"I am a game-changer."
Such is the immodest claim Nikon attaches to its brand new D600 DSLR, but when you look at the full combination of specs, dimensions, and price, this camera could come close to justifying the bluster. Built around a newly developed 24-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor, the D600 is the smallest and lightest shooter of its kind, with a starting price that's also the lowest we've yet seen: $2,100 in the US, £1,956 in the UK, or €2,386 elsewhere in Europe. Canon's stalwart 5D Mark II is still selling for a little bit less, but that shouldn't detract from what is groundbreaking pricing by the typically conservative Nikon.
Many of the desirable features of this year's other FX full-frame debutants, the D4 and D800, have tricked down to the D600: there's the Expeed 3 imaging processor, uncompressed video output via HDMI, a magnesium alloy frame, and the same weather resistance as on the D800 / D800E. That Expeed 3 chip, claims Nikon, will provide 20 times faster processing than you would get from the D700, while also helping to deliver better dynamic range and improved color reproduction.
Other salient specs include 1080p video recording at 30fps or 720p video at 60fps (both capped at 29 minutes and 59 seconds), an ISO range of 100 to 6400 plus "Lo" and "Hi" modes that expand your options to the equivalents of ISO 50 and ISO 25600, and a 5.5fps continuous shooting mode. The autofocus system is a new 39-point setup (9 cross-type sensors in the middle) and there's a new Wi-Fi dongle being introduced to let you control the D600 from a nearby smart device. The accompanying app, already available on Android and awaiting final approval from Apple for iOS, will let you remotely control the D600, providing a live view of what the camera sees and also allowing you to download pictures to your handset or tablet.
On sale September 18th, just in time for Photokina
Although designed for Nikon's FX system and lenses, the D600 is fully compatible with all of the company's DX lenses, which target the smaller APS-C sensor size. If you attach one of those, the camera will switch to a cropped mode, where the maximum image resolution will be 10.2 megapixels.
Taken as a whole, the D600 is a feature-rich package that compromises on little of what's made its senior sibling the D800 attractive. It's a little too pricey to truly be bringing full-frame photography within reach of the masses, but it is taking Nikon's highest-end technology into a price bracket previously left vacant. Look for the D600 to hit stores globally on September 18th, just in time for the biennial Photokina trade show in Cologne.