Nikon D600 Digital Camera Review
Nikon's D600 is just a strong as the D800, minus the extra resolution.
Kit Lens & Mount
We tested the D600 using Nikon's new Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5, which offers a relatively wide aperture all the way through the focal range. The lens isn't very heavy, plus the wide angle and moderate zoom make it a good choice for travel. The same MF/AF and VR On/Off switches found on many Nikon lenses are here too, and so are the large mechanical rings for zoom and focus, which are each a little more stiff than other manufacturers' versions. When focusing or zooming, the front element remains fixed, allowing you to set up filters properly in advance.
Nikon's famously long-lived F-mount is still in use here on the D600, which has full-featured backwards compatibility extending all the way back to lenses produced in the 70's. There's also an autofocus drive motor included for full compatibility with all AF Nikkor lenses. Automatic DX crop is also available in the menus, which limits you to just an APS-C sized portion of the sensor. This has the benefit of giving you a 1.5x crop factor, but it limits resolution to just 10.3 megapixels.
The D600 uses a 24.3 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor. For the uninitiated, this means the digital sensor is just as large as a 35mm film frame or, in even simpler terms, huge. Big sensors unlock more depth of field, wider angles of view, and generally better low light performance.
Convergence areas of different sensor sizes compared
If you follow the news as closely as we do, you'll also know the D600 has become rather infamous for a dust issue, which seems to be the result of a manufacturing flaw. We're sad to report our test model has the same affliction, we noticed dust on both the sensor and the viewfinder as well.
According to this post on the LensRentals.com blog, the dust issue dissipates over time. When we received our prouction-level D600 we made sure to put it through some thorough usage. Our D600 was well-broken in at that point, with over 9000 actuations. After a thorough cleaning and periodic checkups, none of our subsequent tests were affected by this issue.
The D600's bright optical viewfinder is a joy to shoot with. Coverage is 100%, and the screen overlay illuminates red when a focus point locks on. The focus screen displays small boxes around each point, rather than dots or crosses, so you can always see exactly what you're focusing on.
Around the viewfinder is a removable rubber eye cup. Built-in diopter adjustment is accomplished via a small wheel above the eye cup, and it extends from -3 to +1m-1.
The rear LCD monitor is a 3.2-inch display clocking in at a resolution of 921,000 dots. Frame coverage is once again 100%, but we spent far more time with the viewfinder and reserved the LCD mostly for video purposes (though proper videographers will want an external monitor). Nikon's classic scratch guard covers the entire monitor, but even with this addition neither reflectivity nor viewing angle are ever a problem. Brightness is more than sufficient for outdoor use, and onscreen color rendition is remarkably accurate to the final image.
On the left side of the body, you'll find three rubber stoppers, underneath which are connectivity ports for a pair of headphones, an external 3.5mm microphone, USB, HDMI, and even external GPS. The big misses here are going to be the D800's flash sync terminal and 10-pin remote terminal. The D600 does feature the ability to connect wired remotes through the GPS terminal, or go with wireless remotes if you need.
The D600 ships with an EN-EL15 rechargeable battery pack, which must be removed and charged via a wall socket adapter. This battery is CIPA rated to 900 consecutive shots but, unless you're using onboard flash, battery life should be much better in practice. As mentioned above, we actuated the shutter thousands of times on a single charge.
Dual SD card slots reside on the right side of the body. That's right, two SD card slots, no CompactFlash. A remarkably self-explanatory menu item called "Role played by card in Slot 2," governs the role of the card in slot 2. The second card may be used for simple overflow storage, carbon copy backup, or for JPEG versions of RAW images stored in slot 1.
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