Nikon D600 at a glance:

  • 24.3-million-pixel, full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 3 processor
  • ISO 100-6400 (ISO 50-25,600 extended)
  • Multi-CAM 4800 39-point AF
  • 3D Color Matrix II metering
  • 3.2in, 921,000-dot TFT LCD
  • 5.5fps continuous shooting
  • Full HD 1080p video capture
  • Street price £1,955 body only

Nikon D600 review – Introduction

It’s been a busy year for Nikon. New cameras have been launched across its DSLR range, from the professional-spec D4 to the entry-level D3200, as well as more recent additions such as the Nikon 1 J2 compact system camera, the full-frame D800 and a healthy range of compacts. Right before the photokina trade show, we suspected there were more models to come – and we were right.

Announced just a week before the show started, the Nikon D600 fills an apparent gap in Nikon’s range between the semi-professional D800 and the advanced amateur D7000. This gap has perhaps been widened by the ageing D300S, a camera that is now more than three years old. While the D600 isn’t a direct replacement, it should certainly appeal to those upgrading from the D700 or D300S, as well as those wanting to step up from the D7000 or D90.

The Nikon D600 uses a new 24.3-million-pixel, full-frame sensor. This is believed to be a Sony-made unit, as has been the case with many previous Nikon sensors – particularly as the release of the camera came just a day after Sony announced three new models, including the Alpha 99, with a seemingly identical sensor.

The camera borrows much of its layout and styling from the D7000, yet with a slightly bigger and heavier body. It also adds weatherproofing, a hefty screen guard and, most importantly, that full-frame sensor.

Despite the rapid advances in image quality from smaller sensors and the array of compact system cameras offering APS-C-sized sensors to match DSLRs, the full-frame unit is still considered the pinnacle of image quality for many amateur users. The arrival of the Canon EOS 5D and Nikon D700 first brought the 35mm sensor size within reach of the serious amateur, but there has continued to be a huge price leap from the high-end APS-C-sized models to those using full-frame sensors.

The D600 is aimed at addressing this gap and bringing full-frame cameras to a wider audience. However, when based on the suggested retail price, there remains a £990 price gap between the APS-C-sized D7000 (£1,005) and the full-frame D600 (£1,995), with room, potentially, for a higher resolution APS-C-sized model at around the £1,400 price mark.

Despite the full-frame sensor and premium price, the D600 sits in Nikon’s consumer range, not the professional range with the D300S. It has a built-in flash, a standard shooting-mode dial and scene modes. While this is an enthusiast camera, like the D7000 it is still likely to appeal to professionals wanting a second full-frame body. We received one of the first samples after the announcement and put the camera straight to the test.

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