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Review: Nikon D750
3:01 am | October 31, 2014

Author: admin | Category: Cameras | Comments: None

Review: Nikon D750

Introduction and features

Full-frame photography used to be the preserve of professional photographers, but SLRs like the Canon 6D and Nikon D610 have made it a more realistic proposition for amateur and enthusiast photographers. Nikon’s latest full-frame camera, the D750 sits above the D610 and below the Nikon D810 in the company’s range, giving enthusiasts another model to choose from.

At the heart of the D750 is a newly designed 24.3-million-pixel CMOS sensor and an Expeed 4 processing engine. Unlike the 36Mp D810, the new camera has an anti-aliasing filter over the sensor.

This sensor and processor combination enables a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800 with extension settings taking this to ISO 50-51,200. It’s also possible to shoot at up to 6.5 frames per second (fps) and record Full HD video at up to 60p. While 6.5fps is a fair rate, some sports photographers may have been hoping for something a bit higher, perhaps 8fps or more.

Front

Enthusiast videographers will appreciate the stereo microphone and headphone ports along with the ability to fine-tune audio levels in isolation before and during recording. It’s also possible to select the sound range (wide/voice) for adjustment and adjust aperture with buttons rather than dials for smoother, quieter operation. Wind noise can also be reduced when recording with the built-in microphone.

When shooting in Live View or video mode, there’s a handy Zebra pattern display to indicate on the screen which areas are in danger of burning out. The D750 can also output uncompressed footage via an HDMI connection to allow high-quality recording to an external device.

Side-on angle

Nikon has given the D750 a new Multi-CAM 3500 II autofocus (AF) module, an updated version of the one in the D810. This has 51 AF points, 15 of which are the more sensitive cross-type and 11 that operate down to f/8, which is especially useful for photographers who want to use an extender with their telephoto lenses. As in the D810, the new Group Area AF mode is available to help when shooting subjects that are comparatively small and against a high-contrast or distracting background.

Exposure metering is handled by a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor and this enables face detection metering even when the image is composed in the viewfinder – although rather unhelpfully you are unable to see when a face has been detected.

There’s also a useful highlight metering option which is calibrated to take greater note of the brightest part of the scene and suggest an exposure that will prevent it from being burned out, but not render it a mid-tone. That could be a blessing for wedding photographers. The spot white balance option that enables white balance to be set from a small part of the scene in Live View mode could also find favour amongst these demanding users – especially those that shoot lots of video.

Side-on

Like the D810, the D750 uses the EN-EL15 Li-ion battery and when flash is used Nikon claims that it will last for 430 shots. Without flash, this extends to up 1,230 shots. Nikon has also introduced the MB-D16 battery pack to complement the D750 for longer shoots.

Although there are two card slots, they both accept SD/SDHC/SDXC. One can be used as an overflow store or it can operate as a back-up. Alternatively, the camera can send different file types to one card or the other.

While the D750 is compatible with the Nikon’s UT-1 and WT-5 for professional-level wireless image transfer, there’s also Wi-Fi ‘n’ connectivity built-in for the speedy sharing of images and wireless remote control via a smartphone (using Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Utility app).

Rear with tiltscreen

Taking the lead from cameras like the D5300 lower down in the range, the D750 has seven Special Effects modes including Nigh Vision, Color Sketch, Miniature Effect, Selective Color, Silhouette, High Key and Low Key, which can be applied to stills and movies.

The changes to the Picture Control system introduced with the D810 are also present. This means there’s the new Flat Picture Control mode that produces video footage (and still images) with less contrast, giving greater scope for post-capture grading. There’s also the Clarity control, which enables the micro contrast of images to be adjusted to give the appearance of greater or reduced sharpness, with less risk of halos and over-sharpening problems.

Build and handling

Nikon has used a monocoque construction for the D750 and by using a combination of magnesium alloy and carbon fibre has given it a good solid feel without excessive weight. The camera feels comfortable in the hand and has enough weight to make it feel durable without being too heavy for long shoots. It’s reassuring to know that the camera has the same degree of weatherproofing as the D810.

Inside, there’s a Kevlar/carbon fiber-composite shutter, which has been tested to 150,000 cycles. The mirror and shutter movements have a slightly dampened sound; it’s not quite the same sound as the D810, but it’s about the same volume. The D810 and D750 are far more discreet than the D800.

Front level shot

Control and design-wise the D750 looks almost exactly the same as the D610. There’s a mode dial on the left of the top-plate that has the addition of ‘Effects’ for accessing the Special Effects modes. As on the D610, this dial has a lock button that needs to be pressed to allow it to be rotated; a lock that can be clicked on and off would be preferable and less fiddly to use.

On the back of the camera, the control layout is very similar to the D610’s, but the Info button is to the side of the thumb-rest rather than towards the bottom of the camera; meanwhile, the Live View button and switch are lower down in the space created by moving the Info button. The function of a couple of the buttons to the left of the LCD screen has also changed in comparison with the D610, since the bottom one is now an ‘I’ for information control.

Rear

When the ‘I’ button is pressed a list of features appears, as on other recent Nikon SLRs. However, they are now arranged in a list rather than a grid. Unfortunately, there are still a couple of oddly placed customisation options (for example Assign Fn button and Assign preview button) in this list. I can’t understand why these are in a quick access-type menu instead of being restricted to the main menu – customisation is usually a once-only action.

It also seems strange that Nikon couples the ‘I’ button with an ‘Info’ button. Pressing the ‘Info’ button reveals the camera’s key settings and it would seem logical to make this interactive so it becomes a route for making adjustments. This would leave the ‘I’ button free for some other purpose.

Back menu

The interface of the D750 has changed somewhat in comparison with the D610’s. When the white balance button is pressed, for example, the new screen shows more clearly which control is used to switch between preset values and which adjusts the selected value to make images a little warmer or cooler.

Similarly, pressing the ISO button reveals that the front command dial is used to set the camera to select the sensitivity value automatically, while the rear dial is used to set a specific sensitivity value.

The new interface looks cleaner and clearer. Although at first glance the main menu looks a close match for those on other Nikon SLRs, a second look reveals that the video options now have their own tab in the menu structure – this is a good move that will help users find the options they want more quickly.

Menu screen

Like the D810, the depth of field preview and function (Fn) buttons on the front of the D750 can be set to act as aperture adjusters in order to enable silent changes to be made to aperture while shooting video. However, I found it helpful to set the Fn button to activate the electronic level in the viewfinder to help ensure horizons are straight.

Of course the biggest news about the back of the D750 is that the 3.2-inch 1,229,000-dot RGBW screen (the same as on the D810) is mounted on a tilting bracket. This enables the screen to be tipped up through 90 degrees and down through 75. It doesn’t help with selfies, but it makes shooting movies and landscape format stills at high or low angles more comfortable. It’s a good display that shows plenty of detail.

Tilting bracket

Naturally, as the D750 is an SLR, there’s also an optical viewfinder for composing images. This isn’t the brightest that I’ve used, but it’s still pretty good and it covers 100% of the field of view so there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises around the edges of the frame. If time and subject permits, however, I recommend using Live View when focusing manually.

In summary, the controls on the D750 are generally logically arranged and within easy reach, but Nikon could do with applying a little more thought to the use of the ‘I’ and ‘Info’ controls. It also seems that video is finally finding a more comfortable position within a stills camera.

Performance

According to Nikon UK’s Simon Iddon, the Nikon D750 is “the ultimate enthusiast-level full-frame camera”. Enthusiast photographers are a demanding bunch – they want to be able to shoot all sorts of subjects in a wide variety of situations and get top-notch results. On the whole the D750 won’t disappoint these users. It’s extremely capable and can deliver superb, sharp images with natural colour, perfect exposure, plenty of detail and well controlled noise in a wide range of situations.

Top shot

As it has a 24-million-pixel sensor with an anti-aliasing filter, the D750 isn’t be able to match the D810 for detail, but it can record a little more than the D610. This is the result of the development in sensor and processor technology since the arrival of the D610. It’s worth bearing in mind that many consider the D610 a hasty upgrade to the D600, which was only brought about to correct the problem with the shutter spraying oily material onto the sensor.

Our tests reveal that the D750 controls noise very well. Even when the noise reduction is turned off in the processing of raw files shot at ISO 6400, there is only a little chroma noise visible at 100%. Step up to the native maximum of ISO 12,800 and chroma noise (coloured speckling) becomes more noticeable at 100% on-screen, but it is still controlled very well and the level of detail is impressive, even in shadow areas. Simultaneously captured JPEGs have no chroma noise, but there is luminance noise and images look at little softer under close inspection.

Though dynamic range and detail levels drop off at the expansion sensitivity settings, the results still look pretty good. Even images taken at the maximum sensitivity (ISO 51,200) can make decent A3 prints.

Top with tilt

In the past we have found Nikon SLR automatic white balance systems perform well in a range of lighting conditions. However, in some cases the D610’s screen makes images captured in shade look too cold and this could trick users into setting the wrong white balance. Thankfully this isn’t a problem with the D750, which has the same screen as the D810.

The D750’s automatic white balance system also does a very good job in most conditions. The second Auto setting, which is specifically intended to retain the warm notes of warm lighting, is useful on occasion. But if you really want the warm glow of evening sun to be recorded then the Daylight option is your best bet.

Occasionally, there is an inexplicable colour shift of a sequence of images when using the automatic white balance settings and it seems likely that the automatic scene recognition system aspect of the processing is responsible.

Angle lens

I have yet to come across an infallible metering system, but the D750’s Matrix metering system is very good. During my testing it managed to deliver perfectly exposed results even when shooting some very bright subjects like yellow backlit leaves. This doesn’t mean that the exposure compensation wasn’t required on a few occasions – it was, but never when I wouldn’t expect it to be and it wasn’t needed on a few occasions when I thought it might.

Rather generously, Nikon has given the D750 an updated version of the AF system as in the D810 and it performs superbly when matched with a decent lens. When using a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8, for example, it gets subjects sharp incredibly quickly and is capable of tracking the subject around the frame when the appropriate mode is selected. The fact that it’s sensitive down to -3EV means that it’s also useful in low-light conditions and in many situations it still manages to latch onto subjects quickly.

Nikon introduced the new Clarity control in the Picture Control options with the D810 and it’s present in the D750. This control adjusts micro contrast, and boosting it gives the impression of greater sharpness or detail without creating halos along high contrast edges.

In hand

It’s useful for giving images extra ‘bite’ straight from the camera. I found the results created in the Monochrome Picture Control mode with the Clarity and Contrast (an image-wide adjustment) were often very pleasant. Part of the beauty of the Picture Controls is that they can be used when shooting raw and JPEG files simultaneously and this means you have a full colour file for processing as well as a treated JPEG.

Conversely, even if raw and JPEG recording is selected, rotating the mode dial to the Special Effects option results in only JPEG images being recorded. Theses Effects can be previewed in Live View mode. In many cases previewing the image is enough to convince you to not use the Effect.

As it has included Wi-Fi connectivity in the D750, Nikon has gone as step further than Canon with its 7D Mark II for those wanting to control the camera remotely. However, Nikon’s free Wireless Mobile Utility (WMU) app only offers very limited control over the camera. The live view image can be seen on a smartphone screen and the autofocus point can be set with a tap on the screen, but there’s no control over the exposure settings. It is in effect just a wireless remote release.

Image quality and resolution

As part of our image quality testing for the Nikon D750, we’ve shot our resolution chart.

For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our camera testing resolution charts.

Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:

JPEG files

ISO 100

The full ISO 100 resolution chart image.

ISO 100

ISO 100, Score: 32 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 200

ISO 200, Score: 30 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 400

ISO 400, Score: 28 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 800

ISO 800, Score: 28 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 1600

ISO 1600, Score: 28 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 3200

ISO 3200, Score: 28 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 6400

ISO 6400, Score: 28 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 12800

ISO 12800, Score: 24 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 25600

ISO 25600, Score: 20 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 51200

ISO 51200, Score: 20 Click here for full resolution image

Raw

ISO 100

ISO 100, Score: 32 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 200

ISO 200, Score: 30 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 400

ISO 400, Score: 30 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 800

ISO 800, Score: 30 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 1600

ISO 1600, Score: 28 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 3200

ISO 3200, Score: 28 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 6400

ISO 6400, Score: 28 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 12800

ISO 12800, Score: 24 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 25600

ISO 25600, Score: 24 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 51200

ISO 51200, Score: 24 Click here for full resolution image

Noise and dynamic range

We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.

A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.

For more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.

The Nikon D750 is compared against the Canon 6D, Nikon D610 and Nikon D810.

JPEG signal to noise ratio

JPEG signal to noise

This chart indicates that the JPEGs from the D750 have slightly more noise than those from the competing cameras. This noise is largely luminance rather than chroma noise however, and raw files have a high level of detail.

Raw (after conversion to TIFF) Signal to noise ratio

TIFF signal to noise

The D750’s raw files have the cleanest signal at the lowest sensitivity settings, but it is overtaken by the Canon 6D and Nikon D610 at ISO 200. However, this may be to preserve detail as at the mid-to-high sensitivity settings the D750 beat both of these cameras for resolution.

JPEG Dynamic range

JPEG dynamic range

Though it doesn’t match the dynamic range of the Canon 6D at the higher sensitivity settings the D750 is the better performer for much of the mid and low settings, indicating that images have a wide range of tones and detail isn’t lost too early from highlights.

Raw (after conversion to TIFF) Dynamic range

TIFF dynamic range

The raw files (after conversion to TIFF) tell a rather different story. The D750 still has a good dynamic range, especially at the lowest sensitivity setting, but it can’t match the Canon 6D for much of the range.

Noise and sensitivity

ISO 100

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions taken from the dark side of the image below.

JPEG

ISO 50

ISO 50 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 100

ISO 100 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 200

ISO 200 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 400

ISO 400 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 800

ISO 800 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 1600

ISO 1600 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 3200

ISO 3200 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 6400

ISO 6400 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 12800

ISO 12800 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 25600

ISO 25600 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 51200

ISO 51200 Click here for full resolution image

Raw

ISO 100

ISO 100 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 200

ISO 200 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 400

ISO 400 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 800

ISO 800 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 1600

ISO 1600 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 3200

ISO 3200 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 6400

ISO 6400 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 12800

ISO 12800 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 25600

ISO 25600 Click here for full resolution image

ISO 51200

ISO 51200 Click here for full resolution image

Sample images

exposure

Exposure is perfectly balanced here and there’s a pleasant level of contrast. Click here for full resolution image.

white balance

Using the Daylight white balance setting has preserved the warm tones of this early evening scene. Click here for full resolution image.

Standard Picture Control

This was taken with in the Standard Picture Control mode in its default settings. The level of detail in the sharpest areas is superb and the edges look very natural. Click here for full resolution image.

Monochrome

The same scene as before but using the Picture Control set to Monochrome, the weakest available Sepia tone selected and both the Contrast and Clarity set to the maximum values. Click here for full resolution image.

depth of field

Getting very close with a 105mm lens and shooting at f/3.0 has restricted depth of field nicely here. The AF system needed to be fast the get the jerky subject sharp. Click here for full resolution image.

Exposure compensation

Positive exposure compensation of 1/3EV was required to get tis shot looking just right. Click here for full resolution image.

Sepia

Another example of using the weakest sepia tone in the Monochrome Picture Control mode to produce a nice image in-camera. Click here for full resolution image.

exposure compensation

The Matrix metering system struggled with this scene and 2EV of positive exposure compensation was required to get the foliage as bright as it looked in reality. Click here for full resolution image.

Same image

The same subject from a different angle and with a darker background and the camera was able to get the exposure right itself. Click here for full resolution image.

Misty scene

This misty scene looked fairly monochromatic, but switching to the Monochrome Picture Style has made a more graphic image. Click here for full resolution image.

Verdict

The D750 is a great SLR camera. Its AF system is fast and effective, its Matrix metering system is very capable delivering correct exposure in a wide range of situations and it produces images that have natural, yet vibrant colours.

Although it cannot offer the class-leading detail resolution of the D810, the D750 is more than a match for the D610 in this respect. It captures an impressive level of sharp detail and noise is controlled well.

Nikon lifestyle

We like

The D750 has a monocoque construction and is as weatherproof as the D810, which means it feels solid in the hand and can be used in less than perfect conditions.

It also has plenty of creative control and a tilting screen that makes it easier to compose images from unusually high or low angles. The addition of a Zebra display is also a bonus for regular Live View users and videographers.

One of the D750’s biggest selling points, however, is its 51 AF points system, which has 15 cross-type points with 11 that operate down to f/8. There’s also an array of AF modes and customisation options to tailor the system to the photographer and the subject. It affords professional-level control.

We dislike

While it’s clear that the D750 is an excellent camera, there are a few aspects that don’t quite sit right on a camera that is intended to be ‘the ultimate enthusiast-level full-frame SLR’. The Special Effects options for instance can be fun, but some of the results are pretty awful and unlikely to be used by an enthusiast photographer.

Nikon could make these Effects more attractive to enthusiasts by enabling a ‘clean’ raw file to be recorded at the same time and allowing them to be used in the advanced exposure modes so that there’s control over shutter speed, aperture and sensitivity. But no, they are JPEG-only and exposure is set automatically.

Nikon front

Similarly, the HDR mode is a JPEG-only option. To date Pentax and Canon are the only companies to allow raw file recording of the images that make up HDR images.

I’d also like Nikon to rethink the options available for quick access via the ‘I’ button and make them of more use on a shot-by-shot basis. Some of the settings made visible via the ‘Info’ button would be a good starting point.

In addition, it would be nice if Nikon could upgrade its Wireless Mobile Utility app to give control over exposure settings via a smartphone.

Some enthusiast sports photographers may also have been hoping that the maximum continuous shooting rate might have been a bit higher, perhaps 8 frames per second (fps) to match the D300S with its battery-pack.

Qualifier

It may seem rather harsh that the ‘We dislike’ section is longer than the ‘We like’ section, but that’s partly because some of the gripes take a bit more explaining. They are also really requests for tweaks rather than major faults. And some could probably be resolved with a firmware upgrade if Nikon was willing.

In truth, Nikon has produced a well-rounded, enthusiast-level SLR. It has the majority of the features that an enthusiast would want, along with a few modern niceties like Wi-Fi connectivity. There are a few inclusions that seem more aimed at less experienced photographers that could perhaps have been better thought out for the enthusiast, but all the essentials that an enthusiast want are there and based upon proven systems.

It’s also good to see the introduction of a tilting screen on a full-frame camera – it’s a shame it’s not fully articulating, but it’s a move in the right direction and on a weatherproof system.

Given that the majority of camera announcements aimed at enthusiast photographers over recent months have been compact system (mirrorless) cameras, it’s worth reminding ourselves of a shortcoming of the SLR design: the viewfinder can’t show the image as it will be captured. That seems very dated. Electronic viewfinders in compact system cameras are now becoming so good that they are often preferable to an optical finder, although they can still be limiting for action photography.

Nikon lifestyle



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