Nikon D610 vs D7100: which camera should you buy?

Nikon D610 vs D7100: which camera should you buy?

Nikon has announced the Nikon D610, an upgrade to the ‘entry-level full frame’ D600, with improved continuous shooting speeds and other enhancements. This makes it an even stronger rival to the cheaper, DX-format D7100, so how do you choose between them? Our D610 vs D7100 comparison will help!

Nikon D610 vs D7100: which camera should you buy?

The D600 was Nikon’s cheapest full-frame D-SLR, which made it a strong rival to the company’s top DX-format cameras, particularly the D7100. But reports of sensor dust and oil issues have dented the D600’s appeal for many, so the announcement of the D610 is timely. It also re-opens the FX versus DX debate.

The D610 offers full-frame images, but the D7100 offers the same resolution, it’s cheaper and it means DX owners can keep using their existing lenses.

SEE MORE: Nikon Df vs D610 vs D800: 12 things you need to know about Nikon’s full-frame cameras

Nikon D610 vs D7100: 1) Resolution

Both cameras have 24-megapixel sensors. The D610 has a full-frame sensor, and the larger size (roughly twice that of the D7100) should give it an inherent quality advantage.

But the D7100 dispenses with the usual anti-aliasing filter (just like the ground-breaking Nikon D800E) to provide super-fine sharp detail. Our lab tests reveal that in a Nikon D7100 vs D600 comparison the were neck and neck for JPEGs, both resolving 2800 line widths/picture height, but the D600 edged ahead with RAW files converted into TIFFs, going up to 3000 line widths/picture height. We haven’t been able to test the new D610 yet, but the sensor is unchanged so we’d expect the same result.

Nikon D610 vs D7100: 2) Sensor size

It’s not just about megapixels and resolution. The larger sensor in the D610 will produce images with less overall depth of field and, often, a greater feeling of depth and space.

It’s easier to get shallow depth of field effects with a full-frame DSLR, though this can backfire if you want to shoot landscapes or still life shots where everything in the frame is sharp, from near to far. A full-frame camera gives you a reduction in depth of field roughly equivalent to 1 f-stop – it’s neither good nor bad, but something to be aware of.

Nikon D610 vs D7100: 3) Lenses part 1

If you have a selection of DX lenses, you’ll have to ditch them when you move up to the D610. You can use them in ‘crop’ mode, but then you’ll be wasting most of the D610’s potential. This means buying the Nikon D610 itself will only be the start – there will be plenty more expense to come. With the Nikon D7100, of course, your existing lenses will be just fine.

Our professional photographer's recommended gear: Nikon 70-200mm

Nikon D610 vs D7100: 4) Lenses part 2

The 1.5x crop factor of the Nikon D7100 means that your telephoto lenses will have a longer reach. This could be especially important for sports and wildlife photographers.

Fast, professional-quality telephotos become exponentially more expensive as the focal length increases, and here’s a comparison that makes the point plainly.

On the D7100, Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom offers an effective focal range of 105-300mm, and it costs £1600. To get the same focal length and maximum aperture on the Nikon D610, you’d need the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 prime lens, which is a whopping £4000.

That’s not all. The Nikon D7100’s new 1.3 ‘crop’ mode, which still delivers 16-megapixel images (the same as the older D7000), gives your telephotos more reach still. The 70-200mm f/2.8 we used as an example earlier now effectively becomes a 136.5-390mm f/2.8! The Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens, the nearest equivalent for the Nikon D610, costs £6600.

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