Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for D610_24_85_front34l.jpg
  • 24.3-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 3.2-Inch, 920k dot LCD Screen
  • FX-format, Full Frame sensor
  • Expeed 3 image processor
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Multiple I/O ports
  • 6fps burst shooting
  • Dual SD card slots
  • Compact body (for a full-frame dSLR)
  • Pop-up flash unit
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Overall performance is incredibly fast
  • Amazing image quality at lower ISO settings
  • Higher ISO settings do produce a lot of noise, but are all good for each setting when compare to other cameras in this price range
  • 3.2-inch LCD is great for searching the menus and Live View shooting
  • Outstanding video capabilities
  • External Microphone input
  • HDMI, Monitor and Headphone outputs
  • Built-in Flash unit
Cons
  • Not really a new camera model, more of a fix for the D600 issues
  • Highest ISO settings are over the top with image noise
  • Fixed screen, not movable to help in awkward shooting situations
  • No built-in WiFi
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 0.6 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 to 2/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.26 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 0.8 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  Can be set between 1fps and 5fps
  • High Speed Burst = 6fps
  • All tests were taken using a Sony UHS-1 (94MB/s), 32GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Nikon D610 is their most affordable and compact full-frame (FX-format) camera. Both image quality and overall performance are excellent, and the video capabilities outperform most dSLRs on the market. 
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for and affordable and versatile full-frame dSLR. This is also a fantastic camera for anyone that shoots both still images and video on a regular basis.
Nikon recently released the D610, which serves as an upgrade to the D600 that featured a few issues hindering the popularity of the camera. For the most part, there were very few changes from the D600. It features the same 24.3-Megapixel imaging sensor, fast and accurate AF system, and video recording abilities that originally gave the D600 all the hype. Nikon did replace the shutter, giving the sensor better protection from dust and oil (the major issue with the D600) and slightly increasing the burst shooting rates. The D610 has never officially been listed as a replacement or fix to the D600, but the incredibly similar cameras with only the major fault being fixed speaks for itself. Nikon has also knocked a little off of the price tag, making the D610 their most affordable FX-format (full-frame) camera.

The power and performance of the D610 is enough to satisfy just about any photographer. It still offers the same smaller and lighter body of the D600, but keeps the performance and image capabilities of a full-frame camera. The lightning fast AF system features 39 points and works all the way down to f/8, giving you more capabilities with long lenses and converters. When shooting in Live View mode, the camera features a 2,016-dot RGB sensor as part of its 3D color Matrix metering system. This system allows the Auto Scene Recognition system to excel at determining tough situations and shooting conditions. Live View also provides the camera with its fantastic subject tracking capabilities. 

Unfortunately Nikon has not realized the importance and popularity of the built-in WiFi system that is becoming increasingly popular on all types of cameras. While they do have the adapter that gives their cameras the same capabilities, it is at an extra expense to the photographer as well as something that must be remembered, where as a built-in system is always with the camera. With the growing popularity and functionality of smartphones and tablets, the ability to not only instantly share your captured images but also take control of the camera itself is becoming more popular and also more complex, making it much more useful. This can be a great tool in difficult shooting situations, but only if Nikon users have purchased and remembered to bring the small adapter.

Although it is smaller and lighter than most full-frame dSLR cameras, if you are not used to one, than this camera will seem pretty big and heavy. Once you have adjusted to the size and weight, you will notice how well it fits into your hands and how well the controls have been laid out on the body. The many controls on the body allow for almost total control of the camera without getting into the menu systems. So with a little practice you will be able to make almost all of your changes without looking at the LCD screen for anything. It will take you a little time, however, to get adjusted to the large number of buttons and control dials as well as what they all control. 

There are two options for framing your still images with the D610. First is the optical viewfinder, which shows you all of the basic shooting information that you need for most situations along the bottom. It will also show you your focus points in the viewfinder, so there is no question where and if you have achieved focus. The OVF is very clear, bright and easily adjusted with the dioptic adjustment. It also covers approx. 100% of the field of view, so there is no guessing at the final composition of your photos. Secondly, there is the 3.2-inch, 921k dot LCD screen. This high resolution LCD screen also shows approx. 100% field of view as well as providing all of the shooting information that you could possible think of. They have even included an electronic level with horizon simulation to ensure that your landscape images are always level. This screen is also great for viewing your captured images and videos. Its resolution and adjustable brightness allow you to check for focus and fine details anywhere, which is great when there is no time or you do not have a computer or monitor handy. 

Thanks to the new shutter, the D610 features a slight upgrade in the performance area, at least in the burst shooting department. When turning the camera on, we were able to capture our first image in just 6/10 of a second. The camera may even be a little faster, but our tests our limited by our ability to flip the switch and then press the shutter release. Shutter lag is non-existent when the camera is pre-focused, and incredibly fast when allowing the AF system to work. The camera averaged between 1/10 and 2/10 of a second using the AF at various zoom and lighting levels. Individual shot delay is also great, with a delay of just over ΒΌ second. This increases quite a bit when using the built-in flash due to the flash's recharge time. The big change with the new shutter, which isn't that big, is the new burst rate that we confirmed to be right at 6fps. This is a small step up from the 5.5fps of the D600, but faster is faster. RAW shooting basically only effects the burst shooting by limiting the camera to 13 images before it starts to slow. Live View is also worth noting, since the AF system is considerably slower, averaging over 1 second to focus and capture our sample images.

As with the D600, we saw fantastic overall image quality results. Actually a little bit better as chromatic aberrations were controlled better this time around. As for the rest of the images we can see excellent exposure and sharpness, making it easy to see all of the details in the image. The image color produced the same results as well, with a more vivid image shooting in auto mode versus program. This is based on the camera choosing the shooting settings based on what it determines for the scene mode. 

Our indoor image samples show us exactly what you would expect from a professional level, full-frame dSLR camera. Our images are incredibly sharp and loaded with detail. All of the lower and mid-level ISO settings are incredibly clear and noise free. The higher settings do show noise but it has been kept very low in comparison for each setting. Around ISO 3200 is where you really have to start watching, because this is where the noise really starts to fade away the finer details in the image. The camera's NR (noise reduction) features work very well, reducing the amount of noise in the images at all settings from ISO 800 and up. Just remember that when you increase the noise reduction, you will also be softening the overall image. Assisting with your lower light images is a compact but powerful built-in flash unit. Since this is not a standard feature on higher end cameras, it is a great addition. It does not replace an external speedlight, but it can be very handy shooting up close, as a fill in bright lighting or a great alternative to nothing if you forget an external flash. 

Video recording with the D610 is a little more complex than you will find on most dSLR cameras. This does not mean that it is complicated to use, but if you know how to shoot manually with a video camera you will be pleased with the amount of control that the camera offers. They have gone a long way to make this a must see camera for anyone that shoots both still and video on a regular basis. Multiple input/output ports allow you to connect external microphones, monitors and headphones; to assure that you know exactly what you are recording in real time. Our sample videos show very high quality video that looks great and plays back smoothly on all media sources. The on-camera microphone picks up everything, which has provided some noisy and annoying audio for our samples. If you are worried about the audio for your movies, either use an external mic, use an external recording device or be very careful where you position yourself when recording to stay away from background noises and out of the wind. 

Powering the D610 is a 7.0V, 1900mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. This battery is capable of providing the camera with enough power to record up to 900 shots (CIPA) on a single charge. This will keep you shooting for a while, but remember that shooting video and viewing your images will shorten this greatly. During our testing, we were able to capture over 430 images and several short videos without running out of power. Nikon has an available battery grip that will add a second battery and double the amount of shooting time you have before you need to stop. Nikon has included a quick and portable battery charger, that allows you to keep your battery and a spare charged and ready to go at all times. For more than two batteries, you might want to pick up an additional charger or two with your extra batteries.

Bottom Line - The Nikon D610 is their most affordable and compact FX-format (full frame) dSLR. Excelling in both image quality and performance with both still images and video, this camera is must see for those who do business in both. This makes a great single camera that can be taken on a shoot when both will be involved and traveling light is a must. Nikon has fixed the big issues with the D600, so if you are wondering about the sensor issue, the D610 is good to go. Our test kit has a MSRP of US $2,499.95, and gives everything that you need to get started. The body alone is US $1,999.95 and there are also two other kits available. 


Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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