If you’ve been wanting to get a full-frame dSLR, there are some great mid-priced options that are now getting even cheaper as they age, and the Nikon D610 is a prime example. But is it worth getting a Nikon D610 in 2020?
Nikon D610 in 2020?
Since it’s release in October of 2013, the Nikon D610 has been a favorite of millions of amateur and even pro photographers because of it’s excellent image quality, sturdy build, and of course full-frame sensor. DXOmark ranks its sensor at 94 (out of 100), putting it in the company of many far-more-expensive cameras that have come out well after the D610.
A few years ago, I was trying to decide between the Canon 6D and the Nikon D610. They are sort of sister cameras in a lot of ways, but I eventually went with the 6D, but since then I’ve been very curious about the Nikon’s performance. Recently I saw a used D610 at a really great price and couldn’t resist picking it up. I’ve had a blast testing it over the past several months.
Specs That Hold Up
With a 24 MP full-frame sensor, the D610 isn’t the highest-resolution sensor on the market by far, but it still produces images that are large enough and high quality enough to allow for heavy cropping. 24 MP is now basically the default / standard size sensor, so the D610 is by no means behind the times in this regard. The resolving power of the sensor and processor is exceptional, especially when combined with an excellent lens, such as the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 SP G2 (review coming soon).
Nikon D610 Quick Specs
- Resolution: 24.3 MP / 10 MP Crop Mode
- Sensor size: Full Frame (36mm x 24mm)
- Viewfinder: Pentaprism
- ISO Range: 100 – 6400 Native / 50 – 25,600 Extended
- Shutter Speeds: 1/4000 – 30 seconds
- Shooting Speed: Max of 6 FPS
- Video Modes: 1080p 30 / 25 / 24 FPS | 720p 60 / 50 / 30 / 25 FPS
- Size: 141 x 113 x 82 mm / 5.6 x 4.4 x 3.2 in.
- Weight: 850g / 1lb 14oz
Nikon D610 Performance
Overall, this is a fantastic camera, and its reputation for excellence is well deserved. Image quality is fantastic, with great contrast and color-depth. High ISO noise performance is also extremely good, on par with and sometimes exceeding the Canon 6D (a camera well know to be one of the best dSLRs for ISO noise). Wide dynamic range is also a major plus of the D610, allowing for a huge latitude of exposure adjustment in post processing. What a camera!
Budget / Price Advantages
You’ll be hard pressed to find a superior dSLR that goes for about $750 – $800 USD on the used market. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to find a better full-frame camera at that price point.
A big advantage of the D610 over Canon’s offerings is that it can use just about any Nikon F-mount lens going back to the 1960s. This means you can get some cheaper older lenses and keep your hobby budget in check. Additionally, current Nikon full-frame cameras can mount and use lenses designed for crop bodies, albeit it in a reduced resolution mode (10 MP). This provides a huge range of prices, focal lengths, and other options that you just can’t get on any other brand’s system. Lens hoarders, unite! >> Click here to shop used F-mount lenses on eBay.
Possible Shortcomings Versus Newer Cameras
Despite the general awesomeness of this camera, there are a few places where the D610 start to show its age.
There’s definitely no 4K or even 2.7K resolution available, and even the 1080 resolution tops out at 30 FPS. For those cool slow-mo effects, you’ll have to slum it at 720p to get up to 60 FPS or just deal with less smooth movement at 1080p. Also, the live view focusing is a bit clunky and slow, but it does autofocus (unlike other cameras released in the same general time as the D610).
One really irksome shortcoming is that you can’t change the aperture setting while in live view. That’s kinda crazy and very annoying. If you want to do a ton of video work, this might not be your camera.
No Articulating Screen
Most current dSLRs and mirrorless cameras have articulating screens, but the D610 has a fixed / non-moving screen. As with the limited video specs, this is probably not a huge problem for photography, but it’s something of a handicap for video use (especially for vloggers).
This is purely my opinion, but I really do not like the way this camera (or Nikons in general) processes JPEG images. Compared to Canon’s processing, the Nikon images look very unreal to me. Skin tones look a bit unnatural to me, and there seems to be a sort of hazy halo around highlights. I’ve made several adjustments to the render settings, and I just can’t get anything I like. So for the D610, I shoot RAW only as there are basically very few JPEG keepers, regardless of how dead-on the exposure is. On my 6D, I do keep some JPEGs because they often look very good as-is. Here’s my take on shooting RAW, but that was written from a Canon-only viewpoint, and I may need to revise my view.
The Final Word on Buying a Nikon D610 in 2019
If you are primarily a photograph shooter (not video) and want a relatively inexpensive entrance into a full-frame setup, the Nikon D610 is a fantastic option. It’s got insane image quality, wide dynamic range, and exceptional ISO noise performance at a price point that was unthinkable a few years ago. However, if you need a camera that will be used either primarily or at least half the time as a video capture device, a better option would be a used Sony A6500 (or an A6000 or A7 if 1080p at 60 FPS is enough for you).