Why I bought a Nikon D600.

Okay, I did it. Some weeks ago, actually. I know, I know. I wrote this elaborate post about how the D600 was too little too late in the age of smaller, faster cameras from Olympus, Sony and Fuji. I guess the thing is that so much of what I do still lends itself to SLR photography and the kind of shooting system that can only be built over decades. I’ve fallen out of love with my D700, but the reality is I’ve built a set around it that only a fool with more money than sense (granted, I lack both) would replace simply to spite Nikon. Another  manufacturer will inevitably have different limitations that are no less maddening. There is no perfect system.

Anybody who has dabbled in camera equipment knows these purchases are almost always unnecessary. Recovering GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) addicts must justify each purchase carefully. Did I need to replace my D700? No. Can I justify the upgrade? I think so, yeah. Here’s how:

1) Opportunity

I got an amazing deal. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about Amazon’s pricing techniques, and I’ve formed the habit of placing items on my wish list and just keeping an eye on the price. Every now and then they will do something silly to move stock along. One afternoon shortly after the D600 release, when other retailers were selling the D600 for £1950, Amazon dropped the price to £1600 for a few hours. I pounced. Even with subsequent discounts by other retailers, this is a good price. I think it will still be a good price in a year. Shortly after I made the purchase, Amazon raised the price £300.

2) Cost of upgrade

I just sold my D700 for £1000. It’s a little less than I was hoping for, but aggressive discounts on the D600 and D800 have hit prices of second-hand D700s – that’s the way it goes. Even so, this puts the cost of my upgrade at £600. So, £600 for the best sensor on the market, a 30 per cent reduction in weight (and thus corresponding increase in use), 100 per cent accurate viewfinder (D700 was 95 per cent) the ability to shoot video (D700 didn’t), a switch to SD cards (macbook takes ‘em – no more card readers), and a bunch of smaller features that will help with shooting. This is affordable. Once I sell my compact flash cards and reader, that cost will come down further.

3) Investment in system

I own four Nikon lenses, three flashes, a GPS unit and a remote release. My girlfriend shoots a D7000 and owns two other lenses. In terms of the time and money it’s taken me to build this system, it is irreplaceable. By making my next camera a Nikon, I get to discover these accessories all over again without spending another cent. As somebody who has dabbled extensively in other camera systems over the past year, I can tell you there is nothing more depressing than having to start from scratch with a new lens system, and there are many other accessories you can’t even get for other DSLR or mirrorless models. As a bonus, I’m now on the same battery system as my partner, so we can share a charger when traveling. It’s the little things …

4) It’s a hot camera

The biggest influence on my decision to get a D600 was spending time with it and a D800 recently. I had time to handle them both, check out new features and get a feel for the ergonomics. What surprised me most was that the D800 ergonomics are worse than the D700 – the grip is stubbier, the back is crowded, the exposure compensation button is in an awkward position, the camera isn’t significantly lighter than the D700 (especially if you’re still pairing it with a pro lens) and the shutter sound would raise the dead. Even as the price approached the £2000 mark (down from £2599), I was put off. The D600, by comparison, feels great in the hand, albeit less substantial. It’s smaller and lighter yet somehow leaves much more room for your thumb, and just fits. Its shutter, though not as durable as the D800’s, has the more discreet – and just cooler – sound of the D7000. I also think the D600 is a better looking camera. Don’t judge me.

5) One more thing

The D600 is small enough and light enough to take anywhere, especially when paired with a prime lens. This could be the camera that gets me back onto one system. If (it’s a big ‘if’) I sell the X-Pro1, (UPDATE: I did) I’ll have made money overall. I’m thinking very seriously about it, but I need a bit more time with the D600 before I make up my mind.

So there you have it, like a seasoned addict I have reasoned myself into spending more money on cameras. Something tells me that I won’t regret it this time. A month ago I wrote that if I had any sense I would buy the D600. Well, at that price, I’m prepared to be sensible for once.

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3 thoughts on “Why I bought a Nikon D600.

  1. Too Funny. I have been both an avid M4/3rds user and Nikon system user for a number of years. I went from adding up what all my DSLR gear would fetch my on ebay (in order to fill out my M4/3 system) to plunking down my money for the D600. I do a lot of kids and family photography and as much as I rarely use my DSLP for my personal photography I just couldn’t make the leap to ditching all my Nikon gear and doing paying work with m4/3. Soon though…Damn GAS!

    • Ha – I think we understand each other. What M4/3 camera are you using? That’s one system I haven’t dabbled in, though the OM-D was sorely tempting. I love the new camera systems that are coming out but they just don’t replace a DSLR yet and so many of us are trying to shoulder the expense of two ecosystems. Still, my current setup isn’t exactly ideal – my so-called compact camera shoots film which doesn’t give me any options if I want to take some quick snaps on a social outing and turn the files around that day. Since I wrote that post we have the Nikon Coolpix A and the latest 1-system cameras to tempt us, too. At least with those we can share some of the accessories (e.g. wifi dongle, flash) with the SLRs. The search continues …

  2. Bede,

    Currently I have a Panasonic GX-1 and an OMD. I bought the GX-1 and about a month later they announced the OMD. Go figure. I had to have it. I shoot mostly primes with M4/3 rds but do also have the Panasonic 12-35. Mostly I use my Nikon strobes in Manual for lighting using the M 4/3rds gear. I love my D600 and I have all the lenses and lights i need for that system. That being said I rarely use it for anything other then paying clients. Fortunately or unfortunately I am not a full time portrait photographer and my “day job” allows me the disposable income to have a serious GAS affliction. I have been tempted by the Fuji system but am far too invested in both Nikon and 4/3rds to take on another system and selling one off at this point is not really an option. Nothing to stop me from getting an X100s though ;-)

    I love full frame but am finding that the further I go into photography the less critical it is for me to have shallow DOF. In fact I am trying to work on adding more context to my portraits by shooting wider and concentrating on composition rather then just blowing everything out. I am one and a half features from dumping my Nikon gear all together. Continous AF is the big one. Hard to do kids photography without it (well at least until I wear them out) and TTL radio Triggers (not as important but would be nice to have). I don’t think the GH3 or OMD are there yet for continuous AF but I don’t see that issue lasting longer then another generation or two. One thing i think i can safely say is other then the D600 body I bought last fall, I will be very hard pressed to spend any more money on my DSLR kit. I have everything I need to do my work and i see the writing on the wall for me.


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