Customer Review

717 of 763 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Camera, Bad Quality Control by Nikon, October 12, 2012
This review is from: Nikon D600 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL) (Electronics)
WHO IS THIS CAMERA FOR?

1.) More advanced photographers moving from DX/crop format to full frame (assuming they already own FX glass or plan to buy at least a couple FX lenses with the D600.)
2.) Photographers who want a second body to accompany their pro body as back-up.
3.) Nikon D300, D300s and D700 users who want better ISO performance, much better resolution and dynamic range and won't miss a couple of the pro features of the D300, D300s and D700.
4.) Patient beginners with very deep pockets who understand it's going to take more than "Auto" mode to create beautiful photos. Open yourself up to RAW.

WHO I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS CAMERA TO:

1.) Beginners with no $$$$. You're gonna need money. Lots of money. Good full frame lenses are expensive. Forget the kit lens that comes with the D600. You're going to need something better to make this camera really shine. EDIT: A few people mentioned in the comments that the kit lens is fine for beginners. Yes, the kit lens is fine for beginners who are just getting started and don't know what they're looking for, however the kit lens can be quite expensive for what it is. In my opinion there are better, sharper, faster lenses out there for that price even if they are not as flexible as this slower zoom lens. Some people may be perfectly happy with the kit lens, but eventually you will want something better and that will most likely cost you lots of money.
2.) People who only want to shoot JPEGs. Yeah... you can shoot beautiful JPEGs with it, but that too requires adjusting settings. JPEGs can be unforgiving as opposed to RAW. Some might really disagree with me on this point, but I've known too many people who bought DSLRs and were surprised when the camera was taking unsatisfactory pictures. It's not the camera, it's the user!
3.) DX/crop sensor photographers who don't own any FX glass. Get yourself FX lenses first. No matter how much you're tempted, it makes much more sense. Trust me.
4.) Anyone expecting $3,000 + features for $2,100.00.

SHOULD YOU BUY THE D600 or the D800???

Depends on what you're shooting, why you're shooting it and how much money you have.

D800 = Pro 51 AF point module vs. 39 AF points - slightly more accurate/faster focus and a tad more viewfinder coverage
D800 = 36 megapixels vs. 24 megapixels - slightly more resolution
D800 = Up to 9 consecutive shots for HDR vs. 3 consecutive shots - better HDR
D800 = Shutter life of 200,000 vs 150,000 - longer life span
D800 = Teeny tiny bit more dynamic range
D800 = 1/250 flash sync speed vs. 1/200

D600 = 5.5 FPS vs 4 FPS - better for sports and wildlife
D600 = Lighter and less pixel density - easier to shoot hand-held with slower shutter speeds (Good for nightime and daytime photography. Less chance of camera shake/motion blurr)and easier to carry during long hikes.
D600 = Just a teeny tiny tad better at high ISO in low light
D600 = $1,000 less
D600 = Smaller file sizes, which means easier file handling.

There are a few more differences, but both cameras will give you incredible results, both cameras have insane high dynamic range and resolution, and both produce beautiful RAW and JPEG files. If you're a serious amateur, the D600 is plenty of camera for you. If you're a beginner, the D800 may be too much camera to start with. By the time you learn the ropes with the D800 (which may take years), the next best thing will be on the market, and you would have wasted $3,000.00 on a camera which you were able to use only 50% of its potential before you trade it in (then again if you're not the type who must upgrade as soon as something new is on the market, the camera will keep you busy for years). For beginners even the D600 may be a bit too much. Pro landscapes could do just fine with the D600, but may appreciate the 12 more megapixels and 9 shot bracketing (for HDR) when they're printing large posters. Wildlife photographers may appreciate the faster FPS, slightly better ISO performance and lighter body of the D600. In my opinion the D800 is more of a tripod camera while the D600 is more of a hand-held camera. If you're still not sure, rent them both and decide that way.

I WANT TO START OFF WITH THE POSITIVES:

I absolutely LOVE my new D600. I moved up from a D7000. Although I like the D7000 a lot, the D600 is even better in many ways.

1.) It has incredible high ISO performance
2.) Sharp, accurate and fast to focus (much better than the D7000) even in dim light
3.) Incredible resolution at 24 megapixels
4.) Very high dynamic range and the color reproduction is beautiful
5.) Fairly light compared to other Nikon pro bodies
6.) 5.5 frames per second which is slightly less than the D7000 6 frames per second, but the D600 has a larger buffer.
7.) Auto-ISO feature is very helpful.
The list goes on.....

As far as use and picture quality goes, this camera blows away anything within the same price range, and even some of the slightly older pro bodies that still go for well over $3,000.00. DXO Mark rates this camera as #3 on it's list, and the only cameras listed above it are the Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E. Believe it or not, the D600 sensor scored higher than the D3s, D4, D700 and all the current (2012) bodies in the Canon line-up. Obviously the D600 lacks some pro features like faster frames per second, an even bigger buffer, a couple of nice easy-setting-access buttons and full magnesium body, but let's face it; If Nikon had put all the good pro-features into the D600, why would anyone in their right mind pay $6,000.00 for a pro body? The D600 is purposely held back in some aspects by Nikon, but this does not mean that great performance and incredible image quality were sacrificed. In my opinion the price (at this time) can't be beat for what you're getting in return.

Contrary to what some believe, the D600 is not a repackaged D7000. It shares some features with the D7000, but it also shares some features with the D800. It's the best of both worlds. It is slightly bigger and heavier than the D7000, and slightly smaller and lighter than the D800. The body design in the front resembles that of the D7000, and the back of the body resembles the D800. Some have commented that the body feels cheap in their hands. I don't understand this sentiment. I guess some people feel that the heavier something is, the more expensive it feels. I can see why someone who has handled a D4 or D800 might say that, but in my opinion the D600 feels just fine. It has slightly better build than the D7000, and the D7000 is solid. I hear this mostly from people who have never taken their "pro" bodies outside the city. They need all this ruggedness, but they never use it. I've put my D7000 through a lot of abuse in the rain, snow, heat, climbed old castle ruins with it,...even dodged unruly kids, beer and drunks in bars and there's not a scratch on it. Do some of these people plan on dribbling their cameras? I keep mine on a neck strap, protecting my lenses. I think the D600 will be just fine.

NOW TO THE NEGATIVES:

Nikon's quality control is suffering greatly, and it's the only reason I'm rating the camera at four stars. It hurts me to do so, but I have to. I don't know if this is common with a lot of camera brands, but out of the four DSLRs I've owned, this is my second Nikon camera in a row suffering some kind of defect. Everything is absolutely perfect about it except the fact that it came with dust/oil spots on the sensor straight out of the box. I didn't notice this at first, but when I was shooting a fairly featureless subject stopped down, I noticed many small round spots concentrated mainly around the top left corner of the photo. These spots can be found all over the picture, but most of them are up in that corner. This is by far not as much of a concern for me as my D7000 back/front focusing issue was, because at least I can clean my own sensor. However it is disappointing to find something like this. It affects picture quality. I have done my best to remove these spots from photos in Lightroom 4, but at some point it becomes a chore. I have contacted Nikon about it and they want me to send it in. Since I love the camera so much, I don't want to be without it for a week or two, but if I don't get this issue resolved, maybe it will make me more upset in the long run. I will update the review once it's fixed.

WHAT ACCESSORIES TO BUY WITH THE D600

This is purely my opinion, but you may want to consider buying the following either directly with the D600, or a sometime after you purchase the D600:

1.) Make sure you buy a good-quality FX lens to go with the D600. Choose the lens based on what you like to photograph most. There are many specialized lenses out there such as wide angle, macro and telephoto. There are zoom lenses and prime lenses. Most pros already know that a well-rounded Nikkor lens line-up to own is the 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR I. or VR II. There's also many great, fast prime lenses to choose from (cheaper options being the 50mm f/1.4G or f/1.8). I know of no lens that is good at everything, so you'll be making sacrifices no matter which one you choose. There are cheaper third-party options out there such as Sigma and Tamron. I myself prefer Sigma if I'm buying third-party. I've had a couple of Sigma lenses, and in fact one of my favorite lenses is the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro. I've used it for macro, birding, as well as portraits. It is super sharp and definitely rivals Nikon's 105mm macro lens in sharpness. Basically choose your first lenses based on what you will photograph most, and later on add more specialized lenses to your collection.

2.) A fast SD card, preferably nothing slower than 45MB/s. write/read speed and at least 16GB such as the SanDisk Extreme Flash memory card (maybe 2 of them), or even better, the 16GB or 32GB 95MB/s SanDisk Extreme Pro Flash memory card. Anything slower than that and you will find the buffer not clearing fast enough when you're shooting in burst mode.

3.) A good photo-editing program such as Lightroom 4, Photoshop CS6/Adobe Camera RAW. I personally use Lightroom 4 for all my photo editing, but some people prefer Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop. If you're not shooting RAW with the D600, you're wasting a lot of its potential. RAW files hold the most information and give you greater dynamic range. Consider the program your developing room. The camera records the information and you develop that information into what you saw or what you wanted to see in the scene when you were shooting. If you're shooting JPEG only, the camera saves only very limited amounts of information. JPEGs also lose quality every time you re-save them, whereas RAW never loses quality and can be modified as many times as you want. It can also be reset to it's original form. RAW is the only way I shoot.

4.) If you have big hands, you may want to consider picking up the MB-D14 battery grip to give the D600 a little more size and better balance. It's also very handy for extended battery life and vertical shooting. There are cheaper third-party battery grips out there, but the quality is lacking and you risk possible damage to your camera. Many people are very satisfied with the cheaper third-party grip options, but I personally would not risk it with an expensive camera.

5.) Second battery. If you already own a D7000 and you plan on keeping it, the good news is that the D600 and D7000 share the same battery. I use my D7000 battery as a spare. Of course if I decide to use both cameras at the same time, this could be a problem. You can get a lot of shots out of the D600 battery on one charge, but it's always nice to have back-up. If you buy the battery grip, you can use regular AA batteries in the grip.

6.) A good sensor and lens cleaning kit. I would recommend at least getting a blower. I bought the Giottos Rocket Air Blaster and that seems to work nice. Other people use things like the Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly, but that's fairly pricey. I guess you get what you pay for. You can always get your sensor cleaned by a camera shop, but they'll charge you anywhere from $40 to $60 each time you bring it in. There's the security in knowing you got it done right, but that can add up to a lot of money down the line. If you don't feel confident enough to clean your own sensor, you're better off having it done by a professional.... however... it is nice to learn to do it yourself. I learned to clean mine on one of my older DSLRs for practice. It's easier than you'd think, but I'm not going to push you if you don't feel good about it.

7.) A camera sling strap like one of the Black Rapid straps or a Carry Speed FS-Pro strap. These attach to the tripod screw mount on the bottom of the camera and you can wear it over your shoulder with the camera and lens swinging next to your hip. You would really appreciate this carry method on longer hikes. or just walking around in general. The Carry Speed FS-Pro strap for example is very rugged and sturdy. The shoulder pad is wide and stretchy. It makes you feel like you're not carrying any weight at all. Neck straps are O.K. for lighter point and shoots, but if you want to save your neck some hardship, you'll look into getting a sling strap instead. It's easy to use, the camera is out of your way when you don't need it, and it's right there when you do.

UPDATE:

I have sent my D600 to Nikon service for the dust issue. They serviced the camera within one week. After I got it back, the sensor was spotless until I took about 600 shots with one lens (a prime, not a zoom) attached the entire time. After considering sending it back again, I decided to buy a sensor cleaning kit instead and cleaned it myself twice. After these two cleanings the spots are not coming back (at least none that I can see). Between shoots I use a Giotto blower to make sure I get rid of any possible spots. So far so good!

CONCLUSION:

I would highly recommend this camera to the category of people I listed at the very top, but I would also recommend caution as far as these dust/oil spots go. Not everybody has had this problem, but there are a number of people who are experiencing it. I'm one of the lucky few. Fact of life is that you're taking a risk no matter what manufacturer you choose. Nikon has had it's issues and so has Canon. The only thing we can do is hammer these companies with complaints and demand justice.
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Comments

Tracked by 13 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 81 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 13, 2012 8:50:31 AM PDT
mgforshort says:
What a great review. Fantastic.
By the way - regarding quality control - please everyone read Thom Hogan's website, where he asks us to sign a petition. It has to do with Nikon refusing to sell camera parts to Nikon owners and independent repair shops. This means that if we lose a lens cap or small O ring we need to pay postage and servicing fees to a factory authorized Nikon repair center. I had a warranty repair on a Nikon S8100 and took them 6 weeks to get it done. No big deal, we have other cameras, but if you only own one body you'll be hurting.
I asked Nikon about the new policy and they replied in an e mail. They claim that the new digital cameras are way to complex for repair by anyone else than their own repair centers. They also have a list where they still sell parts to owners, but the list only contains small parts like battery covers and some o rings. Even more alarming is that the list DOES NOT include the newer cameras, such as the Nikon 3200, 800, or 600.
Please check the website and sign the petition to Nikon to change this idiotic policy. Imagine if you couldn't get a lug nut for your Chevy truck without making a service appointment with the selling dealer first, then being forced to leave the truck there for a week until they get to it.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2012 4:42:45 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 13, 2012 4:45:17 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 13, 2012 4:45:56 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 13, 2012 4:46:04 PM PDT]

Posted on Oct 15, 2012 2:15:38 AM PDT
Thank you for such a fantastic review;very nice and helpful. I myself am a D90 user and really interested in the D600. I have handled it for a while( in various shops) and didn't find it to be too much heavier or bulkier than the D90. The auto focus seemed quite fast( my prime concern) and of course the high ISO was fantastic, something that is a real improvement over the D90( not that the D90 is bad in this regard). There is a lot of talk about the focus points concentrated in the center and not spread out enough compared to the 51 points of the other pro FX cameras. In your experience does that affect composition and shooting? Do you find yourself focusing and recomposing a lot? Thanks again.
Best regards,
Fouad

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012 8:01:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 15, 2012 10:24:01 AM PDT
J. Pivkova says:
I'm glad you found it helpful. I did forget to mention the focus point spread in my review. To answer your question, it does bother some people (especially those who are used to having the 51 focus point AF), but it doesn't bother me as much. It will not bother you at all if you like to shoot landscapes for example. It might bother you a little when you're shooting action during difficult circumstances like rock concerts where the performers are all over the stage and the lights keep changing every second. You can still achieve incredible results even under these circumstances (I know I did), but you might have to crop a few in post-processing if the composition isn't what you were looking for. The points are not as centered as some believe. Even the 51 AF points are pretty much centered, but they add an additional row of focus points around the frame. They're also just a tiny little bit more spread out,...so the coverage is better, but not drastically better. I've shot wildlife with mine, and the AF points didn't bother me there. Most of my subjects end up being near the center anyway, and the 39 AF is quite good at tracking them. Birds in flight have given me no issues,... even small, fast ones. I would recommend that you try it out yourself to make sure it doesn't bother you. I don't know what your needs are as a photographer. I don't like to focus and recompose, so I try to do my best to use the most outer focus points when framing. Most of the time it works out. I only seldom found myself a little frustrated. It's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be, but like I said,...some people will mind. Is it a deal-breaker? It might be for professionals in high-stress situations who can't afford to miss any shots, but for serious hobbyists or casual photographers, I don't think so. The camera makes up for these little annoyances in incredible image quality.

Posted on Oct 16, 2012 1:44:26 PM PDT
runfast says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Oct 20, 2012 11:47:37 PM PDT
Superb review.
By the way I have a Canon 5D mark 2 and it also has spots on the sensor which seem to be oil. I just bought some Eclipse cleaning fluid to deal with this.
I also have some Digipads to wipe the sensor.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2012 6:34:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 22, 2012 6:36:35 AM PDT
Thanks for another great insight, sorry I took this long to say thanks :-), I was traveling( with my D90, for now....)
Yes I too think that the 39 vs 51 points AF thing has been blown a little bit out of proportion, I was observing the AF points superimposed atop each other in a simulation diagram and really there isn't too much of a difference. Even the 51 points don't spread too far out into the periphery.
Like you said, for an enthusiast the AF is probably more than enough, and even enthusiast is stretching it a bit, as far as my capabilities are concerned . The smaller size and lower weight, plus the 5.5 FPS vs 4 FPS make me tilt towards the D600 instead of the D800
Thanks again.
Best wishes,
Fouad

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2012 10:35:12 AM PDT
J. Pivkova says:
It seems like all the camera manufacturers have some sort of issue. It could have been the earthquake and tsunami that set them back as far as it did. I have considered also cleaning my own sensor, but I have heard that unless you're only using a blower to get rid of dust on the sensor, they can void your warranty when using wet cleaning methods. I ended up sending my camera in to Nikon for a fix and clean. That's probably the safest method for now.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 12:23:51 PM PST
J. Hezekiah says:
Great review first off.....With respect to the black spots.....seems there is an issue with the D800/D600 where excess lubricating oil from the mirror mechanism 'splashes' onto the senor. It shows up clearly at F stops above 8 but below 8 it tends to disappear....Imagine my disgust when i saw it on my sensor....with photos you can get around it somewhat but in video , no such luck, I purchased from amazon the eclipse digital survival kit Digital Survival KIT - Sensor Swab Type 3 (w/Eclipse) and cleaned the sensor myself....took me three swabs but it's clean for now....(i bought extras :-) ), I'll see how long it lasts. The impression I get from all the reviews that I've read about this issue is it eventually stops happening after the excess oil comes out of the mirror mechanism. I know it's scary but there are many videos online which show you how to do it....I live in the Caribbean, if i have to send back my camera to Nikon who knows when I'll get it back....
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