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|| News Item: Posted 2013-05-09

Nikon D600: Small DSLR body packed with video features

By Nic Coury

I was very excited for the Nikon D600 when it was announced. I wasn’t overly stoked with the quality and features of the prosumer cameras, like the D7000 I had sold. I didn’t have the cash to plunk down for a D4 or a D800, but the D600 seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Photo by Nic Coury

Photo by Nic Coury

Nikon D600 with Zoom H4n attached.
Nikon’s smallest full-frame DSLR laid out an impressive feature set on paper:
- 1080p in 24/25/30fps; 720p in 60fps
- Line out/microphone jack
- Headphone jack for audio monitoring (finally!).

Now on paper these things seem great, but how did they stack up in real-world use?

The D600 is a small camera. Like way small. And light. It’s great with smaller primes, but a tad unbalanced with larger, f/1.4 glass and f/2.8 zooms, especially on a tripod where front-heavy lenses can cause vibrations in the image, so good stabilization is a must. I have always shot the D600 with primes, so it’s not a huge deal for my shooting.

Video image quality is well rounded, even straight out of the camera and upwards of higher ISOs. I’ve shot clips at ISO 6400 and it cleans up fairly nice for a DSLR.

On the software end, I’ve been editing in Final Cut Pro X and the newer program doesn’t require transcoding of Nikon video files in MPEG Streamclip as with past versions of Final Cut. There is a nice latitude of editing room too in the Nikon D600 files, which when carefully used, can transform the video to fairly decent, high quality clips.

One of the neat functions on the camera is a headphone jack for audio monitoring, as well as manual audio control where you can pick how high or low audio is recorded. This coupled with the surprisingly good audio quality of the built-in microphone creates a nice setup for on-the-run multimedia. However, I wish there was a level adjuster for the audio into your headphones.

I am typically recording audio with a Zoom H4-N on or off the camera, but it is nice to know I can use the built-in microphone in a pinch if need be.

As with most DSLRs, the video quality doesn’t match a dedicated video camera, but the Nikon D600 ranks near the top, with the D800 and D4 above it.

- Small and lightweight, which is great for tight angles and as a second shot.
- Great, edit-friendly 1080p video that has good latitude for edits.
- More audio control built into the camera than past models.
- You can use many of the older, manual-focus lenses, which many look fantastic on video.
- Live View and video playback modes have tons of information for viewing and adjusting key things.
- Great video and still images for $2,000. Much improved over the D7000.

- A bit too small for heavy lenses or larger video rig setups.
- Video quality looks a bit “too digital”. I wish it were more filmic.
- A new firmware is needed so you can adjust the aperture in live view more. For now, you’re forced to exit Live View, adjust the f-stop and re-open live view whenever you want to change apertures.
- For both stills and videos, the entire D600 button layout is backwards from the D2- and D3-series and the D300/700. It’s a bit too prosumer and takes some time to train your brain away from the more pro cameras.

Nic Coury is a staff photographer at the Monterey County Weekly. You can see examples of his work at his Sports Shooter member page:

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