Nikon D610 Review
The D610 has many of the same video features found in the D800 including HD recording at 30 frames per second, a 3.5mm headphone and stereo mic inputs, and manual audio controls.
Quality of video output from the D610 is very good. Auto exposure and white balance produce nice, natural-looking colors. Footage can be shot at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second and at up to 24Mbps. The D610 uses B-frame data compression of the H.264/MPEG-4 video codec that optimizes motion capture while maintaining manageable file sizes. Video can also be shot in either FX or DX modes.
The D610's built-in microphone is mono only, which is common on high-end DSLRs (the Nikon D800 and Canon EOS 6D also have mono mics), but this looks outdated when comparing to some mid-range DSLRs and mirrorless cameras (Nikon D5300 and Fujifilm X-E2 have built-in stereo mics).
In our D600 review, we found that the D600 could not deliver full screen output over HMDI. What users got was a black border on all sides where the actual image area was about 5% smaller than 1920x1080. Nikon eventually released firmware update C: 1.01 to fix the problem in the D600. We're glad to see that in the D610, 1920x1080 video outputs in full screen over HDMI right out of the box.
Other video handling aspects remain the same as found on the D600. See our original D600 review for more details.
This sample video demonstrates the D610's default audio recording capabilities and shooting settings. The built-in mono microphone records good overall presence from the musician and the video is rendering color in a pleasing manner and has good sharpness.
Contrast-detect AF is the only option available when shooting video, which is significantly slower than the D610's normal phase-detection mode. In this example, when using continuous AF there is significant hunting both both visually and audibly with the oncoming people walking. And for a low-light scene, contrast is decent and auto white balance performed fairly well, but when viewing the full resolution file you can see chroma noise creeping in.
The D610 doesn't have any electronic distance scale or focus peaking in video mode so you have to rely on lens barrel markings for any manual focus pulling. For this example we used the 24-85mm F3.5-4.5 lens, but the distance scale wasn't really useful since it didn't have intervals between distances marked. Luckily the D610's screen was large and sharp enough to eyeball the focus changes and the 24-85mm's manual focus ring is smooth enough (not the absolute best) to also 'feel' just the right amount of turn needed.
The Quiet Continuous shooting mode is a by-product of the D610's new shutter mechanism. The setting can be found on the left mode dial, just next to the single-shot Quiet mode. It fires at 3fps. The sound is not nearly silent like a Leica or X100s. It's just drawn out into two segments to separate the noise, so it's not as noticeable in the normal setting. In contrast Canon EOS 6D's 'silent mode' is noticeably quieter all around.
Single-shot Quiet mode is likely to be more useful because it lets you delay the clack of the mirror returning. In standard mode a press of the shutter raises the mirror, open/closes the shutter, and lowers the mirror. In Quiet Single-Shot mode, pressing the shutter raises the mirror and triggers the shutter. The mirror lowers only when the shutter button is released, so you can control when that sound is heard.
Time-Lapse and Interval Timer
The D610 has a built-in intervalometer for time-lapse and interval shooting modes. The time-lapse mode found in the Shooting menu lets you automatically shoot at designated intervals and generate a movie directly in-camera, with playback rates from 24 to 36,000 times faster than normal. The resulting .MOV will reflect the settings found in the Movie mode menu.
In this time-lapse sample taken as the sun was going down, one frame was shot every second for 15 minutes using the Nikkor 18-35mm F3.5-4.5 lens. At the end of the selected timeframe, the D610 processed the intervals all in-camera, producing a single 31 second .MOV file.
Similarly, the interval timer also lets you determine the number of shots, interval between them, and delay before starting. This feature can also be used to capture a time-lapse sequence of images that can be processed on a computer later. We used this feature for a shutter dust test. For the test, we set the camera to fire the shutter every five seconds for up to 999 frames. Then repeated the process until the battery ran out.