Build and handling
With a build somewhere between the D7000 and D300S, the D600 feels professional, but is still small and light enough to keep in your bag for opportune shots. The body features a part magnesium-alloy structure that encompasses the top and rear sections, like the D7000, rather than the full shell like the D800, but it has the same degree of weather sealing as its big brother, to resist dust and moisture. The new AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR kit lens also features weather sealing.
While the appearance and general layout of the D600 is closest to the D7000, in use I was reminded far more of the D300S and its predecessors. The large rubber eyepiece and screen protector on the rear give the camera a rugged feel, and although the grip isn’t overly deep for the size of the camera I found it sufficient for holding the camera in one hand between shots.
The shooting-mode dial follows a similar design to the D7000, rather than the mode-button method of the professional range. However, this dial now has a lock button in the centre of the dial to prevent accidental mode changes. With another lock button for the second dial below, it can be quite tricky to change the shooting mode and drive mode when you want to, but this is better than the result of shooting in the wrong setting.
The rear function buttons double up in their operation, between playback and shooting, but most of the time this is not a problem. The only time I found this an issue was when the camera was showing a preview of the last shot and the button, instead of changing the ISO (as it would in shooting mode), zoomed out of the image.
One clever addition that is useful, though, is that when changing the ISO button you use the rear finger dial, but if you turn the front finger dial it switches into auto ISO mode. This works with the white balance – changing the variants of each setting and the quality setting – altering the image size of the JPEG files between large, medium and small.
The function buttons seem to cover most of the controls needed for fast operation, and by pressing the Info button twice you gain quick access to additional controls such as movie settings, noise reduction, D-Lighting, card selection and custom button assignment.
The main menu is fairly clear for all other functions, although the shooting menu feels a little bloated, spanning over four screens. It would have been better to move the video and autofocus functions into their own submenus.