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Camera Reviews Travel Stories

Using the Nikon D750 in Africa - Field Report

Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)


Keywords: d750

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Shooting the Nikon D750 in Tanzania on safari was a great decision. The camera performed almost flawlessly.

group of lions shot with Nikon D750

This group of lions was photographed in Ngorongoro Crater with a Nikon D750 and a 200-400mm f/4 lens.
Click for an enlarged view.

As I mentioned in the preliminary review, the Nikon D750 is a killer camera. I’ve been using a D750 almost daily now since October 2014 and have found it to be a very capable camera that can be used in a number of professional environments.

I recently took the body to Tanzania for a two-week Nikonians Academy Safari to see how it would perform in the wilds of Africa. During the trip, I subjected it to the typical safari environment including dust, heat, cold, bumps, bean bags, tripods, long lenses, wildlife, landscapes and people. Read on to see how it performed in the categories that I think are most important.


Image Quality

As you would expect, image quality was superb. The 24MP sensor worked very well for my photography and I found sharpness, resolution and clarity to be very good. I also shot a Nikon D800 on the trip with 36MP and used that camera when I needed ultimate resolution. But for almost everything else, the 24MP D750 was perfect. I’ll be able to blow up the images nice and large while using them for just about any purpose, including the largest wall murals. The camera provides lots of pixels in case you need to crop.

lion in tree

Lion in tree, Silale Swamp, Tanzania. Nikon D750, 200-400mm f/4.
Click for an enlarged view.

Autofocus

Autofocus was excellent. The new Group AF option works very well for bird-in-flight photography. Tracking was excellent. Acquisition was excellent. Accuracy was excellent. I was very pleased with the D750 AF system for everything from portraits to landscapes to fast moving animals. Nice work Nikon.

The camera shares the same autofocus and metering technology as the D4s and D810. The newest addition to the Nikon AF system is group area autofocus. I found myself switching between group area and dynamic 21 area autofocus depending on the subject. If I was photographing a single animal such as a rhinoceros or a flying bird, then I would use group area autofocus. On the other hand, if I was photographing something where I needed critical focus such as a close up of a lion or potentially trying to focus on a single zebra in a herd of zebra, then I would use dynamic 21 point autofocus.

seagulls

I used the new group area autofocus for scenarios like this. Nikon D750, 200-400mm f/4.
Click for an enlarged view.

Low Light Performance

I took a number of shots in Tanzania at night and was very pleased with the camera’s long-exposure performance at low ISOs. This isn’t really a significant achievement for the D750 because DSLR cameras have all done a pretty good job at long exposures at low ISOs. The true test is what the photographs look like at ISOs above 6400 and 12,800.

During my trip, I took a few shots in low light during the morning and evening and found the high-ISO performance to be excellent as well. Shooting at 3200 and 6400 shows a small amount of noise, but it is easily removed in post processing. ISO 12,800 is usable, but you definitely see the noise in the images. I’m never afraid to use the high ISOs when I need to get the shot. One of my common refrains is that you can use a noisy shot that isn’t blurry, but you can’t use a blurry shot without noise.

I didn’t shoot any photographs at the extended ISO values of 25,600 or 51,200, but I know from experience that they probably wouldn’t have been that usable anyways.

africa cottage

Long exposure photography is a dream with the D750. It produces low noise and the files are beautiful.
This is an image of our lodge near Lake Manyara, NP. Nikon D750, 14-24mm f/2.8.
Click for an enlarged view.

(23 Votes )
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Originally written on July 9, 2015

Last updated on October 12, 2016

Mike Hagen Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)

Expert photography teacher

Gig Harbor, USA
Gold, 149 posts

11 comments

Richard Cron (rcron) on August 22, 2015

Just wondering - might seem obvious to most, when you talk about using auto ISO and how that sets the shutter depending on focal length of the lens in use - are you shooting Aperture Priority mode? I think I'm about to purchase a D750 as my first FX body and your review is helping me decide over the other options. Thanks!

TJ Mills (tjmillsiv) on August 3, 2015

Mike, Thanks for an informative article. I upgraded last year from a D300 to the D750 and have not looked back. I am heading to Zambia and Botswana Africa in November with the D750 and I hope to have photos half as good as yours. This will be my first safari trip. Any advice is appreciated. :-)

User on July 22, 2015

This was a great read and fantastic pictures. I've been shooting with the D750 since it's release last September and truly love it too. Looking forward to put it to the test in a Safari in the near future ;-)

Dr. Patrick Buick (profpb) on July 18, 2015

Ditto Mike, I just returned from shooting the 8 National Parks of Utah and Colorado using my new D750 much more than my D800e. "Doc"

Bob Pilgrim (BOB PILGRIM) on July 17, 2015

July 17, 2015l: Steve, you've generated a really nice review, & the photography is gorgeous; nice going.

Adel A. Mansour (mansour1) on July 16, 2015

Thank you Mike for this wonderful review I found it to be informative and enjoyable.

steve hodder (sjhodder) on July 15, 2015

July 15, 2015 Mike: An excellent summary of your excursion in Africa. I have been on the edge of a move to a full-frame Nikon for some time. When the Df came out I was excited - no video-yea! But, I didn't buy it...only 16MP. The 800 was way too much for my needs and the file sizes might well have required a new computer. When the 600 came out and the spotting issues along with it I was deflated - bummer. The 610 raised my eyebrows but I was really stubborn because I was hoping the Nikon would introduce a long-time Canon feature - an articulated screen. The D750 has answered my prayers even in light of the flare issues. So, I've been patient and given Nikon time to resolve the flare issue and get new production well underway before taking the plunge. Your review/article is really the icing on the cake. Now I just might have to order a 750 body because they seem to be flying off the shelves here in Vancouver. Once again, thanks for the highly informative article. Steve

John Hernlund (Tokyo_John) on July 15, 2015

Ah, such nice images, and what a great camera! One of these days I'll find space in my budget for a D750...surely over my wife's objections!

Marsha Edmunds (meadowlark2) on July 10, 2015

Donor Ribbon awarded for her support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Fellow Ribbon awarded for her continuous encouragement and meaningful comments in the spirit of Nikonians. Donor Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Awarded for her in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.

I sure enjoyed looking at your great images.

Kim Adams (arrowmom) on July 9, 2015

Thanks for this review Mike! I'm still torn between the D810 and D750. I love the fact that the 810 has similar layout as my D700. I need to try the D750 to see if I can handle the switch.

E.B. Miller (ebuzz2k) on July 9, 2015

thanks, a nice read!

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