Friday, January 17, 2020

DSLR's Still Rule: The Afffordable Nikon D610 Part I

DSLR's Still Rule: The Affordable Nikon D610 Part I
January 2020, Carl Garrard

One of my favorite DSLR cameras to rely on for serious outdoor photo work in the past has faithfully been my Canon 6D. Matched with the 24-70mm L f/4 lens, it's a compact, easy to use, comfortable combo with image quality that sings. As written here previously, the 6D is one of my top seven favorite cameras of all time. I've never desired to replace it for the work I bought it for, nor wondered if I ever would. Over time it hasn't been my first choice for all outdoor though, such as action work of any kind. Today, Canon and Nikon's newer fast focusing AF-P/USM II 70-300mm lenses out there are lighter, quieter, and more compact than the high end pro lenses (like my 70-300mm L). Nikon's especially has given me reason to look further into a system for this task. Their lens is weather sealed, while Canon's 70-300mm IS II USM isn't. It's also not rugged enough for my needs. So both the 6D and  that lens left me wanting to fill a niche Canon couldn't fill- a lightweight semi-pro set up for action photography.

Nikon D610 Current Retail and Used Pricing

Trail That Lead Me to the D610

Outdoor photography for me at least, starts with the right lens first, camera second. And that is what lead me here. Nikon makes a very nicely specced/priced AF-P 70-300mm VR lens (P stands for pulse motor, not professional). It's similar to the Canon 70-300mm Nano USM in focus speed, size, and price, however, it is also weather sealed to a degree which to me is a huge bonus. Also, it's built more rugged than the Canon, and handles better. With winter weather coming in California, sealing is a necessity. So this got me thinking to try it out and I bought one. The challenge though, was to find the ideal weather sealed body to use for it.

So I purchased the Nikon lens recently. I immediately liked this lens a lot more than the Canon. It's build quality seems more durable and less apt to scratching, plus knowing I've got some measure of sealing is a big bonus to me. I've enjoyed using it with my bargain bin D300s (also a nice camera!), but it left me curious to see If I could get better image quality flexibility, and I desired a bit faster and more decisive autofocusing. So I gandered at full frame (mirrorless wasn't even a thought).

Even though the D610's specifications may not excite forum hero's, I know real life experience is much different. There's plenty of online testimony, even from working pro's that use the D610. Again and again I read that the 39 point AF system was quick and accurate, and reliable in all but the very lowest light levels. If the preceding was true, that wouldn't be an issue for me because it has a dedicated assist lamp (unlike my 6D) to aid in low light focusing. On paper the D300s appears to have a better focusing system, but paper is just paper, and now I'd have both to test.

It's worth nothing here that I also have a pro level Canon 1D camera and lens for bird photography. Yet it's weight, comfort, and stability really shine most when I'm not doing long hikes or bike rides. Arguably it and the 70-300mm L may be more capable, but on long hikes or rides I'm willing to give up a little performance for the sake of  saving some weight and space in my pack. I tend to mix long hikes and technical bike rides with photography, so finding the ideal equipment is always a blessing.

I was curious how this Nikon combo will fair in comparison to the Canon combo. Certainly I would give up some performance right? Or, could I actually gain a performance advantage? Did the trail that lead me here have more to offer than I originally thought?

Validating My Purchase 

I didn't take to the D7500 (ugh that FN1 button placement) or the other D7000 series cameras at all, so I switched my attention to the D500, D750, and D610. I felt they were all worthy candidates to consider. At the end of my deliberations, I chose the D610. Although price was no object, I felt that it was the best overall value of the three camera. Point of diminishing returns? Besides, I had a hunch I'd like it.

Compared to the 6D I intend on replacing, there are several reasons that the Nikon D610 out perform it. Only a few areas on the D610 I'd consider real upgrades for my needs (although there are more), and I'll list them as follows:
  • Faster shooting (6fps vs 4.5fps)
  • Better Sensor: Dynamic range (almost two stops better) and detail (24mp vs 20mp)
  • Separate AF assist lamp
  • Headphone Jack
  • 39 point AF system (vs 9 point), 9 f/8 sensitive points (great for telecons)
  • 100% accurate viewfinder (vs. 97%)
  • In camera time lapse movies (thank you!)
  • Ability to use DX and FX lenses on one mount (godsend)
  • Having two card slots is a nice luxury, but not a necessity for me

U.I and ergonomics are however extremely important. And this is where the Canon 6D really shines. It literally melts into my hand and becomes part of my brain. This kind of symbiosis with a camera is invaluable, and can often help make up for any shortcomings a camera has on specifications. This is because I become so in tune with using it, the parts that work well are heightened with a closer connection to the camera over time. So without further ramblings, lets get on with the review of the D610.

Out of the Box 

I was surprised to see that in person the D610 was more substantial than pictures made it appear. I've used the D700, and it's not that far off overall in its impression. It's slightly larger than the 6D, but percievably not much heavier. Overall I like its size and weight. It's comfortable to hold, although even with my medium sized hands a deeper grip would have been appreciated as my fingernails tend to dig into the body a little.

Not a deal breaker to me by any means, but not as comfortable as my D300s or 6D. However the grip does make the camera sit in hand in a more nose up position naturally whereas the 6d tends to droop. I didn't really notice till I held them both switching back and forth. The Nikon naturally has the lens point up in hand and takes less effort to keep it direction facing a subject. Whether or not that is helpful, is really up to you.

It comes with all the usual accessories I won't ever use (sans the battery charger, and eye piece), and I immediately removed the noisy d-rings. The d-ring posts do not interfere in my hand placement at all, kudos here here to Nikon, but I would prefer the quieter and more comfortable flush mounted strap mounts such as the 6D has below. That is where any criticism ends with the D610 on the exterior shape.


First Impressions

Build quality is fantastic, unthinkable for the price you pay. Nikon saved weight and cost in just the right places, without compromise. Just like the more expensive D750, the top and back panel are magnesium metal, and it's mid section and majority of the bottom section are made of thick fiber reinforced carbonate. Surprisingly it's pretty light, yet somehow feels substantial at the same time. I'm sure the D610 is built to take more than a fair amount of abuse, but this is a really nicely balanced camera.

There is a solidity here that you appreciate immediately, which sets itself apart from anything in the consumer range or mirrorless. For today's prices, you come away feeling like you've scored a really great deal especially in comparison to the D750 or much higher priced mirrorless options. Buttons are large, the large dual dials click and turn nicely (with a subdued click), doors are strong and sealed, port covers are hinged (nice, I always appreciate a hinged door).

Overall the impression is a high quality camera that you can use in cold weather wearing gloves without issue of engaging controls.

It's optical pentaprism viewfinder is clear and bright as you would expect, with a much more spacious view than consumer DSLR's. The resulting feeling is relief and comfort in comparison. I found the eye relief a bit tight, and I don't wear glasses. So those who do wear them, may want to get an accessory diopter eyepiece to increase the relief a bit (at the expense of a slightly narrower view).

There's plenty of immediate information in the finder at the bottom of your view, and ISO and metering are always displayed (thank you). If you want to overlay a grid, you can set the camera to do that. I turned off the annoying blinking flash display, since I'd never need the camera to remind me that light levels are low. There's a digital rangefinder mode for manual focusing too, that I really appreciate.

Nikon's U.I./menu is generally very good, but takes some getting used too if you don't speak Nikonese. Only a couple of things I would note here. I'd prefer to have an option to keep the rear LCD on full time, yes, even at the expense of battery life. At the least I'd like to have the option to turn it on simultaneously with the top panel using the on/off switch at the lamp position (like my D300s). But, I didn't see an option for either. Lastly being able to assign the video record button would have been nice, so I don't have to relegate a dial to change ISO. With that said, I'm working around these issues just fine.

The lack of a live histogram in any mode, is mind boggling to me though. Please don't try to argue in favor of not having one, I simply will not listen.To me this is the biggest criticism I have of the D610, thank goodness I like so much more about the camera.

Overall the only things I'd prefer to have that the D610 lacks, is built in wifi, a slightly deeper grip, and a bit more customization of buttons. Is the higher price worth that to me? No, these notations I've made are merely minor inconveniences. Used prices on the D610 start at about $450.00, whilst the D750 is almost double that. New prices are a different story, but I prefer finding a "like new" deal to brand new myself.

General Shooting Notes

Nikon, you got me here. Oh the shutter. What is it about the sound of a good shutter cycle that I like so much? Perhaps when done right, its the sound of confidence and finality. At my heart, I appreciate analog and mechanical devices, there's pride in craftsmanship that must go into a quality product. I suppose the shutter sound is the epitome of a camera's heart and design, at least to me it is.

Nikon have really done me in with the sound of the shutter cycle and almost non-existent black out time in the viewfinder. With a DSLR especially, I want the camera to tell me audibly that its done its job, and Nikon have achieved this expectation greatly. There's quietness and a quickness here, with  all mechanical quality sound to it unlike my 6D, which sounds motorized, louder, kind of labored, and hollower in comparison. I can't think of  DSLR I've used yet that has a better sounding and feeling shutter cycle than the D610.

Instant ready and instant focus, even with an inbody motor driven lens. D610 is fast. I had about a two seconds to grab this while driving 70mph.

Besides the gorgeous shutter, the D610 feels eager and near immediate in everything else it does. From turning it on to it's faster than expected autofocus speed, it feels capable and competent. As a bonus, there's also a classically heritage sorta feel when I'm shooting the D610 that surprised me. Not only does it feel like a supremely capable tool, but it subtly reminds me of Nikon's heritage and expertise in camera making. When a manufacturer can make a product that conveys its experience, I think that is rather something special. Nikon are to be commended here.

Tracking moving objects well, the D610 exceeded my expectations. This boat was moving about 30mph around a very tight corner. It didn't fool the D610.

Several times during writing I found myself reflecting upon the D610, picking it up and taking a shot or two, but mostly that I'm writing my first positive and enthusiastic article about a Nikon product. Certainly Nikon make great products, but this is the first camera that has really grabbed me, much more so than the Nikon D80 did quite a few years back. It's great how we all have our own individual tastes, and for me Canon have generally fit the bill for my mid level full frame DSLR work.

This all changed with the Nikon D610.

Initially I bought the D610 (and the excellent 70-300mm AF-P lens) as a sort of hiking/biking budget birding camera. Yet, it's become clearly evident to me that the D610 is a very capable all round camera that is reliable in many different circumstances. This may be supremely obvious to Nikon fans, but please have patience with me. Nikon are one of the last frontiers I'm exploring. Despite having a few quick affairs with some of their products in the past, this is a camera I can really sink my time and energy into.

I will note a couple of niggles. The lack of a live histogram, or the ability to keep the rear LCD on full time are a couple of items I lament.

D610 Image Quality

Since I hardly ever use Jpegs for my work, I'm primarily going to discuss the raw files. I believe that all of the money, time, and effort put into making a photograph should culminate with your best effort in post processing a raw file. Ideally the goal is to make a nice print and put it up as a trophy on your wall, or perhaps gift it or sell it. I'm an idealist, the end to end of photography is location to print, and that involves a lot of work.

For those with short attention spans, the good news is that the D610 has superb image quality, not medium format superb, but definitely going to meet the most demanding needs I can throw at it, and then some.

So much mid tone and range in the raw files. Color is gorgeous, it's hard to need anything more. ISO 50 is as good as it gets for full frame. Loads of detail because the AA filter is almost non existent.

Yet, how does the D610 translate in raw files, say compared to the 6D? Well, in short it's an upgrade, but I should be specific. There's more latitude in the raw files for dynamic range, and a bit more detail for instance. The difference isn't huge, but it's certainly welcome. I can see why Nikon's metering is a bit conservative in preserving highlights as the falloff curve is a bit steeper than I expected (similar to Canon's). It's definitely better than the 6D here, which is the most welcome attribute to the improvement in image quality. However I'd definitely still expose for highlights and bring shadows up later.

Although the D610 did good here, highlights almost clipped. Next time I'm spot metering for highlights and bringing shadows up in post.

Speaking in terms of shadow noise (especially when pushing shadows up) I'd call it about a tie, perhaps a slight edge to the Canon 6D here but there's really no practical advantage. Overall it's an upgrade I'm certainly welcome to accept, but not a major one.

I should note that I like how the images translate to monochrome, much like my 6D. I won't get into my specifics of how I post process them since everyone's method varies. I will say that some cameras are better than others in this regard, and the D610 has excellent files with rich mid tones I need for monochrome images. Not the best I've seen, but quite high up on my "picky" scale and above average for a DSLR.

It's not my favorite overall camea for monochrome images, but with some good post skills, it's just fine. Straight conversion from color to mono here in post, to give me an idea of what my starting point is.

In terms of absolute detail, I'm extremely happy. The AA filter must not be very aggressive because detail is extremely high when using a sharp lens. Much like my 6D, it doesn't leave any desire for more resolution or fine detail, but the D610 surprised me. I thought I'd silently lament the sensor having an AA filter but I do not. Nikon, did you really put an AA filter on this camera? Frankly looking the images, they require no post sharpening at all. This characteristic is what I see when cameras don't have an AA filter.

I'd easily make a very highly detailed 40x60"print with this camera. It's nice to have so much detail because I feel to crop heavily in post if needed. Do I want 36mp? Not really. If I need a resolution machine I'll whip out my GFX 50R medium format gear. 24mp done right, is the sweet spot, and this is much higher quality than my 24mp 80D by far.

Decent Canada Goose shot, 100% crop below. Click on the image for more detail.

Oh yeah, this is ISO 400 too. Loads of detail, low noise.

Ramping up ISO is no problem either. Where I wince shooting ISO 400 on APS-C gear, I'd giggle using the D610 all the way up to 1600 ISO knowing quality is going to be fantastic no matter what. The only area that seems to degrade is in dynamic range, but there is plenty there at 1600 ISO, easily about 12 full stops. Detail is fantastic, and noise is so unobtrusive that it's not even a bother. I'd stop at ISO 3200 because quite frankly I'd not need to go any higher for anything I can think of, but I would not hesitate to shoot 6,400 either. Impressive stuff here, much like my 6D with the added benefit of more DR and slightly better detail at lower ISO values.

6400 ISO, still nice color and detail and malleable raw files.

So overall, yeah I really dig the image quality. The D610 punches much higher than it's cost, and is in my mind the best image quality you are going to get for the dollar no matter what system or camera you choose. I guess that's an endorsement, you decide. Bargain hunters looking for the best bang for the buck, you may want to take a look at a used Nikon D610 from a reputable seller.

3200 ISO hand held in near dark, no worries. 24-120mm f/4 Nikkor lens.

D610 AF Speed and General Performance

Mirrorless systems have a long way to go to replace a DSLR's main advantages. Here is the #1 reason for me:

Start up to focus is nearly instantaneous. This is where a DSLR really beat the pants off of almost all mirrorless models. Some systems (cough Sony) literally take a few seconds to get going and by that time you can (and often will) miss an opportunity. Also, I have a tendency to turn off the camera after I'm done shooting a round of images to conserve battery life, especially with mirrorless cameras because they are power hogs. 

Out at the lake, the D610 showed it's stuff. It's one thing to take casual pictures of cats or your feet in the house (who doesn't) it's quite another to shoot action and wildlife outdoors. In short: The D610 kept up with me in every situation. Although it's AF system isn't the most modern system, I found it's speed and reliability on its 39 points to be impressive. Only a few times out of a couple hundred images did I desire a wider AF coverage.

Sometimes too many AF points can be overkill sometimes not, it really just depends. Having a tighter AF point group doesn't feel all that limiting to me personally, it sharpens my skills up more and the viewfinder isn't as cluttered. If I really want 'larger' coverage, switching to DX mode really makes things interesting. I assigned the FN button on the front of the camera to make the switch (as opposed to using it for DOF preview). Sure I could just crop in post later, but there are advantages to switching to DX mode.

Again, I was able to pick up my camera and shoot this in less than 2 seconds flat. I shot from instinct and the D610 kept up.

Also, I don't want to wait for a camera to turn on, or an EVF to light up when I need to react super quickly- a big no no. The D610 is instantaneous, and it's ultra fast in every aspect. It was/is always ready when I was no matter what kind shot I was taking. This is exactly what I'd want or expect from a pro level DSLR, and quite frankly what I'm used too and refuse to give up. If, and when mirrorless can catch up to these important aspects, I'll take a look again. I'm open to newer, but only  if it's better!

Just as important as AF speed is the ability to turn the camera on and get your first shot of. The D610 is instantaneous, unlike mirrorless cameras.

Of course I understand the benefit's of mirrorless, I have quite a few of them and like them for the tools they are. But mirrorless just don't have the immediacy, battery life, or durability of DSLR's and that counts for a lot. In real life (i.e. not sitting behind a computer reading specifications or making comments), DSLR's just beat the pant's off of mirrorless cameras.

All trade offs considered, an excellent DSLR like the D610 is my choice for serious photography. It's a slam dunk.

How can a DSLR from 2013 be so good when mirrorless is all the "rave". It's simple.  Fact is, DSLR's and mirrorless cameras are both great tools for what they do best. Yet DSLR's are still better all round tools for most applications, which is why they still sell better than mirrorless, and why most pro's still use DSLR's. No matter what forum or article comments say. Best to have both, I say. And I do! I have some really good mirrorless cameras, but if I'm doing a job or going on a photo excursion, you know I'm bringing my DSLR equipment.

Brief Intermission...

I can't iterate how much I've really enjoyed using the D610 so far. Frankly I'm surprised given my track record with Nikon. Half of their DSLR's I've used I didn't take too at all for one reason or another, and a couple flat out annoyed me. Not so with the D610, it's one of those cameras that beg me to pick it  back up and use it again and again. Not only is this my favorite Nikon to date, I have to admit it's clearly a more capable machine than the Canon 6D. Definitely a better all rounder. There's really no task I'd hesitate to use it for, unless I want something I can fit in a pocket. It's comfortable, well balanced, instantly ready, and behaves well with reliable metering and focusing. What's not to like? Here are some other noteworthy tidbits I took down I like about the D610:
  • Surprisingly the in-body focus motor is very quiet in comparison to competitors. Also very quick.
  • Grip material isn't that sticky soft rubber, it's just right.
  • Grip shape keeps the nose of the D610 pointing up in your natural hand position instead of downwards. A small but appreciated detail.
Then there's knowing I'm not going to get better image quality unless I switched to medium format gear. That is empowering. Practically, 6 frames a second is fast enough for most action quite frankly, unless you are competing with other photographers on a sideline. To get more performance (without sacrificing something) you're going to run headlong into diminishing returns for your dollar. Nikon's D610 is indeed the camera to beat for the money. Unless you need a couple extra features, the D750's extra half frame per second isn't going to make any real difference.

Stop the press. A freshman college student using an old Canon AE1 film camera.

I've Discovered A Big Problem

I know, all the glowing had to end at some point right? Yep, I'm afraid there's just one big issue with the D610 that I'm not going to get around. Too many keeper shots. I'm serious, in my first batch over half of the images I made were excellently metered and dead on focus. I mean, dead on focus. Going through my images it was difficult to discern which I would use for the review. I will say my keeper shots with down a bit when shooting the r/c boat, but I'm sure that was my fault from being a little rusty or distracted (I had my daughter with me today).

For a first casual outing with the D610, I was able to track and get plenty of keeper action images

It's not too often when I review cameras that I'm taken so quickly. Only 7 out of over a couple hundred cameras have really tickled my fancy to the point they have made my overall favorite list. It's too early to tell whether or not the D610 will dethrone one of those top seven, but if today is an indication I'm going to have to call it now: My 6D and 24/70 f/4 may just have to take the back seat. Today's outing proved to be so promising that I ordered the 24-120mm VR II f/4 to round out my main lens lineup. I didn't even hesitate to order it.

If this lens proves to be as competent as the Canon 24-70mm f/4 L (macro) that I love so much (my favorite all round zoom lens for DSLR's to date), then I'm going to have quite a capable, weather sealed, affordable, and compact DSLR system to use going into the pretty winter months here in California.

I should give a shout out to Nikon's 70-300mm VR II lens, it's easily the best of the prosumer 70-300mm lenses I've ever used for the price. Instantaneous to focus, awesome detail and image quality, built very well, and handles like a dream. It's VR system is top notch as well.  Add that it's weather sealed and affordable, and not too heavy, I can't make a further request.

I read a criticism about its MF ring on a review, I have to say that review is misleading. The review complained about an initial delay to focus when you move the ring in MF mode. True, there is a very slight delay initially, but only once. As you move the ring side to side after that, it absolutely has instantaneous precise focusing. It's a fantastic lens for manual focusing, don't believe otherwise.

Back to Our Scheduled Programming...

Saturday November 2nd, was a beautiful day. One of those absolutely perfect temperature/humidity and sky days. Unfortunately not too many flying birds though. Action was still to be found around me though, and I was able to get a good impression of how the D610 behaved under stress. If 10 is a perfect score for accuracy, immediacy, and speed, I'd give it a score of 9/10. That's quite a good score actually. Mainly because I can't decide if the D610/AF-P combo is better than my 1D Mark IV and 70-300mm L Canon combo. Sure the Canon 1D has a faster frame rate, but does it focus as quickly or more importantly, as accurately? Honestly I'm not sure yet.

I need to test it more, but my first round with it was very impressive, with the speed of the D610 exceeding expectations.

Battery life is excellent. I made 228 images today, and the battery went down only 14%. Doing rough math, it would be easy to grab over a thousand shots or more on a single charge with varied use (I grabbed two 20sec video clips and used some live view as well). Two fully charged batteries would be plenty for a weekend of shooting. I should note that I have the menu set to keep the top LCD lit at all times. I did plenty of reviewing of images along the way as well.

So did the D610 get in my way at all? Not that I recall. Considering at this point I've had less than two days with it, I think that's saying something. For the most part I have the controls and menu's set up to shoot how I prefer too, and I'm quickly getting used to getting around its sub menus. The only thing I wish is that I had faster access to  ISO. I guess that is where the D750 comes in, but I'm not paying that premium to have an ISO button. It's not that important.

Sunday November 3rd, almost as beautiful as yesterday. And guess what was delivered first thing in the morning? Yep, Camera West/Leica Miami delivered my 24-120mm f/4 three days early. Thanks!
Time to try the 24-120mm f/4 VR.

Today, clear blue skies, no clouds. So I made a few landscape shots with the new lens, and then started to focus my time on more isolated subjects and color. Time to test the low light focusing and it's higher ISO settings in lower light. In short, the D610 passed this test with zero issues. Focusing in low light was near immediate and spot on, nor did I find anything objectionable about higher ISO settings to 3,200. The center AF point may not be as sensitive as my 6D in a coal mine, but it lived up to any expectation just fine. I found myself wondering why others complained about its low light focusing.

So Far, So GOOD

Talk about a good first impression. I'm frankly surprised that I like a Nikon camera this much. That's really no disservice to a company with such a rich heritage and fan base either. Remember that taste is a funny thing, and we all have our own. So far I just haven't liked many Nikon cameras I've tried in the past. I will give a shout out to the D300s, D90, and a Fujifilm S5 (based on a D200). These are all excellent, camera bodies I've acquired prior to the D610 purchase. I'd say that they are all excellent choices (with the S5 being exceptional), but not as capable or likeable for most things as the D610 is, with all things considered.

I'm aware of the past history of the D600, and how and why Nikon introduced the D610. Those were tough times for both the owners of the D600 and equally for Nikon. I don't wish to rehash anything about that, as it is all in the past. Taking a view at today's camera market, the D610 holds up remarkably well against other full frame cameras if you plan on saving a buck and getting a used one. I was able to find a like new one from Camera West in Florida for much less than a new D750, and I'm now seriously considering getting a second. If I'm being transparent, the only other camera I think would be worth considering as a true upgrade to the D610 would be the D850.

Juvenile Night Heron. ISO 1600, underexposed and brought up in raw.

I can see why the D610 is so popular. Using it verified my instincts that this may have been a sleeper camera that I unwittingly ignored. So far it has surpassed all expectations and I can't level one major criticism against it. Sure I've a few niggles, but they are far from deal breakers. Nikon's D610 flat out delivers, and it's a fun camera to shoot with on top of that. In my experience that's more a rare combination than not.

It's not surprising to see that Nikon are still producing this camera and selling it. At $1,599.00 (on Nikon's site, $1,499.00 Amazon) it may be too much considering the D750 is available for $1,196.00 on Amazon for the upcoming holidays. But it is testament to it's popularity considering it's been on the market since 2013. That's six years in production, and I thought the Canon 6D had a good run.

Three in the sunset.

And speaking of a good run, I have some sad news. My Canon 6D and 24-70mm f/4  will only sit idly on a shelf now that I have the D610 and the new lenses. As much as I like the 6D combo, the D610 is every bit as good but, also quite a bit more capable than the 6D is in areas that really count for me. On top of that, my telezoom is weather sealed which adds to a lightweight weather sealed trio that I can shoot closeups, 24mm wide angle, all the way through 300mm in just about any climate. On top of that, it's not a super heavy trio to carry around at all.

Simply put, the Nikon D610 and the two lenses give me more opportunities to do the kind of photography I like more often without making any significant sacrifices in capability, climate, or ease of use. And I was able to get all three for under $1,600.00 in like new condition (my D610 had about 58 shutter cycles on it).

*Jan 2020: Stay tuned for part II of my review on the D610. I've been shooting with it since November and I can honestly reassure you that I like it every bit as much as the first week, and more. To call it a "keeper" is an understatement. Much of  Part 1 of this review was written in November of 2019, and I still agree with every word here, but I've got a lot of ideas for part II.*

Stay Focused.

-Carl Garrard

P.S. Did I mention it has dual card slots? (Grin)
Add caption
What a beautiful end to a perfect day. Marvelous day, one of the best of recent memory. I had the right camera and lens for the job, that's for sure.


  1. Looks good I'm sold!

  2. Awesome man! :) The D610 is the DSLR that nearly single handedly convinced me to switch from Canon as a main system to Nikon. I still have both of course, but I grab my Nikon's almost every time. Another gem that I like is the DF. I know I knnow, controversy. But when all that noise dies, it's just an awesome personal kind of camera. Indoors it's genius. Street/walkaround, same. D810 for landscapes (shoot ISO 64 for the best IQ), and D500 for action, and you're all set LOL :). Pentax's K3 Mk III is giving the D500 a run for its money that is for certain.