Full-Frame DSLR

Nikon carved out a new niche with the release of the Nikon D600, which targets new-to-intermediate DSLR users who want a full-frame (FX) sensor camera but don't need all the features and functions of a pro-level DSLR. I've been shooting with a D600 since September 2012, and there's a lot to love about this camera, but there are a few things to consider before making the plunge.

The D600 is a great fit for me. As someone who shoots mainly outdoors in natural light, it has been a pleasure working with those gorgeous 24.3-megapixel files, which I think is a nice total pixel size for a wide range of uses without being too much of a burden on memory cards and drive space. RAW files average around 30 MB and I can easily fit more than 500 photos on a 32-GB memory card. The fact that it has dual SD card slots is a welcome feature that provides the ability to back up to the second card while shooting, or just use the second card for overflow.

Unlike most introductory level DSLRs, the D600 has an internal focus motor, which greatly expands the number of lenses you can use with autofocus. Speaking of lenses, the D600 also has a DX crop mode for use with any crop-sensor (DX) lenses you might have in your bag, and still produces a respectable 10.5-megapixel photo. The 39-point AF system is more than adequate for most situations, though I wish it covered a larger area of the viewfinder. The viewfinder is large and bright, as is the LCD display on the back, which is a great step up from any other enthusiast-level camera.

Dedicated sports photographers may be disappointed by the maximum of 5.5 frames per second continuous shooting, but I didn't mind it at any of the amateur sporting events I've used it at so far. Another area of potential disappointment is the maximum 3-frame limit for bracketing exposures, but you can adjust the exposure compensation +/- up to 3 full stops. While on the subject of potential deal-breakers, the D600's flash sync speed is 1/200 and it doesn't have a built-in sync jack. One of the biggest little things I miss is that there's no one-button-push way to zoom to 100% to check for focus. I love that feature on my D700. I was also initially surprised by the fastest shutter speed limit of 1/4000, but when I checked my catalog of 90,000 photos, I found that fewer than 1,000 had been captured with a shutter speed faster than that.

Those issues aside, the D600 has many other things I've grown to love. I've been impressed with the quality at high ISOs and don't hesitate to dial up to ISO 2000 when I need to keep the shutter speed fast. The placement and integration of Live View shooting and video recording controls is intuitive and a pleasure to use. The quality of the 1080p video is outstanding, and if you're into video, you'll be glad to find there's a dedicated external mic jack, headphone jack for monitoring audio, and even HDMI output. An offshoot of the video functionality is the built-in Time-Lapse recording feature that allows you to configure the interval between shots and total duration, and at the end saves out a MOV file (no stills) that's ready to play. If you need a series of stills taken over a period of time, there's a built-in interval timer mode, too. A deeper-dive into the menu system will reveal a feature-rich and highly configurable camera.

Company: Nikon Inc.
Price: $2,099.95 (body only)
Web: http://www.nikonusa.com
Rating: 4
Hot:  Full-frame sensor; excellent image quality; video
Not:  Price is a little high for the target market