Full Frame: Nikon’s bold gamble
When Nikon announced D750, two things happened. First, some slowdown was noticed amongst buyers of D810, of which a quite significant number would have waited a little more to invest in a D750 and by the way saved 1000 dollars in price difference. I can understand them, it makes sense even if, a closer examination shows that Nikon D810 has some specificities that D750 does not have; we will get back to this. Then, and strangely enough, some have thought that the launch of D750 marked the end of Nikon D610. And that frankly, I do not buy for a second, I rather believe the opposite. I think that with the launch of D750, Nikon has firmly established its range of digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex), taking up the challenge of full frame. Personally, this range does holds up, up to four times better. Except for Nikon D750, I have used all cases of the Nikon full frame range during long work sessions. Just yesterday, I was working on pictures taken with Nikon D610 and I was captivated by the image quality, dynamism and sharpness. Last July, during an interview, I was asked what would be my advice to a young professional photographer wishing to start using the Nikon range and I answered without a moment’s pause, Nikon D610. My answer might be different today with the announcement of Nikon D750, but nonetheless, each Nikon case belonging to the full frame frame range has its own assets. It is impossible to contrast one with another and difficult to compare them. Each reflex has its target and its customers it will match. Following is a brief overview of the Nikon 24*26 range, but first a basic question. Why choose a Full Frame?
Why a full frame format DSLR?
Photographers from Argentina (mentioning no names) would look at you in a funny manner if you were to ask them that question. This is because, in olden days, you see, the film was not cut into pieces, a SLR (single lens reflex) camera was 24*36 and that was it. When the digital showed up, there were contingencies and technical requirements which made it more economical and less costly to manufacture sensors that are not full format. In the beginning, Nikon has delivered DX sensors with a conversion factor of 1.5. Canon, on its side, has made APS-C sensors on its amateurs range (conversion factor of 1.6) and even APS-H (conversion factor of 1.3) on some SLR of the Pro range (e.g. EOS 1D Mark IV). Some have seen in the non full frame sensor a major advantage. Indeed, an optical of 200mm behaved like a focal of 320mm, all this with the help of APS-C sensor alone. But what was interesting upstream proved more difficult in the other direction. It was not wise enough for a 16mm to become a 26mm. Full format also affects other parameters such as the depth of field, the quality of the image and its dynamics and leads to a more demanding range of optics.
I have been waiting for this moment, the moment when we finally go back to full format, for ten years. What makes this so perfect is that Nikon, my favorite brand, is pulling out its offer in full format, while preserving the continued DX format. However, the full format offer is now structured at Nikon with four SLR which, each in their categories, hold up pretty well. A brief overview is below.
Nikon D610. The full frame for everything.
The Nikon D610 is the beginning of full-frame digital range SLR. It includes the following: compact casing, light, 24.3MP sensor taken by Expeed 3, dual SD memory card slots, speed of 1/4000e to 30s, and sensitivity of ISO 100 to 6400, which is extendable to ISO 25,600. A 39 point AF system autofocus, sensitive to -1IL, continuous shooting up to 6fps, leading video functionality, and excellent shots performance in low light conditions. I tested it on a concert photo and was wrapped up in its dynamic and lightweight. While it was introduced at a public price of 1796 dollars, We dreamed of a full-frame for less than 2000 dollars, and Nikon did it. A competitive price like this allows for a bit more money to be invested in quality Nikkor lenses. For me, the Nikon D610 remains an excellent choice.
Nikon D750. SLR of the year.
The Nikon D750 is the surprise of the year, the one we’ve been waiting for. As the successor of the legendary SLR Nikon D700, it was on the path to glory right out of the gate. This package has everything, absolutely everything, to become a commercial success: full-frame, 24.3MP taken by the prodigious Expeed 4, dual SD slots, 6.5fps continuous shooting, speed of 1/4000e to 30s, sensitivity of ISO 100 to 256,000 with extended modes up to ISO 50 ISO and 512,000, 51 point autofocus inherited from D4s, taken by the new Multi CAM, sensitive to -3.0IL, group-area AF, tilting monitor, and integrated Wi-Fi. Nikon has outdone itself with a completely reviewed design, a carbon fibre front, even finer ergonomics, a feather weight, and comfortable handling. And I’m not even talking about the video functionality! With an SLR of this caliber, it is completely versatile, and in the middle of the full-frame range, Nikon will crash the counters. Introduced at 2296 dollars. For me, it is the SLR of 2014.
Nikon D810 heavy-weight
D810 has everything. For this exceptional SLR, Nikon has completely revised its copy and rewritten the firmware. Nikon D810 is first of all this sensor worthy of a 36mp MF led by Expeed 4. Forget about the low-pass filter here, the sensor delivers a picture in all its strength, with dynamism and an unmatched degree of detail in the range. D810 could be the little prince of studios, but it also knows how to be versatile in photo coverage. I have tried it at the Vieilles Charues and I was thrilled by its ability to deliver such a sharp and vibrant image associated with an AF having a razor cut precision, the former being its new high-light measurement mode: the grouped AF. And then naturally there are the sub definitions at a quarter sensor which in harmony with the DX cropping allow to perform miracles. Wedding photographers will be delighted with the “Swiss Army knife reflex” that is also perfect in studio on packshot as well as for culinary pictures where we are looking for a detailed, bright and dynamic picture with the capacity to boot from iso 64 or even from iso 32 in extended mode. Introduced at 3286 dollars, it is a Pro case which list of specifications leaves nothing to chance.
Nikon D4s. The digital SLR.
It is difficult to evoke perfection, but the Nikon D4s is unrivaled. It’s the full-frame casing for excellence, a 16MP sensor (the ideal size for a sensor) controlled by Expeed 4, which provides speed and dynamic image of a new level. Its autofocus absolutely effective in all lighting conditions. Nikon D4s is the essence of the professional DSLR, the culmination of a long road, a mass of expertise reunited in one box. It is the reference tool for the professional photographer, capable of adapting to all conditions, with a predilection for action shots (sports, animals, events…). Introduced at 6496 dollars (Body only), It’s the preferred choice for pros. Associated with quality lenses (Nikkor), this SLR has no limit.
Nikon Df. The fifth element.
The Nikon Df is a particularly pointed offer proposed by Nikon. A fifth element, a cultural exception, and a style figure exists, and it’s the Nikon Df. Unclassifiable, it is destined for a certain clientele who is in love with a certain nostalgia. A unique design, inherited from the legendary F series, Nikon DF carries initials which identify it in two letters: D as in digital, F as in fusion. Don’t search under the hood. It is a Nikon D4 embedded and the SLR can do everything D4 can. Why did Nikon make this proposition? For fun, naturally. If you didn’t understand, it’s simple: Nikon Df is not for you. In contrast, those who want to breathe differently, embark on AI lenses and non AI lenses, and live forgotten sensations will love Nikon Df.
|Models||Nikon D610||Nikon d750||Nikon D810||Nikon D4s||Nikon Df|
|Sensor resolution||24.3MP CMOS||24.3MP CMOS||36.3MP CMOS (no OLPF)||16.2 3MP CMOS||16.2 3MP CMOS|
|Processor||Expeed 4||Expeed 4||Expeed 4||Expeed 4||Expeed 3|
|Metering System||2,016 pixel RGB sensor||91,000 pixel RGB sensor||91,000 pixel RGB sensor||91,000 pixel RGB sensor||2,016-pixel RGB sensor|
|Autofocus System||39 points with 9 cross-type
|51-points with 15 cross-type (Multi-CAM 3500 II)||51-points with 15 cross-type (Multi-CAM 3500fx)||51-points with 15 cross-type (Multi-CAM 3500FX)||39 points with 9 cross-type
|ISO sensitivity range||100-6400
|100-12,800 (51,200 expanded)||64-12,800 (51,200 expanded)||ISO 100-25600 (409600 expanded)||ISO 50-204,800 (extended)|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000th||1/4000th||1/8000th||1/8000th||1/4000th|
|Shutter rating||150,000 releases||150,000 releases||200,000 releases||400,000 releases||150,000 releases|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC (dual slots)||SD/SDHC/SDXC (dual slots)||SD/SDHC/SDXC, CompactFlash||Compact Flash, XQD||SD/SDHC/SDXC card|
|Aperture control in live view/video||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (with PC-E lenses)|
|Maximum framerate||6 fps||6.5 fps||5 fps||11 fps||5.5 fps|
|LCD||Fixed 3.2″ 920,000 dots||Tilting 3.2″
|Fixed 3.2″ 920,000 dots|
|Movie Mode||1080p/30p||1080p/60||1080p/60||1080p/60||Not Support|
|Wi-Fi||Optional WU-1b||Internal||Optional WT-5A||Optional WT-5A||Optional WU-1a|
|Battery life (CIPA)||900 shots||1230 shots||1200 shots||3020 shots||1400 shots|
|Dimensions||141 x 113 x 82 mm||140.5 x 113 x 78mm||146 x 123 x 82 mm||160 x 157 x 91 mm||144 x 110 x 67 mm|
|Weight (inc, battery)||760 g||755 g||880 g||1350 g||760 g|
|More information||Reviews on Amazon||Reviews on Amazon||Reviews on Amazon||Reviews on Amazon||Reviews on Amazon|
How to choose:
Nikon has clearly taken part in full-format SLR, without abandoning the DX range. They’ve unveiled four models, four segments to rise in a readable range: an SLR for each type of user. For the passionate amateur who wants to savour the pleasure of a full-format SLR, there’s the Nikon D610 and the Nikon D750. For the pro who is looking for a powerful and versatile tool, there’s not only the Nikon D810 and very excellent D4s, but also the D750 in backup. Having worked a long time with each of these versions (other than the Nikon D750, which has just come out), I can testify to the pleasure that I’ve had with each of them, even if Nikon D4s naturally outperforms the range.
In contrast, the common point among all of these versions is the absolute necessity of using quality lenses. For me, Nikkor remains the reference, and it is not necessarily in the most expensive lense range. I enjoy the Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 and its amazing range. Besides, it has the bonus of full-frame, where a 24mm acts like a 24mm and not a 36mm. Also, the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 of the same series is ideal for shooting landscape, streets, etc. For pleasure, if budgetary restraints are not an issue, the Nikkor range includes certain pearls and diamonds which will keep you satisfied: the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8, the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII (the little prince of the Nikkor range), and the Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 VRII. Not forgetting the fixed focuses at f/1.4 (24mm, 35mm, 85mm). But one thing is for sure: Whatever your choice in the Nikon full-format range, you are headed for excellence.