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Full Frame Performance: We Compare! The Nikon D610 or the Nikon D810?

Nikon has two of the most popular full-frame cameras on the market today with the Nikon D610 and the D810.  The D610 is an updated version of the D600 and is marketed to the photographer that wants full frame performance at a cheaper price point, while being willing to compromise on some technical features in order to get to that price point.  The D810 is an updated version of the long awaited D800 and is marketed to photographers wanting a “professional” camera in a smaller and less expensive package than the D3 and D4 series of cameras.  In the case of both the D610 and D810, the image quality is excellent and it is easy to see why both cameras are so popular!

Nikon D610 | Amazon
$579.95

The Nikon D610 Digital SLR Camera has the power of a 24.3 MP Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor in a compact, streamlined HD-SLR body. The Nikon D610 Digital SLR Camera has the power of a 24.3 MP Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor in a compact, streamlined HD-SLR body.

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05/26/2022 07:27 am GMT

The Similarities

While both full frame cameras, the D610 and D810 share no significant similarities beyond the use of a 35.9mm x 24.0mm CMOS sensor, as well as the same 3D Color Matrix Metering III system and the ability to capture images in RAW or JPEG format.  However, the two cameras do share a number of less significant similarities including a sensor cleaner, 100% view finder coverage, Live View, built-in flash, the use of two memory card slots, a 3.2” fixed rear LCD display and the ability to capture HD video at 1,920 x 1,080 at a variety of speeds.  In addition, both cameras are capable of capturing images in a variety of modes, including aperture priority, manual, shutter priority and program, where the camera sets shutter speed and aperture automatically.

The Differences

There are a number of major differences between the D610 and the D810, with the D810 generally having better “by the numbers” technical specifications.  The differences include resolution, processor type, speed as measured in frames per second, auto-focus points, ISO capabilities, shutter speed, memory formats, size and weight.

While the two cameras both have CMOS sensors, the sensor in the D810 is capable of capturing images at 36.3 megapixels, while the sensor in the D610 is capable of capturing images at 24.3 megapixels.  While a significant difference, the quality of the images captured in identical situations is virtually indistinguishable between the two cameras.

When capturing images at this resolution the camera’s processor is critical to allow processing the image to the camera’s memory card or cards.  In the case of the D610 the older EXPEED 3 processor is used, while the D810 uses the newer EXPEED 4 processor.  In both cases, there is no delay in the cameras writing the images to the memory card, even when shooting at 5 frames per second on the D810 and 6 frames per second on the D610.

Another big difference is in the total number of autofocus points between the two cameras with the D610 having a total of 39 points, including 9 cross type, while the D810 has a total of 51 points, including 15 cross type.  In the case of the D810, the auto focus points are spread out in the viewfinder, while the D610’s are clustered towards the center of the view finder.

Another significant difference between the two cameras is in native ISO capabilities, as well as expandable ISO capabilities.  In the case of the D610, the native ISO range is 100 to 6,400 and is expandable down to ISO 50 at Lo-1 and up to 12,800 at H1 and 25,600 at H2.  The D810 native ISO range is 64 to 12,800 and is expandable down to ISO 32 at Lo-1 and up to 51,200 at H2.  However it is important to keep in mind that at extremely high ISO settings, images on both cameras tend to get “soft” as the noise reducing software also removes detail as it removes noise.

The D810 is capable of shutter speeds as fast as 1/8,000 of a second, while the D610 is slightly slower at 1/4,000 of a second.  In both cameras the cameras are capable of shutter speeds as low as 30 seconds.  It is important to keep in mind that while a significant difference, a shutter speed of 1/4,000 is plenty fast for a majority of shooting situations, including sports and action, that the photographer will encounter.

While both cameras have two memory slots, the D610 is capable on only accepting an SD, SDHC or SDXC card in the slots.  In the case of the D810, one of the slots will accept SD, SDHC or SDXC cards while the other slot will only accept CF cards.  In both cases the photographer can configure the second card in a number of ways including backup, overflow if the first card is full, video or to capture images in RAW format, while the primary card captures images in JPEG format.

The D610 is slightly smaller at 5.6” x 4.4” x 3.2” compared to the D810, which is 5.8” x 4.9” x 3.3”.  In addition the D610 is slightly lighter at 26.8 ounces compared to 31.1 ounces of the D810.  In the case of the D610, photographers with larger hands may find the D610 a bit small around the grip, but generally both cameras handle well.

Nikon D810 | Amazon
$1,949.95

A newly designed 36.3-megapixel FX-format full-frame image sensor with no optical low-pass filter is paired with the thrilling performance of EXPEED 4 for staggering detail retention, noise-free images from ISO 64 to ISO 12,800, fast frame rates, cinematic video capabilities, in-camera editing features and outstanding energy efficiency. 

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05/26/2022 08:46 am GMT

The Pros and Cons

As with all cameras, both the D610 and the D810 have a number of “pros” and “cons” and it is important to keep in mind that there is no “perfect” camera.   In the case of the D610 and the D810, they both share a very important “pro” in that they produce outstanding images in a wide range of situations.

One of the biggest “pros” that is unique to the D610 is the cameras user defined U1 and U2 settings, which allow the photographer to store custom settings into the camera’s memory and instantly recall them be simply turning a dial.  This is a real timesaver as it eliminates the need to navigate the camera’s menu.  Once you get use to this feature, you will wonder how you lived without for so long!

There are two significant “cons” to the D610.  The first is the autofocus system and the way the camera’s 39 autofocus points are generally centered in the viewfinder.  This results in many of the autofocus points being pretty much useless in actual use.  The second “con” of the camera is the build, which is mostly plastic with only the top and bottom having a magnesium alloy shell.

The biggest “pro” of the D810 is that it has a rugged and durable build, which is what defines “professional grade” cameras. All of today’s digital cameras generally produce excellent images and have very similar specifications.  The use of an magnesium alloy shell and enhanced dust and weather sealing in the D810 make the camera “professional grade” and could be a very important feature if the photographer is rough with their equipment!

The biggest “con” of the D810 is the high cost of the body, which will become obsolete at some point in the near future.  The advances in digital camera technology year to year are significant and it seems as if all of the manufacturers are introducing “updated” versions of cameras every year.  In the case of the D810, it is a follow up to the D800, which was introduced a year earlier.  It can get expensive if the photographer wants the newest technology in their camera bodies!

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 Nikon D610 and the D810 have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Item Nikon D610 Nikon D810
Year Introduced 2013 2014
Format Full Frame Full Frame
Megapixels 24.3 36.3 Million
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Processor EXPEED 3 EXPEED 4
Image Format RAW or JPEG RAW or JPEG
Sensor Size 35.9mm x 24.0mm 35.9mm x 24.0mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes, Ultrasonic Yes, Ultrasonic
Autofocus Points 39 With 9 Cross Type 51 With 15 Cross Type
Modes Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Shutter Priority (S) and Program (P) Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Shutter Priority (S) and Program (P)
Metering 3D Color Matrix Metering III 3D Color Matrix Metering III
View Finder Coverage 100% 100%
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 6 5
ISO 100-6,400 64 – 12,800
Lowest Expandable ISO Lo-1 (50) Lo-1 (ISO 32)
Highest Expandable ISO H1 (12,800)

H2 (25,600)

Hi-2 (ISO 51,200)
Shutter Speed Range 1/4,000 – 30 Seconds 1/8000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash Yes Yes
Card Slots 2 2
Card Type SD, SDHC or SDXC CF, SD, SDHC or SDXC
LCD Size 3.2” 3.2”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed Fixed
Virtual Horizon Yes Yes
Video Yes Yes
Video Type Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 / 30 FPS Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 / 60 FPS
Internal Autofocus Motor Yes Yes
GPS Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
Wireless Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
Wi-Fi Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
Battery Rechargeable EN-EL 15 Rechargeable EN-EL 15
Unique Features U1 and U2 Settings High Resolution, Quiet Shutter, Dust and Moisture Protection, Magnesium Alloy Shell, Ability to Use Older Nikon Lenses, No Optical Low-Pass Filter
Size Without Lens 5.6” x 4.4” x 3.2” 5.8” x 4.9” x 3.3”
Weight Without Lens 26.8 Ounces 31.1 Ounces
Manufactured In Thailand Thailand
Body Only or with Kit Lens Sold Either way Sold Either Way
Included Accessories 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 CD Rom MH-25a Charger, DK-5 Eye Piece Cap, DK-21 Rubber Eyecup, UC-E17 USB Cable, AN-DC14 Camera Strap, BM-14 LCD Cover, BF-1B Body Cap, BS-1 Accessory Shoe Cover and a Nikon View NX-2 CD-Rom
Cost, Body Only Around $1,499.95 (For the latest discounts and prices.) Around $2,999.95 (For the latest prices and discounts.)
Cost With Kit Lens (Lens Varies) Varies Depend On Lens Selected Varies Depend On Lens Selected

*Information from Nikon USA website, including pricing.

The Final Frame: My Overall Recommendation

Although there are a number of things that I do not like about the D610, particularly the autofocus system, I still prefer the D610 to the D810 for a couple of reasons.  First, I really like the U1 and U2 settings on the D610.  The ability to program user-defined settings into the camera and recall them by simply turning a dial is a great time saver and is very useful in the type of photography that I do.  It is a shame that Nikon does not make this a standard feature on all of their full frame cameras, as seems to be a standard on their upper end DX or cropped sensor cameras.

The second reason for my preferring the D610 is the excellent value the camera represents for a full frame camera!  At $1,499.95, the D610 is half the cost of the D810 which is a very significant price difference between the two full cameras.   Granted, the D810 is a technically superior camera, but I find that the D610 does everything I ask for a camera to do, which is primarily to produce excellent images.  Personally, I would use the money saved to buy several of Nikon’s excellent prime lenses or perhaps a 24-70mm zoom lenses, as bodies become obsolete over time, while great lenses last a lifetime!

The D610 and the D810 are both among the best of the current full frame cameras on the market today.  Capable of producing amazing images, either camera would meet the needs of any photographer.  It comes down the photographer selecting the camera that has the features and technical specifications they prefer, as well as their budget and choosing accordingly.

Nikon D610 | Amazon
$579.95

The Nikon D610 Digital SLR Camera has the power of a 24.3 MP Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor in a compact, streamlined HD-SLR body. The Nikon D610 Digital SLR Camera has the power of a 24.3 MP Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor in a compact, streamlined HD-SLR body.

Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/26/2022 07:27 am GMT
Nikon D810 | Amazon
$1,949.95

A newly designed 36.3-megapixel FX-format full-frame image sensor with no optical low-pass filter is paired with the thrilling performance of EXPEED 4 for staggering detail retention, noise-free images from ISO 64 to ISO 12,800, fast frame rates, cinematic video capabilities, in-camera editing features and outstanding energy efficiency. 

Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/26/2022 08:46 am GMT
The Camera Guide Team
 

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