D800 vs. D610 Review

Discussion in 'Nikon Cameras' started by Braineack, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    @Peeb asked for my thoughts on the D800 so here it is:

    I've been shooting with my D600 then 610 for just over 4 years now (I got it in Dec of 2013). I bought it refurbished, after all the oil spatter issue started bringing prices down. After about a year, I started getting oil splatter, had the shutter replaced, and almost a year to the date later, I had it replaced for a D610.

    I'm still blown away by the image sensor when I view photos at 100%. And I LOVE the amount of file recovery there is in a RAW file -- it's truly amazing what it can do.

    In the (4) years of ownership I've had little complaints about the camera -- it was spades better than all my previous bodies: A bunch of PNS digital cameras (Coolpix, etc), the first Canon Rebel, Nikon D40, D3100 and D5100.

    I've shot sports, wildlife, portraits, pretty much everything with it, without any real issues and I've always recommended it as a great cheap simple FX camera to get your foot in the door.

    But after I shot a wedding in Oct, I really started finding faults; mainly in the focus module.

    The AF module was taken out of the D7000 and stuffed into the D600 body. It was never really a great AF module in the D7000 and it was never really meant for an FX sensor to being with. While I've never really had focus issues with it, the AF area is a touch small, and it's never been a rapid at a snap focuser. It's fast, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't snappy, if that makes sense.

    The more I've needed it in faster situations, the more I struggled with it because it didn't acquire focus quite fast enough and I wasn't able to get the moment.

    At the wedding, the party had a very limited budget and did not have any supplemental lighting at the reception. I actually started having trouble acquiring focus in the low-light. On as the night progressed, they actually cut off the lights over the dance floor where it was nearly impossible to use AF and it was incredibly frustrating.

    I had been toying with the idea of picking up a backup body and that event sealed the deal for me. I wanted something more "pro" and actually started looking at the D3x and D4. They are top-of-the-line cameras that are designed for shooters. and I liked the idea of the same 24MP sensor in the D3x with the pro body and better AF, but the prices were still higher than I liked and its more of a studio camera with a limit iso range and continuous shutter speed. The D4 is still priced high, but I liked the idea of the 20MP sensor.

    But then the D850 was released. The used market is FLOODED with D800 and D810s.

    I really didn't want to move up to 36MP, as I wanted the large pixel size of the D610, and to keep the overall file size smaller. but the more I read and saw comparisons, the D800 IQ is pretty much on par with the D610 with all the advantage of the extra resolution.

    The BF sale on the D750 almost got me ($1490 new with a Nikon Grip & extra battery), but there are a lot of things about the body that I wasn't sold on -- despite the amazing IQ and extra features.

    So I ended up with a used D800, $875 shipped, 9,100 clicks.

    So some actual review:

    It was quick to prefer the D800 over the D610 in just handling it alone:
    • Right off the bat I love the ergonomics. I hated holding the D600 without a grip, and I see now why: The D800 has a tiny little edge that your pinky can rest against without sliding off the bottom edge, the D610 lacks that and it's completely straight to the edge, so your pinky has nothing to rest against and get a good grip. Adding the grip fixed the problem, but the D800 grip fits my hand MUCH better without one.

    • Some of the buttons feel nicer, like the thumb D-pad, even the on switch. It's noticeable so I mention it.

    • LOVE the viewfinder. I can FINALLY see a complete image area and the data on the bottom without struggling. This is the biggest improvement -- it's seriously great.

    • The AF-ON button in a much better place than using the AE-L on the D610. I use BBF so this is good for me. It helps you hold the camera better without needing to extend your thumb so much.

    • I like the placement of the two front programmable buttons much better two, I can hit the bottom one easily now, it was impossible on the D610. I still need to figure out what I'll use them for, but my middle and ring fingers pretty much land right on the buttons which is really nice.

    • The metering mode switch is easier to do instead of pressing a button and turning the thumb wheel. And just knowing where to set it, means I can set it without thinking/looking.

    • AF module is working great testing in a dim room -- way better than the D610. It's just snappier overall; acquires focus faster with the same lenses.

    • I love having the extra AF area -- even though it's not that much more technically -- you can really see the difference in the viewfinder. One thing I always struggled with on the D610 is framing vertically -- I would set the focus point to the very top edge, focus on the eyes and take a picture. Problem is, that still left your subject VERY low in the frame. I got better at it, but sometimes when youre quickly shooting and don't have time to reframe it wasn't ideal. The D800 has a slightly larger AF area, so I except this to be a bit better.

    • love the speed of the CF card (but hate the prices compared to SD). I'm not a huge fan of two different types of cards. I wish it was either two CF or two SD.

    • I like the ISO button on the top and getting rid of all the modes I'd never use like auto and U1 and U2, I like switching via the thumb wheel much better. Changing ISO on the D610 was kinda of a PITA. I got used to it, but this is better.

    • Love the sound of the shutter and ability to shoot at 1/8000.

    • I will actually make use of the sync ports on the body.

    • One thing that's annoying me is the OK button position. I like just clicking the d-pad to confirm, not hitting that and I'm used to the (-) button being there so I'm zooming in and out funky on previews. Did notice there's a lot more information on the preview screens -- even the focus point. I'll get used to this, but I do it EVERY time.

    • IQ is on par. Shooting the same scene with the same lens, the rendered scene is nearly identical, but you're capturing much better detail. You can crop a heck of a lot and still end up around 20MP without any real compromise on the low-light ability. I have noticed the image is richer and warmer overall -- not by much, but it seems to have better color rendering and the WB a touch warmer which I really like. I almost always add 1000K to all my shots with the D610, I may not have to adjust much in post with the D810. I can post better side-by-side comparisons later -- when I was doing this I discovered a focusing issue with the first D800 I picked up and had to return it, so I want to redo them with the subject actually in focus :p

    So now with the prices where they are, and after handling it for a bit now, the D800 is my new recommendation for people who want a budget FX. If you can still find a D600 for less than $600 I'd still say get it, and hopefully they replace the D610 soon enough and you can get the newer model once the shutter fails. But the D800: Big Thumbs Up.


     
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  2. JonA_CT

    JonA_CT TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Are you going to keep using your D610 as a backup body?

    Damn you. I feel like I'm going to regret passing up on these deals. My wife isn't using the a6000 as much as we thought she might...maybe it's time to flip that out there as a down payment on the D800.
     
  3. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    yeah, The D610 will be the backup camera now. Bonus: they share the same batteries.

    I still miss the a6000 for form factor and the IQ you still got with it, but yeah I never shot with it unless traveling which is like once or twice a year.
     
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  4. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    incredibly quick comparison:

    upload_2017-12-13_16-42-8.png

    The colors on the D800 (left) are a little more accurate. The WB settings are identical between the two -- a lot more orange/yellow in the D610 which is interesting cause I tend to desaturate the yellows by -10-20 a lot.


    it's quickly apparently the IQ is identical, but you get tons of extra details from the extra MP:

    upload_2017-12-13_16-44-49.png

    this is the bottom right hand of the image, look at the difference in the potted [dead] plant and the trunk just beyond it.


    Look at all the extra detail in random background junk:

    upload_2017-12-13_16-47-2.png

    the bark detail, the string, etc.



    bumped the EX +1.00:

    upload_2017-12-13_16-49-39.png

    a lot more fine detail in the shadows of the bark. Looks less washed out overall as well.




    I'll do a better test with a better scene later, but I'm impressed.
     
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  5. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    crap, those images stink. My 4K monitor makes these too large and when I downsize them they look pointless.
     
  6. pixmedic

    pixmedic The Mustached Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    im fairly impressed. i loved my D600's, but you can definitely see where the D800 has the edge.
    for their opening price points though, you should definitely expect it.
    I agree that AF was the 600's Achilles heel. the 51pt AF module in my D7100 seemed better.
    i suppose at this point the D750 would be considered the middle ground, but i wonder how it compares to the D800?
     
  7. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If the d750 had the same body as the d800 I'd buy it. That's whats really annoying, there's too many trade offs between each body, for no real good reason.
     
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  8. Peeb

    Peeb Semi-automatic Mediocrity Generator Supporting Member

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    Thanks for a really nice comparison/analysis. Well done!
     
  9. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I've never used a D6xx body but I've used the D7000, D7100, and D750. Now that I have a D810, I completely agree with all of your points.

    From the moment that I got my hands on my D500 almost a year ago I had massive problems going back to a non-professional body like the 7xxx series and D750. The ergonomics and speed are just so nice to have.. even the IQ of the D750 couldn't pull me away from my D500.

    Since getting the D810 my D500 has gone unused and I'm now debating selling it for another D810 body. The IQ of a 36mp Fx sensor and pro handling combine to make the D810 head and shoulders above any other camera I've ever used.
     
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  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    We've been corresponding here 'behind the scenes' for some time...you know how I feel about the D610...image quality is very,very nice. File recoverability from even a badly-exposed .NEF file is superb, but the camera itself is not the best on autofocus, and has some operational cheapness...coming from the D3x to the D610, there was for me a HUGE down-grade in the AF module...the D3x used Nikon's Multi-CAM 3500 AF module with 51 AF points...the D610 does not use that AF module, and has a crop-sensor's 39-point AF system and module in a full-frame body.

    The D3x and D800 can focus even a CHEAP, slow-aperture lens indoors in poor light, with pretty darned impressive capability...the D610 NEEDs that awful white AF-assist light to even come close. The D610 has let me down on AF many,many times...that was/is the weakest issue with it, IMHO.

    I myself just bought a used D800 body, have had it a few weeks now...it too uses the Multi-CAM 3500, 51-point AF module...and is a better focuser than the D610 is, especially with slower, variable-aperture lenses, which the D610 is not that good with.

    I have to agree 100% with your post above, braineack: the D800 is a very nice Nikon camera, and the additional megapixels offer a lot of crop-in capability. The body quality of the D2x and D3x and D800 are way,way above the consumer-level D600-series cameras. The viewfinder is better in the "round eyepiece" Nikon cameras.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
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  11. shadowlands

    shadowlands No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would have to agree. I've owned both the D600 & D800. When times got tough with some bills, I had to say goodbye to one of them. Sold the D600. I love the D800.
    It's a sexy monster of a camera body. Sure, I'd like the D810 & D850 more, but right now... my D800 is paid for and I need to bank, not spend. It does everything I need and more.
     
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  12. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    here's two NEF files you guys can look at.

    biggest difference I see is the colors and all the extra fine detail.

    Dropbox - Public
     
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