Some Thoughts On The Nikon D610

MSTZO medium

I’ll give up the spoiler now: As it stands, I’m choosing Nikon.

If you missed it, here is my previous blog post to bring you up to speed.

For the tl;dr, I’m upgrading to a full frame camera soon.  I previously rented the Canon 6D.  Now, I’m trying out the competition.

For the weekend I rented the D610, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S, and the Nikon 35mm f/2D.  My first impressions of the camera was, “Wow, look at all those buttons!”.  No, seriously, check out the difference between the two:

6D D610 back

6D D610 front

Buttons everywhere.  It looks like a Transformer.  I thought I was going to spend the entire weekend just learning which button did what.  Turns out, however, it’s actually quite intuitive.  And, as somebody else mentioned to me, more buttons means less time digging through menus to get the settings you’re after.

And then I took it out for a quick shoot.

Apache Truck

I looked at the images and said, “Wow.”  And, I mean it.  Wow.  Looking at the Canon images, my reactions ranged from “That’s nice” to “Oh, Cool” to “Wow!”  With the Nikon, I said “Wow!” 95% of the time.  The image quality was straight up insane.  I think I knew after the first day that this was the one.

The shooting experience with the Nikon was different as well.  Complicated.  But, in a good way.

After a day of shooting with the Canon, it gave be a big bro hug, smiled and said, “That was great!”  After a day of shooting with the Nikon, it sort of shrugged, gave me a slightly disappointed look and said, “You can do better.”

I’m a car guy, so here’s a car analogy.  The Canon is like a new Dodge Charger.  Newish tech wrapped in old school cool that will keep you grinning, do everything you ask of it and should keep you (mostly) satisfied.  The Nikon is like the Nissan GT-R, all buttons and up-to-the-minute technology and makes you feel like your puny human reflexes are only slowing it down.

What I’m trying to say is this, the Canon had soul.  I would be perfectly fine with the Canon and, until I actually put down real money, nothing is set in stone.  And having soul is all you need when discussing basslines or cooking.  However, I’m not convinced it’s the end all when taking about cameras.

Here’s some random reasons why I am choosing the Nikon.

– Dual SD Card slots. I may never shoot a wedding, but it’s damn nice knowing that I have the choice to back up my card in camera.  There’s no reason the 6D shouldn’t have this.

– Internal intervalometer.  Yes, I know that you can get Magic Lantern for Canon, but it’s just nice to have it in there ready to use.

– The pool of great Nikon lenses is deep. It’s what happens when you stick with one great lens mount.  That may sound like I’m already a Nikon fanboy, but remember I shoot Pentax, home of the everlasting bayonet K-mount.  I say the same about Pentax lenses.

– The On/Off switch.  Sorry, but the On/Off switch for the 6D is on the wrong side of the camera.  It just is.

Some random reasons why I might still choose the Canon:

– The 24-105mm f4 “L” lens.  Is it the best “kit” lens ever?  Discuss.

– Magic Lantern. I’ve already mentioned ML gives the Canon an intervalometer, but it also has focus peaking, which I have come to love on my Pentax.  Plus a whole bunch of other cool stuff.

– Canon Customer Service.  This is actually a big deal.  In doing copious research for this decision I revisited the whole D600 oil/dust debacle. How Nikon reacted to that is worrisome. I appreciated this is blatant overgeneralization, but I always seem to hear people saying good things about Canon CS.  I hardly ever hear anyone say something positive about Nikon CS.  Canon knows how to take care of their customers.  I’m not convinced Nikon does.

– Colors.  This is a very subjective topic and one that I’ve gone back and forth with.  When I processed the pics taken with the 6D, I didn’t even think about the colors. I just adjusted the white balance and that was about it. The colors were just there. They looked fine.

The colors on the D610 seem a tad under saturated. Muted, even. Again, not wrong, just off. Not quite there. See, I never doubted the colors on the Canon, not like this.

But, again, looking back on my Canon, shots, maybe I didn’t doubt them because they are the colors I expected to see. Not actually the colors that were there. What if the Nikon is actually giving me more accurate colors but they are giving me pause because I’m used to sugary-bright artificial Canon colors?

How do we even determine what colors we see anyway? We have all these sliders and filters and processes we put our files through before we say they are finished.  Is there even a thing as “real” color? It’s a pickle, no question.

– All my friends shoot Canon.  Seriously, I hardly know anyone IRL who shoots Nikon.  It’s worth getting the Canon just so I can borrow all their lenses. Or, get them to sell me their used lenses at the “friend” price.

Factors that didn’t go into my decision at all:

– Autofocus.  I normally shoot parked cars and buildings so Nikon’s 39 point cross-type sensors was never going to be a deciding factor.  For my purposes, Canon’s Autofocus was great, too.

– Video.  I’m a still photography guy.  I’m sure the video is wonderful for both cameras.

– GPS/WiFi.  I know that the Canon has GPS and WiFi, it was the first thing I disabled in the settings menu.

I think it’s telling that, at the end of my blog post about the Canon, I was looking at the pictures I had taken and I said, “All I know is that I want a camera that can do this.”  Note the wording. Not that camera specifically, but I wanted a camera that could do what the Canon did.

I’m pretty sure I found that camera.

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