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Nikon d610 first impressions

I wrote recently about my switch to a Nikon d610 after having been a long time Pentax and Olympus user. I've had it for a couple of weeks now and I thought I'd share a few first impressions.

Nikon d610 on tripod, fits just fine
Nikon d610 on tripod, fits just fine

First things first, you can't ignore the size. It's bigger and twice as heavy as the Pentax. I'd been worried about this but it's fine. Hanging round my neck it feels comfortable. It's good in the hand and sits well on the strap while I'm walking. It feels very solid and there's that nice big viewfinder when you hold it to your eye. The controls fall nicely to hand, though Nikon ergonomics and design can't match Pentax. I still need to do a little getting-used-to though.

Here's a randomly-ordered list of things I've noticed so far:

- The shutter button is lovely, just right. A very satisfying, light but positive action.

- The viewfinder is lovely and big and bright, consequence of the big sensor and f2.8 lens.

- Auto-focus with the 24-70 lens is instant and reliable. The lens is lovely and quiet when it focuses, unlike the old Pentax 18-55 which graunched its way back and forth trying to lock on focus.

- The manual focus ring is very short throw but you can use live view and image magnification to show the area you want to focus on and get precise focus. On a mirrorless camera (my OMD-EM10 for instance) you can do this through the EVF automatically whenever you touch the manual focus ring, making this a seamless, instant, part of hand-held shooting. On the d610 it only makes sense on the tripod but its a lot better than the Pentax which couldn't do this at all.

- For tripod use you can reassign auto-focus away from the shutter button, like I used to do on the Pentax, which is a very useful convenience.

- The mode dial, top left, has a lock button to keep the dial at the selected mode. This is excellent. The equivalent dial on the Pentax always ends up in the wrong place by accident.

- Remote control shooting works fine, though its prone to "double-clicking" and taking two shots instead of one.

- The histogram display when reviewing images isn't as good as the Pentax. The histogram is narrower so it's much harder to judge how much of the histogram is touching the extremes. I think also I need to do some experiments to see when the raw file actually blows to white as I think the histogram reports a little pessimistically.

It's also nice to be shooting with a 24mm lens again. When I started with a film camera I had 24mm and 50mm lenses. Since moving to digital I've only had the equivalent of 27mm which has never been quite wide enough so its nice to get back to that field of view I loved when I started.

Depth of field (or lack of) is a big surprise though. It's been at least twelve years since I switched to digital and an APS-C-sized sensor with a 1.5x crop factor. Then I got the Olympus with its micro-4/3 sensor and 2x crop factor. I've got so used to the depth of field I can so easily get with them, especially the Olympus but now I'll really have to pay attention to my technique because I just can't take it for granted anymore.

A corollary to that is the ability to hand-hold in low light. The Olympus has excellent vibration reduction and the Nikon's longest zoom of 70mm is only 35mm on the Olympus. The Nikon has no VR and zooms to 70mm for the same angle of view. This means you also have to be much more aware of shutter speed for hand-holding. On the up side I might be able to bump the ISO up past 3200 to help here, not an option on the Olympus.

And of course there's image quality from the raw files. I can't speak conclusively yet because I just haven't shot enough but the combination of sensor and lens so far have given me some results that make me very happy. More to come on that one.

Fantastic quality from both sensor and lens and the 24mm view that I've missed
Fantastic quality from both sensor and lens and the 24mm view that I've missed


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