Nikon D610 Review

November 12, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 24 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 12Mb.

Noise

The base sensitivity of the Nikon D610 is ISO 100 but you can go down to ISO 50 (L1.0) if you wish. At the other end of the scale, the highest native sensitivity of the Nikon D800 is ISO 6400 but two boosted settings, ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600, are also available.

JPEG RAW

LO 1EV (ISO 50) (100% Crop)

LO 1EV (ISO 50) (100% Crop)

iso50.jpg iso50raw.jpg
   

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg
   

HI 1EV (ISO 12800) (100% Crop)

HI 1EV (ISO 12800) (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg
   

HI 2EV (ISO 25600) (100% Crop)

HI 2EV (ISO 25600) (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg

Sharpening

The out-of-camera JPEGs often benefit from some sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively you can change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes. Here are two pairs of 100% crops - the right-hand images have had some extra sharpening applied.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

The file quality settings available on the Nikon D610 include Basic, Normal and Fine for JPEGs, and the camera can also shoot 12- or 14-bit NEFs (Nikon's proprietary raw file format).

Fine (100% Crop)

Normal (100% Crop)

quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg
   
Basic (100% Crop)

Raw (100% Crop)

quality_basic.jpg quality_raw.jpg

Flash

Like every other Nikon digital SLR camera except the professional series (D1 through D4), the Nikon D610 features a pop-up flash, which can also act as a trigger for up to two groups of wirelessly slaved system flashes, alleviating the need to buy an SU-800 commander unit or use a more expensive flashgun as the master. This built-in speedlight has a guide number of 12 in metres at ISO100/21° and a number of functions including front- and rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction, i-TTL, Manual and Repeating Flash. As the shots below demonstrate, red-eye isn't a common problem with the built-in flash even if you don't use red-eye reduction.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Flash - Red-Eye Reduction

Flash - Red-Eye Reduction (100% Crop)
flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The Nikon D610 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. There is an optional long-exposure noise reduction function that can be activated to filter out any hot pixels that may appear when extremely slow shutter speeds are used, though I found no need for this when taking the photograph below at a shutter speed of 30 seconds, aperture of f/8 at ISO 100. We’ve included a 100% crop for you to see what the quality is like.

Night

Night (100% Crop)
night.jpg night1.jpg

Active D-lighting (ADL)

D-lighting is Nikon's dynamic range optimisation tool that attempts to squeeze  the full dynamic range of the sensor into JPEGs. Active D-lighting works “on the fly”, before the in-camera processing engine converts the raw image data into JPEGs. The available settings are Off, Low, Normal, High and Extra High.

Off

Low
dlighting_off.jpg dlighting_low.jpg
   

Normal

High
dlighting_normal.jpg dlighting_high.jpg
   

Extra High

 
dlighting_extrahigh.jpg  

HDR

Like most new-generation Nikon digital SLR cameras, the D610 can shoot two differently exposed images in rapid succession, which are then blended in-camera to form a single, high-dynamic-range image. The exposure differential can be 1, 2 or 3EV, and you can choose from three different levels of smoothing (low, normal and high; with normal and high producing  more realistic results than the low setting). Note that this feature is only available when shooting JPEG.

Off

Low
hdr_off.jpg hdr_low_smoothing.jpg
   

Normal

High
hdr_normal_smoothing.jpg hdr_high_smoothing.jpg

Highlight Headroom

Of course it's not always possible to create multiple-exposure HDR images - this is especially true if there are moving elements in the frame. In this case it's advisable to take a single shot in NEF or NEF+JPEG format and try to make the most of it. The shot below depicts a very contrasty scene - the outside world, seen through the windows of the market hall, was bathing in strong sunlight but the aisle and the ground-floor shops received barely any natural illumination and were thus considerably darker. We were curious to find out how much highlight clipping we would see in a shot of this scene if we exposed for the shadows, just as you would with negative film. The JPEG image did turn out to have some blown highlights, though much less than we'd expected.

highlight_headroom_full_frame.jpg

We then opened the raw file in Nikon View NX 2.5.1 - the only raw converter, apart from RawTherapee, that was able to handle it at the time of writing - and tried to recover some of the seemingly lost highlight detail. As you can see in the 100% crops below, our efforts were more or less successful - there's still some highlight blow-out but it's truly minimal. Once more raw developers add support for the Nikon D610's NEFs we'll be able to see if there's even more highlight headroom in the raw files, but what we are seeing here is pretty astounding as it is.

JPEG

RAW
highlight_headroom_crop1.jpg highlight_headroom_crop1raw.jpg
   
highlight_headroom_crop2.jpg highlight_headroom_crop2raw.jpg

Picture Controls

Nikon's Picture Controls are akin to Canon's Picture Styles in being preset combinations of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. The Nikon D610 offers all six Picture Controls including Standard, Neutral, Monochrome, Vivid, Portrait and Landscape. All Picture Controls can be tweaked to your liking, then saved and transferred to other cameras. New to the Nikon D610 is a dedicated quick-access button that takes you directly to the picture controls menu - if you use these profiles often, you will appreciate this improvement over the D7000.

Standard

Neutral
picture_controls_standard.jpg picture_controls_neutral.jpg
   

Portrait

Vivid
picture_controls_portrait.jpg picture_controls_vivid.jpg
   

Landscape

Monochrome
picture_controls_landscape.jpg picture_controls_monochrome.jpg

Image Area (FX vs DX)

The Nikon D610 is an FX camera but it can also shoot in a ten-megapixel “DX crop mode.” The angle of view is naturally tighter in the latter, as shown by these examples.

FX

DX

fx.jpg dx.jpg