Trying to Decide Between D610 and D800

Started Dec 10, 2013 | Discussions
Dave Sanders
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It's the photographer more than the camera...
In reply to LeeTee, Dec 12, 2013

...so buy the one you really want. It feels good to get what you want. The truth is, of course, if you take mediocre photos at 12mp they will still be mediocre photos at 24 or 36mp, end of story. Light, compositional ability, technique and skill in post processing will all make far larger differences than the choice between the D610 and D800.

The D800 is a better camera for most uses, that's why it costs more. Is that difference meaningful? In terms of the final image, most likely not. In terms of your joy of using the camera? Very possible. The camera that feels the best, makes you want to shoot the most, is the best one. If money is a even a remote consideration, buy the D610. If you shoot long exposures a lot, really consider the D610...the D800 has an unfixable sensor flaw (white spots) when you get up past a minute or so and the sensor in the D610 is a long exposure machine.

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Tom_Bruno
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Get the D610.
In reply to LeeTee, Dec 12, 2013

I have a D800. Mine was one of the first pre-orders at B&H, and I've used it ever since, for travel, family, studio shots, HDR, pets, macro and more. Tens of thousands of shots. As others have said, the D800 has a great build quality, ultra high resolution and other attributes. It’s all true.

But I’m planning to get a D610 next month. As good as the 800 is, it has what amounts to major drawbacks for me. First, there’s the gargantuan file sizes. The files are enormous and do clog up the workflow. I have a modern, fast graphics workstation and even then processing is frustratingly slow. And there’s a high storage demand. In anticipation of this I set up an 8 TB RAID array before getting the 800. it’s nearly full now. I plan to get much, much more storage soon, because there’s no other choice.

Also, the 4 fps burst rate is indeed a drawback, not so minor. I miss good shots of my 2 yr old grandson, hardly a bird in flight, because of the slow frame rate. And if you shoot much HDR you’ll appreciate that tripods are not permitted or practical in many places you’ll find yourself. Hand-held HDR is important to me, and the slow frame rate means much more drift between exposures. For HDR, handheld, 4 fps is a major impediment. At the recent PDN Photo Expo in NY I handled and shot a D610, and its 6 fps felt like lightning by comparison. Wow! I loved it!

What about only 3 frames available on the 610 for bracketing, when 5 or more is standard HDR technique? I played with that on the D800, tone mapping only the upper and lower 2 stop exposures, plus the center, ie only 3 frames. It works fine. Those HDR images look great. I was pleasantly surprised. The 800, and apparently the 610, has such good DR that a 3 exposure HDR looks terrific, way way better than a 5 exposure HDR on my D200. Problem solved, with even the bonus of a quicker workflow.

But what about that fabulous resolution of 36 vs 24 mp? Well…I tried that, too. To save time, storage space and sanity, most of my shots on the D800 have been at the 1.2 crop, which is 25 mp. To see what I was missing, I shot a bunch of the same subjects on the D800 with at first 36 mp and then 25 mp. No discernible difference, either on my monitor or at 12 by 18 prints.

I found Scott Kelby’s analysis of this conundrum very useful:

http://scottkelby.com/2012/the-nikon-d800-vs-the-d600-which-one-is-the-right-one-for-you/

Another thing no one seems to mention is that when shooting the D800 at its 25 mp 1.2 crop setting – it’s a crop! That means your wonderful wide angle lens, like my 14-24, is no longer so wide. You lose that dramatic wide ability in cropped mode, so you’re forced to use full resolution with its various snags.

I’ll keep the D800, and use it when I can take a tripod to great landscape or urban locations. That’s what it’s best for. For everything else, since I already shoot nearly everything on the D800 at the 25 mp crop mode, I’ll use the 610. I may as well cash in on the smaller size and lighter weight of that camera, gain a 50 percent increase in frame rate, and regain the wide angle capability at 24 mp without a crop.

The D610 is very well built and feels quite solid. Yes, it’s a consumer body, but there aren’t a whole lot of compromises in that regard. I respect my D800 for its abilities and quality, but it’s not the love affair I was hoping for. Its drawbacks, noted above, are quite annoying. Nikon have positioned their models so that gearhead fusspots like me will have to buy both cameras to get everything they want. OK, I get that. But I suspect the 610 will get more usage than the 800.

Knowing what I now know, if I had neither camera, I’d get the D610 first. Then later stretch the finances to get the other one, or whatever hi-res model comes next.

Good luck to you, whichever you choose.

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Tom B

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ahmadelnemr
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Re: Trying to Decide Between D610 and D800
In reply to LeeTee, Dec 12, 2013

D610 is a really nice camera. Files are just large enough. D800 are problematic i.e. you might need to send it back for replacement 4 - 5 times before you get a good copy and its expensive and needs special treatment. I have both and I wish I just had two 610s instead of one and one.

Good luck,

Ahmad.

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LeeTee
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Re: Trying to Decide Between D610 and D800
In reply to seahawk, Dec 12, 2013

Good points! Thanks!

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LeeTee
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LeeTee
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Re: It's the photographer more than the camera...
In reply to Dave Sanders, Dec 12, 2013

I had not heard about the long exposure issue with the D800. While I don't do many, I will look into this. Thanks!

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LeeTee
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LeeTee
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Re: Get the D610.
In reply to Tom_Bruno, Dec 12, 2013

Tom,

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed reply.

I was thinking about shooting the D800 mostly in 24Mp but as you mentioned it then is a DX-lite type effect on focal length.

Alot of good ideas to consider.

Thanks again!

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LeeTee
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LeeTee
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Re: Trying to Decide Between D610 and D800
In reply to ahmadelnemr, Dec 12, 2013

Since you have both, you opinion matters alot.

Thanks!

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LeeTee
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Dave Sanders
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Re: It's the photographer more than the camera...
In reply to LeeTee, Dec 13, 2013

LeeTee wrote:

I had not heard about the long exposure issue with the D800. While I don't do many, I will look into this. Thanks!

The problem can be largely eliminated by the use of Long Exposure Noise Reduction but I really don't find the use of LENR convenient and the 24mp sensor in the D610 is wonderfully free of noise other than the random hot pixel...I've shot up to 8 minutes without using LENR.

Here's a bit from the comments of Scott Reithner's blog, including a response from Nikon:

Steve, one of our reader/commenters finally had a response from Nikon that I thought should be posted here in the main post so no one will miss it. Unfortunately, it is not good news and is what I had been suspecting to hear from Nikon. Here is an official word from Nikon:

  • Dear Steve,
  • Thank you for your update.
  • I have analyzed the sample image provided and consulted it with other Pro Support agents. It seems that the effect you are seeing is natural for D800 sensor and long exposure times – unfortunately there is no other way of removing the white spots than keeping the Long Exposure Noise Reduction active. I agree that it may not be convenient due to doubled exposure time, however currently there is no other solution to this problem due to limitations of the sensor technology.
  • We apologize for the inconvenience,
  • Please do not hesitate to contact us again in case of any questions.
  • Kind regards,
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gnet158
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How's the HDR and viideo on the D610 vs. D800
In reply to LeeTee, Dec 13, 2013

I'm in same boat as the OP.  Here's my problem, new the 610 is $2k more or less, now I can get a refreb D800 or used one for not much more.  So is it worth the stretch?

How much better is the video and HDR between the two?  I plan on using either as my one and only camera and want the best video quality.

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I got to get out and shoot more.

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Dave Sanders
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Neither...Panasonic GH3 for video
In reply to gnet158, Dec 13, 2013

gnet158 wrote:

I'm in same boat as the OP. Here's my problem, new the 610 is $2k more or less, now I can get a refreb D800 or used one for not much more. So is it worth the stretch?

How much better is the video and HDR between the two? I plan on using either as my one and only camera and want the best video quality.

If you are judging these cameras based on video, then you best have the thousands of dollars in accessories that makes the video usable. Otherwise, a Panasonic GH3 will run circles around both and it costs a lot less.

Dave Sanders

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LeeTee
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Went with a D7100
In reply to LeeTee, Dec 29, 2013

After looking at the D610 and D800, I decided to stay with the DX line and bought a D7100. Looking hard at my type of pix taking, a DX works for me.

So far only have taken some pixs with the D7100, but impressed.

See my comments over in the DX forum: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52725581

Thanks for all the feedback and comments!

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LeeTee
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Ruud Wilschut
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Re: D800E
In reply to Nexu1, Dec 30, 2013

Nexu1 wrote:

I believe the kit 24-85 lens can outresolve the D800 36MP sensor. I've seen pics from Reilly where you keep zooming in and zooming in and all of a suden you see tiny square pixels and voila - you've outresolved the sensor (compared to zooming in, zooming in and getting to something blurry).

When zooming in you always see little square pixels at the end. That's perfectly normal with digital imaging.

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Ruud Wilschut
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Re: It's the photographer more than the camera...
In reply to Dave Sanders, Dec 30, 2013

Dave Sanders wrote:

LeeTee wrote:

I had not heard about the long exposure issue with the D800. While I don't do many, I will look into this. Thanks!

The problem can be largely eliminated by the use of Long Exposure Noise Reduction but I really don't find the use of LENR convenient and the 24mp sensor in the D610 is wonderfully free of noise other than the random hot pixel...I've shot up to 8 minutes without using LENR.

It's better to use LENR allways if possible when using (very)long exposures.
Long exposure noise reduction uses dark frame substraction where the camera performs a second equal exposure right after the first one with the shutter closed to "substract" sensor "hot" pixel noise which should not be present in the dark frame.

This data of the dark frame is then compared with the first frame and used to remove the typical long exposure "hot pixel" noise on the first picture.

It takes a lot (double!) of time when doing very long exposures, but it's the best way to get clean exposures without hot bright pixels. Works especially on astro-photography, I think you want real stars, not artificial ones

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