“A brilliant full-frame camera”
When launched, the Nikon D600 was one of the most affordable full-frame cameras available. But, unfortunately for Nikon, it also had some much-publicized problems. The biggest one was that some users observed unusual oil and dust spots in the frame’s upper-left portion. This was because of a faulty shutter mechanism and happened after around 3000 shots. Even though the company issued a service notice, the model was avoided by most customers.
With the D610, Nikon is not only introducing a few new features, it also aims to fix the issues of the previous model. It is priced at around $1500 (body only) which puts in the same price bracket as the Sony Alpha 77 II and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Neither of these has a full frame sensor like the D610.
The D610 looks very similar to the D600, which makes it a functional and attractive DSLR. There are a variety of buttons dotting the body which gives quick access to important functions. The dials are well positioned and are comfortable to hold and easy to turn. The mode dial is uncluttered and well-designed. It even has a special locking mechanism which protects against unwanted turning.
All the buttons are well-spaced out and sturdy. If you have used a Nikon camera before, you will feel right at home with the D610.
As expected, the build quality is excellent in the D610. Both the top and bottom plates are constructed using magnesium alloy which makes the device extremely sturdy, but a bit on the heavier side. The rest of the chassis is constructed using polycarbonate plastic. Nikon has added a decent amount of weatherproofing to this device and you can use it in moderate conditions without worrying about the malfunction.
Even though the Nikon D600 had some obvious shortcomings, its performance was excellent. The D610, with its improved shutter mechanism, does not have the dust/oil spot issue of its predecessor and has even added some performance tweaks. But how good are they?
At its core, the D610 has a 24.3 full-frame sensor coupled with Nikon’s EXPEED 3 processing engine which has a native ISO range of 100-6400 which can be extended up to ISO 25600. It has a 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type sensors which support 3D focus tracking as well. Continuous shooting has been improved to 6fps from 5.5fps and there’s a ‘Quiet Continuous’ mode at 3fps for discreet photography. This is a bit of a disappointment since the captured sound is still a bit audible which makes it too loud for purposes like wildlife photography.
AF performance with the 3D tracking system is quite impressive and delivers high-end performance. But, when it comes to focusing tracking in Live View, there is plenty of scope for improvement.
Image Quality and Video
Overall, the image quality is excellent even though it retains the AA filter, unlike many newer DSLRs. Even though the sensor captures an impressive amount of detail, it lags a bit behind the Canon 7D Mark II or even the older Canon 6D.
In lower ISO settings, there is very little noise. At ISO 3200, a bit of noise becomes visible and even at the highest base setting of ISO 6400, noise isn’t a major issue. Thanks to an excellent RGB metering system, the D610 delivers even exposures in a variety of settings. The white balance system is top-notch as well and is impressively reliable across a number of lighting conditions. There is even an ‘Auto 2’ setting which gives images a warm tone under artificial lights.
Video quality is very good and footage can be shot at up to 24Mbps in 24, 25 of 30 fps. However, the microphone is mono only which, while comparable to high-end DSLRs like the Nikon D800, lags behind certain mid-range models like the Nikon D5300.
- Full-frame 24MP CMOS sensor with 10.5MP DX crop mode
- ISO 100-6400 (expandable to ISO 50-25600)
- 6fps continuous shooting and 3fps quiet continuous mode
- 39 point AF system with 9 cross-type points
- Improved white balance system
- 2-inch 921k-dot LCD
- Dual SD card slots
- Full HD video
- Uncompressed video recording through HDMI
- Wireless flash control
- Great sensor performance
- Excellent handling
- Brilliant AF capabilities
- AF points too tightly grouped
- No Wi-Fi
If you want a solid full-frame DSLR with excellent image quality and advanced features, the Nikon D610 is an excellent buy. Even though it is little more than a ‘fixed’ D600, it still is an impressive DSLR. It is unfortunate that Nikon didn’t use the opportunity to add some much needed features like in-built Wi-Fi though.