Should You Upgrade from Nikon D7000 to D600 (APS-C to Full Frame)?

September 14, 2012

Today I’ve been asked whether to get the Nikon D7000 or buy the Nikon D600 instead. The question was asked by an enthusiast photographer who bought the the Nikon D5000 a few years back and now he wants to upgrade to a new camera.  At the time of writing this post, the Nikon D7000 costs around $1000 and the D600 costs $2100. There is a $1100 difference roughly. The decision to buy either of those cameras should be based on your specific needs as a photographer, and not whether one camera is “better” than the other. 

Comparing the Nikon D600 and Nikon D7000 directly isn’t such a fair comparison because those two cameras differ in price quite significantly. Having said that, as an enthusiast photographer it’s easy to get tempted to but the new D600, because finally we have a Full Frame DSLR that it’s on our reach. Nevertheless, if you buy this camera with not real reason, you might be wasting your money on features that you won’t take advantage off, Which means that you better off spending this $1100 on a good lens instead on the body.


Full Frame vs APS-C

A Full Frame DSLR will give you better high ISO performance and better image quality overall.  Video quality also should look better in general. The top 4 reasons to get a 35mm DSLR is to enjoy wide-angle lenses true focal length (no crop factor multiplication), achieving shallower depth of field, larger and brighter viewfinder and better high ISO performance.

The Nikon D600 also have some disadvantages compare to the D7000, this includes slower shutter speed (1/4000 sec vs 1/8000 sec), a bit less powerful battery and can shoot a bit slower (5.5 vs 6 fps).

When considering the two cameras, you also need to take into consideration the current equipment that you currently have. If you already invested a lot of money in DX lenses, you need to understand that if you intend to sell those lenses, you will lose money. If you invested in FX lenses in the first place, you probably can have a better start, because you don’t have to buy new lenses, and can buy the body only to get started.

When you read something like “With a full frame DSLR you can take your photography to the next level..”, it really a marketing line, rather than a real-life recommendation. In fact, some of you might enjoy APS-C Nikon DSLRs better, and those cameras can even server you better than the Nikon D600. For example, I have the Nikon D3100 (APS-C) and the Nikkor 70-300mm VR FX lens. This lens is compatible with both Nikon DX and FX cameras. On my Nikon D3100, the 70-300 mm lens equals to 105-450mm, because the D3100 has a ASP-C sensor with 1.5x crop factor. So the image is actually magnified (stated focal length of the lens multiplied by the crop factor).

I love to shoot wildlife photos. For a photographers like me, the Nikon D3100 is probably the better option, because I can get closer to my subjects without purchasing a more expensive lens that will give me that reach.  It can also be true to macro when using a 100mm 1:1 macro lens, which on APS-C DSLR is equivalent to 150mm (which means it captures part of the project light/image). Again, you can shoot macro shots from farther away from your subject, an for macro it can be quite a big advantage.
Landscape photographers will certainly find the 1x crop of the Nikon D600 more appealing. It will let them enjoy the full wide of the lens, so ultra wide-angle lenses will stay ultra-wide. So you need to ask yourself those type of questions and you can know the answer yourself. Asking people which is the best camera, D7000 or D600 won’t give you the answers that you really need to make a smart buying decision. Of course unless you don’t mind owning two DSLRs and you have the money to enjoy them both 🙂

I know some people that will get the Nikon D600 (or any Full Frame DSLR) in order to enjoy the wider perspective of a Full Frame camera Eye-level optical viewfinder.  When you look through the viewfinder of a camera with a smaller sensor, it’s like looking though a tunnel. Some cameras have larger viewfinder, some smaller, but nothing compares to the enjoyment of looking through a viewfinder of a 35mm camera.  I highly recommend that you visit the camera store and just try it yourself.


Upgrading from Nikon D7000 to D600

Upgrading from D7000 to D600 or from D300s to D600 is a very good and logical upgrade path if you indeed find the features of the D600 DSLR useful for your shooting style and professional needs. If you have the D7000, it’s also wise to consider upgrading to the D300s replacement, but at the time of writing this article it not yet announced. The Nikon D7000 is a better camera than the D300s is, and I personally don’t recommend upgrading from the D7000 to the D300s, not at all. In fact, the D300s is on the list of discontinued cameras, but still without a direct replacement.

If you plan to stay with APS-C Nikon DSLR, it will be wise to wait for the D300s replacement and upgrade to that camera. In fact, this might be your only option, unless you plan to switch brands (are you?).


Upgrade from Nikon D7000 to D800

You have the same considerations as with the D600, however, the D800 is more expensive and you also have the D800E which comes without the anti-aliasing filter. The D800E costs even more than the D800, and people who buy this camera are usually studio and landscape photographers who want to squeeze as many details as possible from the scene, and also be able to make very large prints with lots of details.

The D600 was released to make a full frame DSLR available for many photographers, those who couldn’t afford getting the D800 because of its relatively high price tag. In order to make a decision, I recommend reading the Nikon D600 vs D800 vs D700 comparison that I’ve written, in order to understand the differences between those three Full Frame digital SLR cameras.


All in all, the experience shooting with a Full Frame DSLR is really something that you need to try yourself. At least go to the camera store and hold any full frame digital SLR just to get the feel of it. To make a blind decision. Remember, the large sensor won’t give you better photos, it’s you and the equipment that is right for the job, both of you will contribute to success. The D600 by itself is not a magic tool. I know that t’s easy to get excited when viewing the promotional videos and reading everyone say “wow!” on forum and blog posts. Even if the D600 will get a Gold Award on dpreview and all the reviews’ websites will praise this camera, don’t hurry to upgrade, unless you know that you are going to take advantages of what this camera has to offer.

The Nikon D7000 is an excellent camera that can server you well for many years to come. It might be all that you need to capture gorgeous images and become very creative in what you enjoy shooting.  So my recommendation for you is to think twice, consider the cons and pros and make a smart buying decision. A decision that you will be satisfied with and one that will help you become a better photographer.


Please feel free to share your own opinion by commenting below. Thanks.

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