Resolution, pixel density and lenses: D800 vs. D610

Started Apr 9, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP danielbw Forum Member • Posts: 50
Re: I'm late to answer this thread, but my thoughts are..

Hi M. Thanks a lot for your long, thoughtful and insightful message. Highly apperciated!

anotherMike wrote:

First things first: I currently shoot with a D800E as my primary body, and a D610 as my backup/second body. Previously I shot with a D7100 taking the backup/second body, and before the D800E I shot with the D700/D300 combination. I am quite familiar with all of these bodies.

First off, you have a nice lens collection - the only "outlier" of the group is the 105/2.8 VR - it's pretty good, but I can't categorize it as excellent - I used to own one, and frankly the 105mm length on my 70-200/2.8G VR-II zoom is a little better. Not a lot better, but on a D800E, I could tell. Everything else will be a good fit for any of the high rez bodies, so I don't think you have to sweat lenses too much with your decision.

If you're looking at the bodies, the first things I think you have to analyze/evaluate are:

a) How much do you shoot (frame wise) per year?

b) and thus, how long do you see yourself keeping/using the body you choose?

For example, I tend to get about 3 - 4 years out of a pro grade body given I shoot at between 30,000 and 40,000 frames a year. This tends to match up to the upgrade cycle. The reason I ask this question is that you have to consider the cost difference between bodies also in view of how much extra the body will cost per month over the expected lifetime. Obviously if you are financially challenged where even a D610 is a stretch, I'd suggest sticking with the D7100, but for the sake of my post, let's say you can afford either the 610 or the 800/800E somewhat equally. If you intend to only get 2 years of use (a pretty drasticly low use case), with a 1200 dollar difference, that's 50 bucks a month cost difference. Not that huge in that way of thinking about it.

For me it is also 3-4 years.

The big things we need to get "real" about are evaluating our actual, real needs, not just having the latest/coolest camera in the forums so you can be the BMIF (big man in forum)

Not my case. But this reminds me of a guy who writes a review for the Leica M in Amazon. I just quote it because I find it really funny.

>> This is like my old English Jaguars, so I bought two. One for use, the other in the shop being fixed.

It's no exaggeration to say that when I handle my M240 it makes me better than Cartier-Bresson. After all, that poor fellow used film, was clueless about Photoshop and had to manually set everything. He must have snapped a lot of images to luck out with the few grainy, blurred ones that sadly pass for art today. I mean, that guy jumping the puddle? Hello, motion blur. Had he used an M240 he could have cranked up the ISO and shutter speed and bingo!, a sharp snap. Why, he could have taken 9 in that one second and chosen the best. Boy, would the old man have killed for the high speed motor drive in my M240s or what? Goodness knows, he really needed it.

As for the Leica 'glow' in the images, they are instantly distinguishable, though I find I get less glow after I clean my new $8,000 Asph Summicron with a pocket handkerchief to remove the residue from my Romeo y Julieta Cubans. (I have a man who works for the embassy here …. embargoes are for the little people) I accidentally spilled some Cristal on the front element the other day at the Greenwich estate but, with typical Leica reliability, it soldiers on, though the focus movement seems a bit sticky and I appear to have some deposits in the lens. We Leica users call that ‘character’. And the glow improved, so I recommend this treatment to all Leica lens users.

My Noctilux cannot seem to nail focus at f/1.0, which is a bit disappointing as I paid $20,000 for it on the black market to beat the queue, so I generally use it at f/5.6 or lower, but it's worth it for the rendering and depth of color alone. And even when it’s out of focus, which is much of the time, the Bokeh renders those defocused blobs like nothing on earth. In fact my first attempts at f/1.0 were all badly out of focus, but I kept them anyway, and fellow Leica users are all astonished at what the lens can do. That’s the sort of 100% success rate only Leica can deliver. And, let's face it, the Nocti and M240 scream success, once others see that huge front glass and the red dot. This combo delivers a frisson no Canon or Nikon using poseur will ever experience. Only a Leica says ‘photographer’ in that special, indefinable way.

And what makes this so much better than all those years with my M2, M3, M4, M6, M7 and MP (yup, all in my China cabinet, with the original boxes, under 6 rolls of film put through each) is that my $150,000 of Leica glass has never been happier, even if I do have to pull the battery now and then when the M240 freezes just as I press the button for another capture of a dozen Decisive Moments. But the fact that I only missed a hundred or so great images in my first month of ownership is nothing compared to the thrill I get just holding the M240. I can't wait for the gold plated special edition which should match my Rolex collection nicely. And with the gold limited edition at least you won’t find all your close friends using one also.

One final benefit. When my M240 locks up and fails to respond to the battery thing, I put it on the mantlepiece and just admire it, while enjoying a glass of Courvoisier L’Esprit. Just like my Jags, it's actually nicer to look at than risk using among the hoi polloi which litter our world.

Let's face it. You either appreciate and own the finest that the world has to offer or you are never going to take a good picture. <<

And in doing this, it comes down to two things:

a) Usability and functions of the body

b) Image quality potential and how much YOU (not me, not other posters, but you) will use this potential.

Let's take item "a" first.

The D610 and D800 (or D800E, which is my preference) are built to different standards. As an owner of both, my "issues" with the D610 are namely three:

1) I simply don't like the AF of the D610 anywhere as much as the D7100 or the D800E. Both of the bodies using the 51pt system simply AF better and I'm not talking about number of focus points, I'm talking about the camera *repeatedly* and *accurately* achieving AF in a wide variety of conditions. Yes, to make that clear, I prefer the AF of the D7100 over the D610 and that is a firm opinion borne from lots of use of both bodies.

2) The mechanical structure of the lens mount on the D610 isn't as well reinforced as that of the D800. Thus, if you're intending to use larger lenses regularly (70-200/2.8G and so forth), I'm less comfortable with them on the D610 than the D800. Lens mount misalignment from the lens mount getting bent or knocked out of alignment matters with these high rez bodies.

3) I prefer having a separate AF-On button.

Other than those three items, the D610 is a nice body. It has very nice image quality, and it's a smaller body, so it fits well in a crowded backpack as a "backup" for landscape use for me. However, if I could only pick one, for *usability reasons only* (meaning the next paragraph isn't even taken into account where I talk image quality), I'd pick the D800 every time.

Okay, item "b": Image quality potential and how much of this potential you'll use.

You'll note I used the phrase "image quality potential". Both cameras are quite good image quality wise. If, 4 years ago, instead of paying 8 grand for a D3X we could have had a 2 grand D610, that camera would have sold like proverbial lemonade to death valley dwellers. Modern cameras, including the D7100, are capable of image quality quite a bit beyond what we had 5 years ago. Currently, the D800E is at the top of the heap. But there is a difference between image quality potential and how MUCH of that potential (how far up the curve of quality, essentially) you'll be using, and that again is where you need to be real about it. If it were discovered tomorrow that Enzo Ferrari, before his passing, designed a one-of secret Ferrari that you could own, a car so good it would wipe the floor with the Bugattis and other exotics, the question might be "are you, as a driver, skilled enough to *extract* every last thing the car can deliver". And that is the question (and answer) that is different for every user. If you print large (16x20" and up) regularly, have excellent technique, own good tripod/ballhead, etc, and have an eye for quality, then you might be further up the curve of image quality potential that a D800E allows. If you are mostly living at 13x19" and shooting handheld, you may never reach the potential of the D800E. Sure, pixel peeping on screen you probably could tell a bit more detail between the two, but on the output medium and size of your choice, could you then?

So that's what you got to think about. Don't get too distracted into the technical. Don't get scared about the file size horror stories. 24mp files aren't wimpy files either. If you don't mind the usability tradeoffs of the D610 and don't see yourself reaching as far deeply into the image quality potential of the 800E, the D610 is an amazing camera for reasonable cash. However, the usability issues - or - the image quality potential issues - may sway you to the D800E. What's right for you may not be what's right for me.

Hope this helps some.


Could not agree more. Your 1) and 3) are the only 'issues' standing on the way of my guts decision to get the D610. And the LV shortcomings, maybe. I also would prefer the smaller resolution of the D610. But heck, one can choose other resolutions on the D800! And I know there will be times when the extra resolution would be welcomed for very large prints. I'm just trying not to fall victim of Buridan's ass paradox.

Edit: If, knowing what I know now, had the choice to move to a D610 from a D7100 as my second camera, currently owning a D800E, I would NOT have done so. Not that the D610 isn't nice, but in terms of *getting the shot* (due to better AF), I preferred the D7100, and while it's files weren't as clean as the D610, matching the D7100 with something like the Sigma 18-35/1.8 Art zoom was something else and I'm not so sure I made the right decision for a backup body. In all honesty, I should have gotten a second D800E.

I'm attaching some pics I took with different cameras and lenses to give you a better idea of the type of stuff I like to shoot. In most of these cases, I wouldn't have minded having some extra DR latitude.

Nikon D700 + can't remember the lens, I would have to look for the original NEF

Nikon D7100 + 35mm 1.8 G DX

Nikon D700 + Can't remember the lens, probably the 50mm 1.4

I led such a wicked life as a Spanish youngster, that God has sent me to Germany to do penance for my sins.

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