Against its predecessor, the D600, the results reveal only a marginal variation (within testing tolerances), suggesting the D610 uses the same sensor and imaging pipeline. If the problems of dust and oil residue on the sensor have been solved, this new model would make an excellent choice and has one of the best ‘bang per buck’ on the market currently. (However, the recently announced Sony A7 should also be a strong competitor).
Compared to the rival full-frame Canon EOS 6D, the Nikon sensor is quite clearly ahead in overall image quality stakes and is a good example of the gap between sensor technologies. In good lighting conditions, both dynamic range and color depth are significantly higher with the Nikon D610. But in low light, the differences would be far less pronounced. The Nikon would be a good option for anyone looking to use it for landscape work and HDR imaging.
Although Sony may believe the high-grade SLT Alpha 99 is competing with the likes of the Nikon D800 and Canon EOS 5D Mk III (which it does on build quality and price), in reality it’s much more likely to be compared with the Nikon D610. And this is especially true, given the similarity of pixel count and provenance of the sensor. In our tests the D610 outperformed it overall. But, the difference in image quality, specifically regarding the lower Low Light score, can be mostly attributed to the SLT mirror in the light-path of the A99 sensor.