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Nikon D610 Ken McMahon, December 2013
 
 

Nikon D610 vs D7100 quality JPEG

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Nikon D610 and the Nikon D7100, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

Initially, both cameras were fitted with their respective kit lenses. The D610 was fitted with the AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G ED VR kit lens and the D7100 with the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR kit lens.

Later I used the same AF-S 24-85mm lens on both bodies for an additional test.

Note RAW comparisons are available from the results menu above right.

  Nikon D610 results
1 Nikon D610 vs D7100 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon D610 vs D7100 Quality RAW
3 Nikon D610 vs D7100 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon D610 vs D7100 Noise RAW
5 Nikon D610 Sample images

Normally I'd compare the 'entry level' full frame D610 against the equivalent model from Canon, the 6D. If you want to see that comparison head to my Canon 6D review, where you can see a comparison with the D600, which has the same sensor as the D610.

Here, I've compared the D610 with Nikon's mid-range APS-C model, the D7100. This is an interesting comparison for two reasons. Firstly, the D7100 is an obvious alternative to the D610 for Nikon upgraders who may not be fully convinced of the benefits of going full-frame, or just want a smaller, lighter, less expensive, but equally sophisticated body. Second, the D7100 shares the same 24 Megapixel resolution, but with smaller physical size. The APS-C or DX sensor in the D7100 measures 23.5x15.6mm compared with the 36x24mm full frame sensor in the D610. The other crucial difference is the the D7100 sensor lacks an optical low-pass filter which should provide it with sharper and more detailed images' albeit at some risk of moire. So the big question is, can the D7100's APS-C sensor with no OLPF match the quality of the D610's full-frame 35mm sensor with an OLPF? You might be surprised by the answer, so let's waste no more time and find out.

Because of the changing light conditions (the sun was low, it was windy and there was partial cloud cover) it was difficult to get consistent exposures in Aperture prioriy mode with both cameras and both lenses. So I shot a range of bracketed exposures in Manual mode and subsequently selected frames with consistent lighting conditions that had matched correct exposures. Stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and Active D-lighting was turned off, which is the default setting. JPEG compression was set to Optimal quality.

By comparing frames I judged that the D610 with the 24-85mm f3.5-4.5mm lens produced the best results at f8 and the D7100 with the 18-105mm f3.5-5.6 lens produced its best results at f5.6. The image above was taken with the Nikon D610 in Manual mode with the aperture set to f8 and the sensitivity set to 100 ISO. As I mentioned above, the conditions made metering difficult, but my bracketed exposure at 1/200 provided the best exposure with most of the highlight detail retained. The frame from the D7100 was shot at the equivalent exposure of 1/400 at f5.6 also at 100 ISO.

First let's look at the first set of crops from each model with its respective kit lens attached. The most obvious difference between the crops is that though both models were set to Auto white balance the D610 has produced a much warmer result, which you'll have to try and ignore here; I've balanced out the colour differences in the RAW results on the next page. In terms of detail, both 24 Megapixel sensors have done a good job and you can make out the individual panes in the end window as well as some detail in the stonework. I can't see much of a difference in the level of detail or sharpness beween the D610 and D7100 in this first crop.

It's a similar story in the second crop; the lighthouse is a clean-edged white rectangle and you can make out the lamp room on top, but I think it's a tiny bit crisper and more detailed in the D7100 crop. Likewise there's plenty of detail in the foreground but the D7100 crop looks marginally sharper. The third crop from the edge of the frame is in deep shadow, but even so you can see that here the D610 produces a cleaner result with crisper edges the the D7100. That could of course be down to better optics or chromatic aberration correction.

In the final crop back close to the middle of the frame it's once again a very close call but, as in crops one and two, I think the physically smaller sensor in the D7100 has the edge on the full-frame D610 with cleaner edges and possibly a smidgeon more detail. The margin is so narrow as to be almost negligible but look at it this way, these results from the D7100 are at least as good, if not better than the D610 - at 100 ISO. While not conclusive proof that Nikon has squeezed better than full-frame quality with a higher level of detail from an APS-C sensor, it's quite compelling. And that's with the repsective kit lenses attached; let's see what happens when the same scene is shot using the same 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 lens.

To eliminate lens differences and concentrate on the relative performance of the sensors, I fitted the D610's 24-85mm kit lens to the D7100. On the D7100, at its wide angle setting, the AF-S 24-85mm zoom lens has an equivalent focal length of 36mm, so on the D610 the lens was zoomed in to produce an equivalent field of view and the 100 percent crops from the resulting images are shown in the second table lower on the page.

Once again, just to note that here we're comparing two sensors with the same 24 Megapixel resolution but different physical sizes and one with an optical low pass filter (the D610) and the other without (D7100), shot with the same lens zoomed in a little on the D610 to account for the 1.5x crop factor on the D7100. As before, both sets of crops show the same area with the same sized detail.

This time I think the extra detail and sharpness of the D7100 is beyond dispute. You can see all six individual panes in the window at the end of the chapel in the first crop and there's more detail in the stonework. The lighthouse is crisper in the second crop and the roofs and window frames in the foreground look sharper. I've taken the third crop in this set from a sunlit area higher up the frame and here again there's more detail in the D7100 crop. In the top three quarters of the final crop the difference appears less obvious but the roof tiles in the lower quarter of the D7100 crop are more clearly defined.

So the second set of crops shot with the same lens confirms what the first set just hinted at. The 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor with no OLPF in the D7100 produces cleaner, sharper images with a higher level of detail than the 24 Megapixel full-frame OLPF equipped sensor in the D610, at least for in-camera JPEGs at their lowest sensitivities.

Check out my Nikon D610 RAW quality results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Nikon D610 Noise results. If you're looking for comparisons with the D800, please head over to the results pages of my Nikon D600 review.

 


Nikon D610
with AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G VR
 
Nikon D7100
with AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G VR
f8, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Below are results when both cameras were fitted with the same AF-S 24-85mm VR lens.

Nikon D610
with AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G ED VR
 
Nikon D7100
with AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G ED VR
f8, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Nikon D610
results : Quality / RAW / Noise / RAW Noise


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