The Full Frame Camera That Was Banned In China


In 2014, China decided to ban the sales of Nikon D600 due to the oil stain and dust on sensor manufacturing defect. This was the last drastic decision by the government following the protests from angry consumers demanding refunds which was refused by local retailers. The drama escalated to national news TV reporting this issue, and immediately after that the government ordered the sales of D600 to be stopped, all retail units to be recalled. I believe this was the only consumer level camera that was ever banned anywhere in the world! I found one used unit here locally in Malaysia at a price I just cannot refuse, I bought it and boy oh boy was I excited to find out what this banned full frame camera can do for my shutter therapy adventures!

I have made video to talk about my experience shooting with the Nikon D600, you can find the video here (click)

Initially, my plan was to get an entry level, modern mirrorless full frame camera just "to try things out". It was coming to the end of 2022, and I felt a little adventurous. I was looking at Canon Rp, Nikon Z5 and Sony A7c. All solid options, but they all come with inadequacies and problems that stopped me from going all in. The Canon Rp lacks 5-Axis image stabilization, and I somehow cannot survive without any kind of stabilization in this modern age. The Nikon Z5 lacks a swivel screen, what if I want to vlog on the camera? That is a no go. The Sony A7c has image stabilization and swivel screen, but man, have you seen that camera? That Sony A7c has got to be the ugliest camera I have seen in a long time. No offense to A7c owners or Sony fans, but I would not spend that much money on something I have to hate looking at every day. So the search went on and I was undecided on what to get. 

Of course, I was exploring the local used market Carousell for any good deals, I was not going to pay full price for my experiments, obviously to minimize cost. I chanced upon a Nikon D600 for sale, for about RM800 (USD180 at the time of listing) and I immediately contacted the seller. A 10 years old full frame entry level DSLR with an image sensor that can still deliver great results, the DXOMark site claims that the numbers can even match the latest and greatest full frame mirrorless cameras from today - and it even scored higher than, say the Canon R6! I met up with the seller, found the camera to be in acceptable condition, and made the purchase. I was so excited to play with the D600, a new, old camera just the perfect toy that I need to end the year 2022. And as a bonus I already have two lenses with Nikon F mount - Nikon 50mm F1.8 D and Yongnuo 35mm F2. 

I cannot make any meaningful tests, as I don't have high grade lenses to push the image sensor to its limits and see what it is fully capable of. All I wanted to do honestly was just to have fun and see how this monstrous sized image sensor can perform - they say full frame has 2 stops advantage in dynamic range and high ISO vs Micro Four Thirds. I did some tests and I shared in the above-mentioned video. 

In my initial tests, I did find the camera to be a little problematic. The metering, auto white balance engine and AF in low light had issues which I wished could have been better. I generally dislike Nikon colors, and I can clearly see how I would take Canon colors any day. But I am keeping the Nikon D600 for now, it is an excellent value for money camera - having a capable image sensor and I am sure it can still deliver great results today. 

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  1. Happy New Year to you, too!
    Might it become a peaceful, good year.

    Your approach for the D600 makes me smirk: "Should I purchase this one or better that one? Or better that one over there? Hmmm... naaa, I decided to go straight a completely different way for this and this and this reason."

    And by the way: How dare you to criticise the A7c? O tempora, o mores! ;)

    Your video shows clearly how important it is to know the equipment we use, what is it capable of, where are the weak points. It's impressive how fast you found that out with this camera - that's your professional experience.
    Having said that, what matters are the photographs. That one with the guy holding his white and green jacket to protect him from the rain and the towers behind the clouds are my favourites.

    1. Happy New Year EckyH!
      Yeah none of the newer modern mirrorless offerings satisfy my needs, so I went with an older alternative. The D600 isn't perfect, but it is cheap enough I can forgive and live with the shortcomings. The image sensor is as good as any modern cameras today!

  2. Hi Robin and congratulations to your D600. Its good to see you write about many camera systems right now. I would also like to thank you for your blog and your many youtube videos - they are very informative and helpful.
    I bought a D610 at the end of 2013 upgrading my Nikon D90 in order to get "better" pictures (they weren't better as I discovered the root of the problem was me, the photographer, not the camera :D ). So I practised more and read books about photography to improve my "skills".
    The D600/610 (they are almost identical) is a very good tool and I'm sure you will have a lot of fun with it, but I have a problem with this camera: Its too big and heavy for when I'm hiking in the mountains. When I take my camera backpack with some lenses and accessories it weighs in at 14 kilogramms...
    2 weeks ago I stumbled upon a used Olympus OM-D E-M5 (Mark I) at an online retail shop, but it was sold before I could decide to buy it. As Olympus was below my radar all the past years I did some research (and found your youtube videos and blog). And boy, what a great system these m4/3 cameras are! I'm thrilled about the cameras and lenses. Now I'm a proud owner of a used E-M10 Mark II and a tiny kit lens, once I catch a telephoto zoom my mountaineering kit will be complete (and very small and light, perfect!). While I will keep my D610 I'm really glad I discovered these little gems. Keep up the good work, and thank you once again.