You might want to compare this camera...


Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera | Nikon D80

, ,

You might want to compare this camera to a lot of other cameras; you might want a special name plate (Canon?), or 11 fps (D4?), or ISO 103,600 (Df), or the ability to make voice notes, or heaven knows what.


I just bought a NIkon D750 and I’m delighted with it, couldn’t be happier. I tried to write this review from my perspective, a guy who’s been shooting SLR on and off for about 30 years – and knows how to develop and print; and shooting digital too, but who didn’t know very much about digital SLRs before he bought this one.

There are a few things about digital SLRs that you’re stuck with once you buy them. The most obvious is the brand and lens mount. The venerable Nikon F mount goes back longer than you’ve been alive, probably, and nearly all those lenses are still out there and will work on your camera.

Worried about lens choices and optical quality? The Nikon system is the best in the world, and if you’re on a budget, old manual focus lenses that were the world’s finest when they were built can be had for $25 on ebay.

Not on a budget? Nikon lenses are still leading the field today. Like all of photography, lens design has a little bit of art mixed into the science; there’s no question that modern Nikkor glass has built a photographer a crystal paradise. From ED glass, to special coatings that preserve color and minimize fringing, to fluorite and aspheric elements; to high-impact plastic to minimize weight; to the world’s nicest 7 and 9 element apertures; Nikon has you covered.

I paired up my Nikon D750 with a fast 50mm 1.4D prime and the newish 28-300mm f4.5-5.6/G zoom and I can do things that I used to dream about when I was a kid – with little effort.

Nikon D750

The sensor is the next thing, and it goes with the lenses. “FX” is Nikon’s term for a 35mm sensor, one that is the same size as the film I used to spool into my old Nikon FG (a film camera.) The Nikon D750 has an “FX” sized sensor. Digital SLRs from 2001 to 2010 or so had “DX” – also called “APS-C” – sized sensors; they’re smaller and old lenses aren’t optimized to shine their light on a tiny sensor, you lose some of the virtue of the lens.

Worse, there are now Nikkor DX lenses out there; they’re *no good* on FX or film cameras, they shine all their light in the middle of the sensor and make a weird roundish image. The two lenses I mentioned above are FX lenses; the ‘D’ lens has an aperture ring and can be used on my old film camera; the ‘G’ lens has none, and so cannot be.

Sensors have a variety of qualities and the Nikon D750’s is one of the best that has ever been built anywhere. It has 24 megapixels and an antialiasing filter; in English, that means you can enlarge your photos to wall size – I don’t mean to hang on the wall; I mean the size of the whole wall – without loss of any detail. Now film used to have an ASA/ISO rating, that measured its sensitivity to light. This sensor? Well, it adjusts its own ISO; it can go from 50 to 51,800 ISO.

Usable range without grainy noise in shadows is 100 to 6400; but the noise is pleasant, not stripey; it looks like old-school film grain and can be gaussian blurred away if you’re so inclined. If you’re a film guy like me, or you haven’t used a DSLR in a few years, you’re shaking your head: “not possible.”

Friend, I assure you it is not only possible, but it is every bit the technological marvel that it seems.

There are really, truly, 14 stops of dynamic range in this sensor – and if you shoot RAW files, you can get at them in postprocessing programs like Adobe Lightroom; far more information is encoded in these files than our eye could see in a JPG.

Colors are vivid and the days when I missed my old Nikon CCD camera for its vibrant reds and purples are gone; this camera can see and develop colors all along the Roy G. Biv axis with incredible vibrancy and fidelity.

Nikon D750

The shutter and aperture controls work perfectly, mechanically; and a Nikon shutter is a little work of art. This one will do 30 seconds as easily as 1/4000th, and there are settings for self-timer, delayed actuation, double exposure, and all sorts of fancy stuff you used to have to hack your camera with a soldering iron to do. 6.5 fps mode – we used to call it ‘motor drive’ – is good for about 20 shots, then starts slowing down.

You can opt to shoot in shutter, aperture, manual or program mode, same as my old FG; the shutter speed and aperture can be adjusted with front and back click-dials in any of those modes, but you have to look at the screen to see where you are.

There are customizable buttons and dials galore on the Nikon D750, in fact, as many as you’ll ever need, and a large 8-directional thumb button gets you through an easy-navigating set of onscreen menus. Yep, there’s a screen – a 1.2 MP screen – and it’s great for checking focus on the fly, reviewing your images, and doing whatever else you need it to do, including flipping up 90 degrees, flipping down 90 degrees, or locking in place and staying out of the way.

Color’s accurate and there’s little to no interface lag. And if you don’t want to look at a big LCD screen, there is a small LED screen on the top of the camera (it lights up briefly with a click of the power knob) and a very comprehensive display around the edges of the viewfinder. Viewfinder also has a big rubber guard and a diopter knob; it’s easy enough to use with my eyeglasses.

Autofocus works OK, and frankly I am glad I skipped the intermediate stages because I used to be a wiz in high speed manual focus situations and the Nikon D750 is almost as good as I am. However, it needs to be that good, because the newest G lenses’ focus rings are really just for show, they’re twitchy and next to impossible to use properly.

Nikon D750

The entire viewfinder is matte, and it’s set up for autofocus; you could change it out, I suppose, if you really wanted to be a manual focus guy but I am still working on learning how it works. There are two autofocus modes, AF-S for still subjects, and AF-C for subjects that require continuous autofocus; each of these has several ‘submodes’ so you can customize it to your liking.

I shot flying birds for an hour the other day and the camera seemed to go to great trouble to focus on anything but the bird in flight, until I found a setting that was suitable for ‘fast white bird flying in and out of shade on a grey/green background at sunset’; the autofocus intelligence is not perfect and you’ll need to experiment a lot to get a feel for what it likes to do, as I am still doing.

There are 51 “autofocus points” but they’re not all created equal; the ones nearest to the viewfinder center are superior, focusing faster and more accurately and also providing better subject tracking. Luckily there is a big button you can mash with your thumb once you think the camera has got it right; it’s labeled AF-L for autofocus lock and you can set it to lock exposure too, or not.

2 SD slots can be used either as one big storage pool, or as primary/backup; in the latter, you can back up identical images to each card, or store RAW on one and JPG on the other, makes it easy. Get big memory, but also get fast memory if you’re planning to shoot high-speed (6 fps sports shooting, for instance); the camera slows down when it can’t write to the card fast enough.

The flash shoe works with all the flashes I’ve tried, including my new SB-400 and my old SB-15s; Nikon’s Creative Lighting System works by talking to the other flashes with blinky lights and it seems a bit silly and tweaky, if I were part of the modern “Strobist” movement I’d probably opt for the newer, and less expensive radio control systems that are out there.

Included battery and charger last a good 3 or 4 hours of heavy shooting, and the charger can live plugged into an outlet, it makes a nice little charging station. I’d suggest a second battery, Nikon or a cheaper third party, so you never have to be out of juice; unlike my old film camera, when the battery dies you are done shooting for the day if you don’t have a replacement.

Nikon D750

You’ll want a different strap, the one that comes with the camera isn’t stylish, convenient or comfortable. It says NIKON in big yellow letters on black, so it’s got that going for it; it’s identical to the strap that came with my FG 30 years ago.

The camera body’s grippy, sturdy, has a nice deep handle that’s easy to hold on to, and it’s middlin’ heavy. I like the way it feels. It’s weathersealed, though you can’t submerse it I’d feel comfortable shooting in heavy mist/light rain. It shoots video too; it’s annoying and tetchy and you hear the autofocus whining and the mics aren’t windproof and if you want to get excited about that you’re going to have to read another review.

I’m not a dSLR fanatic. To be honest, I loved my old Nikon film camera; I love it so much that I almost bought a Df, Nikon’s digital homage to its film heritage. But I decided, just as that camera offered the best that you could do with film in its day, I wanted a camera that offered the best that digital could do, today.

And I haven’t been disappointed; I’ve been delighted beyond all measure, and in just 3 weeks I’ve taken photos that put the very best photos of my 30 years of dabbling to shame, not just in technical superiority but in artistic inspiration too. Maybe some of that is maturity and patience; but some of it is the fact that when you hold a tool of true excellence, that itself is an inspiration.

And this tool is starting to disappear in my hands; as I walk about, I am thinking about the shot, and when I raise the camera, I have an incredible confidence that this camera is going to take that shot, just as I want it to, every time. And it does, time and time and time again. The instant feedback from the touchscreen, and later feedback from the EXIF data is making me a better photographer.

Nikon D750

I have shot kids, beautiful women, old men, funny dogs, serious dogs, trees, architecture, Christmas lights, landscapes, lakescapes, cityscapes, cloudscapes, still birds, backyard birds, wildlife birds, flying birds, 300 yards away birds, and even the Golden Gate Bridge – everyone has to do it once, just don’t show it to anyone.

I have shot foreground bokeh and background bokeh and silhouettes and sunsets and airplanes and leather and feathers and scales and rust and wood and oil; I have shot self portraits in shiny Christmas ornaments, and restaurants and plates of sushi and stained glass and every picture has been better and better and I am learning and loving it and enjoying every minute of it.

I couldn’t have dreamed of a camera this great when I was a kid learning how to develop and print my own, and frankly the little walkabouts I take with it feel like I am in a sort of latter-day photographer’s paradise. I don’t know if that’s what you are looking for.

You might want to compare this camera to a lot of other cameras; you might want a special name plate (Canon?), or 11 fps (D4?), or ISO 103,600 (Df), or the ability to make voice notes, or heaven knows what.

But if what you want is what I told you that I have, buy this camera and enter photographer’s paradise. I’ll be there, snapping away.

Reviews Similar to Nikon D750: Nikon D3300 Auto Focus S DX NIKKOR VR II Zoom Lens | Nikon D80

Conclusion Rating
You might want to compare this camera to a lot of other cameras; you might want a special name plate (Canon?), or 11 fps (D4?), or ISO 103,600 (Df), or the ability to make voice notes, or heaven knows what.
5 stars

Tags : , , ,