Monday, September 3, 2018

Nikon D750 Review

Image © NikonUSA


The decision was made March 2018. The decision that I didn't want to admit.  My D700 was not cutting it anymore.  Before you go all crazy on me, hear me out.   The D700 is a great camera.  It was the camera that got me into my first FX size sensor.  It used the same batteries as my D300, had the same layout and could use the same battery grip.  Everything at the time made sense.

I needed better low light performance. The D700 was newer than the D300, has a larger sensor and similar performance.  It did everything I needed it to do at the time. It was a revelation and it served me well for many years.  It never had a hiccup, issue or failed me in any way mechanically.

Time moves on, D300 could use an upgrade and it was replaced with the D500. we look at the D500 against the D700....and it doesn't sparkle as much as it used to.  IQ we are looking at something very comparable.  Let me repeat that a different way...the D500 APS-C (DX) sensor was performing on equal footing with the D700's FX size sensor.   On top of that, you also have newer imaging tech, better AF performance and more FPS for those times when you need that.

Still...that may not be enough to justify a D700 upgrade.  We head back to March 2018.   We are covering the Arnold Fitness Expo.  Hollywood Casino hosted boxing matches there.  Low and tricky lighting, a place where the D700 should excel.

To my surprise the D500 was out performing the D700 in those dark lighting conditions.  Why?  Metering.  It came down to metering.    The lights in the venue were often firing directly into the frame and the D700 was often fooled.   Depending on where you need to move and each scene being different from one part of the ring to the next, you need to be able to rely on the metering to help you out.  The D500 ate the D700's lunch here.

After that weekend event, I started looking at an upgrade. The logical place if I wanted to stay FX was the Nikon D750.

1/250  f/3.5   ISO 4000 @ 70mm
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC


Size of the D750 is just about right for me.  It has a great grip and handles the larger lenses well.
The grip is deep and allows for a confident grip, even holding on to it one handed with a 70-200/2.8 lens attached.

It is a smidgen smaller in all dimensions than the D700, and it is lighter as well.

I'm still not a big fan of the was you switch about AF modes, having to press in the side button and then turn the dials.   I'd rather have the old 3 position switch, but I've gotten used to it since that is the system used on the Df and D500.

All the buttons feel quality.  I wish that the D750 had the thumb stick on the back for adjusting the AF point.

The rear LCD is great for reviewing images. It is also articulating so it can be tilted at an up and down angle.  Great for those times when you want to shoot at unconventional angles above or below you.

The shutter mechanism also sounds different than the older Nikon DLSRs I have.  It sounds and feels more dampened but has a bit of a "twang" sound to it.  You don't really notice it until you shoot in a very quite environment.

1/500   f/4   ISO 100
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G

Image Quality

While not a huge jump over the D700, the D750 metering is leaps above.  Shooting in difficult situations that are severely backlit or when light sources are coming directly into the camera, the D750 handles them more like the D500 does.  Thank you for that upgrade Nikon!

Base ISO is down to 100 now and the high ISO usability is now way higher.  You can get some great images at ISO 12,800 and 25,600.  ISO 6400 through is very clean in comparison to the D700.  I did not go over ISO 6400 on the older camera.

Dynamic range is also excellent and the files are rich in data so doing post processing has a lot of latitude, even in JPG files.

1/160   f/4   ISO 100  @ 52mm
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G

1/1000    f/4    ISO 12800 @ 200mm
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC

Auto Focus

AF here is basically the same as the D700 or D300.  That is not a bad thing.  The AF on those cameras is very good, predictable, rock solid.   It is not the phenom that is the D5/D500, but it is still going to get you where you need to be, just with a little more effort than the D500 requires.

One thing that I did notice is that I needed to auto focus fine tune every lens I put on the D750, except the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D.

The Nikon 35mm f/2, 24-70/2.8, Tamron 70-200/2.8VC all needed an adjustment.  Not much, between -2 and -5, but it needed it.

This is the first camera that I needed to use that feature.

In low light, the D750 also has an advantage over the D700.  It focus' more confidently in lower light, with less hesitation.  It also does not need as much light to AF.  Another great improvement over the older brother.

1/1000    f/4    ISO 100   @ 200mm
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC


You have a basic implementation of 1080p video here.  Nothing surprising.  It is there when you need it.   The camera includes mic input and headphone monitoring jack.

1/500   f/4   ISO 100 @ 200mm
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC

Battery Life

Powered by the EN-EN15a battery, it is rated at around 1400 shots per charge.  Plenty enough for all day shooting if needed with normal use.  I'm sure it is less with a lot of chimping or using the Live View or recording video.  This camera is so power efficient, it will last for DAYS!!

Other Misc. Items of Note

There are no regrets on upgrading the D700 to the D750.   It is an upgrade in all the areas that I needed it to be.   It performs well and the battery performance is phenomenal.  It doesn't hurt that it can also use the same batteries as the D500.

Right now, I feel that the Nikon D750 is the best affordable FX camera in the lineup.  The only way you could do better is spend the extra money on a D4 or D5.  If you are Ok with DX size sensors and need just that bit more AF performance and faster burst rates (10fps), then the D500 is where you should look, even though it has slightly poorer battery performance.