Nikon D610 Image Quality Comparison

As the Nikon D610 is nearly identical to the D600 with the same sensor and processor, we thought it unnecessary to do an extensive image quality comparison with the D610 versus a range of competing cameras. Instead, we've made a one-to-one comparison between the D610 and D600 to show that the image quality is extremely similar between these two cameras. For a comparison against other competing cameras, head over to our Nikon D600 review.

Note that between the time we shot the D600 sample images to when we shot the D610, our test target was adjusted ever-so-slightly, and as such you may notice a very slight difference in focus and shadows between these two cameras' Still Life sample images in the comparisons below. Please check out the Comparometer™ with these two cameras to compare other areas of the images.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction. Both cameras were shot with the same very sharp reference lens (Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro).

Nikon D610 versus Nikon D600 at ISO 100

Nikon D610 at ISO 100
Nikon D600 at ISO 100

Barring the slight shadow and focus shift between these two images, the D610 and D600 look unsurprisingly similar. Noise levels, fine detail and color reproduction look nearly identical. You can also see the D610 continues to produce moiré in the red leaf fabric as we noted in our D600 review, thanks to a weak optical low pass filter.

Most digital SLRs and CSCs will produce an excellent ISO 100 shot, so we like to push them and see what they can do compared to other cameras at ISO 1600, 3200, and 6400. Recent advances in sensor technology have made ISO 1600 look a lot more like ISO 100, but there are still cameras whose quality starts to fall apart at this setting. We also choose 1,600 because we like to be able to shoot at least at this level when indoors and at night.

Nikon D610 versus Nikon D600 at ISO 1600

Nikon D610 at ISO 1600
Nikon D600 at ISO 1600

Like the previous comparison, results are practically the same between these two cameras. The very slight differences can also be chalked up to focus and shadow differences.

Today's ISO 3200 is yesterday's ISO 1600 (well, almost), so below are the same crops at ISO 3200.

Nikon D610 versus Nikon D600 at ISO 3200

Nikon D610 at ISO 3200
Nikon D600 at ISO 3200

Both cameras here show a very high amount of fine detail at ISO 3200 in the mosaic and fabric areas, for example. Again, like we saw with the ISO 1600 comparisons, the slight differences are due to slight focus and shadow changes. Nevertheless, both the D610 and D600 do very well at higher ISOs, with minimal image degradation from high ISOs.


Nikon D610 Print Quality Analysis

Great 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 50-400; makes a nice 24 x 36 inch print at ISO 800 and a good 5 x 7 at ISO 25,600.

ISO 50/100/200 produces excellent 30 x 40 prints when viewed from a normal distance, with an amazing amount of fine detail and pleasing colors. Looking very closely at the prints at this size you can see a hint of pixelation. However, there's sufficient detail in these files to make wall-mounted prints at 36 x 48 and even up to 40 x 60 inches.

ISO 400 also allows for great prints at 30 x 40 inches, and 24 x 36 inch prints look outstanding from a normal viewing distance, which would do great wall-mounted. There's lots of fine detail and nice color reproduction at these sizes, and noise is definitely not an issue.

ISO 800 images look good at 24 x 36 inches, with very little noise and a lot of fine detail and excellent colors at this sensitivity.

ISO 1600 makes a nice 16 x 20 inch print, and noise is still pretty sparse. Some luminance and chroma noise can be seen, but it's quite minor. A wall-mounted 20 x 30 inch print will look just fine.

ISO 3200 prints look good up to 13 x 19 inches. High ISO noise is a bit more visible at larger sizes, but at 13 x 19 inches it's more than acceptable. In fact, 16 x 20 renders a very usable wall display print, and we don't usually discuss that size at this ISO. The "grain" here is very similar to what we saw with the D7100: film-like, very finely-grained noise.

ISO 6400 images show some noise at 13 x 19, but the D610 is able to make prints up to 11 x 14 inches with no problem. Fine detail and color still look quite good and pleasing to the eye.

ISO 12,800 prints look nice up to a surprisingly large 8 x 10 inches. The D610's full-frame sensor is really showing what it's made of! There's minor fine-grained noise in the shadows, but overall it doesn't affect fine detail or colors much at this size.

ISO 25,600 images normally yield pretty mediocre prints, but the D610 makes a fairly good 5 x 7. It's pretty amazing at this high ISO that detail looks great at this size and colors still seem so vibrant.

The Nikon D610, like the D600 before it, is able to produce spectacular printed images. Lower sensitivities are able to make some very large prints, up to wall-mountable 40 x 60 inch prints! Even at higher ISOs, the D610 is able to handle them with ease and relatively low noise, lots of fine detail and vibrant colors all the way up to ISO 25,600. There is a slight trace of moiré in the red leaf swatch, like we saw with the D600 and suggesting Nikon has continued to use a weaker low pass filter, but it also handles that swatch as well or better than most of the cameras we have tested (many of which tend to render it quite soft). Keeping in mind the budget-conscious price point for a full-frame DSLR, the Nikon D610 is a stellar performer in the image quality department.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)


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