If you are considering upgrading to a Nikon full-frame DSLR, like I am, there is no better time than the present. Nikon just announced its ‘low price’ full-frame camera Nikon D600 (MSRP $2099/€ 2.099), a sort of little brother to the Nikon D800. If you live in the US, then there is a $1000 difference between the D600 and the D800, but if you live in Europe like me, Nikon has for some peculiar reason priced the D600 so that there is only a €500 difference between the cameras. Here’s a quick comparison of the technical specifications of the camera based on the info from Nikon’s webpage.

Nikon D600 Nikon D800
Effective Pixels 24.3million 36.3million
Sensor Size 35.9mmx24.0mm 35.9mmx24mm
Image Sensor Format FX FX
File Format Still Images JPEG: JPEG-Baseline Compliant; can be selected from Size Priority and Optimal Quality JPEG: JPEG-Baseline Compliant with fine (approx 1:4), Normal (approx 1:8) or Basic (approx 1:16) Compression NEF (RAW): Lossless Compressed, Compressed or Uncompressed 12 or 14 bit TIFF (RGB) JPEG: JPEG-Baseline Compliant with fine (approx 1:4), Normal (approx 1:8) or Basic (approx 1:16) Compression NEF (RAW): lossless compressed 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressed TIFF (RGB) JPEG: JPEG-Baseline-Compliant; can be selected from Size Priority and Optimal Quality
Picture Control Landscape Monochrome Neutral Portrait Standard User-customizable Settings Vivid Landscape Monochrome Neutral Portrait Standard User-customizable Settings Vivid
Storage Media SD SDHC SDXC CompactFlash© (CF) (Type I, compliant with UDMA) SD SDHC SDXC
Card Slot 2 Secure Digital (SD) 1 CompactFlash© (CF) card and 1 Secure Digital (SD) card
Viewfinder Frame Coverage FX (36×24):100% Horizontal and 100% VerticalApprox. DX (24×16):97% Horizontal and 97% VerticalApprox. FX (36×24):100% Horizontal and 100% VerticalApprox. 1.2x (30×20):97% Horizontal and 97% VerticalApprox. DX (24×16):97% Horizontal and 97% VerticalApprox. 5:4 (30×24):97% Horizontal and 97% VerticalApprox.
Viewfinder Magnification 0.70xApprox. 0.70xApprox.
Viewfinder Eyepoint 20.6mm (-1.0m¯¹) 19.5 (-1.0¯¹)
Lens Compatibility at a Glance*** AF-S or AF lenses fully compatible Metering with AI lenses AF-S or AF lenses fully compatible Metering with AI lenses
Fastest Shutter Speed 1/4000sec. 1/8000sec.
Slowest Shutter Speed 30sec. 30sec.
Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution 5.5frames per second 4frames per second
Exposure Compensation ±5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV ±5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
Exposure Bracketing 2 or 3 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1 or 2 EV 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV
Mirror Lock Up Yes Yes
ISO Sensitivity ISO100-6400 Lo-1 (ISO 50) Hi-1 (ISO 12,800) Hi-2 (ISO 25,600) ISO100-6400 Lo-1 (ISO 50) Hi-1 (ISO 12,800) Hi-2 (ISO 25,600)
Dynamic AF Mode Number of AF points: 9, 21, 39 and 39 (3D-tracking) Number of AF points: 9, 21, 51 and 51 (3D-tracking)
Auto-area AF Mode Yes Yes
Focus Modes Auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A) Continuous-servo (AF-C) Face-Priority AF available in Live View only and D-Movie only Manual (M) with electronic rangefinder Normal area Single-servo AF (AF-S) Wide area Auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A) Continuous-servo (AF-C) Face-Priority AF available in Live View only and D-Movie only Full-time Servo (AF-A) available in Live View only Manual (M) with electronic rangefinder Normal area Single-servo AF (AF-S) Wide area
Maximum Autofocus Areas/Points 39 51
Built-in Flash Yes Yes
Flash Bracketing 2 to 3 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1 or 2 EV 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or 1 EV
Top FP High Speed Sync Up to1/4000 Up to1/8000
Flash Sync Modes Front-curtain sync (normal) Rear-curtain sync Red-Eye reduction Red-Eye reduction with slow sync Slow sync Front-curtain sync (normal) Rear-curtain sync Red-Eye reduction Red-Eye reduction with slow sync Slow sync
Flash Compensation -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) CLS Supported CLS Supported
White Balance Auto Choose color temperature (2500K–10000K) Cloudy Direct Sunlight Flash Fluorescent (7 types) Incandescent Preset manual (up to 4 values can be stored) Shade Auto (2 types) Choose color temperature (2500K–10000K) Cloudy Direct Sunlight Flash Fluorescent (7 types) Incandescent Preset manual (up to 4 values can be stored) Shade
White Balance Bracketing 2 or 3 exposures 2 to 9 exposures in increments of 1, 2 or 3 EV
Live View Shooting Photography Live View Mode Movie Live View Mode Photography Live View Mode Movie Live View Mode
Movie HD 1,920×1,080 / 30 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 25 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 24 fps HD 1,280×720 / 60 fps HD 1,280×720 / 50 fps HD 1,280×720 / 30 fps HD 1,280×720 / 25 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 30 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 24 fps HD 1,280×720 / 30 fps HD 1,280×720 / 24 fps HD 1,280×720 / 60 fps
Movie Audio Built-in microphone, monaural External stereo microphone (optional) Built-in microphone, monaural External stereo microphone (optional)
Monitor Size 3.2in. diagonal 3.2in. diagonal
Monitor Resolution 921,000Dots 921,000Dots
Monitor Type Wide Viewing Angle TFT-LCD Wide Viewing Angle TFT-LCD
Playback Functions Auto Image Rotation Full-Frame and Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images or calendar) Highlights Histogram Display Image Comment Movie Playback Movie Slideshow Playback with Zoom Slideshow Auto Image Rotation Full-Frame and Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images or calendar) Histogram Display Image Comment Movie Playback Movie Slideshow Playback with Zoom Slideshow Highlights
In-Camera Image Editing Color Balance Color Outline Color Sketch D-Lighting Distortion Control Edit Movie Filter Effects Fisheye Image Overlay Miniature Effect Monochrome NEF (RAW) Processing Perspective Control Quick Retouch Red-Eye Correction Resize Selective Color Side-by-Side Comparison Straighten Trim Color Outline Color Sketch D-Lighting Distortion Control Edit Movie Filter Effects Fisheye Image Overlay Miniature Effect Monochrome NEF (RAW) Processing Perspective Control Quick Retouch Red-Eye Correction Resize Selective Color Side-by-Side Comparison Straighten Trim Color Balance
GPS GP-1 GPS unit GP-1A GPS unit GP-1 GPS unit
Battery / Batteries EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery
Battery Life (shots per charge) 900shots per charge (Battery Life) (CIPA) 900shots per charge (Battery Life) (CIPA)
AC Adapter EH-5b AC Adapter Requires EP-5B Power Supply Connector EH-5b AC Adapter Requires EP-5B Power Supply Connector
Approx. Dimensions Width:5.6in.(141mm) Height:4.4in.(113mm) Depth:3.2in.(82mm) Width:5.7in.(144.78mm) Height:4.8in.(121.92mm) Depth:3.2in.(81.28mm)
Approx. Weight 26.8oz.(760g)camera body only 31.7oz.(900g)camera body only
Price (body only) $2,099.95 $2,999.95

So what does all this mean? The D600 is a faster (5.5fps vs D800′s 4.5fps), lighter, smaller, camera that has very similar video functionality and ISO performance. However, the D800 is clearly the pro camera between the two, offering a much faster shutter speed, faster flash sync speed (1/320 vs 1/200), obviously much higher resolution, and many more focus points. For strobists, this could be a major deal breaker. Not only does the D800 have a faster flash sync speed, but it also has a PC port which the D600 does not. So firing flashes from the D600 will have to be through the hotshoe.

Also, the D800 has a number of other advantages, being a Nikon ‘professional camera’. Normally, you focus the camera via half-pressing the shutter release. However, some sport photographers and other fast-action photographers prefer to use another button for focusing, the AF-On button. The D800 has this button, but the D600 does not; you could however reconfigure the AE-L/AF-L button to do this. Since D800 is considered a pro-camera it also qualifies for entry into the Nikon’s Professional User (NPU) scheme, which grants access to a dedicated support line, the Nikon Pro magazine, and discounted training sessions. Also, the D800 has the  brand new 9100-pixel RGB metering sensor that is found in the D4 as well, whereas the D600 has the old 2016-pixel RGB metering sensor.

If I decide to upgrade to a full-frame, it will probably be one of these cameras. For people that already have a primary camera, such as a D4 or a D800, then maybe D600 could act as a good backup camera. The differences between the cameras don’t really matter to me. 36.2 MP is way too high for my workflow, I don’t shoot enough flash photography to make the sync speed a major factor, and I already have a lot of hotshoe triggers, so the lack of a PC port isn’t a problem for me either. Obviously the D800 is the better camera, but I don’t think it’s worth the price difference, for my uses anyways. For someone on a limited budget, I think the extra money is better spent on some nice lenses instead.