Is The Nikon D600 Priced Too High For Its Features?

Is The Nikon D600 Priced Too High For Its Features?

If there was one thing that people are unanimously saying about Nikon's new D600 "budget" full frame camera, it's that the price is entirely too high. No matter which blog you read, it seems everyone cannot believe the MSRP of $2,099.95. But are these claims valid? Does Nikon's smallest full frame DSLR really lack the features that professionals desire? In the full post I'll tell you why I just bought two of these cameras and why the price seems just right.

Camera Size

Perhaps one of the most common arguments I'm reading is that the Nikon D600 must feel like a "toy camera" because it's the same size as the Nikon D7000. I'll be honest and say I've always loved the feel of Nikon's pro cameras with the added vertical grip. There is something that just feels good about having a substantial camera in your hands especially when you are shooting with something like the 70-200 2.8 lens (strangely enough I find the vertical grip on the D4 to feel really awkward with that big square piece protruding). I've also shot professionally with the D7000 camera which is significantly smaller, but with the MB-D11 added, I might actually prefer the slightly smaller sized camera.

That being said, if you look at the dimension specs, the new Nikon D600 is much more similar to the D300s, D700, and D800 than it is to the D7000. The D7000 measures 132 x 105 x 77mm while the Nikon D300s measures 147 x 114 x 74mm. The D600 is 141 x 114 x 82mm. The following image below shows just how close the D600 is in size to the D800. When you add the MB-D14 vertical grip to the D600, I'm betting a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised how the new Nikon D600 might feel more like a pro level camera than the "toy camera" they fear it might resemble.

Sync Speed

Another major complaint is that Nikon has decreased the max sync speed to 1/200 instead of the standard 1/250 featured on most other DSLR cameras. I can understand this complaint, and honestly it is probably my biggest disappointment with the new camera (when can we get rid of shutters altogether and just have a faux digital shutter with no shutter curtain at all?). When you really think about it, the different between a shutter at 1/200 and 1/250 is pretty small. The difference is maybe a 1/3 stop less in potential flash power compared with the ambient light. I am rarely trying to over power the sun and usually my flash is never close to full power (speed lights or monoblocks). In most situations, you can have your assistant simply move 1-2 feet closer and you've compensated for the lost in sync power.

If you are concerned about motion blur with flash then the difference is probably even more negligible. For high speed flash photography, your biggest concern will be minimizing your powerpack's flash duration since shutters at 1/250th will probably still lack the power to freeze motion on it's own. Of course no photographer wants their next camera to decrease the max sync speed, but the difference here is not going to be overly apparent in most cases....Canon users have been dealing with this for years!

ISO Range

I'm not sure why so many photographers are complaining that the D600 is lacking in its ISO range. The listed specs show the camera to have a native range of 100 - 6400 which is more than adequate for 99% of all applications. However the expanded ISO goes all the way down to ISO 50 and up to 25,600. To put this in perspective, the D4 has a range of 100 - 12800 (one more stop than the D600) and the D800 has a range of 100 - 6400 (exactly the same as the D600). Of course the D4 has 4 stops more expanded ISO than the D600 but that is to be expected from a flagship camera. For those wanting to claim the D700 is still king, it's ISO range is 200 - 6400 (1 stop less than the D600) and expands to 100 - 25,600. Not only does the D600 have a wider native ISO range on paper, but I'd be willing to bet my wallet the clarity on the D600 will be much greater than the ancient D700 as well.

Shutter Speed

I can't tell you how many comments I've seen that make issue with the D600's max shutter speed of 1/4000. Most professional cameras have a max shutter of 1/8000. That's pretty dang fast. So fast in fact that I wonder if I've ever taken a published image shot at that shutter? Unless you make a living shooting images that require freezing fast motion with natural light, then I have a hard time believing a max shutter of 1/4000 of a second will ever keep you from getting the shot. The only valid argument I've seen refers to shooting prime lenses wide open at f1.2 or 1.4 in broad daylight. There is a catch though, the D600 is one of the few Nikon cameras that allows you to dip down into the ISO 50 range which makes up for the lost stop from the slower shutter. I don't think I've ever shot at 1/8000th of a second (let alone 1/4000) in my entire career but maybe I'm missing something with this argument. If you have images that have made it into your portfolio, post them in the comments below as I'd love to learn more about why this is such a deal breaker for many.

Exposure Mode Dial

The final argument I've read explaining why the D600 is overpriced has to do with the scenic mode dial. Until I bought a few D7000s, every Nikon DSLR camera I had owned required me to press a MODE button and electronically select the exposure mode for the camera (Aperture, Shutter, Manual, Program). Back when I first started playing with pro and consumer cameras, for some psychological reason I began to think that the Scenic Button found on lower end cameras was inherently inferior and less professional. But after buying my D7000 cameras, I have grown to really appreciate the physical dial.

The two User Modes, U1 and U2, have been a HUGE time saver when I have to bounce between different environments like outdoor shoots with all natural light (and warmer WB) to indoor situations where I'm using bounce flash and a slower shutter speed (and maybe cooler WB). They are also great for switching between stills and video because those settings can be very different. I do miss having some of the WB and ISO buttons on the top left of the camera but I've gotten quite used to them along the side. As a wedding photographer, I always have a mix of cameras at my weddings (D300s, D7000, D800, D4), and every single one of them has a completely different layout (who needs a dedicate bracketing button on the D4 anyways?) My point is this: every photographer will have to relearn each new camera they buy. It's easy to think of one feature as being "consumer" and another being "professional" but at the end of the day, I believe it's all in your head and ultimately how you use each setting. If you look at it this way, the Scenic Button actually gives you MORE options than the standard ASMP modes found on the pro level cameras.

So Is The Nikon D600 Actually Way Overpriced?

Obviously, only time will tell how the images off Nikon's D600 camera will look compared to other models or other comparable cameras. I'm a firm believer that every camera released is slightly better than the previous one in some way. Usually the newest features come out in the pro level line and then trickle down into the consumer line, but those features (like video, or super high ISO, or battery life) usually improve with each subsequent release. At this point I think it's safe to say the Nikon D600 is the 3rd most powerful camera in Nikon's lineup behind the D4 and the D800. In my opinion, it's also priced at a pretty non offensive price point considering I've paid $1799 for a much less impressive D300 (and D300s) camera in the past. Even the D700 was closer to $2,700 when it was first released. Some may argue that the D800 is only $900 more for a much more professional body, and that is true. But I think it is easy to forget how groundbreaking the D800 was when it was announced at half the price of the Nikon D3x back in January.

Any professional photographer is aware that each camera is simply a tool for a job. If you have incorporated video into your business like I have, then the D700 is not an option. Also, because new cameras hold their value so well while they are still in production, the D700 is perhaps the worst possible camera you could buy right now because it will plummet in value very soon. At the moment the discontinued D700 is selling on ebay for about $2,200 body only. My approach is to buy a few D600s and use them over the next year until the next camera is released that better fits my needs. You can always sell a current camera like the D600 used for a few hundred dollars less than what you bought it for and then reinvest that money back into your next camera. That's the beauty of buying the newest and selling it after a year or two.

What do you think?

After reading so many dreadful threads about the "Nikon D600 Pricing Issue," I'm a little hesitant to ask "what does everyone else think?" I really am curious to hear if all the D600 bashing has been unwarranted, coming from those who hate Nikon or cough cough despise Scenic Mode Dials, or if Nikon really has released a black sheep camera that will fail to grab the attention of the full frame market. I should have a much clearer opinion in a few weeks after I put these cameras through a few weddings but I'm pretty excited to have the D600 coming my way.

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Richard Hall's picture

I am a canon shoot so im looking at this hoping canon bring out their own.  When canon launch theirs if it had similar features it would be competing with the 7d/60d but with the full frame sensor.  To have mass selling appeal and to set it apart I think it should be $1500.00

AF Micro Adjustment is missing

Patrick Hall's picture

Yeah that's interesting.  I've never used the micro adjustments before because I've always felt like if I set it perfect for one side, say 200mm, then it would throw off the 70mm side of the lens.  Lens calibration does scare me though as I've seen some major issues with the D7000 cameras.  The D800 is focusing like a champ though.  

AF adjust ISN'T missing....DPreview got it wrong...if you look at nikon's website at the specs, it does have AF micro adjust...

 If that's the case, well, it's not the first time DPReview mess it up. LOL

Christian Hammer's picture

Well written! Enough with the bashing. The main point is that to the photographer the image is the real product and the camera is just a tool to get to that image. If you worry that your clients or photographer peers look down on you for having a scene dial you need to focus more on their looks when they see the killer images you produce with what they thought to be a toy camera.
Personally I was hoping for cheap access to full frame with the D600. At the price they set I'm still limited to the used market but that doesn't change my confidence in the fact that this little camera is an amazing performer.

The real question is who is this camera targeted to.  If it was targeted to professionals or semi-professionals, then its VERY reasonably priced (even if it's intended use is as a backup body).  But I don't think that is the case here.  Nikon probably targets the D600 to enthusiasts and in that case, 2,099 is a bit too much.  I was looking forward to this camera to add another backup body to my collection, and I was going to order it at around 1500, but at 2100, nah...I think I'm better off waiting a bit, saving up another 800 and getting another D800... but that's just me...

i think the price is right for the d600 though a hundred dollars less would have made it appear as a better bargain, my only gripe with  Nikon at the moment is that they are missing a camera in there line up that's more capable for sports photography and a better all round  camera that isn't d4 money something that  is a more a true d700 successor personally i think they could do this by building a d800s take either d4 or d600 sensor  give us same d800 af a descent buffer and frame rate of 8fps with a grip basically a a Nikon version of a 5d mrk3 but that would come in a closer $2500-$2800 that i would buy in a heart beat .

Victor Hoffmann's picture

The price difference in Denmark between the D800 and the D600 is only $300?!

I think that most of the complaints are due to the false hopes people got from rumoured price, $1500-$1600. I'll agree even at $1800, this would have been an amazing deal. At $2100 it's kind of expensive for me, but I think it's still very reasonably priced. Considering that I still shoot on D90, this will make a kickass upgrade for me, for years to come, regardless the fact that I won't be jumping to grab this as soon as I can (as I had previously hoped). But overall I'm not at all disappointed with it's price tag and as much as I would like to have it for lesser price, I think it's pretty well priced.

Charles Coleman's picture

I'm upgrading from a D90 too looking forward to the jump to full frame and good film quality. Pre-Ordered :)d

you, pros, are strange ppl... sometime u want smaller camera with the same quality, next time u dont want smaller

and yes i think we need to wait few months till prices will stay in normanl position...

Patrick Hall's picture

Yep, Nikon always has an instant rebate or maybe a rebate with lens deal but for the most part the camera will hold it's value for a year.  

Jens Marklund's picture

It's missing out the focus and exposuretype-knobs. That's the only thing real photographers should whine about.

Patrick Hall's picture

Huh?  Exposure modes have been moved up top where the MODE button is on the D800.  I'm sure the focusing mode button is on the front near the Fmount release.  

Jens Marklund's picture

Oh sorry, I was talking about the metering modes. The new AF switching is kinda a hassle. Is there any easier way then to hold the button, look on the top screen, and use the wheel to scroll through AF modes? On my D700, I just flick the switch with my thumb.

the ISO 50 is not a native ISO. It's basically software manipulation of the picture by overexposing it by a stop and attempting to get detail much the way you would do in photoshop or lightroom.  The result is always a loss of detail.  

Patrick Hall's picture

Yeah of course, no one said it was native.  But when you want to stay at f1.4 or f2.8 without increasing your aperture, every lower ISO stop helps out a lot.  

You're contradicting yourself though.  It's not a real ISO.  Using the same logic, you can get ISO 100 or even 50 out of a D700 but it doesn't mean it's real.  

Patrick Hall's picture

Huh?  If I'm at ISO 100, 1/250th, and F1.4.....and I need one less stop of exposure but I don't want to increase my depth of field, having a camera that lets me set the ISO to 50 is going to help me achieve the correct exposure while keeping the lens wide open (if using flash of course).  It doesn't matter if that's done natively or with software.  Are you suggesting just shooting at ISO 100 and over exposing and then pulling down the exposure in RAW?  What if you shoot jpeg?

Say you're shooting with a D90.  The native ISO on the D90 is 200.  There is no   ISO 100 or 50 on the D90.  They have a Lo which is a fake 100.  If you use it, you will lose detail because it's taking the raw data, over exposing it, and then lowering the exposure.   Same with the D600.   The native ISO is 100.  THERE IS NO ISO 50 on the D600...only a fake ISO 50.   That's why having a shutter speed of 1/8000 would be better because it lets you stay within the real ISO range of the camera.

ND filter could also solve that, but putting a $30 piece of glass in front of a $1600 lens introduces lens flare and other image issues.

mikael johansen's picture

Yes, in Norway it is priced to high, almost as high as D800 here, 3000 USD!

"the D700 is perhaps the worst possible camera you could buy right now because it will plummet in value very soon" ... I live in Belgium, and the D600 here is priced at 2150 euros, while the D800 is available for 2600 euros ... So I don't like that 450 euro price difference ... The D800 is a little out of my league (price wise :)
Would a used D700 (in prefect condition <25000 pics) for about 1400 -1500 euros be a good deal to you guys? Or is buying a D700 really a no-no?


Patrick Hall's picture

it depends if you want to resell it.  The D700 is about to nose dive in value in the next 2 years.  So whatever you put into it, you will never get it back.  If you fork out the money to buy a D600 or D800, you can sell it in 1-2 years and make 80% of your money back.  

My thinking is why spend only $600 Euros less for a camera that is 3 years old, used, has less resolution, less quality, less ISO, no video....and then in 2 years it will probably only resell for half of what you bought it for?

Michael Kormos's picture

When the D700 was announced in 2008, it was $3k for 12mp.  Four years later, you get DOUBLE the resolution for third less.  Too expensive?  Seriously?  

Patrick Hall's picture

Ha my point exactly.  

What kind of logic is that?  That was 4 years ago on a first gen camera.  There have been many advancements in sensor technology.   Not not mention the D700 was a pro body with many many features missing in this D600 so yes, considering they slapped a mass produced FF sensor on a mass produced D7000 body, it's over priced. 

Just an FYI, in 1994 you could get a Pentium 90 Mhz computer and 15 inch monitor with a 14,400 baud modem for $3500.  It was an insanely fast computer used for CAD  and desktop publishing.  Today would you pay $2100 for PC that's 10 times faster and $1300 cheaper?   

It sounds like what people wanted and expected was for Nikon to take the D800, replace the 36MP sensor with a 24MP sensor, then cut the price in half.  Wishful thinking.

I would have been more impressed if Nikon put the MSRP for the D600 body at $1600 or $1800 ... the current MSRP of more than $2,000 just makes you want to save a little more and buy a D800.