Right before the big Photokina show in Germany, Nikon introduced another full frame DSLR in 2014, the Nikon D750. Packing the newest and the most advanced 51-point Multi-CAM 3500 FX II autofocus system, a 24 MP sensor, 6.5 frames per second continuous shooting speed, built-in WiFi and a very lightweight and weather-sealed construction, the Nikon D750 sits between the entry-level D610 and the high-megapixel D810 lines. And with its price point of $2,299 MSRP, the D750 is an attractive choice not only for hobbyists and enthusiasts who want to move up from a DX or an older FX camera, but also for working professionals, who have been leaning away from higher resolution or more expensive cameras like D810 or D4S. Although the Nikon D750 did not replace the older D700 in terms of body build, ergonomics and features, it has a lot more resolution, much faster processor, significantly faster and superior autofocus system, a tilting LCD screen and impressive video capabilities. Thanks to these changes and improvements, the D750 hits the sweet spot in a number of areas and has the potential of becoming the most popular full-frame camera in Nikon’s current DSLR line-up.
In this review, I will be focusing on the capabilities of the D750 and comparing it to the Nikon D610, D700 and D810 cameras. The material gathered for this review has been taken from three production samples of the D750, one of which is from the very first batch of cameras that were shipped to the USA. The review is also a combined effort between Photography Life team members and will be updated with more information and image samples in the near future.
The Nikon D750 might sound pretty confusing to many, since its first number indicates that it belongs to the D700 line and thus the camera could be a successor. At the same time, Nikon skipped everything in between the D700 and the D750, so others might think that perhaps the camera represents something between the D700 and the D810. In fact, the camera shares a lot more with the D600/D610 cameras in terms of ergonomics / build and sensor technology, rather than with the pro-level D700 and yet it certainly does have the robust autofocus and video recording features from the D810. Judging by the looks, its price point, lack of a dedicated AF-ON button and other limitations (such as 1/200 sec flash sync speed, 1/4000 max shutter speed and a relatively small buffer), I would say it would have been more appropriate to call this camera the Nikon D650 instead. Nikon probably did not feel like associating a higher-end camera with the D600 line though, thanks to the D600 fiasco. Perhaps if it were not for the D600 problems, the D750 would have been what the D610 was supposed to be originally. That would not have been the first time Nikon drastically changed camera line features – if you remember, the D7000 sported an inferior 39-point AF system originally, while the D7100 got a significant boost in AF performance with the high-end 51-point AF system, which was previously used only on professional cameras. We had seen a similar jump from the D5100 to the D5200, where the 11-point AF system was replaced with the more advanced 39-point AF system. Nikon did end up adding new features to the D750 with built-in WiFi capabilities and a tilting LCD screen, but those are fairly cheap to incorporate and cannot be considered “significant”, since the much cheaper entry-level D5300 also comes with built-in WiFi, along with a tilting screen (in addition to also having built-in GPS).
So think of the D750 as a hybrid between the D610 and the D810. Lower-end ergonomics / build, coupled with a high-end autofocus system, great video features, built-in WiFi and a tilting LCD screen.
Let’s take a look at the camera specifications in more detail.
2) Nikon D750 Specifications
Main Features and Specifications:
- Sensor: 24.3 MP FX, 5.9µ pixel size
- Sensor Size: 35.9 x 24mm
- Resolution: 6016 x 4016
- DX Resolution: 3936 x 2624
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-12,800
- Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 50
- Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 25,600-51,200
- Processor: EXPEED 4
- Metering System: 3D Color Matrix Meter III with highlight weighted metering
- Dust Reduction: Yes
- Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
- Body Build: Rear and Top Magnesium Alloy Covers
- White Balance: New White Balance System with up to 6 presets
- Shutter: Up to 1/4000 and 30 sec exposure
- Shutter Durability: 150,000 cycles, self-diagnostic shutter
- Storage: 2x SD slots
- Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
- Speed: 6.5 FPS
- Exposure Meter: 91,000 pixel RGB sensor
- Built-in Flash: Yes, with Commander Mode, full CLS compatibility
- Autofocus System: Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX II with Group Area AF
- AF Detection: Up to f/8 with 9 focus points (5 in the center, 2 on the left and right)
- LCD Screen: tilting 3.2 inch LCD with 1,229K dots
- Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ 60 fps max
- Movie Exposure Control: Full
- In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes
- Battery Type: EN-EL15
- Battery Life: 1230 shots
- USB Standard: 3.0
- Weight: 750g
- Dimensions: 141 x 113 x 78 mm (5.55 x 4.45 x 3.07″)
- Price: $2,299.95 MSRP
A detailed list of camera specifications is available at NikonUSA.com.
3) Nikon D750 vs D610 vs D810
If you are looking for a feature comparison between the D750 and the D610, take a look at our Nikon D750 vs D610 comparison article. Comparison with the D810 can also be found in our D750 vs D810 article.
4) Camera Construction and Handling
While the Nikon D750 might not have the same full magnesium-alloy frame like the D810, both the front and the rear plates of the camera are magnesium alloy. To keep the camera lightweight, Nikon used a combination of magnesium alloy and carbon fiber in the construction, making the D750 slightly lighter than the D610 (which has a similar build, but with plastic instead of carbon fiber). Here is how the D750 looks from the front and back when stripped down (the image of the back includes the MB-D16 battery grip):
In addition to the solid build, Nikon also weather-sealed the D750 against dust and moisture, just like on higher-end cameras. I am happy to say that the construction of the D750 is indeed excellent and it can easily survive in tough weather conditions. I was up in the mountains this fall and one of the early mornings was extremely cold, with temperature dipping below 10 F. With a slight wind chill, it was probably close to 5 F, if not lower. My gear froze up pretty quickly, including the D750 that I had with me. Take a look at how my Think Tank camera bag looked like, with the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G hood on top of it, along with my 77mm polarizer (I was shooting panoramas that morning):
The D750 kept on working great, just like my D810 that I was also shooting with at the same time. The only issue was the battery, which did not last long at such cold temperatures (as expected). I also drove on pretty dusty roads the same week, with the camera gathering plenty of dust when I was taking it in and out of my car and I got rained on several times when the camera was mounted on my tripod. The Nikon D750 camera survived all those weather and dust conditions easily!
Handling-wise, the camera is also excellent. Compared to the D600/D610 cameras, Nikon made a few ergonomic changes that make the D750 a breeze to use. First, the grip is now much more comfortable – Nikon extended it like they have done on the D810 and my fingers now fit more comfortably. If you look at the top of the D610 and compare it to the D750, you will find the D610 to be thicker on the right:
To keep the camera small / compact and to accommodate the deeper grip, Nikon had to sacrifice on the size of the LCD – it is now smaller on the D750 and shows less information (see section 5 below for more details on this).
Second, the plastic memory card door has also been covered with textured soft material that does not slip. Third, the D750 has the same awesome U1 / U2 memory bank system as the D610 / D7100 that actually works when compared to the practically useless dual bank system of higher-end cameras like D810 / D4S. Lastly, one click zoom using the OK button on the multi-selector button works, so I am very glad that Nikon did not strip this very useful feature from the D750 like it did on the D600 / D610. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I traded my D610 for the D750. After getting used to cameras like D800 / D810 and Df, I just hated the fact that I had to press the zoom button so many times to see if my image was sharp or not. It was a huge time waste, especially when shooting fast-paced weddings.
My biggest two complaints with the D750 actually apply to all other Nikon DSLRs with a similar layout. The first one is the placement of the AE-L / AF-L button. Since lower-end Nikon DSLRs do not come with a dedicated AF-ON button, one has to program the AE-L / AF-L button for rear button focusing, such as when using the focus and recompose technique. I don’t understand why Nikon places it so far away from the rear dial. Why can’t it be closer? The space between the button and the dial is just empty and I would much rather have the button located right next to the dial, so that I could actually hold it comfortably. With my D800E / D810 / Df cameras, using the back button for focusing is easy and it does not hurt my hands. On the D750, I have to move my thumb further away and it starts to get sore pretty quickly. I wish Nikon moved the darn button closer to the dial!
The second complaint is the DK-21 rubber eyecup that is used on the D750. It detaches too easily (especially when hiking with the camera strap on my neck) and will probably get lost more than once in the future. Why can’t Nikon standardize on the same round DK-17 eyecup that is used on many other cameras? It would not only make it easy to use different eyecups interchangeably between cameras, but it would also be attached more securely and locked. Aside from these two issues, everything else is quite good for my taste and use in terms of ergonomics.
In terms of mirror slap and shutter sounds / vibrations, the D750 sounds a bit more dampened than the D800E, but it is not as good as the quieter D810. Sadly, the D750 does not come with the electronic front-curtain feature either…
5) Top LCD
One particular change that might upset some people, is the smaller LCD on the top of the camera. At first, I was a bit disappointed by this change, since smaller usually translates to less information. And it is certainly the case – the LCD now does not provide such information as: image format (Image Quality setting), focus mode (Single, Dynamic, 3D or Auto icons), AF mode (AF-A, AF-S or AF-C) and White Balance. So if you are used to looking at the top LCD for this information, now you have to refer to the information screen on the back of the LCD. When changing modes by pressing, say, the focus button on the front of the camera, the top LCD will still display appropriate information, but it won’t show a small icon after you make the change. Nikon is now by default showing the information page on the rear LCD when you press any of the function buttons, so it is not like you press those buttons and do not have a place to look when changes are made. As I have pointed out above, the LCD had to be reduced in size to accommodate the deeper grip. Personally, I really like the deeper grip and I would much rather have the comfort of the D750, rather than the larger top LCD on the D610.
6) Viewfinder Size and Focus Point Spread
If you have been considering upgrading to the D750 from a DX camera, you will be instantly amazed by the size of the full frame viewfinder – it is huge! Once you look through the viewfinder on the D750, you will quickly realize what you have been missing on your DX camera. Size-wise, it is as big as the viewfinder on other DSLRs like Nikon D610 and D810, with a 0.70x magnification.
One of the biggest complaints with the D600 / D610 cameras was the much smaller focus point spread of the 39-point AF system, which concentrates all focus points near the center of the frame. With the release of the D750, a number of our readers asked us if the focus point spread is smaller on the camera when compared to other higher-end cameras like D810. Initially, I thought it was an odd question, since the D750 has the Advanced Multi-CAM 3500 FX II module, which, I thought, has the same focus point spread as the earlier version. However, when I actually received the D750 and looked through the viewfinder, I was surprised to find out that the focus spread is indeed a bit smaller and the spacing between the focus points has decreased. How smaller? Let’s take a look at the below viewfinder comparison:
As you can see, the layout of the viewfinder has changed a bit between the D750 and the D810. The focus spread is smaller and the distance between each focus point has also been slightly reduced. The boundaries are now circular and the middle AF point section is shorter as well. How different is the focus point spread? Let’s take a look at both viewfinders overlaid on top of each other:
It is pretty clear that the D750 indeed has a smaller focus point spread when compared to the D810. With the focus points packed tighter together, the difference is smaller than a single focus point on each side of the frame, and even smaller from top to bottom.
And here is a comparison of the focus point spread between the D750 and the D600 / D610:
Looks like the difference is roughly one focus point, so the 39-point AF system on the D600 / D610 is even smaller.
Why did Nikon reduce the focus point spread on the D750? As you will see in the Autofocus Performance section of this review, Nikon was able to get better sensitivity from the Multi-CAM 3500 FX II AF module (rated at -3 EV), and I believe that they were able to do this by reducing the focus point spread and optimizing their layout. In addition, the number of focus points that can be used with slower lenses, or lenses coupled with teleconverters is greatly reduced at f/5.6 and f/8 range (only 11 AF points are active at f/8), so having the focus points closer to the center of the frame probably allowed cross and line sensors to be more reliable than before.
7) Camera Menu System and Ease of Use
The camera menu system very much resembles other Nikon DSLRs like D610 and D7100, but there are some great features worth talking about. One major advantage of the D610/D7100/D750 cameras over all higher-end Nikon DSLRs is a working user preset system. Unlike the dual Shooting Menu and Custom Settings Banks system that doesn’t work (I leave those blank on my D800E and D810), Nikon uses a much better user preset system on the D750. You have two programmable presets on the camera: U1 and U2 (accessible from the camera dial), which work perfectly for customizing the cameras for different needs. I set up my D750 for two presets – Landscape (U1) and Portraits (U2). When photographing landscapes, I always shoot in Manual Mode, with Auto ISO turned Off (ISO set to 100), 14-bit RAW, AF-S in Single Focus mode. So I programmed all those settings to U1 (Tip: if you want to set your U1/U2 presets to anything other than Program Mode, start in the desired camera mode like Aperture Priority, then Save user settings to U1/U2). For photographing portraits, I prefer shooting in Aperture Priority Mode, Auto ISO turned On (ISO Sensitivity: 100, Max Sensitivity: 3200, Min Shutter Speed: Auto), 14-bit RAW, AF-C in Dynamic Focus mode with 39 AF Points. I saved all these settings to U2. The beauty of this user preset system is that, when I photograph landscapes, I simply rotate the left top switch to U1 and I do not have to go into the camera menu for anything else. When photographing people, I switch to U2 and I am all set. Very simple and straightforward. I do not understand why Nikon does not implement this very useful preset system on high-end DSLRs – the dual bank system is plain stupid and useless in comparison.
If you are upgrading from an older Nikon DSLR like D700, you will love the enhanced Auto ISO feature that was first implemented with the D800/D4 cameras. When selecting the “Minimum Shutter Speed”, you now have an option called “Auto”, which will automatically set the minimum shutter speed to the focal length of the lens. For example, if you are shooting with a 50mm lens, the minimum shutter speed will be set to 1/50 of a second. If you can handle slower shutter speeds, you can set “Auto” to be 1/2 or 1/4 the focal length of the lens. Or if you have shaky hands, you can set it to 2x or 4x the focal length of the lens. Think of “Auto” as -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, similar to exposure compensation in full stops. If your focal length is 50mm, your “Auto” setting would look like this: 1/13, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200. The default would be 1/50, but if you go one step slower your shutter speed would be fixed at 1/25 of a second, while going two steps faster would increase the minimum shutter speed to 1/200 of a second. Many of us have been asking for this feature for many years now and I am very happy with this implementation, although I hope Nikon takes it a step further by automatically compensating for VR as well.
A cool new menu option that the D750 inherited from the D810 is “Store points by orientation” (a8 in Custom Setting Menu), which I now have turned on by default. I love this feature, because it remembers where my focus point was for both landscape and portrait orientation. For example, if I photograph a bride in horizontal orientation and set my focus point, I can switch to portrait orientation, move my focus point and when I go back and forth between the two, my focus point will be remembered for both orientations! This is a neat feature that can be very helpful when you switch between two different orientations in a fast-paced environment. When photographing the bridal party on a wedding day, I often switch between horizontal and vertical orientation, so that I can capture the whole body in vertical orientation. With this setting, I keep my focus points at different locations, so switching back and forth is super easy – all I have to do is refocus and shoot!
An important enhancement to the menu system that sets the D750 apart from other Nikon DSLR cameras (D600/D610/D800/D810 and others) is the dedicated “Easy ISO” setting (d8 in Custom Setting Menu). If you do not know what “Easy ISO” does, it basically allows you to quickly change ISO with the front dial when shooting in Aperture Priority mode (by default, the front dial is inactive in Aperture Priority mode). Previously, there was a setting called “ISO display and adjustments” and if you picked “Show ISO/Easy ISO”, you could change the rear dial to adjust your ISO, but the top LCD display would no longer show the number of remaining shots, which was an annoyance for me and the reason why I preferred not to use it (on the D800E and D810, I programmed my video recording button to change ISO). With the D750, Nikon changed the behavior – now the Easy ISO function works like it should and the remaining shutter count is always displayed. The LCD screen on the top of the camera might be smaller, but Nikon was able to fit more numbers to the left of the remaining shots. Thanks to this, now I have Easy ISO turned on and love how quickly and easily it can be adjusted on my D750.
Movie shooters will love the new Movie Shooting Menu. Now you can control things like file naming, memory card destination, video frame size/rate, movie quality, ISO, white balance, etc for recording movies directly from this menu, which makes things much less confusing for both videographers and photographers.
Another great feature that I have already mentioned before, is the fact that you can program the OK button to zoom to 1:1 magnification when viewing images. Nikon also changed the way you can do this – now there is a separate “OK button” menu setting (f1 in Custom Setting Menu), so all you have to do is go there, then select “Playback mode”, then “Zoom on/off”, and pick 1:1 (100%) magnification. After you press OK, you will never want to go back to zooming in and out of your images again!
Just like the newer Nikon DSLR cameras, the D750 also comes with the “Exposure Delay” mode, with up to 3 second delay (d4 in Custom Setting Menu) that can be used in conjunction with “Self-Timer”. For example, you can set the Self-Timer to 5 seconds and turn Exposure Delay on with a 3 second delay. Once the shutter button is pressed, the camera will wait for five seconds, raise the mirror, wait for three seconds, then open and close the shutter, then put the mirror back down. This will prevent pretty much any sort of camera shake – equivalent of using mirror lock up (MLU) mode with a cable release.
In terms of ease of use, the information screen on the D750 is very friendly and Nikon has now added a separate “i” button to the left of the LCD for quick changes to such settings as Picture Control, Active D-Lighting, HDR, Button Assignment, etc. While I like and welcome this change, I wish Nikon provided a way to add and remove items to and from this list. Or perhaps if there was a way to quickly access the “My Menu” menu page instead, it would be great too…
8) Image Sensor
One of the main reasons why I bought a D600 when it came out a couple of years ago, was its amazing 24 MP sensor. I really liked the sensor, because it gave a great balance of pixels vs noise when compared to 16 MP and 36 MP sensors. My initial conclusion about the D750 was that its image quality was similar to that of the D600 / D610 cameras. However, after spending two days testing the cameras, I realized that Adobe’s beta DNG Converter and Lightroom’s DNG rendering did quite a poor job at ISOs above 3200. Some of the color and shadow areas appeared washed out in comparison to the D600 / D610. I then re-ran the analysis using Nikon’s Capture NX-D 1.0.3 software, which showed a totally different picture – the D750 appeared to have visibly better performance starting from ISO 800, where it showed less noise in comparison. At high ISOs above 3200, the D750 showed between 1/2 to a full stop of difference in performance (depending on where you look), which was rather surprising. You can see this in the Camera Comparisons section of this review.
There is an interesting observation though – the difference in performance does not appear from newer sensor technology, but rather a more complex and smarter way to reduce noise as part of the image processing pipeline. I initially noticed a similar behavior when testing the Nikon D810 versus the D800E – Nikon seems to be applying a different tone curve to RAW images, essentially darkening the shadow areas, then applying a more effective noise suppression algorithm that reduces chroma noise. This explains why images from the latest Nikon cameras appear a bit “darker” in some areas and the colors do not quite match…
In terms of big improvements, I think we have more or less reached the maximum potential of the current CMOS sensor technology, because the noise performance has not drastically improved in the last 2-3 years. Manufacturers are simply tweaking the output of sensors and applying different noise reduction technologies.
9) Dynamic Range
The dynamic range on the D750 is superb, just like it is on other Nikon DSLRs, including the D610. While I have not done any scientific measurements to evaluate the dynamic range of the D750 yet, I have tried recovering both highlights and shadows from RAW images and I have been impressed by the results. Take a look at the below underexposed image that was recovered later in Lightroom (+2.1 Exposure, +90 Shadows, +30 Whites, -10 Blacks, +10 Saturation):
When it comes to dynamic range, I found DxOMark to be quite accurate in their assessments when compared to my lab tests. So if you want to see the exact dynamic range in EV numbers and compare the D750 to other cameras, I would wait until DxOMark evaluates the D750 (which will probably happen when full RAW support for the D750 is provided).
10) Quality Assurance and AF Point Accuracy
As I have mentioned in the beginning of this review, I have been using three different samples of the Nikon D750. All three are solid in terms of overall build/construction and I do not see any differences between them after a month of rather heavy use. No rubber parts are peeling off and all buttons are functioning normally. Autofocus performance and accuracy is excellent and I did not see any deviation or misalignment of focus points as we had seen on the original D800 / D800E cameras.
11) Sensor Dust Report
The Nikon D600 was plagued with dust issues due to its poor shutter construction, so many Nikon users grew weary of this problem and might be interested to find out if the D750 has a similar issue or not. I am happy to say that all three units that I have been using have a solid shutter mechanism that is devoid of this problem. Seems like Nikon has addressed this problem once and for all, which is great.
12) Autofocus Performance
Without a doubt, the most important feature on the D750 is its autofocus system. As I have already mentioned before, the new Advanced Multi-CAM 3500 FX II module is quite different from its predecessor in a number of ways – the focus spread is a bit smaller and the AF system is rated to work at -3 EV, which means that it should be able to acquire focus even in very low light situations. It is interesting that Nikon used the most advanced AF system on the D750, because one would expect a higher-end camera to sport it first (neither the D810, nor the D4S have this AF system). If you have ever used Nikon’s 51-point AF system, you know that it is a very solid and accurate AF system. All previous enhancements to this system, including the Group Area AF feature have been incorporated into the D750, so we can comfortably say that the D750 has Nikon’s best autofocus system to date. How does it perform and how accurate is it? Since AF performance varies by subject and photography, I decided to split the section into multiple sub-sections and discuss it in more detail.
12.1) Autofocus Performance: Daylight
In daylight situations, the AF performance of the Nikon D750 is stellar, as expected. I have used a number of different lenses such as: Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G, Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G, Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S, Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G VR, Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E with and without teleconverters and all lenses performed admirably. From third party lenses, I have used the Tamron 150-600mm and a number of Zeiss manual focus lenses. Focus was dead on and focus accuracy was excellent on all these lenses. Daylight conditions are not really a challenge for most modern autofocus systems though – even entry-level DSLRs do quite well when there is plenty of light. It is obviously a different story when photographing fast moving subjects or photographing in low-light environments.
12.2) Autofocus Performance: Low-Light / Indoors
All AF systems start to suffer in low light situations, simply because very little light gets to the phase detect sensor (as explained in my “how phase detection autofocus works” article). But the D750 has one key advantage compared to other Nikon DSLRs – its updated AF system can focus in lower light situations, down to -3 EV. Is it noticeable? Yes, it certainly is! I shot a wedding with the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G and I was amazed by its AF accuracy when shooting in low light indoors – most of my shots were in focus. If you have ever used 85mm lenses, you know how difficult it is to nail indoor shots with those lenses. Due to their very shallow depth of field, shooting wide open is quite difficult, often yielding out of focus images. My Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G was so good indoors, that I never bothered changing my lens to the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, which has been more reliable for indoor shots, but is a beast to carry around (especially with me having two cameras around my neck). You will find a number of tack sharp images in this review that were photographed with this combination indoors.
12.3) Autofocus Performance: Wildlife and Sports
Although I am still working on testing the wildlife and sports performance of the Nikon D750 (mainly, I am interested in how the D750 does with the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S with the 1.7x teleconverter combo, which has never worked well for me), our wildlife guru John Sherman has already published his thoughts in his Nikon D750 for wildlife and landscape photography article. In short, he is very impressed by the D750’s AF capabilities, particularly when using lens + teleconverter combinations. After he shot with the D750, he called me next day and said “you just cost me $2300!”. Take a look at his shot of a mountain bluebird that he captured at 1350mm (Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E + 1.7x TC):
Now that is a very impressive shot, considering the focal length and the 1.7x TC. If you have not read his analysis of the D750, please check it out, as he has many more great image samples to showcase!
And if you own the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S lens and have never been satisfied with its performance when using the 1.7x teleconverter, it is probably a good time to reassess this combo, since I found it to be quite good on the D750. Here is a sample image of a hawk in flight captured with this combo:
The camera was able to acquire focus perfectly, so there is plenty of sharpness in this shot.
12.4) Autofocus Performance: Landscapes
Landscape photographers rarely care about AF speed, since they mostly use Live View to obtain precise focus. For those situations, the D750 performs admirably, since Live View is implemented properly, without any interpolation issues. When zooming in, you will see plenty of sharpness (especially at pixel level), which will help greatly in acquiring focus manually. When using the D750 with Zeiss manual focus lenses, I relied on contrast detect in Live View quite a bit and I was able to nail focus every time.
12.5) Autofocus Performance: Portraits / Weddings
A number of images in this review were captured from a wedding that I photographed with two Nikon D750 cameras. During the wedding, I mostly had the new 20mm f/1.8G lens attached to one body and the 85mm f/1.8G lens attached to the second body. This allowed me to capture both wide and close-up shots, and proved to be a superb combination for wedding photography. Only during the wedding ceremony I switched my 85mm f/1.8G to the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, so that I could stay further away and capture it from a distance. Once the ceremony was over, I switched back to my 85mm f/1.8G, since it was a much lighter and faster lens to use indoors.
Overall, the D750 performed extremely well for shooting portraits and weddings. Autofocus was spot on and the number of keepers was much higher than what I had before with other Nikon DSLRs, especially when shooting indoors in low light.
If you shoot portraits or weddings, the D750 is probably the best Nikon DSLR to get at this point for the following reasons:
- It is very lightweight, which is a huge advantage when shooting those all day weddings (even slightly lighter than the D610!)
- It is very comfortable to hand-hold
- Autofocus performance is amazing, whether using fast primes or zooms – this is especially true for indoor shots
- The 24 MP sensor produces superb images with little noise and the resolution is more than enough for most situations, even when tight cropping is needed
- Post-processing 24 MP images is pretty fast – images do not load as slow as 36 MP images from the D800/D810 cameras in Lightroom
- The tilting screen can be great for overhead shots, such as when shooting the dance floor
- Dual SD cards are better than one CF + SD, since you do not have to carry two different card types
- U1 and U2 user modes work far better than the Bank system on higher-end cameras – set one mode for non-flash and another for flash and you are good to go!
- Battery life is superb – the D750s I was shooting with lasted all day and I had plenty of charge left after the wedding
13) Shooting Speed (FPS) and Buffer
The Nikon D750 can shoot at 6.5 frames per second, which is not as fast as what the D4S can do, but still more than sufficient for most photography needs today. In comparison, the Nikon D700 with much smaller 12 megapixel images is limited to 5 frames per second (without a battery grip), the new Nikon D810 can only shoot up to 5 frames per second and the Canon 5D Mark III is limited to 6 frames per second. So 6.5 fps on the D750 is actually quite reasonable for its price, as it strikes a good balance – not as fast as the D4S, but not a slow crawler either. The bigger concern is not so much the shooting speed, but how long the camera can last before filling up the buffer.
I have already covered this topic in detail in my Nikon D750 Buffer article, but if you have not seen it, here is a buffer capacity table that compares the D750 to other Nikon DSLRs, including the D700:
|DSLR||Image Type||FX Size||DX Size||FX Buffer||DX Buffer||Cont. Shoot|
|Nikon D610||NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 12-bit||23.4 MB||10.9 MB||21||55||3.5 sec|
|Nikon D700||NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 12-bit||13.3 MB||5.7 MB||23||65||4.6 sec|
|Nikon D750||NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 12-bit||21.0 MB||10.5 MB||25||100||3.8 sec|
|Nikon D810||NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 12-bit||31.9 MB||14.6 MB||47||100||9.4 sec|
|Nikon D610||NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 14-bit||29.2 MB||13.4 MB||14||34||2.3 sec|
|Nikon D700||NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 14-bit||16.3 MB||7.0 MB||20||46||4.0 sec|
|Nikon D750||NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 14-bit||26.9 MB||13.1 MB||15||48||2.3 sec|
|Nikon D810||NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 14-bit||40.7 MB||18.3 MB||28||97||5.6 sec|
|Nikon D610||NEF (RAW), Compressed, 12-bit||20.7 MB||9.7 MB||26||73||4.3 sec|
|Nikon D700||NEF (RAW), Compressed, 12-bit||11.0 MB||4.7 MB||26||95||5.2 sec|
|Nikon D750||NEF (RAW), Compressed, 12-bit||19.2 MB||9.8 MB||33||100||5.1 sec|
|Nikon D810||NEF (RAW), Compressed, 12-bit||29.2 MB||13.3 MB||58||100||11.6 sec|
|Nikon D610||NEF (RAW), Compressed, 14-bit||25.4 MB||11.7 MB||14||54||2.3 sec|
|Nikon D700||NEF (RAW), Compressed, 14-bit||13.8 MB||6.0 MB||23||63||4.6 sec|
|Nikon D750||NEF (RAW), Compressed, 14-bit||23.9 MB||11.9 MB||21||100||3.2 sec|
|Nikon D810||NEF (RAW), Compressed, 14-bit||36.3 MB||16.4 MB||35||100||7.0 sec|
|Nikon D610||JPEG Fine (Large)||12.4 MB||5.9 MB||51||100||8.5 sec|
|Nikon D700||JPEG Fine (Large)||5.7 MB||2.5 MB||100||100||20.0 sec|
|Nikon D750||JPEG Fine (Large)||12.6 MB||6.2 MB||87||100||13.4 sec|
|Nikon D810||JPEG Fine (Large)||18.1 MB||8.6 MB||100||100||20.0 sec|
From the above chart you can see that the D750 has roughly the same buffer as the D610. This may not be important for portrait and wedding photographers, but it sure is important for sports and wildlife shooters. If you have been photographing sports/wildlife with the D700, you might be disappointed to find out that the D750 will only last about 2.3 seconds when shooting in 14-bit RAW, compared to 4 seconds on the D700. Granted the files are much larger and the speed of the D700 without a grip is only 5 fps, but I still wish Nikon had increased the buffer memory to fit more images – it would have made the D750 an amazing sports and wildlife camera. At the same time, I have said it a number of times that Nikon does not want lower-end cameras to compete with its top-of-the-line cameras like D4S anymore, so it is understandable why Nikon is limiting the buffer size on the D750…
One important factor that greatly affects the continuous shooting speed is memory card speed. If you want to get the best out of the D750, get a fast SD card that can write at 95 MB/sec. I saw a huge difference in buffer performance between my older 45 MB/sec cards and the newer 95 MB/sec cards. The best candidates for the D750 in my opinion are the SanDisk Extreme Pro Class 10 UHS-I cards. Sadly, the D750 only works with UHS-I cards, so you cannot use those ultra-fast 280 MB/sec UHS-II cards. The buffer could have been doubled or tripled, if the camera could write at that speed!
If you would like to see a complete buffer comparison of all current and some older Nikon DSLRs, take a look at my Nikon DSLR Buffer Comparison article.
14) Lens Selection
I wrote this section by request for those that are converting from Canon to the D750 or upgrading from DX. While the D750 definitely has plenty of resolution, you should not be concerned about lens performance, since I found many lenses (including many budget options) to work extremely well on it. Don’t use DX lenses on the D750, as you will lose half the resolution – best to get rid of those DX lenses if you are planning to permanently move up to FX (there are a couple of lenses like the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX that will give cover most of the FX frame, but you will get heavy vignetting, especially at close focus distances).
For portraits and weddings, my preference would be to get a set of great f/1.8 primes. They are lightweight, inexpensive and perform exceptionally well on the D750. If you need to cover a wide range, go for the new Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G, 35mm f/1.8G, 50mm f/1.8G and 85mm f/1.8G lenses. If you want to limit yourself to two lenses, I would get the 20mm f/1.8G and either the 50mm f/1.8G or the 85mm f/1.8G.
For wildlife and sports, it all depends on your budget. I won’t bother with recommending high-end super teles, since those are out of budget for most people out there. If you are considering a budget option, my first recommendation would be to get the new Tamron 150-600mm lens – its 600mm reach is amazing and it will do very well wide open and much better stopped down to f/8. If you want to stick with Nikon lenses, the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S is still my favorite choice coupled with the 1.4x teleconverter. Not much of a reach compared to the Tamron, but very sharp at f/5.6!
For landscapes, I would get the 20mm f/1.8G (superb for astrophotography), the 35mm f/1.8G and a couple of good zooms like the 14-24mm f/2.8G and the 24-70mm f/2.8G, or the 16-35mm f/4G VR and 24-120mm f/4G VR. If the wide angle lenses are too expensive, get the 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G – it is a stellar lens for the price.
There are many more budget lens choices out there, including some of the older Nikon AF-D and manual focus lenses for a wide range of photography needs.
15) Metering Performance
The Nikon D750 is shipped with the same 3D Color Matrix Meter III exposure metering system with a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor as the high-end Nikon D810 and D4S cameras, so its performance and accuracy is great. No matter what I was shooting, whether it was a wedding, a landscape scene or a bird, the camera metered exceptionally well, requiring very little adjustment. Looking through the wedding pictures, I could see only one image where the camera drastically overexposed an image and required -1.33 EV of compensation adjustment. Here it is:
It is a tough subject to meter, because there is so much dark in the scene, so I know that all other Nikon DSLRs would have struggled as well.
16) Battery Life
With a 1230 shot CIPA-rated battery life, the D750 can take more shots than any other standard profile Nikon DSLR, which is very impressive. Since CIPA rating requires cameras to be used in different settings and environments, including Live View usage, the 1230 shot specification is actually much lower than what you can yield when using the camera without Live View. And if you want to maximize battery life, you can also turn off image review, so that the camera does not display the image on the LCD after each shot. During the wedding, I shot about 800 frames on the primary D750 (with image review turned on) and the battery life indicator showed 58% charge left at the end of the wedding. Another D750 showed 40% charge left after 1102 images, so I could easily get over 2000 images in both cameras if I shot all the way till the end. That’s pretty amazing, especially for those that travel and cannot recharge often! And those that need more can get the MB-D16 battery grip, which will allow using two EN-EL15 batteries for twice the capacity. I am also very happy that Nikon is sticking to the same battery on many cameras. With the D750, there are now a total of 8 cameras that have the same battery: Nikon D7000, D7100, D600, D610, D800, D800E, D810 and Nikon 1 V1. I love the fact that I can use the EN-EL15 battery interchangeably between my D750, D800E and D810, and I do not have to carry an extra charger with me when I travel.
17) Live View and Tilting Screen
The Nikon D750 comes with two live view options – one for photography and one for videography, similar to the D600/D610. You can switch between the modes by moving the live view lever on the back of the camera. The photography mode is similar to the previous “tripod” mode on older DSLRs – you cannot record video or audio, but you can zoom in and out, track objects / faces and acquire focus using contrast detect. The video mode is used for recording video, so you will see microphone record levels and other video-related features.
As I have already pointed out, the D750 has an excellent 1:1 pixel level Live View mode without any interpolation mess as we had seen on the D800 / D800E cameras. This means that you can see very fine details when zoomed in to pixel level view, which makes manual focusing a breeze to use. I have used the D750 in Live View mode in a number of different scenarios: when shooting landscapes, when shooting macro in combination with the tilt screen and when shooting the dance floor during a wedding, also in combination with the tilting screen. Live View worked great and I was very happy with the results, because Live View allowed me to capture images with perfect focus and best sharpness.
The tilting screen was very useful when shooting in Live View mode, because I could change angles and still see what was going on. It is great that you can tilt the screen up or down at 90 degrees – this allows capturing all kinds of vertical angles.
18) Movie Recording
Although I am not into movie recording, the D750 was heavily marketed by Nikon to appeal to videographers. The D750 inherited a lot of the movie recording features from the D810 such as zebra stripes and separate video ISO sensitivity controls, making the D750 one of the best DSLRs for videography. In fact, the D750 is more videographer-friendly, because Nikon consolidated all video features into a separate “Movie Shooting Menu”. The camera can record 1080p videos at up to 60 fps using the H.264/MPEG-4 codec and you can slow down the framerate to 50, 30, 25 or 24 frames. There is a built-in stereo microphone for recording sound and you can connect an external microphone via the external stereo microphone jack on the side of the camera. As specified by Nikon, the D750 is also capable of outputting uncompressed video feed via HDMI (just like the D800/D810 can), which makes it a great camera for recording videos.
Video footage is very impressive, especially at high ISOs. Although I do not have any good content worth posting on YouTube, you can find plenty of footage from the D750 online, such as the “Unchained” video below:
The rolling shutter effect is mostly taken care of, although if you move the camera too fast, you will still see the effect a little. Unlike the limited movie recording functions of the D600/D610, the D750 is not limited to a set aperture in Live View mode – you can adjust all three exposure variables on the fly when shooting in Manual mode.
19) Built-in WiFi
The D750 is the first Nikon full-frame DSLR to have integrated WiFi capability. It enables wireless transfer of images between the camera and a mobile or a tablet device or remote control. You will have to download the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility (available for both Apple iOS and Android devices) and you can then control the camera remotely and take pictures with it, or use the app to transfer images from the camera to your device. The setup is fairly simple and straightforward – all you have to do is enable WiFi, then search for the wireless signal on your smartphone / tablet. Once connected, you must launch the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility in order to remotely control the camera or to transfer images. Here is how the app looks like on my phone:
The interface is very simplistic, but works reasonably well.
20) ISO Performance at low ISOs (ISO 100-800)
A quick note on the presented crops and comparisons: I have tried using the latest beta of Adobe DNG converter to compare images and the results were inconsistent and inconclusive, especially when comparing to other DSLRs like Nikon D810 and Df. Capture NX-D yielded much more accurate and realistic results in comparison, which is why I utilized the latest version of Capture NX-D (1.0.3) for converting Nikon’s RAW / NEF files. Until Adobe fixes their RAW converter, I do not recommend to use ACR / Lightroom for anything above ISO 3200.
- White Balance: Custom
- EXIF information is preserved in the images
- Focusing was performed through Live-View Contrast Detect
- Long exposure NR: Off
- High ISO NR: Off
- Active D-Lighting: Off
- Image Format: RAW, 14-bit Uncompressed
- Converted RAW images to TIFF using Nikon Capture NX-D 1.0.3 then imported into Lightroom 5.6 for cropping
- Lightroom export: sRGB JPEG Quality 80
- Cameras were mounted on the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II
21) High ISO Performance (ISO 1600-51200)
22) ISO Performance Summary
The Nikon D750 yields very impressive results at different ISO levels. Noise is practically non-existent from ISO 100 to 1600 and we only see traces of noise start to appear at ISO 3200 and above. I personally would not hesitate to use the camera up to ISO 6400 and sometimes even push it higher when publishing it for the web. Once down-sampled, the D750 can produce stunning results and its dynamic range seems to hold up quite well at higher ISOs as well.
It is hard to judge the performance of the Nikon D750 without direct comparison to other cameras, which is why you should definitely check out the comparisons section as well.
Please note that the camera comparisons are only based on image quality. Also note that for comparisons with cameras like Nikon Df, the D750 images were down-sampled to match the lower resolution (16 MP).
23) Nikon D750 vs D600 / D610 Low ISO Comparison
Let’s take a look at how the Nikon D750 compares to the D600 and D610 cameras that have sensors of the same resolution (24.3 MP):
Although there is practically no difference in performance between the two cameras at low ISOs, take a look at how the two compare at ISO 800 – the Nikon D750 appears cleaner, especially in the shadows. You will also notice that the shadow areas of the D750 look a bit darker and cleaner. Looks like Nikon is applying a different noise reduction algorithm that actually darkens the shadow areas and then runs noise reduction on top of it, which creates cleaner images.
24) Nikon D750 vs D600 / D610 High ISO Comparison
Although ISO 1600 looks comparable, there is definitely a visible change between the two at ISO 3200. Again, the image from the D750 appears a little darker in the shadows and there seems to be less chroma noise visible as a result. Although the sensors appear to be almost identical, there is a definite “tweaking” process taking place as part of the image processing pipeline.
The advantage of the new noise reduction algorithm is pretty evident at ISO 6400 – the D750 appears less noisy, especially in the shadows. At this point, there appears to be between 1/2 of a stop to a full stop of advantage on behalf of the D750, depending on where you look.
And it is pretty clear that the D750 is also visibly cleaner at ISO 12800.
ISO 25600 shows a similar picture, with the D750 looking visibly better in comparison.
As I have previously noted, it is interesting to see that noise performance between the two cameras looks quite different when using Adobe’s RAW conversion. Just like with the D810, Capture NX-D seems to be a much better tool for RAW image conversion and analysis at this point, especially at ISO 3200 and above. I am not sure why Adobe’s RAW conversion is so poor for the new Nikon DSLRs, but judging from the latest release of ACR and Lightroom that did not fix the D810 RAW output, this poor rendering is here to stay. I really hope that folks at Adobe can get their stuff together and get this issue fixed as soon as possible.
25) Nikon D750 vs D600 / D610 Summary
Just like I said earlier, it seems like we have reached the innovation wall for current CMOS sensors. Although there is a pretty noticeable change in performance on the D750 when compared to the D600 and D610 cameras, it seems like this change is a result of smarter noise reduction, rather than sensor improvements. Nikon is basically tweaking images by applying a different tone curve, then running a more effective noise reduction algorithm, which results in less chroma noise throughout the image. While some might call this cheating, it certainly does effectively reduce noise and create cleaner images.
26) Nikon D750 vs D810 Low ISO Comparison
As expected from the process of down-sampling, the D810 images appear to have more detail. Noise-wise, both cameras are very clean from ISO 100 to 800.
27) Nikon D750 vs D810 High ISO Comparison
ISO 1600 appears similar on both.
Pushed to ISO 3200, the Nikon D810 seems to have a little more noise in the shadows.
At ISO 6400 the Nikon D750 is cleaner – take a look at the shadow areas, where the D810 has a few visible artifacts and more chroma noise.
The difference is even more evident at ISO 12800, where the D750 looks cleaner, with very little artifacts in the shadows.
At ISO 25600 there seems to be between 1/2 to 2/3 of a stop of difference between the two.
Although ISO 51200 is unusable on both cameras, the D750 produces a cleaner image – details and colors seem to be preserved better.
28) Nikon D750 vs D810 Summary
It is pretty clear that Nikon has pushed the 24 MP sensor output further than before, thanks to its superior output. Although both cameras seem to be similar at lower ISOs, the Nikon D750 seems to have less chroma noise and seems to be able to retain both details and colors a bit better than the D810 at high ISOs. This is especially noticeable at ISO 6400 and above.
29) Nikon D750 vs Nikon Df Low ISO Comparison
The Nikon Df has a similar sensor as the Nikon D4, so this particular comparison might be interesting for those that own either the Df or the D4. For this test, I down-sampled the Nikon D750 images to 16 MP to match Df’s resolution:
Aside from differences in color, both look very clean from ISO 100 to 800.
30) Nikon D750 vs Nikon Df High ISO Comparison
I cannot see any differences at ISO 1600 either.
At ISO 3200 we see a slight difference in performance – surprisingly, the Df actually appears to have more chroma noise in the shadows!
Things look rather interesting at ISO 6400 as well, with the Nikon D750 looking cleaner and having practically no artifacts, while the Df produces some in the shadows.
Once again, the Nikon D750 actually appears cleaner when compared to the Df even at ISO 12800!
ISO 25600 is very noisy on both – the cameras suffer badly. The Nikon D750 appears to have more chroma noise, but the Df loses plenty of details.
Hard to say which one is uglier here.
31) Nikon D750 vs Nikon Df Summary
Seems like the Nikon D750 matches, if not surpasses the Nikon Df at practically every ISO. Only at ISO 12800 and above, the Df has less chroma noise, but the luminance noise levels are practically the same and the Df loses sharpness at pixel level.
32) Nikon D750 vs Nikon D4s Low ISO Comparison
Again, I do not see any differences in performance between the D750 and the D4s at lower ISOs.
32) Nikon D750 vs Nikon D4s High ISO Comparison
ISO 1600 looks identical on both cameras.
The same goes for ISO 3200.
Aside from a few artifacts here and there, the D4S appears just a tad better in the shadow areas, but the difference is too small to matter.
Hard to say which one looks better, but I personally prefer the output from the D750.
And at ISO 25600, I also prefer the image from the D750 – less artifacts to see, although the amount of chroma noise on the D750 is a bit higher in the shadows.
Where the Nikon D4s clearly does better is ISO 51200, but that’s way beyond my comfort level anyway…
33) Nikon D750 vs Nikon D4s Summary
Based on the above comparison, I can say that Nikon’s 16 MP sensor no longer offers any practical advantage over higher resolution sensors, aside from smaller files. As I have said before, it looks like we have reached the innovation wall with the current CMOS sensor technology and Nikon is simply using smarter noise reduction methods on its newer generation 16 MP, 24 MP and 36 MP cameras. For me personally, the usable ISO range with any modern camera is around 100-6400 (with occasional max ISO 12800) and that’s where the D750 delivers, even when compared to the $6500 D4s. But keep in mind that there is a lot more to the D4s than just image quality!
After using the Nikon D750 for over a month, I must say that I am very impressed with the camera – it is a great all-around machine that can be used effectively for most photography needs. Although at first it might seem like yet another Nikon full frame DSLR, I believe that the D750 has a lot to offer for both enthusiasts and pros. In my opinion, it strikes a great balance of features, sensor resolution, image quality, ergonomics, excellent autofocus system and price among current Nikon DSLRs. Once people find out how good this camera is, I can see its popularity only rise overtime, making it one of the most desired full-frame cameras on the market. Having used both the Canon 6D and the 5D Mark III in the past, I can say with confidence that neither can compete with the D750 in terms of image quality and autofocus – Canon will have to roll out something better fairly soon (especially when it comes to sensor technology) to be able to challenge the D750. As you have seen from this review, even Nikon’s own high-end cameras have a hard time competing with the D750 in terms of noise levels. Yes, it is that good.
Where the D750 lacks and could have been clearly better is in the buffer capacity department. Many sports and wildlife shooters have been waiting for a solid camera that did not cost $6500, with a respectable buffer and faster frame rate when coupled with a battery grip. Unfortunately, the D750 did not turn out to be that camera – the buffer remained the same as on the lower-end D610 and the continuous speed is maxed out at 6.5 fps with or without a battery grip. If Nikon did offer a bigger buffer, the D750 would have been a solid choice for many sports and wildlife gurus out there that are still shooting with D300s and D700 cameras…
Overall, the Nikon D750 is a solid performer with excellent capabilities and superb image quality.
Is the Nikon D750 worth upgrading to? If you shoot with an older generation camera like the Nikon D700, then absolutely – the improved image sensor with lots more resolution and amazing AF system are alone worth upgrading for. If you shoot with a DX camera, then give this article a read first before you consider moving up to FX. And if you shoot with the D600 or D610 cameras, then it all depends on how happy you are with the autofocus system. If you are happy, then skip at least one generation before considering to upgrade. If you are a landscape, studio or architectural photographer, then the D810 would be a better choice due to its higher resolution sensor and phenomenal dynamic range. Lastly, if you are a sports or wildlife photographer, the D750 is the second best camera you can get after the D4S, so if you are still hanging on to that aged D700, it is probably a good time to upgrade. You will lose the buffer, but you will gain quite a bit with the updated and superior AF system, along with a few new changes and features.
35) Where to buy and availability
B&H is currently selling the Nikon D750 body only for $2,296.95 (as of 10/14/2014).
36) More image samples
All Images Copyright © Nasim Mansurov, All Rights Reserved. Copying or reproduction is not permitted without written permission from the author.
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Quality
- High ISO Performance
- Size and Weight
- Metering and Exposure
- Movie Recording Features
- Dynamic Range
Photography Life Overall Rating