Nikon D600 - A Full-Frame Nikon For Your Full-Time Passion (Part 3)

12/22/2012 6:15:33 PM

Light metering

D600’s light meter is similar to one used in D7000, and in most lighting conditions it gives fairly good result. However, when challenged by more difficult conditions, it lacks the complexity of D800’s 91,000pixel 3D Matrix III system and needs manual adjustment. For contrast in early evening’s light, I set -0.7EV to ensure the brightest area would be maintained. Though, this was a little adjustment, and with +/5EV, it have never become a matter. Linking spot meter with AF point is a handy supplement for portrait and a help for you to avoid reviewing your photos, which may be necessary, on the other hand.

Ratings: 7/10

Dynamic range

Dynamic range has long been the upside of Nikon DSLRs and D600 succeeds this trend. Dx0 ( gave the sensor its history’s the third highest score – after Nikon D800 and D800E. With 14.2EV, D600 surpasses its rivals. For those who are looking for a wider dynamic range, it also has controls over D-Lighting to illuminate dark areas in JPG and HDR mode to combine exposures with differential that can be raised up to 3EV.

Ratings: 9/10

HD video usage

HD video has become the standard for all brand-new cameras, but until now Canon EOS 5D Mark II has still been the desire of film lover, partly because of its full-frame sensor. Until Canon EOS 6D will have been released in December, D600 is still a solution for the cheapest full-frame HD video, and it has an extra jack slot while Canon doesn’t. DOF provided by full-frame sensor enhances video creativity and when supported by good optics, it is capable of producing cinematic results. D600 doesn’t feature full control over ISO and capture speed like most cameras do, but aperture can be configured before video-recording via aperture-priority mode. Microphone input means that professional microphones can be used, avoiding recording noise from auto-focus engine, while headphone slot allows for monitoring suitable sound. D600’s MOV file format can be played on almost all devices without being edited, plus a basic configuration for starting and ending points can be done right in the camera.

D600 will be the cheapest solution for full-frame HD video.

D600 will be the cheapest solution for full-frame HD video.


Auto-focus is an element that differentiates D600 from D800, and behind D800’s 51-point system, D600’s 39-point system can’t help a slightly disappointing feeling. However, the result is, in fact, opposite expectation. For example, Canon’s latest full-frame model only features 11-point AF. D600’s Multi-CAM 4800 includes 9 cross-type sensors and 7 points working at f/8, making them useful for photographers working with 2x teleconverter on f/4 optics. In practice, AF is fast and accurate, and the system works extremely well. AF mode, like on D7000, is changed by a quick click on auto/manual lever, then shown in viewfinder allowing you to keep track of the object. One thing it lacks is the levels of configuration on more advanced systems. If D600 has superior AF system, it may lure more audience into take action, like D4 did. However, for general shooting, this camera is quite capable of.

Ratings: 8/10

LCD, viewfinder and video

Even through plastic cover protecting the rear display, D600’s 921,000pixel 3.2in LCD screen still looks impressive. Though this is not an OLED device, contrast is high – probably supported by vivid images – and details feel razor-shaped. There may be chances to add a different thing, such as touchscreen or bracket, yet viewing-angle is quite good and there’re a bunch of buttons in your finger’s reach for better control.

An outstanding advantage for those who are upgrading to D600 from APS-C body is viewfinder’s size. It has 100% coverage and 0.7x magnification, supporting the nice large screen. Despite eyepiece’s size, it is still comfortable for user to view and there’s a diode for standard adjustments.

However, AF points seem sensitive to blacks, only blazes reds instantly while focusing or adjusting AF point. A grid overview can be opened in the menu. Manual AF can be easily done thanks to viewfinder’s brightness and clarity.

As discussed in HD video section above, video is an essential to this camera and most existing DLSRs. D600 records at 1920x1080p resolution with frame rate options of 30fps, 25fps or 24fps, or at 1280x720p resolution with 60fps, 50fps, 30fps or 25fps in QuickTime MOV format.

Video quality seems impressive and thanks to audio options, it also sounds good. Though, video-recording users may find it difficult lacking full manual control.

Ratings: 8/10


It’s unavoidable that both Nikon and Canon will add to full-frame series with second cheap models. That their release date get close appears user’s benefit, thus the price would be competitive.

Canon EOS 6D follows the rules that D600 did, including low-resolution sensor and simpler AF system. With fewer AF pointer and pixels in comparison with D600, 6D can be considered facing difficulty, but it has Wi-Fi installed, GPS and higher ISO setting (120,400).

Tending to aim at the market of D800 and Canon 5D Mark III, Sony’s full-frame Alpha 88 can be in the short-list of photographers. It uses 24.3MP sensor featuring phase-detection to create a 2-phase system, 10fps capture speed and high-quality electronic viewfinder. Full-frame models at present can be rivals, too, especially when the difference in prices of D600 and D800 seem small, and older models offer discounts.

Nikon D600’s rivals

Nikon D600’s rivals


Key points

Dual-dial combo

Shooting mode and burst mode are overlapped on the dial, like it used to in D7000, along with lock key to prevent user from accidental changes.


Sideways connectors include microphone slot and 3.5mm jack, USB, HDMI and GPS mount.


Standard hotshoe mount is compatible with many accessories, including Nikon Speedlights.

Live view/movie

These quick-selection lever and button enable user to put the camera in live view or movie mode.

Wi-Fi dongle

Like D3200, D600 has one custom Wi-Fi dongle that can be attach on the side. It allows for uploading images via a hotspot or 3G devices, or let the camera be remote-controlled through a smartphone using Nikon App.


3.2in 921,000p LCD screen provides large, sharp and accurate display. However, it lacks versatility of a multi-angle mount or additional 4-color OLD unit (white pixel) that can be seen on recent DSLR models.


D800’s circuit has been remade for a better performance. According to the manufacturer, it can deal with 900 photos per recharge, such impressive figure.

Two SD slots

As a consumer model, D600 uses SD card (opposite to CompactFlash). Two slots can be used to transfer different formats or the second slot can be used as a back-up one.


·         RRP: $2,999

·         Sensor: 24.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor (35.9x24mm)

·         Output size: 6016x4016 pixel

·         Lens: Nikon F

·         File format: JPEG, NEF (raw), MOV

·         Compression ratio: JPEG 3-stage, raw 4-stage

·         Color space: Adobe RGB, sRGB

·         Shutter size: Focal plane

·         Capture speed: 30-1/4000s + flash

·         Flash sync: 1/200 (1/250 max)

·         ISO: ISO 100-6400 (extended ISO 50-25,600)

·         Exposure: PASM, 2 custom modes, auto, scene

·         Light meter: 2016pixel RGB sensor, 3D Color Matrix II, center-weighted (75%) and spot (1.5%)

·         EV: +/-5EV in 1/3 or ½ step

·         White balance: Auto (2 styles), 11 presets, 4 custom and auto with correction

·         WB bracket: Yes (2-3fps in 1,2 or 3 steps)

·         Burst mode: hi-speed 5.5fps, low-speed 1-5fps, single frame, quite shutter, self-timer, remote control, mirror up

·         LCD: TFT LCD 3.2in, 921,000 pixels

·         Viewfinder: optical pentaprism

·         DOF: 100% coverage, 0.7x magnification (97% for DX)

·         Diode adjustment: Yes (-3 to +1)

·         AF modes: single, continuous, auto, manual

·         AF points: 39 points (9 cross-type), single-point, dynamic area, 3D tracking, auto area

·         DOF preview: Yes

·         Integrated flash: Yes (GN: 12m at ISO 100)

·         Video: 1080p HD (30fps, 25fps, 24fps), 720p (59.9fps, 50fps, 29.9fps, 25fps, 23.976fps), MOV (H.264/MPEG-4)

·         External microphone: Yes (3.5mm)

·         Memory card: dual SD (UHS-1, SDHC, SDXC)

·         Power: Li-ion EN-EL15 (rechargeable)

·         Connectivity: USB, HDMI, 3.5mm microphone, GPS

·         Weight: 850g (including battery and card)

·         Size: 141x113x82mm



·         Though we were disappointed with D600’s specs at first, this camera really impressed us. Size and weight is appropriate for being held as well as carried along. Layout and navigation appear visual while viewfinder is nice and bright. AF is amazing intelligent when burst speed and cache are sufficient. Images are detailed, without much noise. Plus, JPEG images get ready printed for those who don’t have much time for editing. As a comprehensive camera for real photographers, D600 is very excellent. I would prefer Wi-Fi integrated rather than attached as an accessory, and video mode needs manual settings. For me, retaining light meter and AF system from D800 will be ideal, yet this may result in less reason for a desire for D800.

·         Review: Very good

·         84%

·         Features: 8/10

·         Design/layout: 8/10

·         Noise/resolution: 28/30

·         Dynamic range: 9/10

·         AWB/color: 8/10

·         Light meter: 7/10

·         AF: 8/10

·         LCD/viewfinder: 8/10

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