The Nikon D600 is the first of a new breed: budget full-frame DSLR cameras. You get the same professional-quality images as with expensive full-frame pro cameras for nearly $1,000 less. You'll have to settle for some less advanced specs, but experts say you might not miss them and plenty of satisfied owners agree.
"As user-friendly as the Nikon D7000." "Given that the Nikon D600 is based on the Nikon D7000 (Est. $1,000 (with kit lens)) , which I think is still one of the best-designed Nikon dSLRs, it should be unsurprising that I really like this model's design and operation," says Lori Grunin of CNET. The D600 adds some welcome improvements, such as locking pins for the mode and release mode dials so an accidental bump won't switch your settings, a big bright viewfinder that shows 100 percent of the scene, and a big 3.2-inch LCD screen.
Speed and image quality stack up nicely against pricier DSLRs. While not the largest-megapixel camera Nikon offers, nobody's complaining about the very healthy 24.3-megapixel sensor on the Nikon D600. It "captures an astonishing amount of detail...more than most people will ever need," says Zoltan Arva-Toth at PhotographyBlog.com. The D600 shoots 5.5 fps, but suffers from less sophisticated autofocus than other DSLRs in its class with only 39 autofocus points. HD video mode is sufficient and the battery life, at 900 shots per charge, is enough for a day's hard shooting.
Partly plastic body won't be as tough as all metal. Unlike other full-frame cameras that are built pro-tough with all-metal bodies, the Nikon D600 substitutes plastic panels on its front and bottom. This saves weight and cost, but it makes the D600 a little less rugged than other full-frame cameras. However, it's weather-sealed against dust and moisture "to the same degree" as pricier Nikon cameras, Ben Andrews points out at TechRadar.com.
Borrows great features. Some of the Nikon D800's (Est. $2,800 body only) best extras carry over to the cheaper D600, including dual memory card slots and pop-up flash with built-in wireless control for external flashes. There's also an HDMI jack that lets you ship HD video out of the camera without compressing it. Unlike the pricier model, the D600 is compatible with a $60 Wi-Fi adapter that lets you wirelessly send images to your iPhone, iPad or Android device, or use your device as a remote control to snap a photo.
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"The Nikon D600 is a terrific camera," Ben Andrews concludes after this test. It packs full-frame image quality into a compact, less expensive body. He finds a couple of complaints -- he'd like more autofocus points, for one -- but gives the camera 4.5 stars out of 5. TechRadar.com also publishes separate head-to-head comparisons between the D600 and two other cameras in this class, the Nikon D800 and upcoming Canon EOS 6D.
Review: Nikon D600 Review, Ben Andrews, Sept. 27, 2012
The Nikon D600 "will serve you just as well" as the pricier D800, as long as you don't mind the lower (but still high) resolution and a few other omissions. PhotographyBlog.com gives both cameras equal ratings of 4.5 stars out of 5.
Review: Nikon D600 Review, Zoltan Arva-Toth, Oct. 1, 2012
The Nikon D600 earns a perfect 5 stars and an Editor's Choice nod here. Joshua Waller does find some quibbles -- the "white balance performance could be better," for example -- but overall the D600 delivers "excellent image quality and performance" for less than other full-frame cameras.
Review: Nikon D600 Digital SLR Review, Joshua Waller, Oct. 2, 2012
Two full-frame DSLR cameras, the Canon EOS 6D and the Nikon D600, are compared in this review. The Nikon D600 pulls ahead for its lower price that includes a flash, a higher-resolution sensor and faster continuous shooting than the Canon EOS 6D. It also has more focus points, a larger screen and headphone sockets.
Review: Canon EOS 6D vs Nikon D600 DSLR Comparison Review, Joshua Waller, Feb. 26, 2013
Offering excellent full-frame performance for less than its rivals, the Nikon D600 earns 4 stars out of 5, an Excellent rating and a spot on Lori Grunin's list of the best DSLRs. The only flaw she finds is some unexpected, unrecoverable highlight clipping. She includes a very helpful chart comparing the D600's specs with other entry-pro cameras from Nikon, Canon and Sony.
Review: Nikon D600 Review, Lori Grunin, Oct. 9, 2012
Owner reviews of the Nikon D600 are very positive, with about 400 users giving the camera an average score of just under 4 stars out of 5 here. Several say their D600s had oil spots on the sensor, which necessitated either a return or a mail-in to Nikon's repair center.
Review: Nikon D600 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014