Nikon D600 makes full-frame DSLRs a bit more affordable

This year's Photokina is looking like a huge show for huge sensors, as several new camera announcements being showcased at the event will call upon full-frame CMOS sensors to help wrangle all the photons. Nikon has just joined the full-frame game with the new Nikon D600, a DSLR that's built around a 24.3-megapixel full-frame (35.9mm-by-24.0mm) sensor.

That's the same size and resolution as the full-frame sensor found in many of Sony's recent camera announcements, but the Nikon D600 comes in at a lower price than any full-frame DSLR we've seen so far. The D600 doesn't exactly have an entry-level price, but within the realm of full-frame DSLRs, it's a bit of a bargain.

At $2100 for the body only, the Nikon D600 comes at a significantly lower cost than the body-only prices for the full-frame Nikon D800 ($3000), Canon EOS 5D Mark III ($3500), and Sony Alpha SLT-A99 ($2800).

The D600 features a 39-point contrast-detection autofocus system, an ISO range of 50 to 25,600, and a continuous-shooting rate of 5.5fps at full resolution. In addition to manual exposure controls and RAW/RAW+JPEG shooting, the Nikon D600 also has an automated two-shot HDR mode and an Active D-Lighting setting that brings out detail in darker portions of an image.

The camera's body, which is built around a magnesium-alloy chassis, weighs in at 26.8 ounces; Nikon is calling the D600 the "lightest, smallest, most affordable full-frame DSLR." Battery life also shouldn't be an issue, as the camera's rechargeable lithium-ion battery is rated at 900 shots per charge.

The camera is optimized for use with Nikon's FX-format full-frame lenses, but you can also use DX-format, APS-C-optimized lenses with the camera. With a DX-format lens attached, image resolution is cropped down to a maximum of 10.5 megapixels.

The D600 shoots 1080p footage at 30fps or 24fps (or 720p at 60fps or 30fps) in .MOV format, with a cap at 20 minutes of continuous recording time, and it supports manual exposure adjustments in video mode. The new camera also offers a set of video-friendly focus modes (full-time autofocus, subject-tracking focus, face-priority autofocus, and full manual focus) and real-time noise reduction while shooting video at high ISO settings. Storage is handled by a pair of SDHC/SDXC card slots.

Nikon's new camera has a dedicated video-record button on the top of it, but the D600 also supports starting and stopping video via a cable release for hands-free shooting. Nikon says the D600 also features a headphone jack and fine-grained audio controls, as well as an HDMI-port that can send uncompressed video to a secondary monitor while video is being recorded.

In addition to an eye-level optical viewfinder, there a 3.2-inch, 921,000-dot fixed LCD viewfinder around the back of the camera. There's also a hot shoe and a pop-up flash on board, the latter of which can also be used as a commander flash for external Nikon Speedlight flashes.

The Nikon D600 will be on shelves almost immediately, too; Nikon says the camera will be available starting on Sept. 18. In addition to the $2100 body-only price, the D600 will be available for $2700 as a kit with a Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm/F3.5-4.5 zoom lens

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