Nikon D600 First Impressions

I recently replaced my Nikon D7000 with a Nikon D600. The D600 is to serve as my travel body and backup body to my Nikon D4. Although the D7000 served me well, I couldn’t help but be tempted by having another Full Frame (FX) body. All but one of my lenses are Full Frame lenses. So the D600 fits in perfectly. It’s Nikon’s lowest priced Full Frame body and while it’s not technically a D700 replacement, it is the closest thing to date that Nikon has introduced to replace the D700. Let me answer some questions right off the bat…

Why not a D800?

As I’ve said before, I love the D800 and the only thing that is stopping me from getting one is the fact that it shoots 36MP RAW files and that’s just more data than I “need” and certainly much more than I want to deal with in terms of retouching, RAM requirements, storage, transfer speeds, etc. etc. If they come out with a model or update that allows you to turn down the size of the RAW files I’d certainly give it another look.

What about the problems I’ve heard about the D600?

The first negative I read about the D600 was from David Hobby. The deal breaker for him was the Flash Sync Speed being capped at 1/200th. Not a concern for me. The next one I read about was “dust”. Apparently there are/were D600 shipping with dust on the sensor right out of the box. I haven’t noticed this issue. I do plan to do some extensive checking/testing, but as of right now, no dust that I can see. Lastly, both Scott Kelby and Jason Lykins were frustrated by not being able to program the center select button to zoom into an image at 100%. I can certainly see this as a potential deal breaker if you were used to that configuration on your previous/other body. Since I had never configured the button to do that on my other bodies, I don’t miss it not being there on the D600. Others have asked “is the 3 exposure bracketing limit too limiting for HDR?” I would say yes and no. If you shoot a lot of HDR, yes. However, you could always manually adjust the exposure to get more in s pinch. I don’t shoot a lot of HDR so I’m fine with this limitation. All systems go!

I took this HDR shot from my hotel window in San Francisco last week.

The Feel

The first thing I noticed when I picked up a D600 was how good it felt in my hand. It’s one of those things that you can’t really put into words, but it just felt very comfortable. Of course much lighter than my D4 and even a better “more secure” feel than my D7000 and even better than that of the D700 from what I remember.

The Buttons and Controls

When I talk to photographers that are just starting out, they usually ask me why do some DSLRs cost more than others. Outside of the differences in sensors, fps, and other internal characteristics, the other major difference is the number of dials and buttons on the body itself. Most low end DSLRs have few buttons and controls as dedicated buttons. This means more trips the menu. The D600 doesn’t have as many options as the much more expensive D4, but it does have the right balance/mix for what I intend to use it for. I can operate the camera in Manual mode or a shooting mode without making any additional trips to the menu.

What about the Wireless Module?

I have ordered the WU-1b wireless module, but I have yet to see it show up. In the meantime the D600 has been working just fine with my Eye-Fi card in the 2nd SD slot just like I used it in my D7000.

Other Stuff

I was very happy to see Nikon use the same battery/charger as the D7000 and D800. Since I already had some extra batteries for my D7000 I was able to use them in the D600 instead of selling them with the D7000. Once again I went with a 3rd party Battery Grip (just as I did with the D7000), look for a separate review of that this week.

Overall I’m quite pleased, but…

I love this camera! It’s perfect for my needs of a travel body and backup body. The 24MP upgrade from 16MP isn’t too bad either. However, there is one thing that annoys the crap out of me. The mode dial has a button on the top of that you have to press before turning the dial. I’ve never had to do this with any of my other Nikon bodies and while I’m sure I’ll get used to it, it bugs me a LOT right now. The only other wish I had was that of a terminal port. It’s not crucial for me for this body, but it definitely would have been a nice to have.

You can get the Nikon D600 ON SALE here from B&H Photo or here from Amazon.
See more of my photography here.

Shooting my first time-lapse video

I remember Moose Peterson discovering that the D4 shot time-lapse captures as an actual movie instead of producing the individual frames as still images. I was pleasantly surprised to see this feature on the D600 as well. I had never shot a time-lapse before and there was a lot to learn about them, so please don’t judge this first attempt too harshly as I know I have a lot to learn about making them better:

and here’s the very 1st test when I had no clue as to what I was doing and had just about every setting set wrong:

I’ve learned quite a bit since these were shot and will definitely make some better ones the next time I’m in a location worthy of a time-lapse.

25 Replies to “Nikon D600 First Impressions”

  1. What are your thoughts on only having 3 exposure brackets when taking HDR. I have a D300s and there are many occasions when I need 5 exposure brackets to cope with the light.

    1. I can definitely see that being a limitation for those that do a lot of HDR. I don’t, so it’s not a big deal for me. Plus I could always shoot more exposures manually If I really had to.

      1. My understanding is that those 3 brackets can be set up to -3 + 3 ev which for many of us, saves at least 2 shutter clicks on every HDR with d700 and d800.

        1. I think the dynamic range of 5 stops +- will not work for images with only a 5
          stop dynamic range and I think such a wide gap for a 7stop range will cause you to loose some of the mid range detail

          1. Agreed. It is a little confusing that bracketing has been reduced. The dream is probably 5 or 7 bracketing, AND be able to choose up to +/- 3 EV

  2. Very nice review. I particularly like the time lapse feature you mentioned. In my case, I decided to go with the D800 to complement my D700. Although I have no need for 36MP files, at least I have a system with plenty of RAM and terabytes of RAID storage to deal with processing them. The D600 would have been my next camera, but some of the things it’s missing that you discussed in the article (and the bracketing issue in the comments) were deal breakers for me.

    It’s good that we have so many choices, though.

  3. This is sort of off topic. I am new to your blog, loving it by the way, so I have not seen you talk about this recently. You mentioned in this post that you use an eye-fi card in your second slot. Now is this just to skip a step in the import process or does Lightroom allow you to “tether” with the eye-fi? I ask because I shoot with a 7000 and would love to have wireless tether if possible.

    1. Hi and welcome JJ,
      Here are a couple of my posts regarding how I use the Eye-Fi Card:

      Lightroom only directly tethers to supported cameras via USB. However, Lightroom also has an “Auto Import” feature that can automatically import images from a watched folder. You could shoot with the Eye-Fi wirelessly dumping them to your computer and then LR would pick them up, but the time that it takes per image may be an issue.

  4. Terry,
    My decision to buy the D600 was driven by several factors. 1. My first entry to full frame. CMOS sensor and shooting in low light .My budget only allows for 1 camera and one lens at this point. I email Mr. McNally, to my surprise he replied and suggested the 24-70 2.8 or the 70-200 2.8. By budget sent to the f4 24-105 nikkor. WOW I am so pleased, I came from a D300.

    I also got the wifi add on. it is fast and works light great. Also you can get the Iphone App and use it as remote trigger.

    Nikon support gave me some incorrect info about the wifi. I was told the wifi would only work if wifi was was active in the phone or in the area working. What I found out, it works regardless. My phone does have active wifi in a field, etc. All I need to do, is fire up the camera, my iphone and bingo, works. Thought you readers might not know this.

    For what I do and how I do my work, The D600 hits the spot.

    I would have gone with Mr. McNally suggestion, but budget was at the end.

    Merrry Christmas to you, your family and your readers

    Ken in KY

  5. Terry you said you stayed away from the D800 due to the 36mp RAW files. I know the D800 can shoot at lower resolutions with different aspect ratios. Is that something that you didn’t want to do and if so why? Are the lower resolutions jpegs and not RAW and that is the deal breaker for you? Just curious as I just bought the D600 as well and will probably take it back and go with the D800 as I do shoot a lot of HDR. Thanks!

    1. 1st and foremost it’s full frame (FX) vs. cropped sensor (DX).
      Larger sensor 35.9mm vs. 23.6mm
      100% coverage in the viewfinder
      More movie capture options
      24MP vs. 16MP isn’t bad either.

  6. My question was about a comparison with your D700 not your D7000. The 100% viewfinder is a difference; as is the video capability and an even greater differential in the resolution. My main questions would center first of all on the quality of the images, but also on high ISO differences.

    1. Sorry, my eyes saw an extra 0.
      As far as an image comparison goes I haven’t shot enough images with the D600 in various lighting conditions to make s fair comparison. Also the D4 was the replacement to my D700 at the beginning if the year. For me the main reason for wanting a D700 replacement was to get the video features in a FX body. The rest was a bonus.

  7. This conversation has helped me to realize that of the D800, the D600, and the D700, my present D700 is clearly still the best camera for me. I do a fair amount of HDR (simply to deal with a wide range of light); the resolution is more than adequate for 13×19″ prints and the high ISO capability has been plenty adequate. A D4 would be a better camera for me; unfortunately, it doesn’t fit my budget.

  8. Hi Terry,

    Congrats on all the lagtest (Mag, tour, etc). Quick question. What sensor cleaning method or tools do you use. I have a D300 / D800.

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