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Camera Reviews

Nikon D750 Initial Impressions - User Review

Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)


Keywords: d750

Show pages (3 Pages)

Nikon’s new D750 is marketed as a sports camera and a filmmaker’s tool, but I’ve found it to be a great all-around camera that will serve most shooters very well. I purchased the D750 last week and so far I’ve found it to be a superb camera system. 

nikon d750

There is so much to like, that I am officially giving it one of my highest camera recommendations ever. I like the articulating monitor screen. I like the autofocus system. I like the new menu design. I like the ergonomics. I even like the built-in Wi-Fi features. No camera is perfect however (I don’t want to always sound like a Nikon fan boy), so I’ll detail a few failures at the end of the article.

The D750 does a great job of producing sharp images in a variety of situations.
Here, I used it at a football game with the Nikon 200-400mm f/4.
Click the image for full view.

Over the last few days, I’ve been shooting with the camera in a variety of locations such as along the waterfront, a cross-country meet, macros, nature, wildlife, a soccer game and a football game. In all situations, the camera performed exceedingly well and produced beautiful images. I’ve been basing my assessment of the image quality primarily on JPEG files because Adobe and Phase One Capture One Pro 8 have not yet updated their software to allow for conversion of the Nikon RAW files. Right now, the only software out there that will convert the D750 RAW files is Nikon Capture NX-D.

I have looked at a few of the RAW images in Nikon Capture NX-D and found them to be very sharp with beautiful color just like you’d expect. However, I don’t like using NX-D because the program is very buggy and crashes regularly. As I’ve mentioned previously elsewhere, Nikon stopped supporting their flagship software Nikon Capture NX 2 last summer. It won’t be too long until Adobe and Phase One update their software packages for the Nikon D750; in fact, Adobe Labs has already posted their release candidate for Camera RAW 8.7 here: RC Camera RAW 8.7.

 

Metering and Bracketing Improvements

The metering system incorporates a brand-new light meter for Nikon called highlight priority metering. The D750 has four light meters now: Matrix Metering, Center Weighted Metering, Spot Metering and Highlight Priority Metering. This latest light meter works by analyzing all areas of the scene for the brightest pixels, then exposes so that the final image doesn’t blowout any highlights.

I took quite a few photos to compare the highlight priority meter versus the traditional matrix meter and found that highlight priority really does work. You do however need to keep in mind that by protecting the highlights, you will most likely block up the shadows as well. This means that you’ll probably have to spend some time in post processing pulling out shadow detail. This new metering mode is best if you are trying to preserve highlights in subjects like bridal dresses or white flowers.

Here, I used the highlight priority metering to hold detail in the white areas of this fishing boat.
Nikon D750, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8.
Click the image for full view.

The bracketing system on the D750 is improved from the other Nikon prosumer camera systems like D7000 and D600. The new bracketing system allows up to nine frames of bracketing just like Nikon’s professional DSLR cameras (D810, D4s). Also, the bracketing system allows one, two or three stops between bracketed frames.

Practically, what this means for me is that I can set up the camera for 5 frames of bracketing and 2 stops between each frame (5F 2.0) and capture the same dynamic range as a typical 9 frame sequence at 1 stop between each frame lie I’d have to shoot on some of the other Nikon models. This means I’m capturing fewer frames in the field, which means longer battery life and less memory storage requirements.

For this surreal picture, I used a five frame bracketed sequence from the D750.
I put it together using Lightroom 5 and Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.
Click the image for full view.

 


Better Ergonomics

Ergonomically, the camera is much improved and I find that I like holding it over my other Nikon cameras such as the D800 and D600. The handgrip is just perfect and feels great when the camera is attached to small lenses or big lenses. I think the reason why it feels so good is the camera body is actually thinner than the D600/D800 and therefore allows a deeper recess for your fingertips on the right hand.

In order to accomplish the thinner body, Nikon decreased the size of the top LCD panel. The smaller LCD means that there is less information displayed on the screen, so Nikon transferred some of this to the back LCD panel. For example, on previous cameras like the Nikon D610, if I was going to change the white balance or image quality, I would push the WB or Qual buttons and rotate the main command dial while looking at the readout on the top LCD panel. On the D750 however, Nikon has moved the WB and Qual readouts to the back monitor screen. This is not necessarily a bad thing but will require users to get into a new habit when adjusting the camera.

Here's an overhead shot showing the articulated screen and the smaller LCD panel on the top of the camera.

The new articulated monitor on the back of the camera is very nice and I know that I will be using it extensively in my photography. It is designed to articulate up and down and is most useful for low angle photography and for video work. The screen is bright and contrasty. It is usable in bright sunlight.


Improved Menus

The menu system in the D750 has some nice updates over previous Nikon cameras. Nikon created a new menu group on the D750 called the Movie Shooting Menu. In previous cameras, Nikon always combined the video settings with the still photo settings, making it somewhat difficult to locate settings specific to video. Now that they have separated out the video settings from the photo settings, it is much easier to configure the camera. The new menu system makes it easier to understand what specifically you’re adjusting. I know lots of previous users would get confused about things like Picture Control, file naming and white balance, never fully understanding if the settings for their photos would also impact their settings for video. Now it is clear what impacts photo capture and what impacts video capture.


Autofocus Performance

The autofocus system on the Nikon D750 is excellent. Its 51-point system has been directly imported from the professional D4s and D810 cameras. As such, it incorporates 15-cross-type sensors and 3D Color Matrix Metering III with the 91,000-pixel RGB sensor to accurately track objects in motion. I used the system to track cross-country runners, soccer players and football players and found it to work exceedingly well.

D750 autofocus performance on a single runner is great.
Here, I used group area AF. Nikon D750, 70-200mm f/2.8.
Click the image for full view.

I’ve been using the new group area autofocus for much of my photography and found this new mode to be very accurate for tracking objects in motion. I think users of the D750 will gravitate to group area AF for their bird, wildlife and individual sports photography. Photographers used to Nikon’s traditional dynamic autofocus modes (i.e. d-9, d-21, d-51) will find the same settings available on the D750 and I found the d-21 setting to excel in group sporting events like soccer and football.

For team sports like football, I generally like shooting dynamic area AF (d-21).
Nikon D750, 200-400mm f/4.
Click the image for full view.

In general, I had actually no problems with the focus system in low light, bright sunlight, or fast action. I can’t wait to put the AF system to the test with some high-end birding and wildlife photography in Africa at the Nikonians Academy Tanzania Photo Safari.

Soccer proved to be no problem at all for the D750. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8.
Click the image for full view.


Sensor, Frame Rate and Buffer

The camera’s 24-megapixel sensor is excellent. I’ve found dynamic range to be similar to the D800/D810 sensor and the high ISO performance is very good. The D750 has a native ISO range from 100 to 12,800. Like most modern digital SLR cameras, you’ll notice noise at ISO 6400 and above, but the files are imminently useful and are very easy to clean up with software such as Lightroom or Nik Dfine 2.

This deer photograph was taken at ISO 12,800. Looks pretty good to me.
D750, 70-200mm f/2.8.
Click the image for full view.

The smaller 24MP file size compared to the Nikon D810 36MP sensor means that the D750 can shoot at frame rates up to 6.5 frames per second. This is great for sports photography and bird photography and is at the higher end of the Nikon camera system for fastest frame rate. You’ll need to move up to the Nikon D4s at 11 frames per second to beat this frame rate.

Because of the relatively small buffer on the D750, I missed most of the post-touchdown celebration.
Nikon D750, 200-400mm f/4.
Click the image for full view.

The buffer size is approximately 13 frames when shooting 14-bit Lossless Compressed RAW files and 30 frames when shooting JPG Fine Large files. I primarily shoot RAW, so 13 frames results in about 2 second photo bursts at 6.5 frames per second. In the real world, this is at the lower end of acceptable. Numerous times when shooting sports and action over the last week I ran out of buffer and missed shots. For example, while photographing a football game, I was shooting the running back as he dove into the end zone. Then, he jumped up to celebrate with his teammates and I missed the entire celebration because the buffer was full.

The truth is, that if you want ultimate performance for sports photography, you’ll need to upgrade to the D4s.


9999 Photos for Time-Lapse

Another improvement Nikon built into the D750 is the ability to capture up to 9999 photos in a row during a time-lapse sequence. This may not seem like a big deal, but I frequently find myself limited by the older Nikon cameras’ maximum of 999 shots in a row for time-lapses. In fact, recently in the Galapagos Islands, I created a number of time-lapse sequences with my D800 where the camera ended shooting far too soon and I wish I had more shots available to me. This new capability is a boon for film makers and is a welcome addition to the camera.


Live View DOF Preview

A somewhat obscure feature of the Nikon D750 is the new capability of the depth of field preview in live view mode. What this feature does is opens the lens to maximum aperture so that you can easily see the focus plane. Often times in live view mode, it can be difficult to determine the actual focus point, so this new tool allows you better achieve critical focus in your images.

I used the live view depth of field tool to get accurate focus on my macro shots.
Nikon D750, 85mm f/1.8, 20mm extension tube.
Click the image for full view.

To activate the feature, you have to be in live view mode, then you’ll need to press the depth of field preview button. At this point, the camera opens up the lens to maximum aperture (i.e. f/1.8), which shows you the focus plane by blurring out everything else outside of the focus plane. I used this a number of times while shooting macro photos my garden better see what part of the subject my camera was focused on.

Just another pretty macro shot from the Nikon D750.
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, 20mm extension tube.
Click the image for full view.

What’s Not to Like?

In my mind, there are three things that I think Nikon could do better on the D750. The first one is they did not include an AF-ON button on the back of the camera. For those people who use back button focus we’ll have to reprogram the AE-L/AF-L button to do the same thing. The D750 would be the perfect camera body to employ the AF-ON button since they are marketing it as a sports and action camera. It has been many years since Nikon has included an AF-ON button in a prosumer DSLR, with the last one being the Nikon D300s.

The second thing that I think they messed up on is not including touchscreen capability for the back LCD panel. Lots of cameras these days use touchscreens to access the menu system and navigate your photographs, so I think it is time for Nikon to integrate touch panels on their higher end cameras. Canon, Fuji, Samsung all do this, and I wish Nikon would as well.

Third, the buffer should be bigger. If Nikon is marketing the camera as a sports camera, then we should really be able to shoot more than 13 images (2 seconds) before the buffer fills up. That said, it is a very capable sports camera and photographers will need to time their shooting to better coincide with the peak of action.


Should You Buy It?

So now for the question that everybody is asking: should you buy the camera? Yes. I like it and I recommend it, but I have a few suggestions for you if you already own other cameras.

If you’re a current owner of the Nikon D600 or D610 and primarily shoot travel, portraits, or wildlife, then it doesn’t make any sense to upgrade to the Nikon D750. The cameras are too similar in terms of file size image quality to upgrade. On the other hand, if you own these cameras and are looking for improved autofocusing and frame rate for your sports photography or wildlife photography, then it makes perfect sense to upgrade to the Nikon D750.

If you already own a professional camera body such as the D800, D810, or D4s, then D750 will make a great backup camera. I would not hesitate for one moment to use the D750 along with any of these other high-end Nikon camera bodies.

If you are a Nikon D7100 or Nikon D5300 owner and are looking for an excuse to go full frame, then the D750 is the perfect camera to do that. Its fast response, big file size, and speedy autofocus are truly a joy to use. Also, the D750 is not that much bigger than the D7100 so will fit nicely into your existing camera bags.

In all, I give the Nikon D750 two big thumbs up. I’d give it three thumbs up if I could. Highly recommended.

Further details and discussions

We are discussing the Nikon D750 in our dedicated forum.

 

(28 Votes )
Show pages (3 Pages)

Originally written on December 8, 2014

Last updated on February 23, 2016

Mike Hagen Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)

Expert photography teacher

Gig Harbor, USA
Basic, 149 posts

15 comments

James Smigie (JimDE) on March 7, 2015

Mike, thanks for the review. I thought my D7000 was similar enough to the D750 that I could skip your D750 book but with all the new features you pointed out I will get a copy of your D750 manual. Jim

Harry Frank (hfrank) on January 21, 2015

Still waiting for an APC-sensor camera that doesn't feel like a Cracker Jacks premium and has continuous shooting speed and buffering that exceeds my D300. My way of saying, "Where's the D9300?"

Jonathan Levy (ultinikon) on January 3, 2015

Overall, an excellent review. I question the recommendation for D610 owners relative to frame rate: The two bodies have essentially the same size buffer, so the meager bump in frame rate (less than 10%) is of questionable value.

Ken Pride (Lions) on December 24, 2014

Okay Mike, I realized I had not scrolled to the appropriate page with your buffer/frame rate assessment. Seems like it would not be great for BIFs. Thanks.

Ken Pride (Lions) on December 23, 2014

Hi Mike, would the D750 be suitable for BIF, what is the buffer refresh rate? I currently use the D300 and so far, nothing in Nikons line up of crop bodies is suitable for BIF. cheers, Ken

John Jennrich (jolytoka) on December 19, 2014

Thanks, Mike. Very helpful. I've been frustrated by the lack of RAW processing on my D750. Sometimes, I carry two cameras -- D800 and D750 -- and I have to remember that only the D800 can, as a practical matter, use RAW/NEF right now. Thanks especially for the information on the highlight priority setting.

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on December 17, 2014

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

Peter, Winsor, The 200-400mm is an f/4. The "f/2.8" is a typo we missed. We'll correct it. Thank you.

Richard Luse (DaddySS) on December 15, 2014

Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for  his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his generous contribution to the 2019 Fundraising campaign

Thanks Mike, very informative and much appreciated. Did you try the WiFi feature - is it easy to use/intuitive?

Peter Geran (gearsau) on December 14, 2014

Regarding the football shot . Isn't that lens a Nikon 200-400mm f4 ?

Winsor Crosby (wincros) on December 13, 2014

The D750 does a great job of producing sharp images in a variety of situations. Here, I used it at a football game with the Nikon 200-400mm f/2.8. Not familiar with that lens. Something new?

George Sass (georgesass) on December 10, 2014

I received my D750 last month as an upgrade from my well-used D300S, and I am extremely happy with it. Mike's review is spot on, especially about the excellent ergonomics of the camera. It fits perfectly and securely in my hand...better than the D810. FYI, Lightroom 5.7, which has been available for a couple of weeks, will process the D750's NEF files. And, Douglas Klostermann's excellent D750 e-book is available on Amazon. Thanks again Mike for a such a well written review and helpful sample images.

Stephen Blakesley (lajolla) on December 9, 2014

Thanks for taking the time to write this helpful review. A minor detail regarding d750 NEF import software: if you find the time, take your new d750 to a Seattle area Apple store and upload some of your NEF files to an in-store demo iMac with Retina display. Both the Yosemite OSX and the current Aperture 3.6 will import d750 RAW files.

Tom Schellin (guitarbts) on December 9, 2014

Mike What an awesome review! I can not get this system to let me edit! I tried to give you 5 stars but it did not pick that way. It is a 5 star review and would change if it would let me edit! Thanks, Tom

Ronald J. Sacco (Priest) on December 9, 2014

An informative article that included all the necessary information on the camera's abilities as it pertained to a where it sat in the Nikon line and the reasons or not to purchase the D750. I also like the fact that no words were wasted and the article kept my attention. A very nice job by Mr. Hagen and Nikon.

Chapman Solomon (CorVette98) on December 8, 2014

Thanks Mike for your thoughts and observations regarding the D750. This coming Wednesdday, I am expecting delivery of my D750 w/24-120mm. I was wondering when the preorder will happen for "Mastering the Nikon D750". In the meantime I plan to use "Mastering the D610" until the former is available for sale. One of these days I would like to attend one of your workshops when one is presented in my neck of the woods.

G