We've been watching out for the D600 since images leaked a couple of months ago, and today it's been made official: a full-frame DSLR that's priced ever-so-slightly closer to the reach of mortals (read: "high-end enthusiasts") who perhaps can't claim everything off their tax. At just shy of $2,100 (update: €2,150 in Europe), the 24-megapixel camera's US list price is significantly lower than that of the 36-megapixel D800, and undercuts Canon's rival EOS 5D Mark III and Sony's brand new full-frame Alpha A99.
What's more, aside from the resolution, you're getting something pretty close to the D800 -- including a weather- and dust-resistant magnesium alloy build, fast Exspeed III processor, and AF that works down to f/8 -- but here it's all contained in a body that sheds a full 15 percent off the D800's weight. It feels great to hold a full-frame DSLR like this, which is barely any heavier or more conspicuous than an APS-C shooter like the D7000.
Nikon is also making a big deal out of the fact that the D600 handles wireless transfers and triggers using the new WU-1b widget, which is identical to the familiar WU-1a we reviewed on the D3200 except that it plugs into the camera's USB port rather than the HDMI port. There's an Android app to allow your mobile device to communicate with the camera, and an iOS app is set to land by the end of September.
Read on a few more initial impressions and a quick look at the D600's high-ISO performance.
Nikon D600 hands-on photos
Nikon D600 publicity photos
Although on paper the D600 has the same ISO rating (100 to 6400) as the D800, Nikon told us that the D600's images are "almost" as clean -- suggesting there's some mild disadvantage in this respect, despite the fact that the D600 has far fewer pixels crammed onto its sensor. (You can see more on the D800's ISO performance here).
We shot a few high-ISO samples with the D600 just to get an early indication, and things certainly look clean up to 6400, but then they fall away rapidly once you head into Hi1 and Hi2 territory -- hinting that Nikon isn't being modest in its rating. The D600 is nothing like the D4, but then it isn't designed to be.
Taking a look at the D600's video credentials, you'll see that recording is limited to 24p, 25p and 30p at 1080, with 60p only available if you drop down to 720. In comparison, the Sony A99 can do 60p at 1080, which could come in handy for slow-mo or that high frame-rate appearance. The D600 can, however, manage uncompressed HDMI out, which the Sony does but the Canon doesn't. Having shot a bit of video in bad lighting and in live view mode, we found that the follow focus system (where you set a subject and the camera follows it) was particularly reliable and fast, although any type of autofocus filming on a DSLR is still something of a mission.
The D600 should become available in the US and the UK on September 18th. In the US, you'll be able to nab the body only for $2,099.95, while an AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR kit will be on offer for $2,699.95. The WU-1b will be available on the same day for $60 and the MB-D14 Multi Power Battery Pack will ship later in the month for $322.
Update: There's some confusion over the stated European price (2,385 Euros), which does seem particularly harsh compared to the US amount. Reader Stefan Varkuti spotted that Nikon's German website states a lower price of 2,150 Euros, but that could be due to taxes. We've requested clarification from Nikon on this and will update again soon as we hear back.
Update: Turns out that 2,385 Euros was actually specific to the Republic of Ireland. More generally in Europe, 2,150 Euros is the appropriate figure. The UK price is £1,956.
Steve Dent contributed to this report.
PERFORMANCE THAT FUELS THE PASSION: THE NEW NIKON D600 PUTS FX-FORMAT IN FOCUS FOR PHOTO ENTHUSIASTS
As Nikon's Smallest, Lightest and Most Affordable Full-Frame HD-SLR, the D600 Packs in Powerful, Pro-Grade Photo and Video Features with Wireless Sharing and Capture Capabilities
MELVILLE, N.Y. (September 13, 2012) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the 24.3-megapixel (MP) D600, a camera that is designed to deliver the image quality and performance benefits of a full frame FX-format sensor to the enthusiast looking to take their dedication to the next level. The Nikon D600 offers a remarkable value, merging the perfect combination of a lightweight, compact form factor and superior image quality, making the leap into FX-format photography more attractive than ever.
Whether shooting stills or Full HD video, advanced features and Nikon technologies like the newly developed high resolution CMOS sensor and EXPEED 3 image processing engine are designed to meet the needs of the most demanding creative vision. Additionally, Nikon's new optional WU-1b wireless adapter allows users to shoot high quality HD-SLR images and transfer them to their mobile device, making it easier to stay connected, without the need for wires.
"For many, image making is so much more than a hobby; it is a way of life that changes the way the world is perceived. The Nikon D600 represents a new category of camera for this user and demonstrates Nikon's devotion to the passionate photographer who is always looking for new ways to express their creativity through their photos and HD videos," said Bo Kajiwara, Vice President of Marketing, Planning and Customer Experience, Nikon Inc. "By offering users the advanced FX-format and key features inherited from our professional cameras, along with new functions like optional wireless capabilities, Nikon is inspiring photographers by providing an imaging experience that satisfies like never before."
Superior Image Quality
Nikon's FX-format offers photographers exciting image quality possibilities, from dazzling dynamic range and exacting detail to stellar low-light ability. The D600 employs Nikon's newly developed, large 24.3 MP FX-format CMOS Sensor (35.9 x 24mm) to offer photographers a versatile camera that provides amazing image quality and sharpness, with ample resolution to tackle almost any project. Because the needs of the advanced amateur varies widely, the new CMOS sensor provides a wide ISO range from 100-6400 (expandable from 50-25,600) to give photographers maximum low-light flexibility yielding clean images with minimal noise and accurate color. The full ISO range can also be used while capturing HD video in challenging light. Nikon's exclusive EXPEED 3 image processing engine interprets the massive amount of image data flowing from the sensor to quickly process images and HD video. The result is striking images and impressive HD video that exhibits faithful color reproduction and tonal range throughout the frame.
Precision Technology Engineered for the Enthusiast
Enthusiasts of all types demand the best from their gear, and the Nikon D600 is a camera engineered with intuitive features that give photographers an edge in the field. Whether shooting lush landscapes, action sports or the elusive animals of the Serengeti, Nikon's Scene Recognition System and 2,016 pixel RGB sensor excels in any situation. By recognizing the scene prior to capture, the system meticulously analyzes factors such as color and brightness with extraordinary precision and compares all the data using Nikon's exclusive 30,000 image database. The result is enhanced AF performance and flattering exposures.
For precise AF performance in a wide variety of shooting conditions, the D600 features a 39 point AF system with the new MultiCAM 4800FX AF module. This AF array is well suited to a wide variety of shooting styles and disciplines, offering AF modes to let users select a single point, continuous AF, Dynamic AF or use 3D tracking to keep pace with a moving subject throughout the frame. Additionally, the system features nine cross type sensors for maximum accuracy, while seven AF points are fully functional when using compatible NIKKOR lenses and teleconverters with an aperture value up to f/8 for extreme telephoto applications.
To keep up with action sports, active wildlife or the photo opportunity that unexpectedly arises, the D600 is ready to shoot in 0.13 seconds, with a 0.052 second shutter release. The camera emphasizes speed and performance, from overall operation and image processing, helped in part by the exceptional EXPEED 3 processing engine. The camera is also capable of bursts of images at 5.5 frames per second (fps) at full resolution with full AF, to capture decisive moments. To further enhance speed and workflow, images and video can also be rapidly transferred to dual SD card slots that are compatible with the latest SDXC and UHS-1 high speed standards.
Enthusiasts will also appreciate other thoughtful features made to appeal to more advanced photographers, such as the 100% frame coverage seen through optical viewfinder. The wide and bright view makes it easy to compose in a variety of conditions, and affords the ability to enjoy shooting for hours on end with minimal eye fatigue. Additionally, the D600 features several scene modes and features to enhance creativity, including one-touch access to Picture Control functions through a new dedicated button. Photographers can also shoot images in High Dynamic (HDR) mode for amazing highlights, and create awe-inspiring time lapses with ease.
Experience Full HD
The Nikon D600 has advanced video features that are ideal for those ready to embrace the world of HD-SLR video, as well as those already enjoying its benefits such as manual control, depth of field, low-light ability and lensing options. This camera gives users the ability to record Full HD at varying frame rates and resolutions including 1080p video at 30, 25 or 24p, and 720p video at 60, 50 and 30p. When shooting HD video at the highest quality setting, up to 20 minutes can be recorded, or up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds in normal quality for added convenience when shooting static shots such as interviews and events. The large 3.2-inch 921K dot LCD screen makes it easy to preview images or video captured, navigate the menu system or confirm critical HD focus, while automatic brightness control adapts seamlessly to changing lighting conditions.
Sophisticated video features help to increase the production value on any project, including full manual control of exposure, and the ability to switch between FX and DX-format (1.5X) at Full HD for a telephoto boost and alter depth of field. Users can opt to focus manually or can take advantage of the full-time AF while recording to help ensure faces are in focus or track a moving subject. Additionally, videographers have the ability to capture audio with the onboard microphone or record stereo audio externally using the mic input. Audio can be monitored through the headphone jack and levels can be displayed on the LCD with peaking.
In addition to the ability to play back HD video and images through the HDMI terminal, users are also able to experience pro-grade video features in the Nikon D600. For monitoring and streaming applications, the image can be displayed on the LCD screen while simultaneously shown on another monitor through the HDMI, with or without shooting data. What's more, the D600 adds the ability to transfer uncompressed video via the HDMI connection, which can then be routed to a digital recorder or similar device.
Remote Sharing and Capture
Photography is a form of expression, which can now be shared more ways than ever before through social networks and online communities. To accompany the D600, Nikon has also announced the optional WU-1b Wireless Adapter that allows users to connect wirelessly to the camera. A companion Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility application for Android™ based mobile devices is also available at no additional cost. 1 Furthermore, an application for the iPhone® and iPad® mobile digital devices will be available on September 15, 2012.2
When connected, users are able to share their images taken with the D600 through their mobile device to their social circles, as well as send and download images from their camera to a compatible device.3 The adapter also allows users to remotely fire the D600's shutter from up to 50 feet from the camera, which is ideal for capturing photos from unique vantage points.
NIKKOR, Speedlight and System Compatibility
Supporting the D600 is Nikon's heritage in optical excellence, more than 70 NIKKOR AF and AF-S compatible lenses for maximum versatility. Those with DX-format lenses will also be happy to know that these lenses can also be used on the camera as well as the ability to set DX crop for stills or video to extend the reach of telephoto or telephoto zoom lenses.
The new Nikon HD-SLR is also a gateway to Nikon's renowned Creative Lighting System (CLS) which illuminates a whole new world of creative image making using multiple Speedlights. A built-in Speedlight commander can control multiple Speedlights such as Nikon's SB-700, SB-910 or Wireless Close Up Speedlight System, and the camera can also control up to two individual speedlight groups for further creative control.
Constructed to Inspire
Built to withstand the wide variety of shooting conditions enthusiasts face, the body of the D600 is sealed and gasketed against dirt and moisture. The camera uses magnesium alloy top and rear construction to provide a lightweight camera with maximum durability. The shutter has been tested for 150,000 cycles, and sensor cleaning is also employed. The battery is rated for approximately 900 shots, affording photographers the ability to shoot all day. Additionally, the optional MB-D14 Multi Power Battery Pack extends the grip for comfort and can effectively double the battery capacity when using two batteries.
The D600 is also built with an emphasis on handling with thoughtful ergonomics and button placement, in a body that is compact enough to carry comfortably on any excursion. The hand grip has been improved for comfort, while the overall impression from using the camera is reassuringly solid. To avoid accidental engagement, the shutter button has been recessed, while the Mode Dial can be locked.
Price and Availability The Nikon D600 will be available on September 18, 2012 for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $2,099.95*, for body only, or with the AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR for the SRP of $2,699.95*. The WU-1b will be also available on September 18, 2012 for an SRP of $59.95*. The MB-D14 Multi Power Battery Pack will be available in late September for an SRP of $322.00*. For more information on the new Nikon D600 and other Nikon products, please visit HYPERLINK "http://www.nikonusa.com"www.nikonusa.com.