Nikon has updated its entry-level full-frame camera with the introduction of the D610. Sharing a great deal with its predecessor, the D600, the new camera is a rather modest update. The main changes include an updated shutter mechanism, a new quiet continuous shutter mode, and an increased continuous shooting speed which now reaches 6 frames per second.
The D610 announcement is a bit of a surprise, because Nikon's enthusiast-targeted cameras are not normally updated annually, and the D600 only appeared last September. Indeed, given the overall modest bump in specifications and shutter-centric nature of most improvements, it's possible to see the D610 as a response to the reports of oil spots and dust on the sensor issues which plagued the launch of the D600.
Whether this was a genuine problem, or just a perceived one which got blown out of proportion on internet forums, it shouldn't be an issue with the new D610 as it features an updated shutter mechanism. This allows a faster top speed for continuous shooting, up to 6 fps from 5.5 fps. A new quiet continuous shutter mode (3 fps) is also said to allow shooting in "near-silence" and could come in handy for shooting things like wildlife and weddings.
The only non-shutter related improvement worth noting is an updated automatic white balance algorithm, which is said to better capture natural skin tones and give more vivid skies. This means that an awful lot of the D610 specs are identical to the D600. This includes the full-frame 24 megapixel (35.9 x 24 mm) CMOS sensor and Nikon’s Expeed 3 image processing engine which gives an ISO range of 100 - 6,400 (extendable up to 25,600 equivalent).
Other things staying the same include the 39-point autofocus system, full HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps (60 fps at 720p), and an optical viewfinder with 100 percent FX frame coverage. Also unchanged is the build quality, with the top and rear covers of the camera made of magnesium alloy, and it offering the same dust and moisture resistance as the Nikon D800 thanks to its various seals and gaskets.
While this all adds up to a relatively minor update, it's worth remembering that the D600 was (and still is) a quality camera, which impressed when we reviewed it. That said, if Nikon did feel the need to update the shutter and release a D610 for whatever reason, it's a shame it didn't also use the chance to include the much-rumored built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, which seem to have gone down so well in the Canon EOS 6D.
The Nikon D610 will be available later this month costing US$2,000 body-only or $2,600 with an AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm F3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens, both offerings $100 less than the D600 when it was launched. Other D610 bundles with various lenses, bags and memory cards will also be available.