|Sony α65 with 18-55mm SAM kit zoom|
The Nikon D600 is not worth $2,100. It is the most poorly made camera in that price bracket that I believe I have ever held. The plastic coating is thin and chintzy looking. The pop-up flash should never have been added to the body, as it's thin and flimsy. While I was standing there gently toying with the battery cover it popped off the body into my hand. When I looked at the overall battery compartment I was appalled at the cheesy all-plastic design and construction. I know what some marketing droid at Nikon probably thought: they're going to buy a vertical grip, so why put in the time and effort to make it robust? Add to that the open connector on the bottom next to the battery compartment that is supposed to electrically and electronically tie the two together and I'm left with questions about the so-called moisture- and dust-proof capabilities of the camera, as well as the camera's ability to handle constant use. I was able to hold (briefly) Matthew Robert's D800 up in Toronto. That camera exuded far more quality than the D600. The D3100, D3200, and D5100 cameras sitting nearby embarrassed the D600 by having the same levels of quality for about a quarter of the price. To add insult to injury the D5200's camera compartment was better built than the D600.
While I was there I gave a look at the Canons and the one lone Sony, an α65. While I berate the Canons I had to admire the handling of the T4i as well as the EFS 18-135mm kit zoom lens on the body. Physically, the 18-55mm was the best built of all the kit lenses (the D600 had no lens mounted on it). It was solid and smooth in operation, and reasonably bright in the viewfinder, with quality that comes close to rivaling more expensive lenses. When I picked it up and focused the T4i was quick to acquire focus lock in that environment (although not quite as fast as my stolen E-3). The only real knock against the T4i is when using live view; it was as slow as my stolen E-3, and even exhibited the same behavior; flip up the mirror, focus, expose, then drop the mirror down. That takes a long time. I can understand a five-year-old E-3 doing this, but not Canon's latest Rebel that was released this year. Overall the quality was top notch, equal to the D600 comparing body-to-body.
And then I picked up and played a bit with the Sony. The focus lock speed was simply breath-taking. I fell in love all over again with the focus squares that lit up in green indicating which ones were being used to determine focus. Because this is an SLT camera, it's always in live view. Triggering the camera to take a photo was nearly instantaneous. And it's overall build quality also matched the Nikon.
With the Canon and Sony I liked the way the grip felt in my hand. With the D600 it felt cramped.
I came away from my first physical encounter with the Nikon D600 irrationally angry, more than I have with any other camera in a similar situation. I think what hit me was I was almost ready to spend $2,100, sight unseen, on the D600. I'd certainly bought into the hype sight unseen. Now I'm going to re-re-consider my choices and my prior decisions, and widen the field a bit. The Nikon D600 has definitely been taken down off its pedestal and out of consideration.