Jakub Trávník's resources

Making informed choice between Nikon D610 and D800

There are a lot of D600 and D800 reviews. There are some comparative reviews too, but few go in depth. I have tried to accumulate a lot of information to decide this for myself. It may be useful for you as well. I have not evaluated video features as both are good enough for rare video use.

D610 better (D800 worse)
FPS (D610: 6fps vs. D800: 4fps or 5fps in 1.2 and DX crop; D800 with grip 6fps in DX crop)
Works with small and cheap remote shutter ML-L3
Consistent card types
Card space usage. Long-term archival space usage than D800 (but if you want to be tied to Adobe, you can convert D800 raws to DNG at reduced MPix sizes or lossy compresion and gain smaller file size). Less computer processing time.
Weight by 130~140g. See SLRCLUB review where both cameras are put on scale with batteries and card, and without: D600 (760g no battery, no card; 860g battery and two SD cards) and D800 (900g no battery, no card; 990g battery and CF card)
Zoomed liveview (more) is 1:1 when AF is not active (more) unlike D800
Quiet mode
Better/quicker U1/U2 settings compared to banks on D800
BKT mode not limited to 1EV steps, two exposures can be 3EV apart (more) there is a workaround for D800 (more)
Low light live view slightly better than D800, but significantly worse than Canons (more), but there are workarounds for D800 (more)
D800 AF may have issues (more even more), but for some with f/2.8 lenses it is good (more), some AF evaluation, left AF issues (more even more). Df does not have as many issues as D800 (more) so D610 may be same as Df (more) + D800 left AF fix causes further problems with AF lock (more), some D800 are perfect with 1.4 primes (more). D800 has worst repair score of all cameras, mainly due to AF (more). In my DPReview poll on D800 owner AF satisfaction with fast primes 45% of 86 people voted their AF is perfect, 30% voted AF is ok, 6% voted it is slightly worse than other cameras, 7% voted their AF as significantly worse than other cameras, 12% returned camera due to AF.
More practical for every day (more)
Wireless with WU-1b, good third party Android app, can also do focus stacking (more). On the other hand hardware hack with added voltages of WU-1b enables its use on D800 (more)

D800 better (D610 worse)
AF coverage (see comparison below tables)
AF sensitivity (more)
Resolution, a very small advantage even on tripod f/8 short tele landscape (look up entry "17 October 2012" here). Only top 10 lenses deliver difference in DxO P-Mpix compared to D610 (more). But 16MP vs. 10.5MP the D800 is better in DX crop where DX lenses have better resolution and some FX lenses have it too.
AF tracking is better (source)
Flash x-sync better by 1/3ev to overpower sun
Extra crop modes: 1.2x 5:4. With AF point illumination (A5) turned off the area outside of crop gets grayed, otherwise there is only a frameline. That makes crop modes more usable.
A bit better DR at ISO 100, about same 200-1600, worse 1600+ (D600 vs. D800). But same here (more). Long exposures are better on D600 (source). Night time is better on D600 (source)
Works better with APS-C lenses due to resolution
1/8000s shutter for f/1.4 daylight
One click playback 100% zoom
Liveview changes aperture setting immediately without need to re-enter liveview. In manual exposure you can choose between autogain and simulated exposure since firmware update. This aperture change can be performed in viedeo, however it is not silent. In fact when in P or S mode (stills), the aperture may rattle quite a bit while it is being adjusted for exposure.
BKT mode allows up to 9 exposures unlike 3 exposures of D610. They are spaced by only up to 1EV unfortunately (see entry for BKT in D610 better table above).
Produces less moire than D600 (D800 sample vs. D600), D610 is possibly even worse (more, even more); moire D600 sample 1, D600 sample 2. In this comparison of D600, D610, D800 and D800E D800 has same sharpness as D610 (at cost of higher risk of more moire and false detail in D610), D600 is least sharp of the four, D800E is best (again, moire risk, but less than at 24MP).
DK-17M magnifier 1.2x + widens dioptric correction range here; as I tried it: it is good without glasses, but bad with them
Limited firmware hack appears for D800, but not yet for D600 (more)
AF-ON button is easily reachable (in comparison to D610 where AF-L/AE-L button redefined to AF-ON; DoF Preview or Fn buttons can be used for AF-ON as well) (more about AF-ON technique and differences between D700 and D800).
D800 has viewfinder curtain built-in while both have light leaking issues

Unknown which is better or too weak evidence
There could be differences in mirror slap.
Viewfinder screen is worse in D600 for manual focusing? Stated in Ming Thein D600 review
AF is more "solid" in D600? Stated in Ming Thein D600 review

Random notes
Viewfinder (more even more)
AF is affected by speedlight AF assist badly. Applies to both D600 and D800 (more)
Focus screen can be replaced on both (more)
Dead/stuck pixels can be remapped by sensor clean twice (more)
Default AF fine tune of -8 solved issue where lens specific fine tune of -20 was not satisfactory on D800 (more) it corresponds to this
some other comparison
Specification breakdown by Snapsort
Comparison for birds in flight use

AF coverage

Following picture shows approximate overlay of D90, D600/D610 and D800 viewfinders with AF coverage. Each camera has its color. af coverage comparison D90 D600/D610 D800
Another approximate AF coverage comparison of D610 vs. D800 which I have created based on PDF manuals: af coverage comparison D610 vs. D800

Updated with D750: Above approximate AF coverage comparison of D610 (red) vs. D800 (blue) vs. D750 (green) which I have created based on PDF manuals: af coverage comparison D610 vs. D800 vs. D750

In this youtube video by DigitalRev Tv you can see both viewfinders (around 6:20) - I tried to align them and result did correspond to image above.
Some other comparisons: in post here there is this animated comparison. Actual picture of D600 viewfinder with AF coverage displayed can be seen also in this review.

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