Sep. 13, 2012 at 3:08 PM ET
Nikon has announced the D600, a full-frame DSLR camera for professional and enthusiast photographers that, while expensive, is far cheaper than its competition.
At $2,100, it's no impulse buy, but it has perhaps the most coveted feature in digital photography: a full-frame sensor. This means that the image sensor in the camera is roughly the same size as a frame of 35mm film, as compared with the much smaller sensors in consumer DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and point-and-shoots.
A full-frame sensor allows more light to be captured, lets lenses show the full range of angles they are billed to show (on the popular APS-C sensors, a lens labeled 35mm is more like 50mm), and generally provide a photography experience that's closer to the film cameras of yesteryear.
The D600 has 24 megapixels, a 3.2" 640-by-480 LCD, a moisture-sealed magnesium-reinforced body, and generally all the features photographers expect in a high-end DSLR. In a pleasant surprise, its viewfinder offers 100 percent coverage, meaning what you see through it is exactly what will be captured; less expensive cameras often have less than 90 percentcoverage, making framing shots with precision more difficult.
Its nearest relatives are Canon's new and popular 5D Mark III and Nikon's own D800, but the 5D goes for at least $1,000 more (its MSRP is $3,499) and the D800 for a bit less than that. The D600 doesn't have all of their features, and includes a few questionable ones (a "Scene" mode on the dial that is extremely unlikely to be used by people buying $2,100 camera bodies), but it will likely be popular nevertheless — as a second camera for a photographer used to working in full-frame, the price can't be beat.
The camera should be available on Sept. 18 worldwide, and will come with a 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR zoom for an extra $600.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.