Nikon D610 vs D800 – Which Nikon DSLR is Better?
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The Nikon D610 and the D800 are two excellent full frame cameras offering excellent features, which will satisfy the needs of both amateur and professional photographers for years to come. The Nikon D610 is an “improved” version of the slightly older D600, which was initially launched in 2012, as an entry-level full-framed camera. The D800 is the widely anticipated replacement of the D700 camera, which was first introduced in 2008.
Just the Facts, A Side-By-Side Comparison
|Nikon D610||Nikon D800|
|Megapixels||24.3 Million||36.3 Million|
|Image Format||RAW or JPG||RAW or JPG|
|Sensor Size||35.9 mm x 24 mm||35.9 mm x 24 mm|
|Autofocus Points||Up to 39||Up to 51|
|View Finder Coverage||100%||100%|
|Frames Per Second||6||4|
|Expandable ISO||Up to 25,600||Up to 25,600|
|Built In Flash||Yes||Yes|
|Card Type||SD, SDHC, SDXC||SD, SDHC, SDXC and CF|
|LCD Fixed or Swivel||Fixed||Fixed|
|Video Type||HD 1920 x 1080 / 30 FPS||HD 1920 x 1080 / 30 FPS|
|Internal Autofocus Motor||Yes||Yes|
|GPS||Optional Accessory||Optional Accessory|
|Wireless||Optional Accessory||Optional Accessory|
|Wi-Fi||Optional Accessory||Optional Accessory|
|Battery||Single EN-EL15||Single EN-EL 15|
|Unique Features||U1 and U2 Settings||“Pro” Body|
|Size Without Lens||5.6” x 4.4” x 3.2”||55.7” x 4.8” x 3.2”|
|Weight Without Lens||26.8 Ounces||31.7 Ounces|
|Body Only or with Kit Lens||Body or Kit||Body Only|
|Accessories||Manual, Charger, Cables||Manual, Charger, Cables|
*Information from Nikon USA website, including pricing.
Similarities Between Them
The D610 and the D800 share a number of similarities with the most important one being the ability of both cameras to take outstanding images, even in low light! While the D800 has more megapixels than the D610, it is impossible to tell the difference in the quality of the images.
An important reason for the excellent images is their ability to shoot at high ISOs, without excessive noise reducing processing of the images. This results in sharp pictures being delivered at ISO ranges of 100-6400. Also both cameras have the ability to have ISO expanded to up to 25,600, as well as down to 50.
The D610 and the D800 also have dual memory capacity, which allows the camera to store back up images on an additional memory card. The D610 uses two slots, which will hold SD, SDHC or SDXC cards, while the D800 uses a single CF card in one slot and a SD, SDHC or SDXC card in the other slot. The dual memory slots can be set up in a number of different configurations, including still photos to one card and video to the second one or RAW files on one card and JPG files on the other card.
Both cameras feel great in the hand even after extended periods of time using them. There is no fatigue or cramping of the hands, which many experience when shooting the smaller DX cameras offered by Nikon. In addition, both the D610 and D800 are heavy enough to balance well in the hand with a variety of lenses, but light enough to carry around for extended periods of time.
Other similarities include similar sensor sizes of 35.9mm x 24mm, 100 % coverage in the viewfinder, the ability to shoot HD video at 1920 x 1080 at 30 frames per second, 3.2” fixed LCD display, built in flash, built in autofocus motors and the ability to accept a variety of accessories allowing for GPS, Wireless and Wi-Fi capability.
Differences Between the D800 and D610
The biggest difference between the two cameras is the lack of a U1 and U2 settings on the D800, while it is available on the lower priced D610. While the D800 has the ability to customize settings, the photographer has to retrieve the settings thru the menu and not thru a dedicated dial. The U1 and U2 settings are a major time saver to photographers changing settings constantly. This allows the photographer to concentrate on capturing images instead of messing around with menus!
Another difference between the two cameras is that the D800 has a significant advantage in the overall megapixel count. While the 36.3 megapixels in the D800 is amazing, the D610 is also an extremely capable camera although the megapixel count is a mere 24.3. In reality, the additional 12 megapixels on the D800 do not mean much, as the overall quality of the images each camera produces is virtually identical. It is important to remember that the Nikon D4, which is Nikon’s top of the line professional camera, only has 16 megapixels.
The Nikon D610 is a much faster camera as well, with the ability to shoot at 6 frames per second, while the D800 can only shoot at 4 frames per second. The reason for the slower speed is the time it takes the D800 to process files which are massive in size due to the camera’s 36.3 megapixels. Since the D610 is shooting at a lower resolution, the camera is able to process images faster.
Another significant difference between the two cameras is the materials used in their construction. While the build quality is excellent on both cameras, the D610 only uses magnesium construction on the top and bottom plates of the camera, with plastic used everywhere else. The D800 has a magnesium shell covering the entire body of the camera, which results in much better protection of the internal parts of the camera. In addition, the D800 also has superior moisture and dust protection to the D610.
While not significant, it is worth noting that the D610 body is made in Thailand, as well as other consumer grade Nikon bodies. The D800 and all other “professional” camera bodies are still being made in Japan.
Pros and Cons of the Nikon D610 vs D800
In many ways the biggest positive feature of the D610 is the relatively low cost of the camera, especially when you consider it is a full frame camera. The 600 series of cameras, including the D610, were designed for experienced amateur photographers looking to update from a DX or cropped sensor camera to a full-frame camera with a bigger sensor, without breaking the bank.
The biggest con or weakness of the D610 is the 39 point auto-focus system, which is the same system found in the D7100. While it works well on the D7100, which is a cropped sensor or DX camera, on a full-framed camera all of the auto-focus points are clustered in the center of the viewfinder. This can cause issues when trying to focus on a subject that may not be in the center of the viewfinder.
The most positive feature of the D800 is the 51-point autofocus system, which has the focus points more spread out in the viewfinder. This allows the photographer to focus on subjects better that are not in the center of the viewfinder. The autofocus system for the D800 was designed for a full frame camera while the one used in the D610 was designed for a DX camera.
The biggest downside of the D800 is the cost, which is significantly higher than the D610, while offering performance in many areas equal to or lower than that of the D610. This has been an issue with a number of other Nikon cameras in the past, where the capabilities of the camera marketed to consumers is superior to the capabilities of the camera being marketed to “professional” photographers at a higher price!
While both the Nikon D610 and the D800 are excellent cameras, I much prefer the D610 due to the superior features of the camera, as well as the significantly lower price. You can find the D610 for a good price on Amazon by following this link. I shoot a lot of black and white and the ability to change from black and white to color by turning the U1/U2 dial is very important to me being able to enjoy the camera. The low cost of the D610 when compared to the D800 is also significant as well. All in all the D610, despite a few minor shortcomings, represents an excellent value for any amateur or professional photographer looking for a full frame camera, which is capable of taking excellent images.