can do a small hike without a camera strap and not feel like you might drop the camera accidentally as your skipping through the forest. The weight of the camera as well as ergonomics make it rest nicely in your palm as your snapping away. The shutter control dial and the aperture control wheel are neatly placed to make it comfortable to adjust either one while your peeper is pressed firmly to the viewfinder. And if you need to adjust the ISO there is a button strategically placed at the left bottom back of the camera you press and hold while rotating the wheel until your where you need to be.
The camera’s optical viewfinder covers 100% of your frame so there will be no unwanted surprises when you view your photos after a long day of shooting. This is a big deal because most DSLRs only cover about 90% and your left cropping undesired phone poles or people from an otherwise beautiful shot. The eye cup supplied with the D600 is not round like the D800 which was a little disappointing but a non issue. The read out inside the optical viewfinder is small and hard to read in certain bright light conditions (this is the case with all DSLRs and not specific to the D600) but your only other option would be an electronic viewfinder on a less stellar camera. Coming from the Olympus OMD camera I had a bit of a learning curve with the optical viewfinder. I believe optical viewfinders are antiquated and the electronic viewfinders are much more pleasant and useful since you have an actual “live” view of whats happening when you adjust your aperture, ISO, or shutter speed.
Here is where I would have my biggest complaint if I actually used the live view function on a regular basis. I, like most, prefer the use of the viewfinder when I am composing photographs. The live view is really just that, a view with no adjustments of what you’d see from your viewfinder. If you adjust your settings you will not see this in the live view on the LCD. Nikon and Cannon are behind the times in this respect, it’s 2012 and there are no excuses to have an LCD that doesn’t show you how your fine tuning will affect the photograph. The best solution I have found is to set your camera up to preview each shot after you take it, that way you can make sure you didn’t biff it. Other than that the screen is beautiful and your able to zoom in nice and close when your using your manual focus to make sure Captain Whiskers face hairs are nice and sharp before snapping the picture. Note: Some reviews mention that you cant change the aperture in live view mode which isn’t true. You can unless you are video recording. If that is a deal breaker to you then my advice is this… Buy a video camera.
No matter what you choose this camera can do it and it does it better than anything I’ve seen. If you enjoy shooting in automatic mode then there is a program for each situation you find yourself in (portrait, landscape, night-time portrait, etc.). But if you’re laying down $2k for a camera chances are you tend to like a little more control over your camera and for that you have M, P, S, and A as usual and they work as they should. I shoot primarily in Manual mode and Aperture priority mode (if I’m being rushed) so I can only speak for them. The light meter tends to be right on and I don’t have to retake photos often. I have found some cameras tend to be too dark or too light even though the light meter has them as being spot on. I have played with automatic mode and it is superb with very fast auto focus, I wouldn’t hesitate to use this is I was in a hurry. There is also a U1 and U2 mode where you can set the camera up for specific situations and flip over to one of these user defined modes for quick access. The D800 doesn’t have this and it’s one reason why I opted for this camera over the D800. If you’re a fan of back button focusing (where you assign a button on the back of the camera to lock focus as opposed to a half press of the shutter) then you can do so by switching a couple of things in the menus and then using the AEL/AFL button. The D600 really is a hybrid between the D7000 and the D800 with the image quality of the D800 minus about $1000 for the camera. Shooting with this camera all day won’t tire your arm out because it’s not as heavy as the D800 or pro bodies Cannon has (if it does then I suggest you hit the weights).
Wow, this is where the camera shines. If anything I have written so far has you on the fence then you need to reevaluate why your buying a camera in the first place. If your ready to really invest into your photography then your going to want something that will magnify the skills you already know. This camera does that and then some. Every camera before this felt as though the camera needed to be manipulated so that it could squeak out every bit of potential it had. With the D600 it feels as though the camera has everything it needs to produce the perfect image right out of the box. The 24.3 megapixels is more than enough (the D800 has 36.3 megapixels that are a mega pain in the ass to work with and store because of their size). Here are some sample shots from the D600 that you may have seen in other posts:
If you’re a pro looking for a great camera to travel with or use on a regular basis it would be prudent to look at this monster. The D600 gets the same image quality as the D800 but for $1000 less. If you’re an enthusiast and looking for a full frame camera then now is the time to jump, it’s never been more attractive to make the transition. The D600 is a spectacular camera for someone who likes to travel a lot and doesn’t want to risk losing or breaking a $6k or higher camera but doesn’t want to sacrifice image quality. I give it 4 and 1/2 starts out of five with a strong buy recommendation. If your budget is only $1k then I’d say wait until you save up and then purchase this otherwise you will outgrow your camera and have to pay even more in the long run. This camera was built for the serious photographer and does not disappoint.
If you’d like to learn more about the Nikon D600 then please click below and check it out on Amazon.