With Photokina, the world's largest photography tradeshow just around the corner, there's no lack of new camera announcements. Although rumored for a while, we finally got a hands-on look at one of the more important new models of the season - Nikon's 24.3 megapixel, full-frame D600. Built around a newly developed FX format CMOS sensor, this compact DSLR is designed to meet the needs of advanced amateurs and photo enthusiasts who long for a full-frame camera but didn't want to pay $3,000 or more for a pro camera. But, with the D600's specs, we think this $2,100 (body only) camera will serve as back-up cameras for some professionals as well. The D600 will be available starting September 18.
Perhaps best described as a cousin to the D7000 with a heavy dose of D800 thrown in (the new camera offers the same video functions as the D800 with uncompressed video out, a headphone jack, audio level adjustments,etc.), the D600 heralds another category of DSLRs. But even though the price is the lowest yet for a full-frame camera, Nikon hasn't skimped on features or build quality.
At 5.5 x 4.45 x 3.2 inches and 1.6 pounds (body only), the D600 is a little smaller and about 16% lighter than the D800. The D600's magnesium alloy body has the same weather-resistant sealing as the D800, so it's ready for adventure. We spent some time handling the camera, and it feels sturdy and comfortable in the hand (we'll post a first look in a couple of days once I take a test unit out for a spin in real world conditions). Equipped with dual card slots, the D600 accommodate SD/SDHC/SDXC media.
Like the D800, the new camera offers extended video options including full HD with real time noise reduction and manual exposure control, uncompressed output via HDMI to an external hard drive, the ability to view footage on the LCD and an external monitor as well as a headphone jack for monitoring audio levels.
Notable features include the flexibility of using FX or DX lenses in both still and video modes, a new control dial, direct access to ISO, dual mode Live View (camera and video) like the D800) and a dual axis virtual horizon that's visible in both the viewfinder and on the 3.2-inch, 921,000 dot LCD, both of which offer a 100% field of view. Two-shot HDR is available in-camera for extended dynamic range, as is Active D-Lighting, and there are many more features that seem to promise an excellent shooting experience. The camera can capture JPEG, TIFF and NEF (Raw) files at up to 5.5 frames per second (including RAW + JPEG). And it has a native ISO range of 100-6400, that can be expanded to Lo 1 (50) and up to 25,600 in Hi 2.
Like the D800, the new camera offers extended video options including full HD with real time noise reduction and manual exposure control, uncompressed output via HDMI, the ability to view footage on the LCD and an external monitor as well as a headphone jack for monitoring audio levels.
The new WU-1b wireless mobile adapter can be used to move images and video to smart devices or allow the smart device (e.g., Android and as of 9/15 iOS) to act as a remote to trigger the shutter for still images. You can also view and select images on the SD card remotely.
There's also a new UT-1 communications unit that provides WT-4 like control and retrofits the camera for Ethernet for tethered shooting and image transfer. Once connected to a computer, using Camera Control Pro 2 software allows users to shoot and change settings remotely. A wireless transmitter, WT-5a, will also be available in the near future.
In addition to the $2100 body-only, the camera will come in kit form with the recently-announced 24-85mm lens for $2699.
In other news, Nikon also announced a new - and fast - 18.5mm (50mm-equivalent) f/1.8 lens. Available in black, silver or white, the lens can focus as close as 0.7 feet. The lens will be available on November 1st at a price of $190.
Stay tuned for a closer look at the D600 in the next couple of days.