After six years of waiting, the Nikon D750 is here. When the long-awaited successor to the discontinued Nikon D700 arrived in September, the full-frame, 24-megapixel D750 fit neatly in between the D610 and the D810, though it has much more in common with its higher-end sibling. That’s no surprise, considering how much camera technology has changed since the D700’s heyday. In addition to boasting features such as Group Area AF and advanced video capabilities from Nikon’s pro-level cameras, the D750 is also the first full-frame Nikon DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi and a tiltable LCD—appealing features all around. But was it worth the wait? Read on to find out.
Build and Design
Solidly built of magnesium alloy and carbon fiber, the Nikon D750 weighs 26.5 ounces (body)—a few ounces less than the D810, which costs $1,000 more. Despite the lower price tag, the $2,300 D750 offers the same level of weather-sealing as the all-magnesium-alloy D810.
A deep grip provides a comfortable handhold for the D750’s 5.6×4.5×3.1-inch body, with most controls within easy reach. A mode dial on the left shoulder—with the standard Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority and Manual modes, along with Automatic mode (with and without flash) Effects, Scene modes and two custom User modes—is a nod toward the enthusiast who is stepping up to a full-frame camera for the first time. In the menu system you’ll find a separate video menu, conveniently eliminating the need to scroll through unrelated options when setting up to shoot movies. Physically, the camera resembles the D610 and will feel familiar to Nikon users.
The dual card slots accommodate SDXC cards, with options to use the second card as either overflow capacity or as backup for files on the first card. When shooting RAW+JPEG, the former can be directed to the first card while JPEGs are recorded to the second.
In addition to its viewfinder with a 100-percent view, the D750 is equipped with a tilting LCD. While we prefer the multiple angles provided by other vari-angle displays with a wider range of motion, this is a good step forward for Nikon. The 3.2-inch, 1.23-million-dot monitor’s tilting mechanism is sturdy and provides comfortable angles for overhead and low-angle shooting. It locks securely into position when you’ve settled on your angle. Just beware when using a quick-release plate, as it may block the display from popping out. We moved the bottom edge of the LCD away from the camera body before attaching ours.
Built around a new 24.3-megapixel sensor with Nikon’s latest EXPEED 4 image processor, the D750’s features are closely related to those of the D810 and D4s, including the 51-point AF system. With the D750, however, this AF system now works down to -3 EV, a big bonus for low-light photographers. While the D750 doesn’t have the extreme ISO range of the D4s (or even the five-year-old D3s), low-light shooting is complemented by a respectable native ISO range of 100–12,800, expandable down to ISO 50 or up to ISO 51,200.
While the D750 lacks the split-screen focusing of the D810, it retains its optical low-pass filter and highlight-weighted metering. It also carries the new Advanced Picture Control settings over from its higher-end sibling—it can be customized in 0.25 increments for precise fine-tuning. Clarity control provides the ability to tweak midtones and the Flat Picture Control profile is designed to deliver the broadest dynamic range in post-processing and provides a solid base for easier color grading of video.
Video capture is on par with the D810, including 1920x1080p recording at 24-, 30- and 60 frames per second. The D750’s Power Aperture option allows users to change aperture via the multi-selector for smoother (though not totally silent) exposure transitions while filming. Shutter speed and ISO are adjustable in manual mode. Zebra stripes, an internal stereo microphone, headphone and microphone jacks and the ability to output footage to an external recorder or monitor via HDMI round out the D750’s solid suite of video features.
Similar to the Power Aperture in video mode, the D750’s Timelapse function gains an Exposure Smoothing option that helps adjusts exposure from frame-to-frame when shooting time lapses and using the intervalometer.
We were thrilled to hear that the D750 has built-in Wi-Fi, even if Nikon’s free Wireless Mobile Utility App (iOS and Android) is pretty basic. The app transfers images from camera to smart device, and offers remote viewfinder and trigger functionality. Since the D750 doesn’t have a PC sync connection, we found the app most useful for starting and stopping long exposures. The catch? Live View is disabled for Bulb mode. It wasn’t a huge issue for us, but we would like to see the app gain more advanced functionality in the future.
The D750 is responsive and nimble, particularly for this class of camera. Continuous shooting clocked in at the promised 6.5 fps—slightly better when using a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MBps card. In burst mode, shooting speed slowed after 10 RAW+JPEG (fine) files, 12–15 RAW files or 43 high-resolution JPEGs. Continuous AF was generally able to keep up with moving subjects at the highest continuous shooting speed. And the D750’s 3D-tracking resulted in a higher number of hits than usual. Even in low-light, we found the autofocus to be quite speedy and accurate.
Fast action shooters who chase hockey pucks or high-performance racecars around the track are still better off with the D4s. But the D750 was agile enough to keep up with most moving subjects. We were, however, disappointed that shutter speeds maxed out at 1/4000 second rather than the 1/8000 available on the D810.
Image quality is quite good, especially at this price point. We tested the camera with a variety of lenses, including (but not limited to) the new AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8, the 58mm f/1.4 and the 24–120mm f/4. While each lens has its own benefits and drawbacks, overall the Nikon D750 delivered image quality that often exceeded our expectations.
Nikon has also managed to deliver excellent high ISO performance in the D750, and while it doesn’t match that of the Nikon D4s or D3s, it’s very close to that of the more expensive D810. To maintain the most detail, we found that it’s best to shoot at ISO 3200 or below, but images made at up to ISO 6400 were still quite usable. When push comes to shove, you can even get a decent capture at ISO 12,800, although we found it was best to process noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw or another editor to clean things up.
Color reproduction in JPEG was accurate, for the most part, even using auto white balance. We noticed a slight cool shift in some greens during early morning light but otherwise the Standard Picture Control setting delivered rich, vibrant colors.
The D750 also maintained good dynamic range under most conditions, although we noticed a tendency to expose for highlights in high contrast shots, even when using matrix metering. On the other hand, some shots simply looked better with deep shadows. Fortunately, the camera has so many options that you can usually tweak the image to near perfection regardless of shooting conditions.
You’re unlikely to get the same features, performance and image quality as the D750 from any other DSLR—full-frame or APS-C—for less. It’s not a slight to the D610, but the D750 is a far better camera, for just $500 more. Given its $2,300 price (body only), the D750 is an excellent option for enthusiasts who want to step up to a full-frame camera. It’s also a solid second or third camera for pros who want a backup for their D4s and/or D810.
PROS: Solid performance and image quality; great value, excellent feature set; built-in Wi-Fi; tilting LCD.
CONS: Maximum shutter speed of 1/4000; no split-screen focus; Wireless Mobile Utility App limited in functionality.
PRICE: $2,300 (body only); $3,600 (with 24–120mm VR kit lens)