I fully admit that I tend to research things a bit much.
(For a photo blog there sure are very few photos to this post. I’ll update later with some pics)
Let’s just say that it took me a while to decide on my next camera body (right, #Phodobeers?). So many factors, so many choices. Perhaps I was fixated on the hunt. Perhaps I wasn’t happy with the options. Perhaps I didn’t realize just how much better things could be. Aha!
I understood that, regardless of the body, upgrading my Nikon D80 would put me into a whole new snack bracket of image quality, ISO ability, functionality, and more. What I underestimated was just how much of an improvement I would witness – all in the first edit of the first RAW file.
Let me start by saying that I think pretty much any modern APS-C or FF camera these days would have enlightened me. I happened to choose the Nikon D610 but most everything was considered. Why? Well, a few reasons. If I landed on a Canon camera then I would have been changing systems. That can be quite an investment in time and money. If I went with a crop sensor then my lens choice may have been affected. I don’t have an endless supply of cash to spend on gear and, quite honestly, I’d rather spend it on other things. If I’ve learned anything through this recent process it’s that life is short – enjoy it. Detail are best left to the photos themselves.
There are many D610 reviews out there. I don’t want this to be another one. I do want to mention a few key points about this camera specifically that I believe may help others to choose between it and the D800 (or one of its variants). I didn’t realize a few things prior to purchasing the camera that would have saved me quite a bit of headache had I known in the first place.
Sensor & Image Quality
Killer. The colour, the gradation of tones, the dynamic range, the ‘pop’. All what you would expect from a full frame sensor. Not much else to say here.
Controls & Body
I personally happen to like the ‘consumer’-based controls of the D610. I’m used to changing the ISO with a button + wheel approach and I don’t mind it if a camera has an auto setting. Here’s a tip: don’t use it if you don’t like it. I happen to shoot manual 95% of the time and I’ve never once found the auto option in my way. Can’t believe how many folks make a big deal of this little aspect. I did notice that the dials are reversed for things like shutter speed and aperture from the D80. It take a bit fo time to get used to.
D800 D810? One thing that I really wanted from the D800 D810 was the AF-ON button. Being a left-eye guy I find my 103% cartiliage-based nose blocking the AE/AF button had I wanted to re-map it to AF-ON. Less that ideal. What the D610 allows you to do is map one of three (or all three!) function buttons to AF-ON. I now have that little button that’s easily accessible to your middle finger mapped and it’s working out amazingly for anything that requires AF-C with 9 or 21 AF points. For AF-S and single focus point it doesn’t really matter – my subject probably isn’t moving very fast. Works like a charm.
D800 D810? Many have made a point of saying that the D610’s body isn’t full magnesium and pro-level. That may be, however, I don’t think it’s going to break on me anytime soon. I will grant you that the D800 D810 (a beautiful machine in its own right) does have a different feel to it, the D610 is no slouch and will keep up with most of you. For those who need it, the D4 or Canon’s 1Dx will take you through the war zones that you’re likely shooting in that necessitates the tank-like construction. To note as well, I’ve shot several times in some serious rain and the camera hasn’t blinked an eye 0 it just keeps working.
This was a big one for me. I had read some very polar reviews on the topic and it made me think. Some issues that had been raised included the AF area being too small (it uses an AF module from the APS-C line), the AF can’t keep up to much action – especially close up at wider apertures, and it had trouble locking on for non-crosstype AF points.
As a Nikon shooter for many years I’ve always envied Canon’s Live View. The implementation is quite fantastic and continues to be to this day. Most notably their live histogram and exposure simulation are top notch. I didn’t get this with the D610. I did get a meter when shooting manually which, in all honesty, is all I need. I just need to know that the exposure of the shot is what I want it to be. It would be nice to frame with a simulated exposure but not a deal breaker. To note, the D800 does have exposure simulation which, to my knowledge, is a decent but great implementation. As well, the noise introduce in low light situations on the
D800 D810 kind of make it difficult to use.
No GPS or WiFi
I’d love to see both GPS and Wifi included in these bodies. I don’t consider them toys, either. The location of my photos is important to my work an dhow I organize files in post. Having the ability to see the screen on my phone or tablet would help immensely in composing a shot. I ended up buying the small wifi adapter for the D610. It worked well (but does drop connection relatively frequently) until I lost it about a week later. It’s REALLY small.
So there you have it. Am I happy? Absolutely. Could I use some of the features of the
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D800 D810? Sure could. Would it make me a better photographer? I doubt it but it could make things a bit easier some of the time.