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.
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.
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.
• 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.
• Confidence in the shutter mechanism – Nikon isn’t likely to make the same blunder twice.
• 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:
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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