The immortal Nikon D700: Downgrade or Upgrade to Nikon D610?

I will try to explain in a few words my experience after using my new Nikon D610. Note: this is not a formal and detailed review of the camera, if you are looking for something like that, just type the magic words on Google and you will find it.

Chio and I have shoot for 5 years with the Nikon D700 and we love it, actually we still own two D700 bodies that we don’t want to sell, don’t take me wrong and and still love them. When I get older, I would love to show to my grandchildren, how was this camera and how it worked, just like my grandfather showed my father the old Nikon FMs

The D700 will forever be an amazing camera, the colors (it doesn’t matter if you shoot RAW or JPEG’s), are simply wonderful and have never seen such an amazing results with other cameras, even between the more expensive ones.

But let’s get back to the point of this little review, the D610. As you know, I’ve always shoot with Chio and originally we were using three cameras to shoot weddings: Three D700, one for her and two for me. After many years using only the D700 I was tempted to get a new D600 so we bough it, I shoot only one wedding with it because after a few days, Chio also started top play with the camera and became hers. Yes, just like that haha But the decision makes sense, since she was using just one body, I mean it wouldn’t be the ideal if I use two different bodies with two different resolutions, colors, cards, batteries, etc… right?

After a few weddings I realized that to emulate the same color results from the D700 with the D600 was impossible. I tried many different combinations of presets to make the two colors match, still today I can’t do it. Maybe something similar but never the same.

So when I heard about the new D610, I decided it was the moment to “upgrade” all the equipment. We were still using two different batteries and chargers (Compact Flash vs SD)… No way! So many things to carry on when traveling. So I decided to buy the D610 and give the D700 a rest.

It was a risky move, because I had to buy many new SanDisk SD Extreme Pro (which was a big amount of money), new batteries etc. What about if the camera wasn’t good enough as the D600? I should then have to sell not just the camera but everything else as well. But is also true that if you don’t try new things, if you don’t risk, you’ll never know. I mean, is not just a pair of pants. But it was the right choice and now we shoot only with one camera each and we are very happy. D600 for Chio and D610 for me. We still carry on the D700 as back up camera, but only three 16GB cards for it, two fully charged batteries and that’s it.

If you are looking to “upgrade” all your equipment, I guess the change from D700 to D610 is really worth it. Ok, so which are the advantages?

PRO’s of the D610

- Twice the resolution: 24.3MP vs 12.2MP. The RAW files are around 6000 x 4000 px, about 30Mb each. This means having more resolution, you can crop a lot more and still have a big file to work with.

- Dual SD cards slots: This is a big advantage. We shoot using the second slot as back up, it means you record the same file on both cards. So there isn’t excuses to have some file damaged or unreadable.

- It’s a little bit lighter.

- The Live View mode is so muuuuch better. I started using it for some specific shots and landscapes and it works perfectly.

- The new Quiet Release Burst mode: it reduces the sound of the camera’s mirror return mechanism whilst shooting at 3fps. The result? My guess is that there is about 50% less noise when you shoot in this mode. This is nothing compared to the silent sound of the mirrorless cameras like the Fuji x100s, but it’s enough to take advantage of it.

- Seven years of technological improvements must mean they got something right, correct? Better and bigger display, a little bit faster camera (it is very reactive).

- Very small form factor. Using this camera for example, with the 35mm F/2, you can almost go unnoticed on a wedding. Everyone has a digital camera and most “Uncle Bob’s” like to show off their big cameras and lenses. But to pass unnoticed, it really helps if you are a wedding photojournalist or documentary photographer.

CONS

- Colour: The final colors of the images are very nice, but after seeing the D700 results for years, they are not good enough. After post-processing the photos with LR of course you can have any result you want. But they are not perfect right out of the camera like the D700.

- Very small camera. I know already told you that it’s a big advantage. But if you have big hands like me, it’s not so comfortable. I mean you get used to it but after a few weddings your hands are gonna hurt.

- The memory cards. I hate the SD cards. After shooting many years with the compact flash on the D700, you will probably need not only months, but years to forget about them and to start loving the SD. They are so tiny, I always have the sensation that I’m going to brake them.

- The 39 AF point: They are grouped very tightly in the centre of the frame. It’s perfect for those who prefer to focus and recompose, but if you like to compose first and then focus at the edge of the frame, you don’t have so much space like you’d expect.

I haven’t found any complaints so far about this camera, only few CONS of course, but like everything else, it can’t be perfect. I know the D4 has some incredible features, you can shoot with this camera at the North Pole or inside a Volcano, you can take up to 12 FPS, you have a large battery with a long life etc, etc… But really, if you don’t have a big amount of money to spend, you should ask yourself if you really need a $6,000 USD camera for a wedding? Do I shoot on volcano’s? Do I have to be proud I can shoot two weddings with the same battery? Do I really need to shoot 12 frames per second? I don’t want to be rude or sarcastic, I have colleagues who are happy with the D4 and they have their reasons as I have mine, but I think: Instead of buying one D4 that costs me $6,000, I rather buy:

- x2 Nikon D600: $2,000 each

- x1 Nikon 28mm F/1.8: $700

- x1 Nikon 35mm F/2 : $350

- x1 Nikon 50mm F/1.4: $450

- x1 Nikon 85mm F/1.8: $500

Total amount: $ 6,000

A reflection on the D700: For those who still own a Nikon D700 and love it 100%, and, compared to the D600 and D610, there is nothing you can not do with this camera. There are many differences between them and 5-7 years of technological improvements, but I will always say: For weddings the D700 is more than fine. I know many good friends and international well known colleagues who are still using the D700 and they are super happy with it, maybe they are thinking what to do when they get to 250,000-300,000 actuations and they have to change the shutter or get a new camera. But to be honest with you, if the D600 had not came out and the choice was only between D4 and D800, I would proudly say: I would stay with my D700.

But if you want to become a new Full Frame camera user and you are a Nikon person, don’t hesitate, the D610 is the right camera for you. Also if you are an unhappy Canon user (because of the autofocus) and you want to switch, it could be a great first step.

Hope this helps to you guys to make the right choice. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions, I would love to answer them.

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  • Rocio GurtubayDecember 11, 2013 - 9:34 PM

    Great tips.
    ReplyCancel

  • Jonathan BeikoDecember 11, 2013 - 9:39 PM

    NIce review, Dennis! i’m afraid i’m the kind of guy that is still in love with the d700, for the colors. Find me an upgrade with the same gamut and ill be happy to switch! haha. ReplyCancel

  • Beto MartínezDecember 11, 2013 - 9:59 PM

    Excelente forma de dar una opinión y estoy seguro un gran aporte para quien no sabe que decidir al respecto, yo tuve la D600 y jamas me logré acostumbrar al display (colores), tengo D700 pata ratoy así me quedo, saludos!!!ReplyCancel

  • Pablo Estrada GorostizaDecember 11, 2013 - 10:07 PM

    Nice!!!!!! ReplyCancel

  • Lupita RamirezDecember 12, 2013 - 1:26 AM

    Thanks for sharing Dennis!!!!! Awesome post!!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Vargas GarzaDecember 12, 2013 - 2:58 AM

    Thanks Dennis, very enlightening :) ReplyCancel

  • Omar BerrDecember 12, 2013 - 5:35 PM

    Hola Dennis, y que me puedes decir sobre el visor? Se ve prqueño e incomodo.ReplyCancel

  • Justen Jr FotografiaDecember 12, 2013 - 6:01 PM

    olha ai man.. Gabriel AraujoReplyCancel

  • Bernard TribondeauDecember 20, 2013 - 1:35 PM

    Hello
    I’m a professional photographer, mainly for corporate business and some magazines stuff… I own 2 D700, and think and feel just like you. This camera is perfect, even if it’s an “old” one. Just keep it !!! Thanks for your review !
    BTReplyCancel

  • Bernard TribondeauDecember 20, 2013 - 1:40 PM

    Hello
    I’m a professional photographer, mainly for corporate business and some magazines stuff… I own 2 D700, and think and feel just like you. This camera is perfect, even if it’s an “old” one. Just keep it !!! Thanks for your review !
    BTReplyCancel

  • valeria mameliJanuary 4, 2014 - 12:37 AM

    thanks for the article. I have a d800 now, and I should buy a second body, I tried the d700 and I was excited, the colors are wonderful. Now I am very torn between the d700 and lad610 especially for autofocus, and you hast confirmed that the colors will not be so beautiful ..
    I do not want to make another mistake (d800 vs d700)
    What to do? thanksReplyCancel

  • MiguelJanuary 13, 2014 - 6:07 PM
  • François LebeauJanuary 31, 2014 - 3:35 PM

    M. Berti.

    Your article was straight on was I was looking for. I’m actually in search of a new camera to replace my D200 (yeah yeah believe it or not, I’ve been shooting with it. I think I’ve reached its limitations but I’ve pulled out some great images with it. Autofocus dead. Would cost more to repair than buy a new one).

    So I’ve been hesitating in between D700, D610, D800 and maybe invest a bit more and get a D3s. (D4… too expensive) But I feel Nikon didn’t do any body straight in the middle. Every model right now is too much or not enough.

    D800: files are too big, shutter too slow
    D610: SD cards, handleling pretty not professional like
    D700: 12 mpx, not super recent
    D3s: not super recent too, 12mpx

    Kinda not super psyched to invest too much into something I feel I won’t be 100% happy.

    I feel the D700 is the closest of my needs doing sports photography, documentary and portraits. I feel I can get it for not too much until I’ll have money for something else OR when Nikon will finally do the body I want.

    So by reading you and saying such good comments on the D700, it feels like I would do a good choice? I know, anything I’m gonna take will be better than my D200 anyway.

    I just should buy one and the thing will be done ahahah
    If you have anymore cues for me, don’t hesitate. Thanks for the article.
    François
    http://www.francoislebeau.comReplyCancel

  • Kristin DioguardoFebruary 19, 2014 - 2:41 AM

    Great advice and definitely helpful as I am a Canon user thinking to switch to Nikon since I 2nd shoot weddings a lot for photographers that shoot with Nikon. I wanted more megapixels than the D7100, but didn’t want a D800 and cannot afford a D4, when would I even use all the advancements it has? This definitely help me make up my mind for the D610, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • CarlosFebruary 23, 2014 - 4:31 PM

    Thank you for this real life review Dennis…

    I need some advice here…

    long story short..I had a nikon d70 for years as my main camera ( I do weddings and social events), so I decided to switch to full frame for many diferent reasons. I found a canon 5d MKI at a bargain price and I decided to pick up the camera.
    I love the new camera IQ and although I miss the 500 flash sync from the d70 and the general buttons layout, the canon worked just fine for my! but……and this is a BIG but….
    After some heavy rain the previous hours to a wedding the 5D went nuts and the AF stop woorking, the mettering too and the flash shoe on the camera didn’t work either.
    It’s important for me to say that the canon was never exposed the the rain or water it was always in the same bag as my d70. I end up working with the trusty d70…big disapointment for me since I was planing to build around Canon (planning to buy a 6d in the future). to be honest now I dont feel confident abou it, I never had this issue with the d70. is fair to say that I do live in South America and heavy humedity is very common..that’s what strike me the most the nikon d70 a prosumer camera never stoped working or malfunction because of wheather conditions.
    Now I’m thinking on selling the 5D and get a Nikon d610; I will apretiate any advice from people who owns this camera and work in similar conditions. will the Nikon d610 resist the heavy whater conditions as my old d70 (comon sense say yes but I will like to hear from you guys).

    Thank you in advance for your feedback.ReplyCancel

  • BethFebruary 25, 2014 - 8:26 PM

    Thank you for your “Plain English” review! For a non-techie like myself, some of the jargon just makes my head spin. Question on the D610, I have heard that the AF is extremely slow in low-light situations. Any comment on that? Specifically for weddings, I was thinking.

    Thanks so much.ReplyCancel

  • Mazlan AjeMarch 5, 2014 - 10:49 AM

    I still prefer D700.. one of the best camera I used. I also tried D610, I don’t like the layout and performance.. D700 still better for me. ReplyCancel

  • minnMarch 10, 2014 - 1:39 PM

    Hi Dennis

    I have D7100 and thinking to get full frame camera but could not decide if I should get D800 or D610.

    Kindly advise me .thank you

    regards

    MinnReplyCancel

  • Bob RudolphMarch 18, 2014 - 3:00 AM

    Enjoyed the comments and was wondering about your comments about the color not as good as the D700? Can you elaborate on this and provide some additional information. I am a amateur but travel and have been told I have a great eye. This is action and nature primarily and have done a couple of shows. I was using the D90 at the time and went to the D700. For me, the automated settings (action, portrait, night, etc) really allowed me to just shoot and not worry about settings. As a result, I have not been a good student leaning the settings and have missed or ruined shots as a result. So my thinking is that the D610 has the presets and will allow me to get my shots with more consistency.

    As I mentioned, I am not a professional so I am not aware of any options there are to clean up an ooops using software. I have all the NFS files saved and was wondering what if anything I can do to touch up photos.ReplyCancel

  • Steven R GroveMarch 20, 2014 - 1:46 PM

    How do you “brake” an SD card? I could see breaking one, but brake? Am I missing something?ReplyCancel

  • AidanMarch 22, 2014 - 12:15 AM

    Thanks for the review! I’ve come back and read it a number of times now. We’re D7000 users looking to make the switch to full frame soon and can’t pick between the two. Your review has practically solidified the choice of a D610 despite the fact that we’d be happy with that or a D700. Thanks!!ReplyCancel

  • DanApril 9, 2014 - 5:20 AM

    The deal breaker for me is no 1/8000 shutter speed. To me it is a downgrade. When using 1.4 lenses in sun it is a must. I want to have that option if needed. I don’t know if we’ll ever see them produce such a great package as the D700 again. A D3 in a semi pro body, what a bargain it was.ReplyCancel

  • Iz ChocApril 27, 2014 - 11:55 AM

    Yeah Steve, you’re missing manners. Perhaps maybe taking into consideration content rather than grammar and what value it has, rather than pointing out the obvious and trying to embarrass someone.ReplyCancel

  • JamieMay 1, 2014 - 9:44 AM

    Hey.

    I got referred to your website by Dom Bower on YouTube, as I sent him a question regarding getting a Nikon D700 vs a D610. I shoot wedding and events, so I was kind of stuck. I explained that I didn’t really need the video function of the D610 and the resolution wasn’t really appealing either, I imagine it’s nice but the 12 mega pixles of the D700 would be fine for me. I shoot with pro glass, I have a Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 and a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 and those cover everything during a wedding great for me, I also have a couple of flashes but I tend to just shoot high ISO for wedding which was my main reason for upgrading and choosing between getting a D700 and a D610. I know the D610 is obviously newest than the D700, and from what I’ve seen, the ISO is slightly better, but would you say that the D700 has bad ISO compared? I obviously wouldn’t want to push the ISO too high, but if I was to get a D700 used and shoot at between 1,600 – 3,200 ISO, are the files clean enough to get to a wedding client (after some post production in Lightroom obviously).

    Any advice would be really appreciated! :)ReplyCancel

  • Peter SelchauMay 1, 2014 - 5:08 PM

    But what i really would miss from my D700 is the button layout! I hate it when there isn’t a dedicated ISO button…ReplyCancel

  • Rob LampingMay 2, 2014 - 10:32 AM

    Great to read a review from a users point of view. If I may, I have one question. I’m a d300s user looking to upgrade. Autofocus in low light seems to be a problem (according to reviews) compared to the D700. Do you have any difficulties shooting in lowlight conditions (reception/party)? It would really help me out to have this question answered from someone who has hands-on experience with both camera’s.
    Thanks in AdvanceReplyCancel

  • michalMay 14, 2014 - 3:41 AM

    Hi Dennis
    thanks for your article and opinion
    For now I’m in group of people who are want to buy a new camera. Mostly I shoot the wedding and therefore I’m confused how D610 autofocus work in low light situation as church or wedding party. If you can compare it with D700 please let me know :)
    Thanks to muchReplyCancel

  • oriJuly 17, 2014 - 2:33 PM

    i’m now shoot weddings with pair of d700′s and both of them with 130,000 clicks – thinking about getting df or d610 or mayibe stay with the d700′s untill they gonna brake (: after a few month’s what do you think about the d610? do you love her like you loved the old d700?
    thanksReplyCancel

  • kellieAugust 11, 2014 - 8:28 AM

    I’m so glad I found your post as i thought it was just me with the colours! I guess i’m a semi-pro and was really excited at ‘upgrading’ to the d610 but was really quite disappointed at first. the d700 was like a comfy pair of old slippers that was perfect for my newborn shoots. the d610 is like a new pair of tight shoes and needs some getting used to but I’m getting there :)ReplyCancel

  • […] you want to know more about the D600/D610 you can check here in the review I wrote last […]ReplyCancel

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