Nikon D600. First impressions

As I mentioned in my previous post i was loaned from Nikon Greece the new nikon D600 for testing it in the field.

So last week I drove with my wife and son to Mainalos mount near Vitina. I set my base at Vitina house forest resort – a very beautiful place with great service – and the very next morning I started with the test.


Let me cut the chase and tell you after my short living with the camera i strongly feel that the nikon D600 is the best value for money camera in the entire full frame dslr market.


D600 image quality


To my eyes the image quality is on par with the d800 albeit the difference in resolution which is not obvious in a normal screen viewing. 

Dynamic range,colors, noise, pulling information from shadows are similar to the d800.

In a 100% magnification the difference  is small and in favor of the d800 but not in all surfaces at the same degree.


D600 or D800 ? That is the question


Being so similar to the d800 in image quality the question to my mind is not if the camera is good  but literally if it is worth saving the money and buy this instead of the d800.


Here is how i think about it.  I am taking three factors under consideration

Computer gear. D800 files are more demanding in computer power. If you do not want to deal with that, d600 is the option.

Expensive lenses. To gain full advantage of the 36mp sensor you will need to shot with the most expensive nikon or  glass. If you plan to shoot the d800 with the nikon 28-300 or equivalent then the d600 makes a lot more sense.

Print. If you are using the best glass and print big, the d800 makes more sense.

For the kind of hiking i do (light to moderate), I do not consider the difference in weight and size as a serious one. 

 What about getting a d600 as a second body (if you are already a d800 owner)?

That is a tough one because the d600 is a very tempting camera. I do not believe there is another camera at this price point with such a great sensor. Even the much more expensive 5dIII does not have the quality sensor of the d600. It is almost as good as the d800 but for a 1000 dollars less. 


So why am I baffled?

Because Nikon designed the d600 for the d7000 owner. 

I am coming from the d700 line and I did not feel at home with the d600. Do not get Me wrong, it is a nikon after all but there are a lot of things that wished were different.

1. my remote release cable that works with the d700 and d800, is not compatible with the d600 (different ports)

This means that i have to buy and carry a second one.

2. I miss the ok button at the down left of the back of my camera. And the one press magnification (at 100%) from the centre button of the dial in the back. That is how I have customized it to the d700 and i could not find the appropriate menu to do that on the d600. Maybe I missed that so do not quote me on that.

3. I do not like the feel and ergonomics of the top left mode dial in the d600. Not easy to press the small black button and rotate the dial. 

4.  No exposure indication in manual mode on the upper display renders it unusable. You can operate from the main display though. 

5. Max shutter speed is 1/4000 which means that i may not be able to use lenses very open f/1.8 etc.

6. Even though i do not do complicated flash work i do not like Max sync flash speed at 1/200

7. A dedicated picture control button?? Who is using this so often?

8. The d600 in live view mode will not allow you to change the aperture and see the DOF effect of the new chosen diaphragm. You have to exit live view and enter again with the aperture you want to see its DOF effect.


And to go my thought even further i would say this. 

If i would shoot only landscapes then my d600 would be my back up camera which means not a lot of use. So the choice would be much easier. I would buy one and if i had to use it a few times I would not mind a small discomfort to my habits.


But in my mind and being a wildlife shooter means that both bodies will see an almost equal use from the seat of my vehicle in my next safari. I do not mind having files both 24mp and 36mp. After all if we are talking for lets say 2000 files I wouldn’t mind half of them to be lighter in mb than the other half. I am sure my mac would not mind :)


But i am thinking on the field shooting one minute with the d800 with the 70-200 then the next minute grabbing the d600 with the 200-400 will be a hassle and I might be frustrated. 

The alternative solution is having a d800E and a d800. That is a choice of some people that i know and trust but it would not hurt if i could save the 1000 dollars and maybe buy an OM-D for my photography in the slums. 

I do not know. I am still undecided not because of the image quality of the d600 but because the design and the lay out is made with other users in mind. 


I hope I ll find some time end of this week to post a comparison set of shots between the d800 and the d600.

I ll be in touch….and add more photos later…

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