Can a Nikon D700 user learn to love the D600?

Posted on 31 Oct ’12 by Earl

©Meandering Passage - Earl Moore Photography

I’ve been in the process of evaluating a Nikon D600 DSLR as a possible upgrade to my D700 — code for renting before buying.

Here’s a few observations bounced against my experience with the Nikon D700 for a few years.

As every review has already stated, the D600 is smaller and lighter then the D700 but the D600 still fits my hand okay.  They say it has a body similar to the D7000 but I’ve not held a D7000 so I can’t confirm that.  Being smaller and lighter is a good thing in most respects and with many of my Nikon lens there’s a good balance to the camera. However, with a heavier lens, the 24-70mm f/2.8 for one, it noticeably feels a little more “front heavy” then the D700.  Just something to get use to, I guess.

The camera and it’s controls feel substantial enough but they don’t have the tank-like quality feel of the D700.  Again subjective, but I’d love to have the D600 sensor and processing engine in the D700 body. ;-)

Nikon changed some of the controls on the D600 from what was available on the D700 and they’ve removed the DB10 sync port from the left front and the other ports, including a GPS port, are on the left side.  Change is hard but none of these are deal breakers for me.

The rear screen and camera menu system are better on the D600 and I like the fact that user U1 & U2 actually saves all your settings.  Much better then the “bank” system on the D700.  I would use this feature.

The slower shutter speed (1/4000 vs. 1/8000) and slower flash sync (1/200 vs 1/250) doesn’t affect 99.5% of my photography requirements so I’m not going to sweat those details.  The reduced number of autofocusing points also doesn’t bother me to any great extent…those it has, focus very fast.

Image quality…the stuff that counts!  Here the D600 clearly has it over the D700 at least in “nomal” lighting situations and from what I’ve read it can give the D700 a run for it’s money at noise in low lighting as well.  IMO the D600′s 24.3 mp resolution is in the upper range of the sweet spot for digital images as far as being practical (for me.)  Large files with lots of detail but yet not too-large for post-processing and storage.

©Meandering Passage - Earl Moore Photography

I shoot mainly RAW but for a recent event I shot JPEG with the D600 and I found it to product excellent JPEG photos.  Nikon’s digital processing engine in the D600 does a great job balancing everything.

My conclusion — yes I believe a Nikon D700 user could learn to love a D600 but that doesn’t mean they will not look back fondly  on the D700. The Nikon D700 is one of those classics.

I’ve returned the rental and placed an order. :-)



What Others Are Saying

  1. ken bello 31 Oct ’12 at 2:32 pm

    Congratulations, Earl. I’ve had no problems with the D600 but then, I never had a D700 to compare it against. Photographically, it’s way better than the old D80. I’ve not assigned the user presets yet, so I can’t comment on those. Good luck with your new purchase.
    ken bello recently posted..calm before the storm: reflections @ erie canal

    • Earl 31 Oct ’12 at 3:02 pm

      Ken, thanks. Be sure and pass on any tips or experiences you might come across with the D600.

  2. Paul 31 Oct ’12 at 3:05 pm

    Wow! You’ ve saved me a rental, Earl. :) Did you get it from Lens Rentals? It’s good to see this write up, given that I am a recent D700 owner – I think that I’ll stick with it for a few more years. My camera buying lust has subsided and even though the D600 looks cool, I’m quite happy with my tank of a camera, the D700.

    I admit, though, I’m looking forward to hearing more of your impressions about the camera. In particular, I’m interested in hearing more detail about:

    Here the D600 clearly has it over the D700 at least in “nomal” lighting situations…

    I’d like to see some side-by-side comparisons and get more specifics on you mean. :)
    Paul recently posted..Happy Number 13, Hobbs

    • Earl 31 Oct ’12 at 3:28 pm

      LOL…yes I did.

      Paul, Now you know in a few more years there’ll be plenty of other temptations in the camera world for you.

      As far as the image quality it’s hard to qualify but those extra pixels seem to make a visable difference. The images appear “sharper” out of the camera (RAW), if that’s possible, and require less post-processing for my preferences — and that’s before zooming in or cropping. I’ll have to see if I can come up with a way to illustrate it.

      You know for all it’s capabilities, I never felt the D700 was an exceptional sharp image camera. In that regard I’ve felt the D300 had a slight edge with it’s smaller sensor.

  3. Don 1 Nov ’12 at 11:11 am

    A fine write up of your experience with this new camera.
    Don recently posted..Rex Is King

    • Earl 1 Nov ’12 at 1:59 pm

      Hi Don, thanks.

  4. Monte Stevens 1 Nov ’12 at 11:07 pm

    NIce to read this review, Earl and thanks. I’ve never shot a D700 nor have I had on in my hand. This past week I was able to compare the D800 next to the D600. The D800 is very close in size to my D300 with the D300 actually weighing more. When I held the D600 I also did not feel that it was too small in my hands as I have smallish hands anyway. I’ve wondered how a walk around kit would work with the D600, a 28mm f1.8, 50mm f1.4 and the 85mm f1.8. And how would the new 24-85mm f 3.4-4.5 VR lens work well with it? Lots of questions which means the desire is still germinating. :-) Congratulations, Earl!
    Monte Stevens recently posted..Content With Silence

    • Earl 2 Nov ’12 at 8:42 am

      Hi Monte, I would think the D600 with a couple of fast primes would make a fine walk around camera. However, while lighter and slightly smaller then the D700/D300, it’s still not small by any means. Thanks…

  5. Mark 2 Nov ’12 at 8:44 am

    Congrats on the new camera Earl. I am sure you will but it to great use, although you may be making the Olympus a bit jealous. Just keep them in separate rooms and all will work out fine. Hopefully that new Hackintosh will also fly through those larger files. :-)

    I recently upgraded my 2008 Mac Pro to 20 GB Ram from 14 GB, and it sure did help alot. with D800 files. Plus I have another upgrade that I will be writing a post about that is bound to boost the performance even further.
    Mark recently posted..When the moment is right

    • Earl 2 Nov ’12 at 9:00 am

      Mark, thanks…however, I don’t expect to see any great marked improvement in my photos and I would warn others not to expect it either. :-)

      I was curious about the D800 files so I found a few full RAW NEF files on-line which I downloaded and processed into lightroom/photoshop. The HacMac had no problem with them but there’s still that file size and storage.

      Yeah, OS X, Lightroom and Photoshop like lots of RAM. I had 16GB in my old Mac Pro but went with 32GB in the HacMac…even more important it took me from a 633Mhz bus to a 1333Mhz bus speed, SNAP! Hummm, additional Mac Pro upgrades…sounds like a SSD or CPU upgrade. :-)

      • Mark 3 Nov ’12 at 10:21 pm

        SSD is warm as a guess, but a step further than that. :-)
        Mark recently posted..Fall Color 2012

        • Earl 3 Nov ’12 at 10:33 pm

          Hummm…some type of solid state storage array? ;-)

    • Paul 2 Nov ’12 at 11:09 am

      I’ve noticed that LR has been pretty slow since I combined all of my libraries into one. After I read Mark’s comment about memory, I immediately ordered another 8 GB. I’m running, or should we say, walking, with 4 GB. In a few days, it will be 12. We’ll see if I need to max it out with 16 GB.
      Paul recently posted..For the Newbies – Risk Taking: Sharing your work

      • Earl 3 Nov ’12 at 10:15 pm

        Paul, You should see some improvement with the additional memory but Lightroom just naturally slows down some with more images. I’ve got about 43k images in LR at this point and the performance is still acceptable. How many have you added?

      • Mark 3 Nov ’12 at 10:23 pm

        I was getting by with 14 Paul, so I think you will be very happy with 12 vs 4.
        Mark recently posted..Fall Color 2012

  6. Raphie 8 Aug ’13 at 2:34 am

    I’m having this reasearch for three weeks already. And still hang up choosing between the D700 and the D600. Thank you Earl for your write up. How about the rubber grips and the matte texture covering on the camera’s left port (as I know only the the top, back and the bottom are alloyed built. The front is plastic made up of against the mount), Earl; is it the same feel as the D90 and/or the D7000? I know this is not much of a concern to the others, but for extensive use they soon wear out obviously, like that in my D7000, but not in my D300S (it’s high grade rubber I think). As far as the IQ is concerned, I have no objection, as I know that new sensors will always bring out better result over the old for maybe just a very slight difference. I could only wish the AF performance is the same as the D300/D700, neverthless I still take it as a deal break. I’m on my way to upgrade my very old DX system. Thank you, Earl and sorry for just lately reading your article.

    • Earl 8 Aug ’13 at 11:49 am

      Hi Raphie,

      The grips and coverings on the camera’s left port(s) seem to be of a good quality and as of this point I’ve had no problems or no signs of premature wear with them. I can’t speak to it being the same feel as the D90 or D7000 as I’ve not had either camera but I think it is very similar in size to the D7000. The weakest point I’ve found in the D600 is the somewhat limited center placed AF sensors…in this the D700 was/is better but I’ve learned to work around it. In summary, I still have no regrets in “upgrading” from the D700 to the D600. Thanks and good luck in your decision!

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