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.
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.
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!
Exposure Mode 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.