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Canon 6D vs Nikon 610 – Is the Nikon 610 or Canon 6D a Better Choice?

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Traditionally lower priced cameras have always had small or cropped format sensors in them, while the more expensive “professional” grade cameras used the more expensive, but much more capable full frame sensor.  The cropped sensors were cheaper to manufacture and were critical to keeping the price point of consumer grade cameras low.  While capable of capturing excellent images, they lacked the performance capabilities of the full frame sensor, especially in low light conditions and when high ISO levels were used.

In 2012, Canon introduced the full frame 6D, while Nikon introduced the full frame D600, which was replaced in 2013 with the improved D610.  Both cameras were revolutionary as now the consumer had access to smaller, lighter full frame cameras at a significant savings when compared to the “professional” full frame cameras on the market.

In a hurry? Check out my high level advantages below:

Canon 6D Advantages Nikon D610 Advantages
Almost complete magnesium cover (vs partial) Slightly more megapixels (24.3 vs 20.2)
11 autofocus points are spread out across viewfinder (vs concentrated in the middle for the 610) More autofocus points (39 vs 11)
Better integration of WiFi and GPS technology Built in flash (not standard on 6D)
  Higher ISO range (up to 25,600 vs 6,400 on 6D)
  Second card slot (only one for 6D)
  About $100 less expensive (see this listing)

Continue reading for the full assessment.

Similarities Between the 6D and D610

In many ways the 6D and the D610 share very few similarities other than both using a full frame sensor to capture excellent images, which are technically as good as the images captured by the more expensive Canon 5D Mark II and Nikon D810. The reason for this is that Canon and Nikon took different approaches to their budget full frame cameras, as it was necessary for both cameras to lose certain features in order to keep the price point low.  Other similarities include user-defined settings, video capabilities, type of memory card used and shutter speeds.

nikon d610 vs canon 6dA very useful feature found on both the 6D and the D610 is two settings found on one of the dials on the top of the camera.  Labeled C1 and C2 on the Canon and U1 and U2 on the Nikon, these setting are user defined and allow the photographer to instantly recall the custom settings that they have programmed into the camera by simply turning the dial.

The 6D and the D610 are both capable of capturing video, as well as still images.  Both cameras can capture HD video at 30, 25 and 24 frames per second.  The video capabilities on both cameras are excellent and allow external microphones to be used using one of the accessory ports.

As with many cameras today, the memory format is the SD card and also includes variants such as the SDHC and SDXC cards.  One of the advantages of these formats is the ability to simply remove the card from the camera and insert it into a computer to quickly transfer images.

The 6D and the D610 also have the same shutter speed ranging from 1/4000 of a second to 30 seconds.  This allows the photographer the ability to capture a wide range of images from sports to astronomy.

Differences Between the 6D vs D610

While both the Canon 6D and Nikon D610 share some similarities, there are a number of significant differences between the two cameras.  These differences include the total effective megapixels, autofocus system, internal flash, ISO range, number of card slots, advanced technology including GPS, wireless and WIFI and materials used in the body of the camera.

The most obvious difference between the two cameras is the total effective megapixels found in each camera.  The 6D has 20.2, while the D610 has 24.3.  However, the difference in total megapixel count is not significant in real life shooting, as anything above 12 megapixels is going to produce excellent results!

A more significant difference between the two cameras is the autofocus system, with the D610 offering 39 autofocus points, while the 6D only has 11 points.  While it appears as if the D610’s autofocus system is significantly better than the 6D’s, it is important to realize that the 39 points on the D610 are concentrated in the center of the viewfinder, while the 6Ds are spread out in the viewfinder.  It appears as if both manufacturers were able to reduce manufacturing costs here as neither camera’s autofocus system is as advanced as the more expensive Canon 5D Mark III or Nikon D810.

d610 vs d60Another difference between the 6D and the D610 is the lack of a built in flash on the 6D.  While both cameras have a hot shoe for a variety of flash units, a built in flash is very useful, especially when using the flash for fill in lighting to eliminate or minimize shadows.

Total ISO range is another difference between the two cameras, with the 6D having a range from 100 – 25600, while the D610 has a range from 100 – 6400.  The ISO range on both cameras can be expanded to a low of 50 and a high of 102600 on the 6D and 25400 on the D610.  Total ISO range, like total megapixel count, is not as important as many people think.  In the case of ISO range, image quality at very high ISOs suffers, especially in the level of detail in the image.  The reason being that at high ISOs the noise reducing software in the camera eliminates detail, as it reduces the “noise” in the image.  Often this results in soft images, with low levels of noise, but lacking sharp details.

Another difference is the number of card slots in both cameras, with the 6D only having one SD slot, while the D610 has two slots.  Many photographers like the ability to have a second card to either back up images, capture overflow images once the first card is full or capture still images on one card and video on the other.

The 6D has built in GPS, wireless capabilities and WIFI, while the D610 relies on optional accessories for these capabilities.  These are features that are becoming more and more popular with photographers, as it allows the camera to geo-tag the image with the GPS receiver.  Using the wireless capabilities via WIFI, the camera can be operated remotely using a smart phone or tablet.  WIFI also allows the cameras to upload images to social media sites and computers directly.

The final difference between the two cameras is the use of magnesium alloy in the construction of he bodies.  The D610 only has magnesium top and bottom covers, while the 6D uses magnesium everywhere except the top cover, where the GPS and WIFI units are located.

Pros and Cons of the Canon 6D vs Nikon D610

  • 6d vs d610The biggest “pro” of the 6D is the autofocus system, which spreads the 11 autofocus points throughout the viewfinder.  This gives the photographer much more flexibility in composing the image, without relying solely on autofocus points located in the center of the viewfinder.
  • The biggest “pro” to the D610 is the second card slot, which is very useful, especially to those photographers that also like to shoot video.  It is also great insurance against SD card failure, which is rare, but does occur.
  • The biggest “con” of the Canon 6D is the lack of a built in flash, which is a big miss.  While the high ISO levels of the camera allow the photographer to capture excellent low light images, the lack of a flash for fill in lighting is disappointing.
  • The biggest “con” of the D610 is the autofocus system.  While it provides excellent performance, the massing of the 39 autofocus points in the center of the viewfinder renders most of them useless in reality.

Just the Facts, A side-By-Side Comparison

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Canon 6D and the Nikon D610 both have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Item Canon 6D Nikon D610
Year Introduced 2012 2013
Format Full Frame (FX) Full Frame (FX)
Megapixels 20.2 24.3
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Processor Digic 5+ EXPEED 3
Image Format RAW or JPEG RAW or JPEG
Sensor Size 35.8 mm x 23.9mm 35.9mm x 24.00mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes Yes
Auto-focus Points 11 39
Modes Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Program (P), Shutter Priority (S) Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Program (P), Shutter Priority (S)
Metering TTL Metering With 63 Zone SPC 3D Matrix
View Finder Coverage 97% 100%
Virtual Horizon Yes Yes
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 4.5 6
ISO 100 –25600 100 – 6400
Lowest Expandable ISO Lo-1 (50) Lo-1 (50)
Highest Expandable ISO H1 (51200)H2 (102400) H1 (12,800)H2 (25600)
Shutter Speed Range 1/4000 – 30 seconds 1/4000 – 30 seconds
Built In Flash No Yes
Card Slots 1 2
LCD Size 3.0” 3.2”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed Fixed
Video Full HD Full HD
Video Type 30/25/24 fps 30/25/24 fps
Internal Autofocus Motor Yes Yes
GPS Yes Optional Accessory
Wireless Yes Optional Accessory
WIFI Yes Optional Accessory
Battery LP-E6 EN-EL 15 Lithium-Ion
Unique Features C1 and C2 Settings U1 and U2 Settings
Size Without Lens 5.7” x 4.4” x 2.8” 5.6” x 4.4” x 3.2”
Weight Without Lens 25.7 ounces 26.8 ounces
Manufactured In Japan Thailand
Body Only or with Kit Lens Both Options Available Both Options Available
Included Accessories Lp-E6 Battery, LC-E6 Battery Charger, Eyecup, AVC DC400ST Stereo AV Cable, IFC-200U USB Interface Cable, EW EOS 6D Wide Neck Strap, Software Disk EN-EL 15 Battery, MH-25 Charger, DK-5 Eye Piece Cap, DK-21 Rubber Eye Cup, UC-E15 USB Cable, AN-DC8 Camera Strap, BM-14 LCD Monitor Cover, BF-1B Body Cap, BS-1 Accessory Shoe Cover and a Nikon NX 2 software CD Rom
Cost, Body Only $1,699 $1,499
Cost With Kit Lens (Lens Varies) Varies Depending On Lens Varies Depending On Lens

*Information from Nikon USA and Canon USA websites, including pricing.

Overall Recommendation: Which is the Best Buy?

Let me start off by saying that I really like both the Nikon D610 and the Canon 6D and find the shortfalls of both cameras to be relatively minor.  Both cameras are excellent values offering full frame performance at very affordable prices.  While I would be happy to own either camera, I prefer the Canon 6D over the Nikon D610 for a couple of reasons.

  1. First of all, I prefer the smaller number of autofocus points on the 6D, which are more evenly distributed in the viewfinder.  I find them more useful and less distracting than the 39 closely clustered autofocus points on the D610.
  2. Second, I prefer the build on the 6D and the use of magnesium alloy on most of the surfaces, as I tend to be a bit rough on cameras, as I do a lot of outdoor photography.
  3. Finally, I like the way that Canon has integrated WIFI, wireless and GPS technology into the camera, with the features actually being useful in the field and not just gimmicks to play with.

Canon and Nikon both hit home runs with the 6D and the D610 and the introduction of budget full frame cameras have revolutionized digital photography.  Both cameras will exceed the expectations of photographers of all abilities and experience levels. Still, I’ll give the slight edge to the Canon 6D, which you can find for a good price at this listing.

The Camera Guide Team

The Camera Guide Team is a group of writers, shutterbugs, and professional photographers. We know the challenge of looking through different cameras or accessories. We want you to learn everything about cameras. We provide honest reviews, detailed guides, and helpful comparisons. We have everything you need. We are here to help you find the perfect click.

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