Nikon D610 Digital SLR Camera Review

Nikon D610 Digital SLR is about to recommend to all of us, the most important factor when choosing a DSLR, as a replacement, must surely be IQ. As a Canon fan (my last camera was a 550D) the obvious choice would’ve been yet another Canon but I resisted the temptation and opted for Nikon, having been very impressed by results I’d seen with a D3200.

Nikon D610 Digital SLR Camera Review

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Nikon D610 Digital SLR Camera Review

24.3MP /  3.2 inch LCD

Ever heard the expression ‘Bayer green’, as a derogatory term used by film users and wondered what it meant? You wouldn’t, as a 550D owner, if my example was anything to go by! Rendition of greens on the D3200 is far better and the sensor also captures significantly more detail but not at the expense of noise (the 550D sensor is actually noisier). Of course there are many other factors which some would argue makes the position less clear over which is better overall, but all I’m interested in, is which takes better pictures and it sure ain’t the Canon!

I do photography of trains in landscape and for this, you need a fast shutter speed (typically 500th of a second ) and standard to long-focus, prime or zoom lenses. A reasonably quick motor-drive (e.g. 5 fps ) often helps. Logically, it made more sense going for the D7100 and saving several hundred pounds over the D610. The modal score rating, by far, on Amazon is five out of five stars, out of 139 reviews, providing almost overwhelming evidence that this was the one to go for. My heart, however, wasn’t in it; I wanted to try FX before committing myself to yet another DX-sensor camera though I was fully prepared that it might turn out to be utter profligacy and that effectively I could be throwing away hundreds of pounds, which would be far better spent on more up-to-date glass. Fortunately this proved not to be the case and far from wasting money, I’ve actually saved it.

Noise becomes apparent on the D3200 (and presumably the D7100) at ISO800 in my experience; whereas on the D610 it is quite minimal even at ISO3200. In fact ISO3200 gives no more noise than my 550D at ISO400. Even ISO 6400 is fully usable; the level of noise being acceptable and far less than what we used to have on ISO 400, 35mm, colour film. This is an enormous advantage.

The D610 (as with the D7100) gives full-aperture metering and focus confirmation with non-CPU lenses in Nikon AI fitting. ‘Set-up’ allows you to enter the details for each lens, in terms of maximum aperture and focal length. This means you even get the correct aperture displayed in the viewfinder and the exposure metering works correctly in aperture priority or manual and the viewfinder doesn’t go dim when you select a small aperture. If what you really want is shutter priority, however, then you can achieve this by using the variable ISO facility. This lets you select the minimum shutter speed you need and the ISO then varies to achieve correct exposure. It’s like having both shutter and aperture priority at the same time and it works brilliantly.

As an example, my e-series, 100mm, f2.8 lens suffers horribly from CA at f2.8 but is a stellar performer by f5.6, so I just set 5.6 on the lens and the minimum shutter speed to 500th and let the ISO take care of itself. ISO is also displayed in the viewfinder, so if it starts going over 3200, I’ll probably select f4 or f4.5. For my type of photography, however, this seldom need happens.

Overall, the low noise means that I can almost always use a lens at its optimum aperture (typically f5.6-f8) and choose a fast shutter speed. I don’t need AF, so can make do with a multitude of cheap lenses, many of which perform brilliantly when used in this way. Had I got the D7100 instead, there would have been much greater need to restrict the upper-ISO to 800 and that extra two stops makes all the difference. Decent results at f4 rather than f8 at, for example, may demand much more expensive lenses. My Tamron, SP 70-210, F3.5, gives fantastic results at f8 but not at f4!

There is of course, a lot more I could say about the camera: the accuracy of the viewfinder, the way it handles, the build quality, the ‘Active D Lighting’ ( all brilliant). If there is a downside, for me it’s the collar surrounding the exposure mode selector wheel on the top-plate. This can be very fiddly to operate at times. Also, the shutter vibrations are far greater than with a DX-sensor, due to the larger mirror-box assembly and size of the shutter. You’re aware of it every time you trip the shutter and I’m not entirely convinced that it doesn’t have a detrimental effect of the level of fine detail recorded.

Overall, for me, this is a brilliant camera and excellent value-for-money, because of the way in which I use it. In the days of film, some used to say: “A good big ’un, always beats a good little ‘un.” These days, the maxim would probably be: ‘detail = mega-pixels; quality = sensor-size.’ Let me say this, however, that quite recently I took photographs with the D610, tripod mounted, of a scene identical to that taken by someone else, using a D3200, also tripod mounted, under excellent lighting conditions (strong sunshine with excellent visibility). Both were taken at fairly low ISO (400) and at roughly optimum aperture (f8). The level of detail in both is almost identical and you really would find it difficult to tell them apart, even on an A2-sized poster.

So you really do need to think carefully about how you use your camera, before committing your hard-earned money to the D610 rather than something much cheaper! Failure to do this, means you could end up very disappointed. Pixels may equal detail but area of sensor may not have so obvious a bearing on quality as you might think, if you seldom go above ISO 400 !

We gave the Nikon D610 Digital SLR Camera

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