Nikon Df vs D610, what’s the difference?

When the Nikon Df made her debut appearance on the market, it first mesmerized everyone with her stylish outer design. And then its shocked everyone to bits with her hefty price tag. Upon recovering from their initial shock, many realized that, at the end of the day, the Nikon Df was just like a past lover with a new shade of makeup on. Most people will finally notice that the Df and D610 are, in reality, very similar, but that the enormous price difference between both cameras is enough to buy a Nikon D7100. Thus, the question here is simply this: should I spend more money to buy a Df? Or should I simply stick with the slightly dowdier D160?

Nikon Df vs Nikon D610

Before answering this question – well, at least before expressing my personal opinion – let us carefully examine the differences between the Df and D610. After all, reason and evidence sets the foundation for an objective and fair evaluation.

Nikon Df Nikon D610
Nikon Df Nikon D610
Body type Mid-size SLR
Sensor
Max resolution 4928 x 3280 6016 x 4016
Other resolutions 3696 x 2456, 2464 x 1640,
3200 x 2128, 2400 x 1592, 1600 x 1064
4512 x 3008, 3936 x 2624, 3008 x 2008, 3008 x 1688, 2944 x 1968
Effective pixels 16 megapixels 24 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 17 megapixels 25 megapixels
Sensor size Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Processor Expeed 3
Image
ISO 100 – 12800 (50 to 204800 with boost) 100 – 6400 (50 – 25600 with boost)
White balance presets 12
Custom white balance 4
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Number of focus points 39
Lens mount Nikon F
Pre-AI lenses Support Not support
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fixed
Screen size 3.2″
Screen dots 921,000
Touch screen No
Viewfinder coverage 100%
Viewfinder magnification 0.7×
Photography features
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Built-in flash No Yes (Pop-up)
External flash Yes
Flash X sync speed 1/250 sec
Continuous drive 5.5fps 6fps
Exposure compensation +/-3 EV +/-5 EV
AE Bracketing 2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps 2, 3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps
Video Resolution N/A 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50, 30, 25 fps)
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC card SD/SDHC/SDXC x 2 slots
Wireless Optional
Wireless notes via WU-1a wireless mobile adapter Wu-1b mobile adapter
Battery Life (CIPA) 1400 900
Weight (inc. batteries) 760 g 850 g
GPS None

Despite looking vastly different, the Df and D610 are actually very similar. In general, I don’t point out identical characteristics between cameras. This time, however, I will list out the functions and parts that the Df and D610 share: the same focus systems, light metering sensors, viewfinders, LCDs, and (at least similar) shutters.

The D610’s advantages are: double SD memory card slots, a built-in flash, its ability to support 1080/30P full HD movies, and its relatively balanced effective pixels. On the other hand, the Df’s advantages are: its support of all F-mount lenses, its stronger sensitivity, and certain professional settings that the D610 doesn’t have (for example, the AF-ON button, and a better exposure bracketing option – which is the same as the D7100, but better than the D800. In my opinion, this is Nikon’s best exposure bracketing option).

Of course, this doesn’t answer the whole question. The Df and D610’s biggest difference lies in the fact that they both look completely different. Looks-wise, the D610 fits the bill of a modern, single lens camera – a decade-old look that people are sick of. In contrast, the Df looks like an unearthed relic brought back to life. No matter how you look at it, it just seems refined, and has an undeniable air of class and culture. In terms of controls, the Df and D610 gives the user two entirely different experiences. The Df’s main shooting parameter is controlled by the camera’s independent mechanical dials that sit on top of the camera. Conversely, the D610 follows the typical operation system of the latest Nikon cameras. Do note that while both cameras’ controls are not alike, this does not mean that one is better than the other. If I really had to say which is better, I would rather trust the D610’s ergonomic design to have a slight edge over the uniquely styled Df.

Due to the fact that both the Df and D610 have their good points, while having very different outer designs and vastly different styles, choosing between the Df or the D610 is naturally a question of personal opinion. However, this is under the condition that price is not considered a problem.

My stand on the Df and D610 is that both have their good points. In other words, Df has some things that the D610 doesn’t, and the D610 has some things that the Df lacks. As such, both camera models should have basically equal standing. Price-wise, both cameras should also be relatively similar. Considering Df’s elegant design and its mechanical dials, perhaps it’s acceptable that Df costs slightly higher, say 10% pricier, than the D610. The issue is, the Df costs approximately the market price of a D7100 more than the D610. Thus, the conclusion is very clear: the Df has fairly no price-performance value – at least judging by price. If you are a rational consumer, and if you do not have any special requirements, I believe the D610 is a much more reasonable choice. What do you lose by choosing the D610 over the Df? An outer design that makes people gasp in praise, – in a few years, such a design may not have the same awe-inspiring, praise-garnering effect it has today; and I estimate that the excavation of cultural relics will develop speedily – a retro control set that you might not find easy to control, an AF-ON button, an outstanding exposure bracketing option, and some high sensitivity – that’s about it. What do you gain, though, if you choose the D610 instead? A built-in flash that can be controlled wirelessly from far, one of the best recording functions among the DSLR cameras, a higher pixel density, a slightly faster continuous shooting speed, and a very reasonable modern DSLR control design. Plus, you can use the money you save from buying a D610 to buy a 24-120mm f/4 VR lens, or a 18-35mm G+ 70-300mm VR lens to bring along on a trip.

Of course, perhaps you have certain special requirements in a camera – If you are one of the following persons described below, you might consider getting the Nikon Df instead.

1. You definitely require an extremely sensitive camera. You regularly shoot photos at ISO 6400, or an even higher ISO, range. If so, then perhaps the Df is really your little D4. I would like to make one point clear – from what I saw of various data and pictures, if you can be satisfied with the D4 ISO 6400’s performance, you might also be pleased by the D610’s ISO 6400 performance at 1.6 million pixels. Certainly, Df gives you a crazy ISO range at 204800, and this is something everyone else cannot offer. At the same time, Df’s file sizes are smaller, making images faster to process, which is something that is very important to some.

2. You really have a lot of manual lenses, and you really want to use your pre-AI lens. Very well, the Df may be the most suitable and exciting Nikon DSLR camera to you at the moment. Because you already have a considerable collection, you probably won’t mind the price difference. Actually, the Df is designed just for people like you, so buy the Df without hesitating. However, the Df doesn’t have a split screen. Personally, I feel that in terms of manual focus, a DSLT camera’s focus assist function might be more effective. Why not consider the SONY A7, and play around with its adapter?

3. You come from the era where everyone was still using films, and you haven’t been able to get accustomed to using the modern DSLR camera controls. I have almost forgot how it felt to turn the shutter dial of my seagull camera, but many people who used their cameras often back in those days find it hard to forget that way of using a camera. If you really hate using the today’s command dial to modify the camera’s parameters, then you are fated to like the Df. Do note, however, that the Df hiding behind those mechanical dials is still a modern camera. You will still have to use the command dial, and you will still have to face a LCD screen. Additionally, the Df’s back design is completely the same as a modern Nikon DSLR camera.

4. You say that the Df, coupled with the 105 DC, produces way too stunning a photo. Well then, say what I will, you will definitely buy the Df, because you can no longer accept the less impressive D610.

5. You really, really feel that using the Df to shoot photos counts as true photography, while using the D610 is just playing around with numbers. If the Df really has such magical ability, then please buy a Df by all means!

Well, I hope you have your own answer to this question of choosing between the Df and D610. Lastly, let me remind you that the Df is really not the legendary compact and lightweight full-frame DSLR camera – look at the photo at the beginning of this review. The Df might be slimmer than the D610, but I personally feel that this slight difference isn’t weighty enough to influence one’s choice between both cameras. In terms of size and weight, the Df definitely makes the more eye-catching first impression with its design. But life doesn’t stop at the blind date, isn’t it so?

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