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Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images

Gear Talk

Court Leve, a well-known and respected photographer in Northern California, reviews Nikon’s D610 DSLR. Find out how it compares not only to its immediate predecessor, the D600, but also to the D800, D300s, D700, and D3s. The D600 was famously fraught with controversy surrounding its oil and dust build-up issues and many believe the D610 is a smoke n mirrors release put in place to prevent a formal D600 recall. Find out if the D610 is a true upgrade or merely a less expensive substitute for other full frames on the market.


Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images
by Court Leve

Nikon’s D610 is an updated version of their D600 and includes a couple of internal improvements:

• Increase in frame rate from 5.5 to 6 FPS

• Installation of an improved shutter mechanism, replacing the version on the D600 that apparently was the point of much contention with regards to oil or dust on the sensor.

To any Nikon DSLR shooter, the D610 will feel familiar and I was able to get it up and running without referring to the manual. The dials, buttons, and menus are all easy to navigate, are intuitive, and clearly marked. Here is how it compares to other Nikon cameras:

• The D610 is considerably smaller than a D800 and a touch smaller than the D300s.

• The shutter is notably quieter on the D610 compared to the D3s, D700, and D800.

• Controls are the same as on other D-series cameras with the exception of the center button on playback. Instead of being able to zoom in quickly for a more detailed view, it toggles to the list of in-camera editing functions: trim, monochrome, filter effects, color balance, distortion control, fisheye and a few other features including miniature effect, perspective control, and more. Users who like to edit images for instant gratification will appreciate these features and they are fun to use. Edits are then saved as a new JPEG file. Some of these edit features could be nice for a photojournalist, like resizing an image or monochrome, but most are things that advanced users would want to take care of in post production.

• No panoramic mode. This would be a nice feature to add, especially given all of the other in-camera functions the D610 already sports.

• The viewfinder on the D610 is bright and clean but the focus points seem slightly more constrained to the center than on the viewfinder of a D800 or D3s. Moving through the focus point areas is quick and the overall focus speed of the camera is good, though not as quick and accurate as the D3s. I shot two nighttime high school football games and was able to keep the vast majority of the shots in focus in a wide variety of lighting conditions.

• I experimented with the D610 in full sun, in extreme mixed lighting, and under the typically harsh lights offered by a high school football stadium. In every condition, the metering on this camera was excellent. I used matrix and center-weight metering, auto ISO, aperture and shutter priorities, and manual mode – all metering features worked every bit as well as the higher-end Nikons.

• The D610’s white balance handled low light, stadium, indoor lights, and flash really well – though I found daylight shots to be somewhat flat. Focus speed and accuracy were both great. If you are comparing the focus speed to a D3s you will notice the need to do a little bit more hunting for your focus but overall the speed is more than adequate.

• There are no 10-pin or PC ports, which limits your usage of peripherals such as corded remotes. There is in-camera time-lapse shooting that should satisfy some who would normally need to use an intervelometer.

Court_Leve_001

Mixed light shot showing excellent metering in challenging conditions. Learn more about metering modes.

5.6 1/1600th 6400 iso 400mm Lens 80-400

Lower light example at ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/600th of a second with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens.

5.6 1/640th 25600 iso 400mm Lens 80-400

ISO 25600, f/5.6, 1/640th of a second with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens.

12800 iso 5.6 1/400th 380mm Lens 80-400

Good low light tracking of subjects moving towards camera. ISO 12800, f/5.6, 1/400th of a second with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens.

A note on files:

At the time of testing, I wasn’t able to edit the .NEF files from the D610 since I didn’t have a copy of Nikon’s software and, at the time, Lightroom hadn’t released an update for D610 support yet. If you are working with RAWS in LR, be sure to download the latest updates. The images straight out of camera are very promising. The extremely high ISO shots are impressive, retaining nice colors and minimal loss of details in the shadows.

1/800 4.0 100 iso Lens 70-200

Daylight shot, white balance is a bit flat. ISO 100, f/4.0, 1/800th of a second taken with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II lens.

3.5 1/320 100 iso in camera miniature affect applied lens 24-70

Miniature affect applied in-camera. To get this effect without using in-camera modes, explore tilt-shift lenses.

1/80th 2.8 400 iso lens 70-200

Late afternoon shot taken at ISO 400, f/2.8, and 1/80th of a second with a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II lens.

1/30th 2.8 6400 iso lens  70-200

Very low light portrait at ISO 6400, f/2.8, and 1/30th of a second. Off-camera lighting is often a good idea in these situations. Learn more about off-camera lighting.

_DSC3756

Portrait inside a coffee shop. Taken at ISO 1000, f/1.4, and 1/200th of a second on an 85mm f/1.4G lens.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 1.54.42 PM

Crop of the above at 100%.

Who the camera is for:

• Avid photographers/enthusiasts.

• Small hands (or rent the grip). Camera bodies without a vertical grip are always a bit uncomfortable for me but this one feels especially cramped.

• Traveling photographers.

• Someone who needs a small full frame camera and video shooting capabilities.

• A shooter who needs a fairly inexpensive (both to buy and to rent) second camera that is still full frame.

Pros:

• Size and weight.
• File size. 24MP is a great size, producing approximately a 13” x 20” image.
• Focus speed/Accuracy.
• White balance.
• Metering (very good).
• Nikon ergonomics (unless you are large-handed).
• Battery life  (over 2,000 images with heavy review on 1 charge).
• Sports headphone and microphone jacks.
• Value.
• Confidence in the shutter mechanism – Nikon isn’t likely to make the same blunder twice.

Cons:

• Size if you are using the body for a long period of time/are large-handed/used to pro bodies.
• Lack of 10-pin and PC port.
• Low light, while good, still isn’t as good as the D3s.
• Not weather-sealed.
• WiFi usage requires an adapter.

Overall, the D610’s full frame 24MP sensor, fast focus, great low light capture, video capabilities, and in-camera features is ideal for the above-average shooter on a budget who is ready to explore the world of full frame shooting.

Lenses used for testing:

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S ED
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G  AF-S

Camera settings used for testing:

• Vivid camera mode

• High ISO NR reduction set to high

• AF-C 39-point focus mode

• All images shot handheld and are straight-out-of-camera JPEG


Share your example D610 shots with us in the comments below!

Fine Print: All images and related informational materials in any medium furnished by Court Leve, including related text, captions, or information (collectively referred to as “Images”), are owned by Court Leve. All Images are protected by US and international copyright laws. Images may not be used in any manner without prior express written consent.

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Alexandria Huff is a portrait photographer based in San Francisco. Her tutorials can be found here on the BorrowLenses Blog, 500px, Shutterfly, Snapknot, and SmugMug. She specializes in studio lighting. Follow her work on 500px.

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Comments

  • Jim bonds says:

    I believe that the D610 has the same weather and dust and moisture ceiling as the D800

  • Val says:

    Hi, I am curious how good is D610’s auto focus. I use only the center single-point AF mode. Is it sharp on the object? Does it need calibration when used with a prime such as 50/1.4G?

  • Edmond says:

    Great article love the info and what can you say about Court Leve just AWESOME hope to meet some day we are located in NC as well. My question: Would this be a great camera for weddings? Our primary use would be studio work.

    Thanks

  • tammy says:

    What would you say is better: 610 vs 700?

  • tammy says:

    Would you say the d700 is still better than the 610?

  • Cherie says:

    You mention that the D610 Af was hunting a bit more than the D3s. Are you sure that this was due to the camera? Because Nasim Mansurov (and others) have found that the 80-400 mm lens you were using suffers quite a bit from “chattering”. http://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-80-400mm-vr/8. So I was wondering: did you notice hunting with all the lenses you tried on the D610?

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