Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nikon DF vs. D700 vs. D610 vs. D800: Which Should I Buy?

Nikon has put potential buyers on quite a pickle by having so many FX dSLRs available in the $2000-$3000 price range. Right now, there's the nearly 2-year old D800, the just-released D610 (which is essentially a re-warmed year-old D600), and the brand new old school DF. Throw in 2008's D700, which is now a bargain shopper's model and, presto, lots of research to do! So, with so many cameras and so little money, which is a photographer to buy?

Well, let's examine that question.

DF: metal, sealed
D610: metal and plastic, sealed
D800: metal, sealed
D700: metal, sealed
The D600 is a little bit wimpy

DF: 16Mp
D610: 24Mp
D800: 36Mp

D700: 12Mp

All have more than enough for 99% of people reading this

Aspect ratios:
DF: 1
D610 1:
D800: 2

D700: 1

Pros will appreciate the D800

Maximum ISO
DF: 204,800
D610: 25,600
D800: 25,600

D700: 25,600

DF wins by a light year

Max shutter Speed
DF: 1/4000th sec
D610: 1-4000th sec
D800: 1/8000
th sec

D700: 1/8000th sec
D700, D800 are a stop better

White Balance:
DF: 12 preset, 4 custom
D610: 12 preset, 4 custom
D800: 12 preset, 5 custom
D700: 12 preset, 5 custom
D700 and D800 by a nose

Viewfinder coverage:

DF: 100%D610: 100%
D800: 100%

D700: 95%
New wins

Viewfinder magnification:
DF: .7x
D610: .7x
D800: .7x
D700: .72x
D700 by a hair

AF Points:
DF: 39
D610: 39
D800: 51
D700: 51
D700, D800 win here

DF: 3.2”, 921k dot
D610: 3.2”, 921k dot
D800: 3.2”, 921k dot

D700: 3,” 921k dot
Newer is better, but will you even notice?

Built-in flash:
DF: no
D610: yes
D800: yes

D700: yes
DF loses

Continuous drive:
DF: 5.5fps
D610: 6fps
D800: 6fps
D700: 5fps, up to 8fps with battery grip
Get the grip and the D700 wins by a mile

Exposure Compensation:
DF: +/- 3 stops
D610: +/- 5 fps
D800: +/- 5 fps

D700: +/- 5 fps
DF looks decisively limited

DF: no
D610: 1080p
D800: 1080p

D700: no
Old and old school lose

DF: single SD
D610: SDx2
D800: SD, CF
D700: single CF
2 slots are better than one

Wi-fi connectivity:
DF: yes
D610: yes

D800: no
D700: no
Older loses

DF: optional
D610: optional
D800: optional

D700: no
Newer wins

DF: 760g
D700: 1074g
D610: 850g
D800: 900g
DF wins here

So, which to buy? Unfortunately, that's hard to determine without considering one's needs.

If absolute speed is a top priority, the old D700 with a battery grip trounces the competition here. Believe me, an extra 2fps can make all the difference between getting and missing that shot for anyone who spends a lot of time shooting fast action.

If resolution is far and away your number one concern, get the D800 because, at 36Mp, it bests the others by at least 50% extra resolution.

Like to shoot in dimly lit settings? Well, then the DF, with its insane ISO 204,800, is 3 stops better than the competition (even though those last 2 stops are sure to suck at anything bigger than web size or a 4x6 print). Still, a picture is better than no picture, right?

Have lots of really old gear laying around? The DF can use any Nikon F-mount lenses ever made (and without modification) with full compatibility. On the others, all of the non-AI optics need a modification to work properly.

On a budget but want a current camera, then the D610 is your horse.

Problem: a lot of would be buyers' needs aren't as clear-cut as those listed above, which means that there is a lot of need to take the above considerations into account as well as the control setups, which couldn't be more different. Rather than writing a whole new piece about this, simply take a look at my
D7000 vs. D300s summary as it could be thought of as D700/D800 vs. D610 as the D700 and D800 share essentially the same interface as the D300s while the D610 and D7000 are very similar to each other, too. As for the DF, loses the dedicated white balance and quality buttons of the D700/D800 buy gains dials on the top for ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation, 3 controls the other cameras lack.

All in all, there's a lot to consider when one is about to drop $2000+ on a camera. Hopefully, the above analysis helped as much as possible. Personally, I'd take the above advice into consideration when going to a store in order to do a 'test drive,' which is the best way imaginable to see if you'll actually like a camera or not.

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