The Nikon D610, initially released fall 2013, is the successor to the previously released D600. Interestingly enough, this camera replaced its successor only 13 months later, sparking controversy in the process. Photographers claimed this was Nikon’s response to the dust and oil problems found on the sensor of the D600, primarily at narrow Apertures above f/8.0. And, instead of fully correcting the issue, Nikon opted to discontinue the previous iteration and restart the line. At its core, this camera is identical to the D600 in almost its entirety.
It offers only four minor improvements over the predecessor: a new shutter mechanism, increased burst rate, more trustworthy white balance, and “quieter” continuous shooting. Outside of those, however, it’s the same full-frame 24.3 megapixels digital SLR aimed at beginners or amateur photographers as before to compete with Sony A7, and Canon 60D. Is this still the camera to beat as the best entry-level full-frame camera? Seven years is an eternity in the camera world, is this camera even still relevant today? Let’s find out.
What are some of the goods, bads, and the uglies of the Nikon D610?
Image quality on this camera is good, and it provides ample sharpness with natural tones. The dynamic range has also been improved two stops now over the predecessor. Nikon is known for offering superb image quality and dynamic range in their full-frame cameras. The D610 is no different in this regard. This camera inherits the same image sensor from the Sony A7. But, when coupled with Nikon’s EXPEED 3 imaging processor, the dynamic range and high ISO performance available outperform that of the Sony. Overall, these are the strengths of this camera, no questions there.
It shoots 1080p at 30, 24 and 25 FPS; 720p at 25,30,50 and 60 FPS. Video quality and overall performance are found to be good in both adequate and low light. In this regard, this camera is actually on par with the D800 series. Not only that, but it also offers clean and uncompressed HDMI output from the mini HDMI port that is directly transferable to an external record or monitor, a feature inherited from the D800.
The focusing performance offered is excellent, but its subject tracking abilities are lacking in comparison to today’s standards. It has 39 AF points, 9 of which are cross-type, centered around the center of the frame. Autofocusing works well when tracking light motion, but will struggling during extreme sports or action. This camera shines when using the centermost point, then focus recomposing. It has an updated Multi-CAM 4800 AF system, the critical reason for superior performance over the predecessor.
Battery performance is excellent providing between 900-1,000 shots on a single charge.
Low Light Performance
It has a native ISO from 100 to 6,400, and the overall low light performance is excellent. It can provide images at even ISO 6,400 with only a moderate amount of noise and color distortion. The combination of the EXPEED 3 imaging processor and FX sensor create a camera that shines in low light and one that outcompetes that of even the Sony A7.
Display & Viewfinder
It has a 3.2 inch LCD that, in all respects, is very good and shows ample details with consistent colors.
The optical viewfinder covers 100% of the sensor in the FX mode and 97% in the DX mode.
The user interface is identical to many of Nikon’s other cameras, namely the D800 and D7000. Overall, the menu is easy to navigate through extremely complex. If you’ve used Nikon previously, the menu and navigation structure will be familiar to you, even considering the camera’s age.
Layout and ergonomics
The physical layout is identical to other to Nikon premium full-frame cameras. Build quality on this camera is quite good, and the accompanying ergonomics and feel are excellent as well. In design, this camera resembles the D7100 most. Nothing significant has changed from the D600, however. The camera is made of magnesium alloy and polycarbonate plastic, combining to create a reliable build overall just as before. It too has a wide variety of physical buttons that provide direct and immediate control of crucial shooting functions. The buttons themselves are well built and proportioned, offering a pleasing hold and adequate resistance when pushed. The physical layout is functional and lacks additional clutter.
Niche features offered
It has dual SD card slots and offers a good selection of options to customize their use. Users can select between the following modes: RAW + RAW, RAW + JPEG, video + stills.
It has a built-in electronic level, perfect for those shooting landscapes desiring an adequately composed and level horizon, to remove the need of doing this in post-processing.
It has a continuous burst rate of 6 FPS, which increases to 7 FPS when in the DX crop mode, a minor improvement over the 5.5 FPS offered by the predecessor.
It has a microphone input jack.
It has a headphone input jack.
It has a built-in time-lapse function that is entirely customizable. Users have the freedom to adjust its duration, and it outputs a 1080p video once completed.
Its polycarbonate build provides a moderate amount of dust and weather sealing.
It has a built-in flash that can act as a command for Nikon speed lights and has remote flash adjustment built into the menus.
It has a built-in view window on the top of its body, which is also backlit, that provides quick and immediate access to the current camera settings. This view window is a feature inherited by the D700.
It has a DX APS-C crop mode, which reduces the sensor’s resolution down to 10.5 megapixels, but functions as built-in camera magnification. This magnification gives users the ability to extend the reach, or focal length, of their lenses, giving them more telephoto abilities. This mode can also be custom mapped to the front function button on the camera as well, allowing users to change the magnification with a single button.
It has a built-in autofocus motor, allowing users to use older generation Nikon D manual focusing lenses while still retaining autofocusing ability.
It has two custom user modes, C1 and C2, that allow users to save full camera setups as presets for later use.
While overall focusing performance is excellent, Nikon centered the AF points around the center of the frame, which causes two significant issues. Firstly, the subject tracking performance on this camera suffers heavily. The camera is inconsistent when tracking subjects towards the edges of the sensor, as there are no AF points here — resulting in significant hunting. Secondly, unless you shoot with a single AF point, you are forced to focus then recompose to get the proper composition. Thus, considerably slowing down your workflow. Nikon transferred the AF system from the D7000 series into this camera. But, as this is a full-frame camera, not an APS-C one, the points do not cover the entirety of the sensor, ultimately causing this issue. As a result, this camera is best suited to a static or slow-moving action, not wildlife or sports photography.
Live view shooting is slow, especially when compared to today’s standards.
Also during Live View shooting, the camera does not simulate changes in exposure whatsoever when in photo mode. The camera automatically adjusts and compensates for what it thinks is proper exposure on the LCD, even when the associated image itself will be a different exposure. In the video, the simulation works as expected, but Nikon opted not to translate this over into photos for some reason, strange.
The LCD is very difficult to view and not bright enough during harsh sunlight conditions. And it is often found to be washed out. Not only that but the LCD is not a touchscreen nor does it articulate. Since it’s fixed, it will not be useful when shooting at awkward or extreme angles.
The lock on the dial selection switch makes changing between modes both tedious and cumbersome. This lock is an unnecessary addition.
You cannot change Aperture during Live View filming whatsoever. To make this change, you must first end filming. Incredibly tedious.
It doesn’t have WIFI, NFC, or Bluetooth built-in natively. The only way to get any of these features is via an auxiliary WU-1b module, which has to be purchased.
Is the Nikon D610 a good starting camera?
The Nikon D610 is the camera the D600 should have been. The responsiveness and performance offered in this camera supersede that of the predecessor. While the improvements made over the D600 are trivial, they have made the camera that much better. Overall, it is a good starting camera, even now in 2019. It is absolutely a DX camera in disguise with a full-frame sensor tucked away inconspicuously. And a camera that is aimed primarily at the enthusiast, not the working professional. This camera is best suited for those not desiring a camera to shoot wildlife, sports, or fast-action photography. However, it can be an excellent option for enthusiasts looking to experiment with these mediums.
Best bundles for the Nikon D610
Is the Nikon D610 a good camera for you?
It could be yes. However, if you already own a D600 and are not experiencing any oil or dust problems, do not upgrade. If you are looking for your first entry-level full-frame camera though, this could be a contender. Yes, the autofocusing system has limited points, all clustered in the middle of the frame. Even still, the camera still has ample performance to meet the needs of the enthusiast thoroughly. With this camera Nikon made what was already good about the D600, that much better. The D600 series was already an excellent series from the start. It just needed the shutter kink to be settled. And now, since that’s fixed, we’re left with a very well made camera indeed. While its improvements are subtly, this is a camera that remains as a solid contender for the amateur or enthusiast looking to purchase their first full-frame digital SLR, even in 2019.
The Nikon D610 is the camera the D600 should have been. The D600 series was already an excellent series from the start. It just needed the shutter kink to be settled. And now, since that’s fixed, we’re left with a very well made camera indeed. The responsiveness and performance offered in this camera supersede that of the predecessor. While the improvements made over the D600 are trivial, they have made a good camera that much better. It’s a camera that’s aimed primarily at the enthusiast, not the working professional. Nevertheless, it’s one that remains as a solid contender for the amateur or enthusiast looking to purchase their first full-frame digital SLR, even in 2019.